Little Brazil: Don’t Call It a Comeback; new album, new line-up, new record label; Modest Mouse tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:44 pm May 9, 2018

Members of Little Brazil talked about the new record over slices at Virtuoso Pizza in Benson. From left are Shawn Cox, Landon Hedges and Danny Maxwell. Drummer Nate Van Fleet was missing in action.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The May issue of The Reader is on the racks and with it, my Over the Edge column which this time features an interview with Little Brazil. The band has a new record, Send the Wolves, that drops June 1 on new label Max Trax Records. Conor Oberst contributes to one of the tracks. The album release show also is June 1. I suggest pre-ordering some tasty blue vinyl from this here website. Look, it’s all covered in the article, which is on news stands now, online right here or, heck, just read it below.

Don’t Call It a Comeback
Little Brazil returns with a new album, line-up and record label.

Little Brazil is back with a new album that, in my humble opinion, is their best ever.

I write the above without any explanation assuming you and everyone else knows who Little Brazil was, is and will be. Because if you live in Omaha, listen to indie rock and know even a scintilla about the local music scene it’s virtually impossible to not know about the band and its history over the past 14 years.

With frontman Landon Hedges and bassist Danny Maxwell at its core, Little Brazil was always in the conversation as the “next big thing” during the mid-2000s when Saddle Creek Records bands were international commodities and Omaha was being heralded as the “New Seattle” by the likes of the New York Times, Rolling Stone and every publication that followed college music.

The band hit the ground running in 2004 with its debut LP, You and Me, released by former Omahan Mike Jaworski’s Mt. Fuji Records. It was followed by Tighten the Noose in ’07, also on Mt. Fuji, and Son in 2009 on Kansas City’s Anodyne Records. The line-up for those last two featured drummer Oliver Morgan and guitarist Greg Edds. In addition to becoming a staple on Omaha stages, Little Brazil toured the country both as an opening act and headliner.

What kept people coming back was Little Brazil’s sound — part indie, part emo, part punk and unmistakably Nebraskan. Or as I wrote in my first feature on the band way back in 2004: “What gives Little Brazil a leg up on the plethora of indie competition is Hedges’ love for basic melodies, great guitar lines and his strange, childish warble.” No one sings quite like Landon Hedges, his high croon/wail cuts through the deafening wall of guitar, bass and drums like a 10 million lumen beacon through the densest fog.

Little Brazil was always on the edge of breaking through to the next level, but after a year of touring Son, the band hit a wall in 2010 in the form of another band — Desaparecidos. Hedges held a central role in Conor Oberst’s punk-rock side project that re-emerged from a long hiatus with the Concert for Equality. But Desa wasn’t the only reason for Little Brazil’s slowdown.

“I moved to San Diego in 2010 to be with my wife,” Hedges said over slices of pizza and beer at Virtuoso Pizzeria in downtown Benson alongside Maxwell and new guitarist Shawn Cox. “I got married and DMax got married the same year. There was a member switch and, yeah, Desa got back together.”

At the time, Little Brazil was in the middle of writing its next record with new drummer Matt Bowen and new guitarist Mike Friedman, but when Conor calls, you pick up the phone. Desaparecidos recorded and toured off and on for the next five years. “Little Brazil went from doing five shows a year to two and then one,” Maxwell said.

Then in 2015 after Oberst suffered a number of health-related issues, Desaparecidos came to an end. The following January Little Brazil entered ARC Studios with producer Ben Brodin and laid down the tracks for what became Send the Wolves, the new album that comes out June 1 on Max Trax Records (more on that in a minute).

The end of the last Desaparecidos tour is the subject of the first single off the album, “Making a Mess,” that features Oberst once again singing alongside Hedges. “We were sitting in the studio and I texted Conor, ‘You’re missing out on the dubious honor of singing on a Little Brazil song.’ He knew exactly what song I was talking about because Brodin had told him.”

Oberst walked over to the studio (He lives next door) and laid down his vocals. “It was the last song we wrote for the album, it was very special and it was nice that he sang on it,” Hedges said. The two-and-a-half-minute song carries the same energy as a Desparecidos song, with opening lines: “It feels like you’re making a mess / It seems that you’re walking away from something / That you don’t want to say or admit to.”

It’s not the only song on the album reminiscent of Desaparecidos’ style and energy, but instead of politics, Hedges writes about his life, from meeting his wife (“Wait for You”) to growing up in Benson (the infectious “Motorbike”) to his friendship with Maxwell. “This record is as honest as I’ve been on an album,” Hedges says, “and it makes me nervous to have the lyrics printed on the sleeve.”

The lyric sheet is a first for Little Brazil. Another first is releasing the album on vinyl. The label, Max Trax Records (maxtraxrecords.com) was the idea of Marty and Frank Maxwell, Danny Maxwell’s brothers. When Frank passed away unexpectedly in the summer of 2016, Marty and Danny launched the label as a tribute to their brother. Today, Max Trax is home to five bands including Little Brazil, with more on the way.

With the new record and new label also comes new personnel for Little Brazil. The aforementioned Shawn Cox has replaced Mike Friedman on lead guitar, while See Through Dresses’ drummer Nate Van Fleet has taken over behind the kit for Matt Bowen. The new line-up already is working on the followup to Send the Wolves, with plans to enter the studio soon.

Hedges and Maxwell will tell you they never had any allusions of making a living just playing music, and now in their mid-30s, they still don’t. “The motivation is just writing and creating new music with the guys,” Hedges said. “I’ll play music ’til the day I die.”

Little Brazil plays with Pro-Magnum and Eric in Outerspace June 1 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Tickets are $8, showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com

First published May 2018 in The Reader. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Lest we forget that tonight Modest Mouse plays at the Ralston Arena. The band’s last album was Strangers to Ourselves in 2015, which also happens to be the last time they came through Omaha, as headliners to that year’s Maha Music Festival. NYC band Mass Gothic opens. The band’s self-titled debut album came out on Sub Pop in 2016. Tickets are $39.50 to $55. 8 p.m. start time.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Introducing Max Trax Records (Little Brazil, Junkyard Dan, Leafblower); NayeFest 2017 dance party/fund raiser tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:41 pm August 25, 2017

Max Trax Records is the new label helmed by Marty and Danny Maxwell.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Remember that new local record label I teased here on Wednesday?

Well, It’s called Max Trax Records, an independent label run by a bunch of dudes we’re all familiar with.

“As a tribute to their brother Frank, Marty and Danny Maxwell have decided to launch Max Trax Records,” says the press release. “Being that Danny is involved in each band, MTR will be the home for Little Brazil, Leafblower, Wrong Pets, Junkyard Dan and New Lungs. Each band has new material ready – or in progress – to release in the upcoming months. In the future, MTR will be looking to sign new artists to the label.”

Whoa!

The first release out of the Max Trax gate will be the debut cassette from Junkyard Dan on Sept. 1. “Dan” is none other than Danny Maxwell a.k.a. DMax himself. The band name is an homage to his favorite wrestler (and idol), the Junkyard Dog, and features Danny on guitar, bass and vocals, and Frankie Maxwell, Jr., on drums. It was engineered, mixed and mastered by Frank Maxwell at Max Trax studio in Sioux Falls, SD, in February 2016.

The two-song single — “Someday” b/w “Leverage” — is the first of what was going to be an album. “I then planned to self-release a cassette on Frank’s birthday (Sept. 1), so when we decided on a combined announcement of the Junkyard Dan single and the launch of Max Trax Records, it felt right,” Danny said.

The local music scene was shocked when Frank Maxwell unexpectedly passed away July 11, 2016, at the age of 49. Launching a record label in his memory is a fitting tribute to someone — and an entire family — that has is greatly impacted the Omaha music scene.

Want to listen to the new Junkyard Dan release? You’ll have to wait until Sept. 1, when it will be available for ordering at maxtraxrecords.bandcamp.com. The limited cassette features hand-stamped navy-blue tapes and white O-cards, handwritten credits and free digital download cards.

And it rocks. I’ve heard the tracks and all I can say is, turn it up!

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NayeFest2017 is tonight (Friday) at The Sydney.

The best way I can think of to describe Nayef Zgkurt: He’s the guy at the rock show or at the party or in the club or even walking down the street that is having a better time than you are.

I know Nayef as the person who is never afraid to dance, no matter the circumstances. He’ll get on the floor and let the music take over with no inhibitions. It’s something this rather bashful, awkward, insecure dude has always admired about him. Nayef really does “dance like nobody’s watching,” but in his case, he doesn’t give a shit if anyone is watching. (And why would he, when you look and dance like Nayef, right?).

Anyway, Nayef also was part of the Omaha music scene for years, at one time working at Saddle Creek Records before moving to NYC to take a record label job. Then (and the details around the event are still spotty) Nayef suffered a massive head injury that resulted in a lengthy hospital stay and brain damage. It was scary news, and to a certain extent, mysterious news that left a lot of folks worried.

Well, months after the incident, Nayef surfaced on Facebook letting his friends know that he is on the road to recovery at a rehab center somewhere in Riyadh. Folks were relieved and wanted to do something to help speed the healing.

And so, tonight is NayeFest2017 at The Sydney in Benson. DJs Brent Crampton, Roger Lewis and Keith Rodger will be spinning the best dance tracks starting at 9 p.m. And a host of guest bartenders will be slinging drinks. Cover is $5. The door, all bartender tips and a portion of bar sales for the night will be donated to Nayef for his medical bills and recovery.

Needless to say, this will be the dance event of the year. Come out and celebrate the man, the myth, the dancing legend known as Nayef. More info here.

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Other than NayeFest, there ain’t a whole helluva lot happening this weekend. I mean, like, almost nothing.

If you have a show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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