Live Review: Gordon, Art Bazaar; The Funs, Dumb Beach tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:48 pm September 28, 2015
Gordon at The Sydney, Sept. 25, 2015.

Gordon at The Sydney, Sept. 25, 2015.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Nice turnout for the Sidney Buchanan art show at The Little Gallery Friday night. You can check out the show anytime this week before 5 p.m., just swing by the gallery. It’s located right across the street from The Sydney in Benson. Sidney’s work is amazing, and affordable. Maybe too affordable.

I spent Friday night hanging out with Sidney’s son, Patrick, who you may remember from the classic ’90s punk band Mousetrap. Patrick lives in Miami these days. We talked about music, what’s been going on in Omaha over the past few years and how Benson and the rest of the city’s changed.

As the art show came to a close at 9, I mentioned that I was headed to The Sydney later that night to see Gordon, a band I thought he’d like, and to my surprise, Patrick said he’d meet there at midnight. After I left the art show I began to feel anxious about Gordon. Did I oversell the band? Just that sort of thing has happened to me in the past — I talk too highly of a band or compare them to another band and inevitably, the person I’m talking to sees them and they either 1) suck, or 2) sound nothing like what I compared them to.

I got to The Sydney just before midnight, as A Ferocious Jungle Cat was still doing their set. Patrick had already arrived. It’s safe to say The Sydney has the worst PA I’ve heard since, well,  I saw bands play at the old Down Under last November. The Sydney’s PA is on par with what you’d find at a typical house show. Overblown, flat, noisy. Pretty awful, and much worse than I remembered the last time I saw a band play there. My anxiety grew.

Arm Wrestling during Art Bazaar at The Sydney, Sept. 25, 2015.

Arm Wrestling during Art Bazaar at The Sydney, Sept. 25, 2015.

Friday night’s event at The Sydney was a fundraiser for Benson First Friday, which recently attained a 501(c)3 non-profit status. A pair of super-tall drag queens strolled around in wigs and high heels, having performed earlier in the evening.  After Jungle Cat finished a table was set up for the Finals of the evening-long arm wrestling content. Fun. After that, the hosts announced a number of raffle ticket winners of lovely gift baskets.

And then Gordon came on. I’ve seen the four-piece a few times, most recently playing outside behind The Sweatshop Gallery as part of Sweatfest this past summer. Despite the PA, Gordon did not disappoint, though their set did start off rather tenuous, sounding different than I remembered them, with two guitars playing laid-back indie stuff.

Things really got rolling when frontman Aaron Parker put down his guitar and walked off the front of the Sydney’s small platform stage with microphone in hand and did his best Ian Curtis impression on songs that sounded clearly influenced by Joy Division. Buchanan asked me if I thought Gordon knew who they were, and I said I didn’t know, but that the music’s resemblance couldn’t have been a coincidence.  But then again, another of their songs reminded me of a Mousetrap tune, a band that likely played its first show before Parker was born.

Leaning over, yelling into the mic while patrons strolled past to and from the bathroom, Parker pushed as hard as he could, making the most out of that crappy PA, looking up and following people with a bug-eyed stare as they walked back to their tables while has band continued to shred from the stage. I glanced over at Buchanan and could tell he liked what he heard. These guys were making Nebraska proud, having no clue that they were performing in front of one of the city’s Golden Age legends.

Buchanan gave the ultimate compliment after the set: “I’d definitely see them again.” No band can ask for anything more.

Your next chance to see Gordon is this Sunday when they open for Cheap Girls at Slowdown Jr.  along with Eric in Outspace and The Lupines. Do not miss it.

* * *

Speaking of things not to miss, there’s a no-miss show at The Brothers Lounge this very night. Chicago punk bands The Funs headline. Formed in 2009, the duo released their first LP, S/T, in 2013, and have opened West Coast dates for The Breeders. Opening is Nathan Ma & The Rosettes and Dumb Beach. $5, 10 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Mousetrap, RAF; Oberst LP out today (Pitchfork gives it a 6.5); Morrissey tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:01 pm May 19, 2014
RAF at The Waiting Room, May 17, 2014.

RAF at The Waiting Room, May 17, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Rough crowd at the Punk Rock Reunion show Saturday night at The Waiting Room. An example of just how rough:

While standing at the bar waiting to buy my usual Rolling Rock, a big fat biker-looking dude about my age tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Thanks a lot for cutting in line.” I looked over at him and his two big fat biker buddies and said, “Sorry, didn’t see you guys standing there,” at which point he gave me a “What the fuck?” look, and then said, “Don’t worry man. What’s your name?” I said it was Tim, and he said (while shaking my hand), “My name’s Jack, as in Jack Miyoff — haw haw haw.” His fat pals rolled at that one.  I just rolled my eyes and moved along, feeling like Luke Skywalker during the Cantina scene of Star Wars, hoping Obi Wan would show up and cut the fat biker’s arm off.

Strange crowd. Lots of bumping and jostling. Lots of angry old people. Lots of drunks. But I guess it’s what you’d expect from a punk rock reunion. The only thing worse than angry young punks is bitter old ones. But at least they have good taste in music.

As evidence, I give you RAF. The band put out a few cassettes back in the ’80s, including one that spent a lot of time in the tape deck of my Ford Fiesta. The band consisted of guitarist Paul Moerke, drummer Tim Cox, bass player Dereck Higgins and frontman Matt Miller, who formed the band. For Saturday night’s reunion gig, Kelly Callier, formerly of Jimmy Skaffa, took over the frontman role and did a yeoman’s job pushing the crowd to match the energy on stage. The break-neck performance was matched by a break-neck mosh pit, just like the old days.

Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, May 17, 2014.

Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, May 17, 2014.

Mousetrap followed. Their set felt more realized and steady than the last time they played at The Waiting Room about a year ago. There’s always been something disturbing about the band’s music. When they were just kids, you chocked-up the music’s pain and violence to energy and youth. Now that they’re older, the songs take on a more sinister quality. Or maybe it seems more dangerous because it seems real, like these guys could actually do whatever it is frontman Patrick Buchanan is singing about. Scary.

In case you’re wondering, local hero Matt Bowen pulled it off behind the drum kit, supplying the necessary bombast to keep the action rolling.

Cordial Spew provided a hardcore ending to what turned out to be a hardcore night. They played a set that was much more together and professional than the band I saw play at Our Lady of Guadalupe Social Hall in the ’80s. The show back then was a brutal mess, while Saturday’s show was simply brutal, and a reminder (along with the night’s earlier sets) that some things do get better with age, just ask Mr. Miyoff.

* * *

Conor Oberst, Upside Down Mountain (Nonesuch, 2014)

Conor Oberst, Upside Down Mountain (Nonesuch, 2014)

Breaking with the usual Tuesday release-day schedule, today is the official drop day for Conor Oberst’s new solo album, Upside Down Mountain (Nonesuch, 2014), and the reviews are coming in fast and furious. They are arguably the best reviews he’s had for one of his LPs in years.

Not the least of which is the all-important Pitchfork review, which gave the album a slightly better than mediocre 6.5 rating. The review’s conclusion: “It’s gorgeous to the point of near gaudiness, a ‘return to form’ after a strange decade evolving from wildly prolific, heartbreak soundtracking, Winona Ryder-dating enfant terrible into a domesticated Americana bard no longer interested in why to be young is to be sad. Hopefully, Oberst will find a way to make ‘older and wiser’ just as revelatory.

Rolling Stone was more laudatory with its 4-Star review. None other than David Fricke weighed in with: “But like Neil Young’s Harvest and Jackson Browne’s Late for the Sky, this is dreaming stalked by despair, then charged with rebound. ‘There are hundreds of ways,’ Oberst sings in that song, ‘to get through the day. . . . Now you just find one.’ Here’s a good place to start.”

All Music gave the record 4 Stars. Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s review concluded with: “Oberst remains an eccentric — he’s not one for obvious hooks, or even insistent melodies — but of all his albums, Upside Down Mountain feels open-hearted, measured, and bright, the kind of record that opens up a new chapter in a career and possibly wins over new listeners.

The Guardian also gave the record 4 stars, concluding “…melodies emerge strongly from these simple musical settings and there’s little to distract from his lyrics, which explore solitude and regret – those hoary old staples of US road music – in rich and inventive ways.”

Drowned in Sound gave the record 8 out of 10, saying “...the new album is bathed in a Laurel Canyon glow, but it’s by no means a throwback. It comes on with a rootsy, sure-footed poise far removed from the dense electronics of Bright Eyes’ 2011 release The People’s Key, though the bigger difference here is the nature of the lyrics found within.

Consequence of Sound gave the album a grade of B, concluding with “...Oberst at least has his first good album in years, and the songwriter’s narrative has a ways to go before we can judge whether he fulfilled all those expectations put on him 20 years ago when he was still a child.”

To counter all the raves, Pretty Much Amazing gave the record a grade of C-, stating: “…the very distance between the album’s mellow, casually lovely sonic maturity and Oberst’s thematic arrested development results in an eerie, unintended detachment.

As for what Lazy-i thinks, I’ve only had the album for a couple days so I’ve yet to come to a conclusion other than to say it’s the most overly produced Oberst album I’ve ever heard, and that it seems to be an obvious reach for a larger audience.

* * *

Tonight I’m off to Lincoln for the Morrissey concert at Rococo Theater. We have general admission balcony seats, which means we may or may not be able to actually see the performance. This one’s been sold out for a long time.

* * *

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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Mousetrap, featuring Matt Bowen; Matt Pond PA, Guided By Voices tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:21 pm May 14, 2014
Matt Pond PA plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

Matt Pond PA plays tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, the election results are in and it looks like Nebraska lost again.

In other news…

Mousetrap bassist Craig Crawford tells me that due to a scheduling conflict drummer Colby Starck is unable to make the trip to Omaha for the Punk Rock Reunion show Saturday night at The Waiting Room. Filling in is none other than Matt Bowen. Recognizable as one of your favorite bartenders at The Waiting Room, Bowen’s legend is long and includes stints in The Faint, Commander Venus, Lullaby for the Working Class, Race for Titles, not to mention Magic Kiss (the precursor to Tilly and the Wall (It’s a long story)) and most recently The Third Men. Bowen is rehearsing with Crawford and Mousetrap frontman Patrick Buchanan as we speak.

By the way, it’s been confirmed that Fischer no longer is on the bill for Saturday night’s show. The line-up as of now is Bullet Proof Hearts, Mousetrap, Cordial Spew, RAF, The Broke Loose and Drop a Grand. Tix are $10 adv/$12 DOS.

* * *

Good ol’ Matt Pond PA returns to Omaha, this time to The Waiting Room tonight. Joining him is The Lighthouse and The Whaler. $12, 8:30 p.m. start time.

Also, tonight’s Record Club at the Shop @ Saddle Creek features Guided By Voices’ seminal 1992 release Propeller. Record Club is a chance for folks to get together and listen to an album in its entirety, then discuss it afterward. Fun! The needle drops at 7 p.m. More info here.

Also tonight, Zach Short plays at Slowdown Jr. with Blue Bird and Matt Whipkey. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Photos from Maha Music Festival; Live Review: Mousetrap, Ron Wax…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:58 pm August 19, 2013
Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, Aug. 16, 2013.

Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, Aug. 16, 2013.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Coverage/review of Saturday’s Maha Music Festival will appear in my column in the upcoming issue of The Reader. For the record, it was a heckuva show. Check out the action photos below the Mousetrap review.

Mousetrap was a blast Friday night at The Waiting Room. As was the case last time they played here, the band sounds tighter than back in its ’90s hey-day. No doubt there are some obvious differences that come with 20-odd years of life experiences.

Their sound, while as bracing as ever, at times was cast in more subdued tones. The trio played a couple dark-throb numbers that ebbed and flowed like a tide coming in at midnight carrying a body floating face-down in the bay. Black and grisly and a bit creepy. But then again, there always has been something disturbing about frontman Patrick Buchanan. On stage he comes off like a punk version of a Brett Easton Ellis psychopath. Don’t look directly into his eyes.

Bassist Craig Crawford acts as sort of a buffer/cipher that keeps Buchanan from spinning out of control, though you know if things ever got heavy Craig would say, “Sorry, pal, you’re on your own.”

You can tell they’ve only just begun with drummer Colby Starck. A seasoned veteran, he still needs push it a couple notches to match former drummer Mike Mazolla’s ferocity. That’ll come with time.

My only gripe about Friday night was the set’s length — little more than 20 minutes with a three-song encore (that included a cover of Dead Boys’ “All This and More”). Buchanan promised more new material when Mousetrap returns, probably sometime during the holidays. There’s nothing quite like Christmas with Mousetrap…

Ron Wax was up before Mousetrap and judging by the comments made outside the venue you’d have thought it was the end world. I’ve known Ron Albertson for years both as the drummer of Mercy Rule and as a fine artist (I proudly have three Ron screenprints-on-canvas hanging on my walls). I caught the last two brutal songs of their set. It was loud, raucous, noisy, ham-fisted caterwaul rock, more than a little bit weird. Gritty and unbridled, but what did you expect? My reply to the guy who said he was going to gut-punch me if I called it genius: It ain’t genius, and it ain’t supposed to be.

* * *

Now onto some pictures from the Maha Music Festival this past Saturday…

The Thermals at the Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2013.

The Thermals sort of got the crowd going. Theirs is a one-note punk style, but people love it. Those who expected moshing forgot where they were.

* * *

Criteria at The Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2013.

Criteria sounded louder (and better) on Maha’s “second stage” than the Thermals did on the main stage. Might have something to do with dynamics…?

* * *

Bob Mould at The Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2013.

Bob Mould for me and a lot of people was the cornerstone of this year’s festival. Lots of Sugar and new stuff and even “I Apologize.” What more do you want?

* * *

Digital Leather at the Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2013

For the uninitiated, Digital Leather brought a modern garage aesthetic, along with lots of cool noise. 

* * *

Flaming Lips at The Maha Music Festival, Aug. 17, 2013.

Our lord and savior Wayne Coyne doing his thing atop a mountain of chrome embryos, fetus doll in hand. Great lights, droll music.

More on Maha Wednesday, I promise.

* * *

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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

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Mousetrap tonight, Maha tomorrow, and everything in between…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:47 pm August 16, 2013


by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The top priorities on your music-watching list this weekend should be Mousetrap tonight at The Waiting Room and the Maha Music Festival tomorrow at Stinson Park/Aksarben Village.

You read about Mousetrap yesterday. Opening tonight’s show is Ron Wax (Ron Albertson of Mercy Rule) and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship. $8, 9 p.m. See you there.

Also going on tonight…

Gypsy punks Gogol Bordello plays at The Slowdown with Omaha’s own gypsy punk, Solid Goldberg. This one’s SOLD OUT. Starts at 8.

Team Love hip-hop artist Rig 1 (a.k.a. Desaparecidos’ Ian McElroy) is doing his thing at Benson’s Sweatshop Gallery tonight at 10. Opening is the debut of Routine Escorts, featuring Jon Tvrdik (ex-Back When). $5.

.

Tomorrow, of course, is the Maha Music Festival. Save $10 by purchasing your $45 ticket today at mahamusicfestival.com. The DOS price is $55 (kids under 10 are in fer free).

Here’s the Maha schedule:

Noon   Gates Open
12:05  Centris Stage     Purveyors of the Conscious Sound
12:40  Weitz Stage        Millions of Boys
1:20  Centris Stage        HERS w/ Omaha Girls Rock!
1:55  Weitz Stage           Sons of Fathers
2:45  Centris Stage       Rock Paper Dynamite
3:20  Weitz Stage         Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
4:25  Centris Stage       The Millions
5:00  Weitz Stage        The Thermals
6:05  Centris Stage     Criteria
6:45  Weitz Stage        Bob Mould
7:55  Centris Stage     Digital Leather
8:55  Weitz Stage        Matt & Kim
10:15  Weitz Stage     The Flaming Lips
Midnight  Show Over

More details at mahamusicfestival.com. Weather looks grand. This should be a good one.

* * *

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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Lazy-i Interview: Mousetrap’s back, but don’t call it a reunion; new Criteria video; John Klemmensen needs a kickstart…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:39 pm August 15, 2013
Mousetrap circa 2013, from left, Colby Starck, Patrick Buchanan and Craig Crawford.

Mousetrap circa 2013, from left, Colby Starck, Patrick Buchanan and Craig Crawford.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

In this week’s column, Mousetrap’s back. You can read it in the current issue of The Reader, online here, or what the heck, read it below:

Over the Edge: Mousetrap’s Back, but Don’t Call It a Reunion

For regular readers of this column, a quick synopsis of who/what is punk rock band Mousetrap:

To use the word “seminal” to describe their impact on the Omaha music scene would be an understatement. Almost every significant Omaha band I’ve interviewed — whether they play punk, hard rock or even singer-songwriter stuff — has name-checked Mousetrap as an influence. That includes all of Saddle Creek Records’ most successful acts.

At the band’s core are bassist Craig Crawford and frontman/guitarist Patrick Buchanan. Their hey-day was in the ‘90s, when they released a couple 7-inch singles followed by their debut full-length Cerebral Revolver in 1993; the follow-up, Lover, in ’94, and their final album, The Dead Air Sound System, in ’95.

How to describe their music? It’s loud, but not macho or “tough-guy” or anything like today’s corporate metal goon-rock bands. Instead, the music is bitter and angry. Its anger is channeled more toward themselves than whatever situation Buchanan and Crawford are howling about. Actually, it’s more pain than anger — not a broken-hearted pain, but an exposed nerve physical throbbing abscessed tooth sort of agony — bright red and pulsing.

Mousetrap’s abrasive, acidic rock is not for everybody, in fact, it’s not for most people. After years of touring — a rarity for local bands in the early ‘90s — Mousetrap eventually faded away by the end of the decade.

And then seemingly out of the blue — the band played a pair of reunion shows at The Waiting Room in 2009 and 2010. And now their back again, but this time it’s different. Mousetrap intends to become an active band, or as bassist Crawford put it, “We’re a functioning band that plans to put out a new album by December.”

Crawford talked via Skype last Saturday in the band’s Chicago practice space. Also on the video-chat were frontman Buchanan, looking as sinister as ever with his mane of black, tousled hair, and new drummer Colby Starck.

Starck, a former Lincolnite who you may remember from such ‘90s bands as Pablo’s Triangle and Roosevelt Franklin, has lived in Chicago for about 12 years, where he made acquaintances with Crawford. He says Mousetrap’s first 7-inch “Wired” b/w “Train,” released on the late Dave Sink’s One-Hour Records, continues to be his favorite single.

“I’ve been a fan for a long time, and Mousetrap has always had trouble with drummers,” Starck said. “Whenever I saw them, I always said, ‘That should be me up there.’” And now it is.

Buchanan wanted to make sure I mention that former drummer, Mike Mazzola, who played with Mousetrap at the reunion shows, is a great drummer and a good friend and that the switch to Starck was a scheduling thing.

“It totally made more sense to have Colby come in because he can invest more time in the band,” Buchanan said. “We want to make this a living, breathing, fully operational band and that requires more time and commitment.”

Becoming a “real band” had been the plan back in 2010, but it obviously never happened. Shortly after the holiday reunion show, Buchanan, who works in advertising, got a job offer in Miami. “It’s the nature of the ad business, if you want to get yourself a raise, you have to move to where the job is,” he said. But it didn’t take long for Buchanan to realize that Miami is “kind of a shithole.” When he got another job offer back in Detroit, he took it. And as soon as he got back, he called Crawford and got the ball rolling again.

By the way, Buchanan said despite the city recently declaring bankruptcy, Detroit isn’t a bad place to live. “I actually love it,” he said, “and I love that the media is so harsh on it. It’ll keep all the hipster douche bags away.”

Back to our story. Detroit is an easy drive to Chicago, which allows the band to get together over the weekends. Word of this reunion leaked back in March. Since then, the band not only has been getting Starck up to speed on the band’s back catalog, but writing new material, including one new song that will be performed at Friday night’s show at The Waiting Room, and Saturday night’s show at The Chesterfield in Sioux City.

Buchanan said Mousetrap’s new material is “pretty dark.”

“It’s driven by the type of vibe that you hear when you listen to Iggy Pop’s The Idiot album, which is the greatest nighttime album ever made,” he said. “Let me explain it in less specific terms: Mousetrap of 1993 was a sawed-off shotgun. Mousetrap of 2013 is more like a sniper rifle. The stuff we’re doing isn’t less violent or abrasive, just extra concentrated.”

Both Crawford and Buchanan said there’s a void for their style of aggressive music. “The formula (in pop music) in the last year has been bands saying, ‘Hey, Ho.’” Crawford said. “I don’t see a lot of bands with balls.”

“You see a lot of dudes with beards strumming acoustic guitars wearing vests and suspenders, old-timely clothes like a frontier pioneer guy,” Buchanan added. “I feel like what we’re doing is pretty fresh right now because it’s not what’s happening. There’s a lot of dance-y electronic music and softer indie-rock stuff, but there’s not a lot of loud, aggressive rock music that’s not metal. There has always been an anti-social streak to us in a musical sense; we’ve always been dark and confrontational, that’s the music we want to make.”

And if no one likes it?

“It doesn’t really matter if not a single person buys our next album,” Buchanan said. “We make music the way we want to make it. We’ve always been musically very selfish. We’re going to do whatever we want to do. If you like it, that’s awesome. If not, there’s the door, get the fuck out.”

Mousetrap plays Friday, Aug. 16, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple Street, with Ron Wax and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship. Tickets are $8, the show starts at 9 p.m.. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com

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

* * *

And yet another Mousetrap interview right here at hearnebraska.com.

And here’s Mousetrap doing “Superkool” at The Waiting Room in 2010, via the YouTube.

Friday night’s show at TWR should be epic.

* * *

In case you’re wondering what the boys in Criteria have been up to, check out their just-released Love Drunk video for yet-to-be-released song “This Reign Is Ours.” Heavy riffage. Lots of exciting woodworking. You get the idea. BTW, Criteria will be playing the local stage at Saturday’s Maha Music Festival. Get your tix right here and get ready to rock.

* * *

Finally, Omaha’s No. 1 broken-hearted troubadour, John Klemmensen, is getting ready to hit the road on a tour that takes him to the West Coast. The only thing he needs is gas money. And that’s where you come in.

Check out John Klemmensen’s Kickstarter Campaign, where he’s trying to raise a measly $500. Prizes include a candle-lit bubble bath drawn by John himself as he serenades you with one of his slow, sad, sexy ballads…. j/k.

“j/k” stands for Just Kidding. Though John might want to consider adding it to the list. It’s got to be worth $50…

* * *

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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Omaha Gives is today (as if you didn’t know): Hear Nebraska, Maha, Omaha Girls Rock; Unread Records now on Bandcamp; Mousetrap returns 8/16; Gordon tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:46 pm May 22, 2013
Unread Records homepage

Unread Records homepage

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

If you’re on Facebook and you live in Omaha than you’re already tired of being inundated with people asking you to give money today as part of the Omaha Gives event. I will not pile on, other than to point you to what I said last week during Lincoln’s version of this same fund drive, i.e, give some cash to Hear Nebraska (by clicking here), and here’s why. Other charities to consider: Omaha Girls Rock, the Maha Music Festival (which you may not know is a non-profit) and FilmStreams. The rest is up to you. Do your duty. Give. And then do what I plan to do: Turn off Facebook for the rest of the day. Here are the give links:

* * *

Max Larson, drummer of rock group The Dad (formerly know as Dads), emailed a head’s up about the band’s 7-inch release show (and tour kick off) this Friday night at Sweatshop Gallery in Benson.

We will be playing with Fletch (aka Mike Schlesinger of the late Gus & Call), Pro-Magnum (hippie-hating members of Digital Leather & The Fucking Party) and Sister-Kisser (female-fronted anger),” said Larson. “The record is $5, admission is $5, and I believe that all-you-can-drink keg beer will be available for $5 (This might have been a cruel joke, though).” This should be massive fun.

Larson also added this very useful PS: “P.S. I’m not sure if you’re a follower of Unread Records, but a week or two ago Chris put a large handful of his releases up for stream on Bandcamp. It is my understanding that, until now, a number of these recordings have suffered from limited digital representation. Most of these bands/singers are from Omaha (including Simon Joyner of course), so if you want to listen you should. The link is http://unreadrecords.bandcamp.com/

“Chris” is Chris Fischer, who I spoke with way back in 2000 for an article in the Omaha Weekly. I was going to post a link to that story (which still exists on Lazy-i), but you’d have to scroll around to find it and I figured what the heck, I’ll just post it below. Unread Records started out as a tape label and still is, though they also sell other media, including vinyl, as evidenced by The Dad 7-inch that Unread is releasing. According to the Unread Records website, the label’s world headquarters is now located in Pittsburgh. Check out the Bandcamp page for some very rare recordings, go to Unread to order / buy some awesome stuff, and keep up with the label on their Facebook page.

Now, into the Wayback Machine, from The Omaha Weekly, Sept. 14, 2000:

The roster of fall releases by Omaha’s Unread Records is crowded with a number of … wait-a-minute, you’ve never heard of Unread Records? That’s probably because the label is part of the underground world of cassette-tape-only record labels, a music scene so obscure that it makes an indie label like Saddle Creek Records look like DreamWorks in comparison.Operated by Chris Fischer out of his house/performance space known as Gunboat, Unread Records has produced cassette and vinyl releases from some of the underground’s most famous unknowns, including a tape by South Carolina’s “king of banjo” Charlie McAlister, as well as a 7-inch single by Shrimper and Catsup Plate recording artist Will Simmons.

Fischer says there are “zillions” of tape only labels. Some more-famous artists who have put out tape-only releases include Sebadoh’s Lou Barlow, folk-music favorites The Mountain Goats, and even undisputed funk-groove indie rocker Beck, Fischer said.

“I started my label three years ago to put out tapes for me and my friends,” said Fischer, who recently moved to Omaha from Lancaster, Penn. “I don’t have any artists signed to anything, and I don’t ever want to put out a thousand units of anything.”

That shouldn’t be a problem for the 20-year-old entrepreneur. Most his 27 releases include hand-made cassette shells or screen-printed jackets. Though promotion is usually through word of mouth or the Internet, Fischer has placed ads in fanzines and sent flyers to a handful of record labels that pass them onto their customers. His most popular release thus far is the McAlister cassette Turn of the Century Photograph of, which moved more than 300 units.

Fischer said the label will branch out to CDs this fall, with a release by Fizzle Like a Flood (Omaha singer/songwriter Doug Kabourek, who also performs as The Laces). Also look for a split 7-inch vinyl release by Park and A Boy Named Thor, a split-label CD with Twee Kitten Records, a Jarbaby one-sided LP, as well as cassettes by Church of Gravitron, Park, Caleb Fraid and others.

Just as obscure as Unread Records is Gunboat, Fischer’s performance space located in the basement of the house he rents at 301 So. 38th Ave. Past Gunboat performers include most of the Saddle Creek Records’ stable of artists, who have made house shows a staple on their recent tour schedules.

“House shows are a different kind of scene, a more personal performance that allows the fans to hang out with the people who play,” Fischer said. “There’s no stage, it’s kind of one-on-one.”

Gunboat shows attract a mostly under-21 crowd made up of house show regulars or people who have heard about the shows either by visiting the Saddle Creek Records website (www.saddle-creek.com) or by spotting a flier at The Antiquarium or Drastic Plastic. Fischer says his largest show drew about 70 people.

One recent night at Gunboat included performances by Bright Eyes, Philadelphia’s Jen Turrell (Rabbit in Red), and Pennsylvania band Chauchat. Last week, Fischer hosted Jarbaby from Normal, Ill.

Among the bands slated for Gunboat’s upcoming Sept. 20 show are The Good Life (a new project by Cursive’s Tim Kasher), Boston’s Kolya, Omaha emo-rockers Secret Behind Sunday and Lincoln’s Her Flyaway Manner (slated to release a CD on Caulfield Records) Fischer says the cover is usually two or three dollars, all of which goes to the touring band to help cover their expenses.

* * *

Ah, those were the days…

Speaking of blasts from the pasts, I just got word that Mousetrap has been booked to play a return engagement at The Waiting Room Aug. 16 for what I’m told is being billed as a “Pre-Maha Party” (the Maha Music Festival is the following day). No idea who else will be playing this gig, but I’m told we should expect to hear some new Mousetrap material along with old favorites. Mark it down on your calendar.

* * *

Finally, Maha Music Festival and The Slowdown are hosting an Omaha Gives Showcase tonight. Among the acts are current favorite, Gordon. Also on the program are A Wasted Effort, Rock Paper Dynamite and The Seen. It’s a free show, but you’ll be hit up to give money (and you should, you cheap-ass). Gordon I believe plays second, so get there early.

* * *

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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Mousetrap Lives!; Talking Mountain CD release show, Coyote Bones, Milo Greene, Kopecky Family Band tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:43 pm March 27, 2013
Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, Dec. 29, 2010.

Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, Dec. 29, 2010.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The last time we heard from Mousetrap was back in December 2010, when the seminal Omaha punk band played a reunion show at The Waiting Room. It was quite a night — frontman Pat Buchanan and bassist Craig Crawford, along with new drummer Mike Mazolla, were in fine form. I remember thinking at the time that the band never sounded better, and I mean ever. “That sense of uncertainty is gone. They’re more focused; they know exactly what they want to do, and they do it. Their sound is as vicious and acidic as ever; but Buchanan’s voice (as well as Crawford’s) is more controlled and certain,” I said in a review the following day.

The surprise of that review: “Buchanan ended the set saying, ‘See you next year,’ but made the surprise announcement that the band is considering recording a new album in 2011 — that is, if they can find a label to give them some cash.”

Well, as you might have guessed, that new album never happened in 2011. Instead, Buchanan moved to sunny Florida from his home base in Detroit, making it impossible for him to continue practicing with the rest of the band in Chicago. End of story, right?

Yesterday out of the blue I received the following message from Craig Crawford via Facebook:

Hey Tim! Craig Crawford here. Well, I don’t have all the details worked out yet, but Patrick Buchanan is back living in Detroit, and it seems that Mousetrap might be a functioning working band again. Not a reunion; we’re gonna just try and pick up where we left off all those years ago and start making new stuff. So, we should start rehearsing sometime in the next few weeks and I will tell you all about how it seems to be progressing.

I glanced at my calendar to make sure it wasn’t April 1. And then I typed, “Fantastic! Can I spread the word via Lazy-i?”

I don’t see why not. We have yet to get together, but Patrick seems so super-psyched about it that I think it’s gonna be fun,” Crawford replied. “We had been meaning to do this since the last reunion, but he started working in FL, so it just never worked out. Now that he’s in MI, and just 5 hours away, we can actually start working on a new album.”

Crawford said he had no idea what Mousetrap circa 2013 will sound like. “We are very different people now, but I doubt that it will be too removed from what we ever were,” he said. “That just seems to come out.”

Indeed it does. While we wait for what happens next, catch up on your Mousetrap history with this 2009 reunion story.

* * *

Talking Mountain, Mysterious Knowledge/Unknown Colors (Slumber Party, 2013)

Talking Mountain, Mysterious Knowledge/Unknown Colors (Slumber Party, 2013)

All right, back to rock shows, finally. There’s a big one tonight at Slowdown Jr. and the price is right.

Talking Mountain is celebrating the release of its latest on Slumber Party Records, Mysterious Knowledge/Unknown Colors. It’s a step in TM’s becoming Omaha’s version of the Flaming Lips. Trippy stuff with a synthy bounce that embraces a comfortable pop aesthetic. WTF does that mean? I dig. It’s the most realized TM album in their long history. Check it out tonight.

Opening the show is the one and only Coyote Bones featuring Omaha ex-pat David Matysiak. Expect guest stars during his set. Also on the bill is Hers, who I’m told destroyed O’Leaver’s a couple weeks ago. Headlining all this is Ever Ending Kicks, a band I’ve never ever heard of, but judging from their website looks like they’ve been touring the country since mid-January.

So how much does it cost to get into this extravaganza? Why, it’s absolutely free, courtesy of our friends at Urban Outfitters. Maybe stop in UO and buy something before you head to Slowdown tonight. Show starts at 9.

Also tonight, so-called “Cinematic Pop” band Milo Greene (Atlantic Records) plays at The Waiting Room with Kopecky Family Band (ATO Records). $12, 9 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

2010: The Year in Music, Pt. 2 — Best Live Shows; Live Review: Mousetrap; Stolen Kisses tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 2:08 pm December 30, 2010

Column 303: Stage Dive

The best shows of ’10

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Wrapping up the music year in review, here is my list of the best shows of the 100 or so that I attended in 2010. Yeah, I know there are a few missing (Where’s the Pixies? Where’s Justin Bieber?), but I can’t be at all of them. Help fill in the blanks by listing your favorites in the comment section of this story.

Jan. 22-23 — The Waiting Room re-grand opening. After gutting the interior and literally “raising the roof” (or at least the ceiling), the centerpiece Benson club celebrated with two nights of shows — a local gig featuring Little Brazil, Little Black Stereo, Ground Tyrants and Kyle Harvey, and a national show featuring afro-beat band NOMO. The verdict, Omaha had another world-class club to compete with Slowdown.

Jan. 29 — Haiti Relief Concert at Slowdown — What more could you ask for than Conor Oberst singing “Lua” backed by Nate Walcott on flugelhorn? The Bright Eyes reunion was one of the highlights of a sold-out show that benefitted the earthquake-torn country, that also included performances by Tilly and The Wall, It’s True, Simon Joyner, The Mynabirds, Bear Country, McCarthy Trenching and Brad Hoshaw.

March 15 — Digital Leather at O’Leaver’s — With a full beard, frontman Shawn Foree resembled an indie version of Jim Morrison circa Morrison Hotel. And with an extra keyboard player, he was free to get more involved on stage and with the crowd on such moving anthems as “Studs in Love.”

April 5 — Beach House at TWR — Visually, a boring show. Sonically, nothing less than amazing. Every note of their chamber pop echoed and glowed as they played all the songs from breakthrough album Teen Dream. Between numbers, they talked about Malcolm X, the Omaha Beef and 311, dedicating songs to each of them.

May 2 — So-So Sailors at Slowdown Jr. — I came to see Jeremy Messersmith, the crowd came to see The Mynabirds, but it was So-So Sailors that everyone was talking about after the show.

May 22 — Criteria at The Waiting Room — You couldn’t tell that this band hadn’t been on a stage in almost two years. Everything was tight, including Stephen Pedersen’s high-flyin’ vocals that still had that pop. They were having the time of their lives, and so was an audience that greeted old favorites with raised fists.

June 13 — The Mountain goats at Slowdown — Balladeer John Danielle did a Storytellers shtick, with bits about life on the road or what inspired the next rousing anthem or stirring ballad, delivered in the rapid-fire style of a well-seasoned stand-up comic.

June 28 — Deerhoof at TWR — As a live band, Deerhoof eclipsed their restrained, measured recordings with sheer ferocity, transforming from an art band into something that more closely resembled punk.

June 30 — It’s True at Slowdown Jr. –“This is our third to last show,” said inebriated frontman Adam Hawkins without giving an explanation. The performance had the charm of a drunken wake, with Hawkins taking double shots between songs. Despite proclaiming that he was “wasted,” he still put on one helluva show.

July 9 — Lincoln Invasion in Benson — Twenty bands from Lincoln decended on Benson for one night, but it was Mercy Rule that made the best argument for Star City’s superiority.

July 24 — MAHA Music festival — We all had a favorite performance. Some said Spoon, others Ben Kweller and The Faint. For me it was conquering heroes Superchunk playing for their first time in Nebraska.

July 31 — Concert for Equality in Benson — For one day, 2,000 people crowded the streets of Benson to celebrate freedom, or the lack of it. While host Conor Oberst shined with Bright Eyes, it was the reunion of his other band, Desaparacidos, along with Lullaby for the Working Class, that made the day historic.

Aug. 27 — Slowdown Block Party — With his stringy hair and big, crazy graying beard, Built to Spill’s Doug Martsch looked like he just walked out of a survivalist compound. And though his Neil Young-meets-Kermit the Frog voice couldn’t hit the high notes, he could still shred on guitar like few others in the indie world.

Sept. 16 — Titus Andronicus at TWR — I wouldn’t say it was “epic” as much as an attempt at being epic. Every one of Titus’ tuneful anthem punk songs started small before exploding into pounding riffs, sing-along lyrics and the occasional Celtic-flavored melody.

Sept. 24 — Serena-Maneesh at TWR — Slowdive. Ride. My Bloody Valentine. I never saw any of them perform live on stage. And after this show, I get the feeling that Serena-Maneesh will be the closest I’ll ever get.

Oct. 22 — Bad Luck Charm at The 49’r — The headliner was BLC, but the real star was the bar itself, which was celebrating its second-to-last show before closing its doors forever.

Nov. 19 — Tim Kasher at TWR — Backed by a solid band, an unually reserved Kasher was all business, serenading the crush mob with solo ballads, Good Life covers and a tip o’ the hat to David Bowie.

Nov. 29 — Mark Mallman at TWR — Ever the professional showman, Mallman played as if he were in front of a sold out Carnegie Hall instead of a virtually empty room. He deserved better.

Were we saving the best for last? An early press date kept me from including the Dec. 23 reunion of Slowdown Virginia and Polecat, and the Dec. 29 return of Mousetrap to The Waiting Room. I guess I’ll just have to include them on next year’s list.

* * *

Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, Dec. 29, 2010.

Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, Dec. 29, 2010.

Actually, you needn’t wait for next year’s list. You already saw the Slowdown Virginia review. And last night was Mousetrap at The Waiting Room.

Before I get to the specifics, let me get this off my chest — There is something strangely timeless about Mousetrap’s music, and here’s what I’m talking about: No one — not back then in the ’90s and certainly not now — could channel rage quite the way these guys could and still do. It’s not a macho or tough-guy thing like today’s corporate metal goon-rock bands. Instead, it’s bitter and angry, but it’s anger channeled more toward themselves than whatever situation Patrick Buchanan and Craig Crawford are screaming about. Actually, it’s more about pain than anger — not a broken-hearted pain, but an exposed nerve physical throbbing abscessed tooth sort of agony. Bright red and pulsing.

Nothing sounds like Mousetrap today. Look at any of the 2010 top-10 album lists floating around the internet right now and ask yourself how many of those bands sound like they’ve ever been mad about anything. Arcade Fire, for example, channels regret and lost hope in mournful tones, as if they’ve come to accept the fact that we’ve all somehow been cheated. They’re martyrs. Mousetrap is on the opposite side. They’re not giving an inch. If you fuck with them, they’re going to let you know what they think of you at 300 dBs with spit flying from their mouths. And that is what makes their music strangely timeless. I can’t think of another band that has their ridged-back attitude. Mousetrap is that scrappy guy that no one fucked with in high school — not because he was the biggest or toughest in the crowd, but because everyone was afraid what he might do if you piss him off. Because if he snaps, there’s no stopping him. Mousetrap is that guy, that scary guy. You don’t want to get them started.

Last night they were in fine form, as good as they sounded last  year and better than I remember them back in the ’90s. They were always a great live band that spent every set teetering over the edge of the cliff. That sense of uncertainty is gone. They’re more focused; they know exactly what they want to do, and they do it. Their sound is as vicious and acidic as ever;  but Buchanan’s voice (as well as Crawford’s) is more controlled and certain. And after last night, I’m somewhat convinced that Mike Mazzola may be the best drummer they’ve worked with, giving the absent Scott Miller a run for his money. The crowd of 130 or so looked like they were paying homage to returning legends, which they were.

Buchanan ended the set saying, “See you next year,” but made the surprise annoucement that the band is considering recording a new album in 2011 — that is, if they can find a label to give them some cash. Somebody needs to step up, because it would be a shame if Mousetrap remained a once-a-year reunion gig. And we all could use a regular dose of anger in our musical diets. With the world the way it is, we certainly have a lot to be angry about.

* * *

The reunions continue tonight at The Slowdown. The last time I saw Stolen Kisses was way back in January 2009 (reviewed here). The band split up shortly afterward when Chris Kramer moved to Chicago. Well, he’s back tonight for this Stolen Kisses reunion show that also includes performances by Darren Keen and the Fellowship of the Ring, and the debut of Our Hearts Are Stars, a new band that features members of Bear Country and Talking Mountain, among others. Show starts at 9 and is absolutely free.

* * *

Lazy-i Best of 2010 sampler

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of the highly coveted Lazy-i Best of 2010 Sampler CD!  Just send me an e-mail (to tim@lazy-i.com) with your name and mailing address and you’ll be dropped in the digital hat. Tracks include songs by Arcade Fire, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The National, Tim Kasher, Hot Chip, Sally Seltmann, Belle and Sebastian, Titus Andronicus, The Mynabirds, Zeus, The Black Keys, Pete Yorn and more. Full track listing is here. Enter today. Deadline is Jan. 18.

* * *

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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

2010: The Music Year in Review, Pt. 1 (including the Top 10); Mousetrap at TWR tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:53 pm December 29, 2010

Vintage Dundee homes behind newly erected chain-link fence. All will be demolished, along with the building that housed The 49'r, to make way for a CVS Pharmacy

Vintage Dundee homes behind newly erected chain-link fence. All will be demolished, along with the building that housed The 49'r, to make way for a CVS Pharmacy.

2010: The Year in Music

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Compact DIscBefore we begin, a small eulogy for an old friend…

The first Compact Discs appeared in 1978, the same year that Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors was released and the first computer bulletin board system was created — a precursor to The Internet. The CD was the first music format that promised perfection — no wear, no tear, no skips, no pops, no turning over one side for the other. Instead of rewind there was “skip.” The discs themselves even looked high-tech and modern, with their shiny rainbow underside that you should never touch. It was exciting technology that few could afford. But within a few short years, even a college kid earning an hourly salary at Kmart could scratch together enough cash to buy a CD player.

Now just a little over three decades later, and CDs are going the way of the dinosaur.

8 Track TapeThey had a good run. Certainly better than the 8-track tape — a format introduced in the mid-1960s that was crushed when cassette tapes came into vogue in the early ’80s — but not as good as vinyl records, which have been around since before the turn of the last century, and are still limping along today.

There will be those who will say that it’s too early to write the obituary for the CD — including our friends at Homer’s, who have seen their worldwide chain of seven stores dwindle to two in 2009. They’re right. The CD will be around for a few more years. But the prognosis is most certainly terminal, and the proof is in what musicians have been telling me throughout the year. Whether it was a young solo artist at a local bar or a band that’s made millions over the course of a decade-long career — all said that no one’s buying CDs anymore. Bands no longer dream of a day when CD sales will be enough to support them. Those days are gone.

That doesn’t, however, mean that the music industry is dead. There are more musicians today than ever before, thanks to technology that killed the CD and that made it possible for any weekend musician with a laptop to become a record producer, for better or worse.

Moving forward, most musicians will have to depend on licensing deals (selling their music for TV commercials, movie soundtracks, bad television programs) and whatever cash they take home by performing live.

The age of the CD is done. Now comes the age of the Stage. It’s just like starting over…

Closer to home, 2010 will be remembered for its festivals, its reunions and its departures.

Superchunk at the MAHA Music Festival, 7/24/10.

Superchunk at the MAHA Music Festival, 7/24/10.

* After a rocky launch in ’09, the MAHA Music Festival proved that Omaha can indeed pull off a true indie music event. The one-day concert, held on Lewis & Clark Landing, attracted first-tier bands like Spoon, Ben Kweller, Superchunk and local heroes The Faint, along with thousands of indie music fans. Can MAHA top it in 2011?

* Organized by Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst, The Concert for Equality was a day of performances built around a message about this country’s divisive integration laws that made headlines from Arizona to Fremont, Nebraska. Oberst, who had become a poster boy for the cause, got help from old friends Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Cursive as well as members of Desaparecidos and Lullaby for the Working Class, who played together for the first time in years.

The 49'r

* On a legislative front, local boozers no longer had to flee to Council Bluffs to get their late-night drunk on, as new laws raised bar closing times from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. in Nebraska. Meanwhile, Omaha bars felt the sting of a new entertainment tax that not only drove drink prices up, but may drive Mayor Suttle out of office.

* One of Omaha’s oldest venues for live music, The 49’r, closed its doors for good in October after a drawn out battle that pitted the Dundee neighborhood against CVS Pharmacy. In the end, everybody lost.

* Perhaps the biggest music news of the year came after the festival season was over. MECA, the people who run the Qwest Center and the new downtown TDAmeritrade ballpark, announced that it’s hosting the Red Sky Music Festival July 19-24. MECA will work with Live Nation to book 50 bands that will perform in and around the ballpark for what they hope will be a festival that rivals Milwaukee’s Summerfest.

Now, without further ado, here are my 10 favorite recordings of 2010, in no particular order (Note that I didn’t say “favorite CDs” — all 10 are in regular rotation… on my iPhone).

Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

Arcade FireThe Suburbs (Merge) — Mewing frontman Win Butler may be too smart for his own good — a sad, tortured realist, he’s stuck in a rut, dwelling on the past, on the future and on our current situation. And yet, his music on this, his band’s third album, is as inventive as anything on 2004′s Funeral.

Titus Andronicus, The Monitor

Titus AndronicusThe Monitor (XL) — The New Jersey band expanded on its low-fi punk sound, adding new instruments (bagpipes, fiddle, trombone, cello) that elevated these epic, drunken, Celtic-flavored sing-along ballads to a level as grand as the album’s so-called Civil War theme.

It's True, self-titled

It’s True, self-titled, self released — Adam Hawkins and company soared to new heights on personal songs of love, heartbreak and redemption. It’s a fitting elegy for a band that could have been a contender, could have been somebody.


Tim Kasher, The Game of Monogamy

Tim KasherThe Game of Monogamy (Saddle Creek) — Closer to The Good Life than Cursive, the differentiator is the baroque strings, the upbeat brass, and the cool hand claps on “I Think I’m Gonna Die Here,” which would be a radio hit in any other universe. In the overall Kasher oeuvre, this is a minor, simple, but ultimately satisfying guilt trip.

The Black Keys, Brothers

The Black KeysBrothers (Nonesuch) — Auerbach and Carney take their gritty blues sound, meld it with a dollop of psychedelia and smooth out the edges just enough to make this their most accessible — and enjoyable — long player since ’04’s Rubber Factory.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, I Learned the Hard Way

Sharon Jones & The Dap-KingsI Learned the Hard Way (Daptone) — It’s not so much a reinvention of the classic old-school R&B as an embrace of days past by a band and a singer that embody the best of ’60s soul.


Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, Brutalist Bricks

Ted Leo and The PharmacistsBrutalist Bricks (Matador) — There’s something simmering just below the surface of every one of this album’s 13 edgy, angry, catchy pop songs, as if a smiling Mr. Leo was about to stroll into a bank with a bomb beneath his overcoat.

Belle and Sebastian, Write About Love

Belle & SebastianWrite About Love (Matador) — A return to form for a band that defined a style of chamber pop that’s been copied by every mopey scenester indie band in this country (and theirs).


LCD Soundsystem

LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening (Virgin) — The long-awaited follow-up to ’07’s Sound of Silver finds our hero James Murphy more concerned about writing embraceable pop songs than getting your feet moving, and that’s OK (I guess).


Pete Yorn, self-titled

Pete Yorn, self-titled (Vagrant) — Everyone’s favorite indie crooner enlists the help of everyone’s favorite post-punk rocker (Black Francis of The Pixies) to pull his music out of a mire of heartbreak and into something leather-clad and angry. Who ever thought that Yorn knew how to rock?

Tomorrow: 2010 in Review Pt. 2 — the live shows.

* * *

Lazy-i Best of 2010

Lazy-i Best of 2010

While you’re contemplating the year that was 2010, enter to win a copy of the highly coveted Lazy-i Best of 2010 Sampler CD! I started putting together samplers in the mid-’90s as a way of sharing new music with friends and family who either don’t have the time or the resources to hear all the stuff that they keep off the radio. And now you can become part of that “inner circle.” Just send me an e-mail (to tim@lazy-i.com) with your name and mailing address and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free copy. Tracks include songs by Arcade Fire, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, The National, Tim Kasher, Hot Chip, Sally Seltmann, Belle and Sebastian, Titus Andronicus, The Mynabirds, Zeus, The Black Keys, Pete Yorn and more. Full track listing is here. Enter today. Deadline is Jan. 18.

* * *

A year of momentous, historic reunions ends tonight with the return of Mousetrap to an Omaha stage. Can they possibly top their 2009 reunion performance? We’ll just have to wait and see. Bone up on your Mousetrap knowledge with this ’09 profile and this 2010 update with frontman Patrick Buchanan. Opening tonight’s show at The Waiting Room are  fellow Golden Age of Omaha punk heroes Mercy Rule along with next-gen wonders Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and the amazing Stay Awake. $8, 9 p.m. See you there.

* * *

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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i