Fackler & Higgins on InDreama; a look back at Fashion Week (in the column); The Lupines, Baby Tears, Jake Bellows tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:08 pm August 30, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s been somewhat quiet news-wise the past few days, which has given me a chance to catch up on some new releases. Look for a slew of reviews online in the coming weeks, including a summary of the best stuff from the first three quarters of 2012. The year indeed started out slow, but there have been a few interesting releases this summer.

What else…?

Omaha singer/songwriter/musician/filmmaker/golden boy Nik Fackler and bass playing legend Dereck Higgins talk about the upcoming InDreama debut right here at Hear Nebraska. The article is an intriguing combination of text and audio files from the interview. Look for the new InDreama to hit store shelves Oct. 23 on Team Love Records.

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In this week’s column, a look back at last Saturday night’s Fashion Week finale, a review that’s bound to get me in trouble… You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online right here.

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Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s The Barley Street Tavern, it’s the return of The Lupines with Baby Tears and St. Louis band Hope and Therapy. The usual $5, the usual 9:30 start time.

Also tonight, traveling troubadour Jake Bellows (ex-Neva Dinova) is playing a set at The New BLK, 1213 Jones St., as part of the Top Coat and Tails II closing party. Jake goes on at 10. According to The NBLK: “No cover. Free drink (until it’s gone, feel free to byob also). We’ll be taking donations to help Jake put a new clutch in the ’71 Datsun for it’s journey back to LA. Come down.” OK, now you have to go…

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: Icky Blossoms (CD release show July 3); Nightmare Boyzzz; The Whipkey Three tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:45 pm June 28, 2012
Icky Blossoms on the Earth Day stage in Elmwood Park, April 21, 2012.

Icky Blossoms on the Earth Day stage in Elmwood Park, April 21, 2012.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The germination of Omaha indie dance-rock band Icky Blossoms dates back to a different sort of flower created by the band’s mastermind, Derek Pressnall.

Started in 2007 as a side project to Pressnall’s main band, Tilly and the Wall, Flowers Forever was a multi-layered, psych-rock head trip, but by 2010 the band’s sound began to change. The band’s final evolution came at a frenzied performance at Slowdown Jr. in October 2010. With only about 50 people left in the club, Flowers Forever closed the evening with an unexpected number called “Babes” that transformed the room into a throbbing dance club. The crowd, who only moments earlier had been struck motionless by the thick, buzz-saw shoegaze sound of Montreal band No Joy, at once lost all inhibitions and simply let go, liberated by the song’s irresistible bass line and disco thump-thump-thump.

Bodies moved. Hands rose. Sweat glistened. And just like that, Icky Blossoms was born. At its core were Pressnall channeling John Lydon and Fred Schneider, dreamy blond vocalist Sarah Bohling sounding like a modern-day Nico, and crazy-haired guitarist/dynamo Nik Fackler, on his knees coaxing shrill noises from his axe, lost in the moment.

When “Babes” ground to a halt the crowd cried out to hear it again. Never ones to disappoint, Pressnall and Co. took it from the top, and the party continued. And then things got weird(er) when someone (maybe Capgun Coup’s Sam Martin) broke open an enormous bag of popcorn and began throwing it like like buttered confetti. It was strange, surreal, fun, and became a sort of blueprint for future performances.

“Every performance should evoke emotion, danger, excitement,” Pressnall said, surrounded by his bandmates last week at the Old Dundee Bar & Grill. “What’s the worst thing that could happen? We’re a rock ’n’ roll band. We want the show to be exciting and a little uncomfortable in the best sense of the word. We’re trying to push ourselves on stage, and there’s a bit of magic involved.”

Icky Blossoms, self-titled (Saddle Creek, 2012)

Icky Blossoms, self-titled (Saddle Creek, 2012)

The band tried to recreate that magic when recording its debut earlier this year with TV on the Radio’s David Sitek in his Los Angeles studio. “We were looking for instantaneous grooves,” Pressnall said. “That was the first thing we talked about for every song — the groove has to be there as soon as the music starts.”

“We constantly asked ourselves if a song would translate to a huge club or a massive festival,” Bohling said. “Would the groove get everyone’s attention?”

No doubt the grooves on the new album are impossible to ignore. Clocking in at around 42 minutes of sonic debauchery, Icky Blossoms’ debut, slated for release by Saddle Creek Records July 17, re-imagines the band’s dense, high-energy live sound. At the core are the songs — modern dance numbers that combine house beats and sonic stylings influenced by bands like Jesus and Mary Chain, The Happy Mondays, Depeche Mode, The B-52s, The Cure, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Public Image Limited and hometown heroes The Faint. Pressnall, Bohling and Fackler know what buttons to push, and gleefully jam them down as hard as possible on every track.

Album highlights include howling opening number “Heat Lightning,” orgiastic dance mantra “Sex to the Devil,” hypnotic album closer (and early single) “Perfect Vision,” and, of course, the track that’s bound to light up every runway at Fashion Week this fall, “Babes.” Taken individually, each track has its own sonic vibe; but as a whole, the album can be overwhelming, if not exhausting.

While Pressnall, Bohling and Fackler are the core members, the band’s stage lineup is a revolving cast. The current configuration includes the powerhouse rhythm section of drummer Clark Baechle of The Faint and high-kicking bassist Saber Blazek of Lincoln band The Machete Archive.

“It’s safe to say Clark has come up with some things that have impacted the band,” Pressnall said, though he added that they could lose their star drummer now that The Faint intends to regroup later this year. “Both Clark and Saber will work with us for the next six months,” he added. “Who knows where we’ll go from there.”

But that’s not the biggest question hanging over Icky Blossoms’ future. Beyond the fact that Tilly and the Wall has recorded a new album set for release later this year by Team Love Records, Pressnall and wife Jamie (also a member of Tilly) have a couple young children to raise. How can he do that and tour?

“Being away from my children is incredibly hard, much harder than I thought it would be,” Pressnall said. “It’s hard to describe. The separation really started to affect me after a couple weeks in LA. When touring, I would like to see my kids at least every two weeks, but if I had to I could go out for four weeks at a time. We’ll figure it out.”

Then there’s Fackler, who is more well-known outside of Omaha as a successful filmmaker. His 2008 feature film debut, Lovely, Still, which starred Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn, landed him a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award.

Fackler just completed his second feature film, a documentary titled Sick Birds Die Easy shot in the jungles of Africa. “It’s an exploration of western culture and ancient culture, drug addiction, spirituality and the destiny of mankind,” Fackler said. Now that the first cut is in the can, he’s in the process of submitting the film to festivals, which he says will tie him up most of July.

But with all that going on, the band still plans to tour this fall and winter. They’ve already signed with national booker The Windish Agency (M83, Ra Ra Riot, Dirty Projectors) and have their hearts set on a landing an opening slot with a more established band.

But no matter who it is, Fackler said the goal will still be to create an environment from the stage where people can let loose and dance.  “If you’re making music, that’s the best compliment.”

Icky Blossoms will celebrate the release of its debut album with UUVVWWZ and Depressed Buttons Tuesday, July 3 at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $7. For more information, call 402.884.5353 or visit onepercentproductions.com.

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Muscle Shoals, Alabama band Nightmare Boyzzz calls their music “Shit Pop,” which conjures a number of unsavory images that seem right at home at a place like O’Leaver’s. They actually play sweet garage rock that recalls our old friends The Ramones. Check out “Devil III” and “My Body Breaks Down” at their Bandcamp page. Also on the bill, Omaha’s own Peace of Shit and Black Out Sounds (Worried Mothers, Thee Tapeheads). O’Leaver’s, $5, 9:30 p.m.

The Whipkey Three returns to The Waiting Room stage tonight in support of their recent self-released album Two Truths. Read more about Matt and the boys and the new record here. Opening is The Lupines (Ziegler, Tulis, Friedman, Dabestani, amazing) and The Ground Tyrants. $7, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Lonely Estates plays at The Barley Street Tavern with The Rocketboys and From Indian Lakes. $5, 9 p.m.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: Icky Blossoms talks new album, David Sitek, the line-up, touring and the soul of creativity; Live Review: Midwest Dilemma; Buck Bowen tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:29 pm March 8, 2012
Icky Blossoms

Icky Blossoms

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s the story: Icky Blossoms is headed to SXSW next week. They’re driving. The distance from Benson, Nebraska, to Waterloo Records in Austin, Texas, is roughly 770 miles the way the Google flies. Gas currently costs around $4 a gallon. They’ll be driving a van that probably gets (if they’re lucky) 10 miles a gallon. If you use the above numbers:

770 / 10 x $4 = $308

That number does not include the cost of roadside junk food and other assorted “necessities” to make the 14-hour non-stop drive tolerable. Nor does it include the cost of lodging (substantially more than $308 if they’re staying at a hotel) and meals needed while in Music City.

Icky Blossoms just returned from Los Angeles where they recorded their debut album with TV on the Radio’s David Sitek to be released on Saddle Creek Records in early July. If you’ve ever been to LA and know how expensive its pleasures cost, than you know the band very likely is tapped out.

That’s where you come in. This is an early heads up for this Saturday night’s Icky Blossoms show at The Slowdown. In an effort to generate as much money as possible to cover costs, the band has moved the concert from Slowdown Jr. to Slowdown’s big stage.

Icky Blossoms needs you. Change whatever you had planned for Saturday night. Buy your tickets now. $7, here. You will be watching the birth of Omaha’s Next Big Thing.

To entice you even further to come to Saturday’s show, Icky Blossoms’ guitarist/vocalist Nik Fackler offered to answer some questions about the new album, touring and the future of the band.

What did Dave Sitek do to improve these songs? Did he act more like an engineer or as a traditional producer, and what’s the biggest change we’re going to hear in these songs from what we’ve heard in the past?

Nik Fackler: Sitek produced a creative, experimental and pro atmosphere for us to work in. I personally haven’t worked with many music producers, so for me he was kind of like a film director. He orchestrated the flow, experimented with ideas, created beats and analogue synth sounds and kept us all on schedule. He had an ear for what would work on the dance floor and kept a continuity between all the songs. The biggest change to previously released songs is quality, clarity and bigness.

Did you guys write any new material in LA for this record? Will we hear new songs on Saturday? What is the scheduled release date for the new record?

Nik: We wrote three new tunes when we were out in LA and we will be playing all three at the show on Saturday. The record is going to come out in early July.

What’s the lineup for Saturday night’s show? Is it the regular “live band” lineup?

Nik: The live lineup has shuffled a bit. Saturday’s show will see Saber Blazek (Machete Archive) on bass, Clark Baechle (Faint, Depressed Buttons) on drums, Nik (Fackler), Sarah (Bohling, keyboards, vocals), and Derek Pressnall (lead vocals, guitar) take stage.

How is Derek going to tour with: 1) a new baby in the house, and 2) Tilly and the Wall releasing a new record (and, presumably, touring as well)? Is that going to limit the amount of touring that Icky will be able to do this year? 

Nik: We are planning on touring and promoting the record as heavily as we can. How much that will actually be will be determined in the way the record is received and what kind of offers come in. If all goes well it definitely will be a balancing act, but not one we can’t handle. Our main focus right now is to continue to make our best songs and as many of them as we can so we can build a fan base. Scheduling stuff can always be worked out.

What about your schedule? If funding comes through for one of your major film projects, won’t you have to put Icky on hold? Does one project (music or filmmaking) take precedent over the other?

Nik: Creation is my soul.  The goal for me is to never limit the amount of things I can create. I think we live in an age where artwork like film and music can be accomplished quickly. The digitizing of the world has removed some of the hands on aspects of art, but created the ability to produce things more quickly and with just as much quality. Right now, I am in a mode of work. Trying to forge a path for myself where I can do everything and not have to put anything on hold. Right now, it’s about coming up with a balanced and positive process to execute all these different ideas I have.

Neither takes precedent over the other. In a way I see them as all part of the whole.

How many times is Icky going to perform at SXSW? I know of only two gigs currently scheduled.

Nik: We are playing three shows. Thursday: The Waterloo Records Party, Waterloo Records Parking Lot, 2 p.m.; Friday: Saddle Creek Showcase at Lamberts BBQ, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday: Mad Decent/ Check Yo Ponytail/ Fool’s Gold Super Party at Emo’s East, Noon.

Opening for Icky Blossoms this Saturday at Slowdown is Midtown Marauders and Pony Wars. 9 p.m. $7. See you there.

And this just in: Rolling Stone is featuring the first track off the new album, “Babes,” right here. Or download it here.

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Midwest Dilemma at Slowdown Jr., March 7, 2012.

Midwest Dilemma at Slowdown Jr., March 7, 2012.

Last night saw a much stripped-down version of Midwest Dilemma at Slowdown Jr., at least compared to the last time I saw Justin Lamoureux’s band, where there were something like 16 people on stage. Last night MD played as a 4-piece with Lamoureux on guitar backed by cellist, flautist and brass player (tuba, bass trombone). I know he likes the big ensemble (hey, who doesn’t want to be surrounded by their friends?), but I much prefer this slimmed-down format which strips the songs to their bare essentials with just enough unique accoutrement for added flavor. Years of performing have aged Lamoureux’s voice like a fine Bordeaux. He’s discarded any vocal affectations (at times in his career he used to sport an Oberst bray) and now sings with a purely unique folk voice that would be appealing to anyone who likes, say, M. Ward’s style of music. Among the highlights was an ode to The 49’r and Lamoureux’s pre-song take on the role the bar played in his life (spoiler alert: booze). He hinted that a new album could be ready to go in a couple months, but quickly added that he’s been saying that for the past four years. Maybe it’s time we all put a collective boot up his ass?

Headliner Water Liars came on at around 10:30 to play a short set in front of about 10 people (including myself, bar staff and Lamoureux’s bandmates). Despite the lax crowd, their songs sounded heartfelt and full for a duo in the classic guitar-and-drums design. I love this guy’s voice, which reminded me of Will Johnson on songs that reminded me of Will Johnson as well. Gorgeous stuff.

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Tonight at House of Loom it’s the homecoming of nefarious hip-hop artist Buck Bowen, returning from California and places beyond. Hear Nebraska has the story of where Buck’s gone and where he going, right here. His hop-hop set tonight is part of Loom’s Midtown Marauder Showcase, which runs from 9 p.m. to 2 and costs $5. More info here. Bowen also will be manning the turntables at Loom Saturday night for a DJ set. Info on that showcase is here.

Also tonight, a live performance by KMG and Birthday Suits — I have no idea who these dudes are, but it don’t matter cuz the show’s at O’Leaver’s, which means it ain’t nothing but a party. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


No Joy, InDreama debut, Flowers Forever, The Prairies tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:43 pm October 28, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It is one of the more compelling show line-ups in a while, and it’s tonight at Slowdown.

It kicks off with stage debut of Dreama, or InDreama. The band’s name is in dispute these days (because someone else already has it). I actually like InDreama better anyway. The lineup consists of some local all-stars: Nik Fackler (The Family Radio, Flowers Forever, director of Oscar-buzz motion picture Lovely, Still), Sam Martin (Capgun Coup, soon-to-be movie star), Craig DeMayo (a.k.a. Craig D of Tilly and the Wall and a handful of other bands), Dereck Higgins (legendary Omaha musician and bass player, Digital Sex) and Aaron Gum (a co-conspirator of Fackler’s in the film-making world).

But forget about the personnel for a minute, and go to InDreama’s iLike page and listen to Simon & G-ish “Dream Fool Fuck #9,” or noise-tango dance-scream “Saw a Blind Dad” or epic, cinematic “Exodus from Reunion, A + STORM > great = End.” InDreama’s music is scary good. Here’s a band that’s reaching for something few other local bands bother looking for — a sound that’s both contemporary and progressive yet tuneful and picturesque. Yeah, it’s arty, but it doesn’t give up melody for experimentation. With Fackler at the helm, who knows what its future holds (he’s a busy guy). He tells me it’s the real deal, as is his participation in Derek Pressnall’s Flower’s Forever. How will he be able to balance a life split between film making and rocking? Time will tell.

On top of the bill is No Joy, a Montreal female duo that has an album coming out on Mexican Summer (Best Coast, Soft Pack, Dungen) that I would describe as classic buzz-saw shoe-gaze in the Jesus and Mary Chain vein. Here’s what Sentimentalist Mag said about their Knitting Factory gig at CMJ this year:

No Joy, a Montreal/L.A. quartet fronted by two guitar-wielding ladies with Cousin It hair streaming down to hide their faces, opened the Mexican Summer night in contemplative fashion, summoning any darkness in the room and blasting it forth with grungetastic riffs and morphine-dosed vocals that sparkled and seared in equal measure. Their Lush-esque, shoegazer licks came on clean and strong, and an impressive rhythm section courtesy of their two black-clad band mate fellas gave songs like “No Summer” and “No Joy” a slick backbone and raised the hair on the back of our necks. We liked the novelty of the set ending without any final notes or any adieu; The ladies were already busy packing up their gear on stage while their guitars still blared against their ballsy amps, while drummer and bassist played on.

Sounds scrumptious. You can check out their music on their Myspace page.

Fackler tells me Flowers Forever is going in a new and different direction. A little bird also tells me we’re in for a cross between shimmery shoegaze and an electronic dance experience. We’ll find out what Mr. Pressnall and Co. have up their sleeves tonight. And, The Prairies also is on the bill. All of this for a mere $6. Get there early for InDreama, who kicks things off at 9.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.