New Thermals drops; new Dolores Diaz date; Almost Music sale, show; Noah’s Ark…, Making Movies tonight; Those Far Out Arrows, Lucy Dacus Saturday…

Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013. The band celebrates the release of their new EP tonight at O'Leaver's.

Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013. The band celebrates the release of their new EP tonight at O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Thermals see the release of their new album, We Disappear, today on Saddle Creek Records. The album was produced by Chris Walla (ex-Death Cab for Cutie). You can check it out on Spotify, and in the usual digital outlets. I’m listening to it for the first time now. Sounds a lot more…embraceable than their older stuff. What can I say, I didn’t like their last album. This one I’m digging. They’re starting to remind me of Ted Leo (though not nearly as quirky). Thermals are headed to Omaha May 6 at The Slowdown (of course).

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Omaha super group Dolores Diaz & the Standby Club, who debuted at O’Leaver’s Jan. 3, announced another date, this time at The Waiting Room May 21. The country & western cover band includes half of Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis) along with Ben Brodin, Miwi La Lupa, Roger Lewis, Dan McCarthy Phil Schaffart, Matt Maginn, and Oberst’s wife, Corina. The best tunes from that O’Leaver’s set were placed online at Live @ O’Leaver’s (here). Will the band do the same covers or attempt new material? You’ll have to wait until May 21 to find out.

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Almost Music is getting ready for its big move to the Blackstone District with a massive SALE today and tomorrow. The deals: 50% off books, 20% off used vinyl, 10% off new vinyl, and tons of stuff for 99 cents.

In addition, Almost Music is “warming up” its new space by throwing and art and variety show tonight featuring readings and performances by Megan Siebe, Jim Schroeder, Sarah Gleason, Simon Joyner and Louise Requin, Dan Crane and Dave Goldberg. The new place is at 3925 Farnam St. and the free show starts at 8 p.m.

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What else is happening? Well it looks like another O’Leaver’s weekend (or as Ian would call it, “another lost weekend”).

It starts tonight with Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship celebrating the release of their new self-released EP, Three, recorded by Ben Brodin at ARC Studios. Opening the show are Mint Wad Willy, Eric in Outerspace and DJ Joe Benson. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, Afro-Latino rock band Making Movies from Kansas City headlines at The Lookout Lounge. Their second album, A La Deriva, was produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin. Who doesn’t want to rock in Spanish? The Regulation and Anthems opens. $8, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s back to fabulous O’Leaver’s for Those Far Out Arrows’ album release show. If the record, From the Sun, sounds distinctly like Benson it could be because the album was recorded in brothers Ben and Evan Keelan-White’s Benson digs. The trio is rounded out by Jon Ochsner on bass. Their music has an authentic ’60s psych-garage sound influenced by VU, the Troggs and 13th Floor Elevator, as well as early Brian Jonestown Massacre. Opening the show are Dead Flower Preservation Band and Heavy Lungs. $5, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, rock ‘n’ rollers Big Wheel headline at The Brothers Lounge with The Electroliners. No price listed for this one. Starts at 9 p.m. (though Brothers’ shows always start late).

Over at Milk Run, Lucy Dacus headlines Saturday night. Dacus hails from beautiful Richmond, VA and plays thick-rhythm rock with massive hooks. Check out the tracks below. Infectious. Opening are Sowers, Badland Girls and Crypt Kid. Why Milk Run bills insists on four-band shows, I do not know, but it means some late nights. $5, 9 p.m.

Milk Run has another 4-band bill Sunday night, headlined by Cincinnati “lush-punk” band Leggy. Opening are The Ridgways, Bien Fang (Rachel Tomlinson Dick’s latest band), and Lawrence feedback/delay punkers Arc Flash. $5, 9 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments. 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Icky Blossoms (and Reptar) Vs. Pile (and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship) tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm April 14, 2015
Icky Blossoms at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015. They band opens for Reptar tonight at Slowdown.

Icky Blossoms at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015. They band opens for Reptar tonight at Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A pair of hot shows go head-to-head tonight.

At Sweatshop Gallery it’s the abrasive, angular punk of Pile. The Boston band recorded its most recent full length, You’re Better Than This (2015, Exploding in Sound Records) at ARC Studios right here in Omaha with producer Ben Brodin. There are moments on the record, like the triumphant “Mr. Fish,” that dip and dive like a drunken barn swallow. Striking stuff. Opening is a rare performance by Omaha band Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship and the sloshy slacker grind of Stomach (Check out their bitchin’ DEMOS — after hearing these, I was intrigued…). $8, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, cross town at The Slowdown, it’s the return of Icky Blossoms. Last time they played they sold out Slowdown Jr., which is why (I guess) this time they’re playing in the big room. Either that or the fact that Reptar is headlining this show. Coaxed opens. $12, 9 p.m.

Speaking of Icky Blossoms, here’s their latest from their upcoming Saddle Creek release Mask:

And here’s the latest from the Reptar, off their new album Lurid Glow (Joyful Noise, 2015):

It’s nice outside. Get out there and enjoy some live music!

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Noah’s Ark, Back When; RSD results; Maha announces ‘local stage’; Johnny Marr tonight…

Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013.

Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Every band should play one cover song during their set because the song they choose opens a hidden door into what they’re about. At least that’s the conventional wisdom. In the case of Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, that wisdom does not necessarily apply.

Halfway through their well-attended (200?) album release show Saturday night at The Waiting Room, the band decided to play “the best song we didn’t write,” and tore into Neil Young’s “Hey, Hey, My My (Into the Black).” Fantastic rendition including blazing between-verse guitar solos by frontman Andrew Gustafson. Great song, but who would have guessed that this is the cover they’d pick? I would have guessed something by Sonic Youth or Dinosaur Jr. or even the Pixies, but an old Freedom Rock chestnut from Rust Never Sleeps? Surprising indeed, and somewhat amazing, as was the rest of their set.

Tell me if I’m wrong (my memory, it fades) but I remember Noah’s being an instrumental-only band when they first came on the scene all those many years ago. Now I can’t imagine them without vocals — lead guitarist/vocalist Gustafson has a fantastic voice — imagine J. Mascis without the croak-groan and you’re kinda getting there. He bends his notes in a similar appealing fashion that pulls everything together for this power trio. If you haven’t checked out You Need You you need to.

Back When at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013.

Back When at The Waiting Room, April 20, 2013.

I found out weeks ago that the opening slot for Noah’s would be Back When’s last-ever gig, but somehow it slipped my feeble mind. Why they’re hanging it up, I cannot say, though one (well-connected) person in the audience told me that the band felt they’d simply moved on to other things, other projects, other lives.

The irony for me is that Saturday night’s show was really the first time that I “got” what Back When was going for, and it came about three songs before the end, during an epic sonic punch-out where each member was locked into every break, every moment, as if channeling some dark, Gothic metal secret shared only by an elite circle of musicians who can hear the rhythmic language that floats beneath the surface of the chaos. Theirs was a pounding, pummeling sound, experimental on a number of levels as well as cinematic in sheer layered scope (pushed in that direction by recent videos). And of course, it could be very dark indeed. You would never mistake it for pop music.

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The line outside of Homer's yesterday prior to the 10 a.m. opening time. Photo by John Shartrand.

The line outside of Homer’s yesterday prior to the 10 a.m. opening time. Photo by John Shartrand.

Mike Fratt, who runs Homer’s Records, said Saturday’s Record Store Day was one for the record books. “Historic sales for us as well as every other retailer around the country I’ve talked to,” he said. “Loads of fun and exhausting, too. Crowds/customers were awesome, and we are very thankful for their support.”

The nitty-gritty: Homer’s sold 273 of the 313 titles they got in — double-digits sales quantities on 32 titles. “We still have quantity left on about 80 RSD items, 1’s or 2’s,” Fratt said. “We ordered some items in heavy quantities hoping we would have 3 to 6 left so there would be stock through the year, but many of those totally sold out; Mumford, White Stripes, Notorious BIG, etc.”

I didn’t get to the store until Saturday afternoon, but still managed to find the two main things I was looking for: Pulp Vs. Soulwax 12-inch and  Big Star’s Nothing Can Hurt Me. Both releases are remarkable.

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The Maha Music Festival announced its “local stage” last night, and it’s got something for everyone: Criteria will provide another in its series of amazing “occasional” performances, pop band Rock Paper Dynamite, a reunion of Lincoln indie band The Millions, the arresting chamber pop of Hers, and the winner of the OEA talent contest. And the band I guess could be considered the “local stage headliner”: Digital Leather. Yeah, the night could get weird (in a good way) if DL does its usual set closer “Studs in Love.” But something tells me there will be an Ed Sullivan-type dictum thrown out by the Maha organizers to prevent DL from playing their more racier material. Will Shawn Foree pull a Jim Morrison? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Last week I was whining about the lack of touring indie shows. This week, we’re loaded, beginning with tonight’s Johnny Marr show at The Waiting Room. Lots of buzz about this one. Tickets are still available for $25. Opening is Alamar. Show starts at 8.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Talking Mountain, Jukebox the Ghost, He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister tonight; Marnie Stern, Noah’s Ark, Record Store Day Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 4:16 pm April 19, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s the weekend picks… better late than never…

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s Talking Mountain returns for another retina-burning performance. I think I said earlier that the new TM album, Mysterious Knowledge / Unknown Colors, was a Slumber Party Records release. It’s not, it’s self-released and, I’m told, it’s kicking ass on its own. Opening are Lincoln band Life Is Cool and the always entertaining Pleasure Adapter, who are making a run at becoming Omaha’s “next big thing.” $5, 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at The Waiting Room, Yep Rock band Jukebox the Ghost plays with Pretty & Nice. $12, 9 p.m.

P&N are also playing tomorrow morning for line-standers at Homer’s for Record Store Day. Get in line at 9, have some coffee and donuts, and get serenaded by this kooky Boston trio.

Finally, tonight down at Slowdown Jr., He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister (Park the Van Records) headlines a show with All Young Girls Are Machine Guns. $10, 9 p.m.

 

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Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship, You Need You (self-release, 2013(

Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, You Need You (self-release, 2013(

Tomorrow night, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship celebrates the self-release of their full length You Need You. “Some parts were recorded at ARC by Ben Brodin and other parts were recorded by JJ Idt and Matt Carroll in Matt Carroll’s basement studio called Little Machine,” says the band. The album will be released as a vinyl/cd/digital download all-in-one package for the low, low price of $15. The record maintains Noah’s Sonic Youth devotion, but adds touches of other ’90s influences, such as Dinosaur Jr. Check it out below, then order your copy or just pick one up at the show. The mighty opening lineup includes Back When, UUVVWWZ and Baby Tears. $7, 9 p.m.

And check out Noah’s just-release Love Drunk Video for “Caucasian Meditation,” below:

Also tomorrow night (Saturday) Marnie Stern (Kill Rock Stars) plays at The Barley Street Tavern with Baltimore band Roomrunner and our very own Snake Island. Here’s what Time Out Chicago said about Stern’s show Wednesday night at The Empty Bottle:

Stern’s live show is always a high-energy affair, and the single-woman-from-the-Upper-East-Side stand-up comedy (she did her classic Rodney Dangerfield impression) is just one element of her magnetism. Her dizzying, diaristic compositions and guitar work—frenetic, finger-tapped, boisterous and dense—are what enrapture those who like a dash of gleeful pop in their math rock. 

Could be interesting indeed. $10. 9 p.m.

Finally, Sunday Austin psych-rock band The Black Angels headlines at The Waiting Room with Allah-Las and Elephant Stone. $15, 9 p.m.

 

And again, don’t forget about Record Store Day tomorrow. Go put some vinyl on.

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Criteria, Noah’s Ark and rum drinks at O’Leaver’s; Desert Noises, John Klemmensen tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:47 pm March 4, 2013
Criteria at O'Leaver's March 2, 2013.

Criteria at O’Leaver’s March 2, 2013.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Let’s start with the tiki bar.

It’s amazing that O’Leaver’s could create this alternate reality in a club that used to be as well known for its smell as its music. Tucked away in the space just behind the main bar (take a left right after you go through the front door), the room used to house a punching machine and other assorted junk. Bands stored their gear back there between sets. It’s now been transformed into a dimly lit tropical paradise complete with cabana grass and a sunset mural. Classy, very classy.

Manning the tiki bar Saturday night was none other than Cursive guitarist/vocalist and Mayday/Lullaby for the Working Class frontman Ted Stevens. Dressed in a grass skirt w/coconuts Stevens took to his bartender role like he’d been slinging cocktails his entire life, and before you know it, I was holding my first O’Leaver’s umbrella drink — a Mai Tai — and it was damn good. Too good. Going-straight-to-my-head good. Dangerously good. I could get used to hanging out back there, but who knows what the hours will be for the tiki bar. I assume it’ll be manned on weekends and/or show nights. Time will tell.

As for the rest of O’Leaver’s, well the place isn’t that much different. You’ll notice the new baby-poop-brown paint job for the ceiling tile and that any holes in the walls of albums have been properly filled. And the smell is gone. There were other new touches throughout I’m sure, but after that Mai Tai, things became a blur.

Saturday night’s crowd was one of the largest I’ve seen shoe-horned in that place. Tables and chairs has been removed to make more room near the “stage,” and as a result, unless you were in the melee, you couldn’t see who was performing. I’m told that Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship has become a power trio — they certainly sounded like one — lean, mean, in top fighting shape. This new, tight ensemble brings more focus on their Sonic Youth/Pixies-flavored indie songs.

They were followed by the all-powerful Criteria. A note about O’Leaver’s sound — normally it’s impossible to talk to the person standing next to you while the band is playing without shouting a hole in a person’s eardrum. Not Saturday night. The mass of humanity was part of the reason, acting as a natural sound buffer from my perch next to the (new) soundboard in the back of the room. Don’t get me wrong — it still sounded loud, just not painfully so. If Criteria was a test of the bar’s improved sound system, it passed with flying colors.

Criteria rolled out two or three new songs that showed a progression for a veteran band that rarely plays these days. The songs were riff-heavy in a good way; fierce and anthemic as anything they’ve done before. Of course the question is what will they do with this new material. Judging by the rather large contingent of Creekers in the house, could a new release be in the making?

For my ears, O’Leaver’s ranks just behind The Waiting Room and Slowdown in sound quality — it’s  a really balanced room considering it’s just a dive bar. The deficit (at least Saturday night) is the sightlines since the band is standing on the same floor as the crowd in front of it. With no head room to add a riser, the only solution is to get off your ass and join the crowd. Maybe it’s not such a bad problem to have after all.

Sharp-eyed fans noticed that the upcoming Tim Kasher dates at O’Leaver’s (March 20 and 21) are promoted by One Percent Productions. Giving the club the ability to pre-sale tickets is only part of the reason. Will One Percent view O’Leaver’s as a viable venue for smaller touring acts that are ill-suited for the much larger TWR and Slowdown? If so, we could see a new beginning for a club with a legendary past.

BTW, weekends at the club are booked through the balance of the month…

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Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s Utah Valley band Desert Noises with Omaha’s own John Klemmensen and The Party. $7, 9 p.m. Check out some Desert Noises below…

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, The F-ing Party tonight (and what’s the deal with the F-word band names?)…

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 1:08 pm June 9, 2011

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

One show worth mentioning tonight: Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship is playing at The Waiting Room with The Fucking Party and Dads. $7, 9 p.m.

Is it me or is there a preponderance of bands these days that use the word “Fuck” in their name? I think the first band I know of that used the F-word in its name was a noodly Oakland indie-slacker band simply called Fuck who was signed to Matador Records for a brief time in the late ’90s. Since then, there’s Fucked Up, Holy Fuck, The Condo Fucks, the Fuck Buttons and now Omaha’s own The Fucking Party, a name that would have been shocking 15 or 20 years ago but now just seems, meh. It’s impossible to shock anyone these days, especially with the advent of the Internet.  If the point of using the F-word in your name was to attract attention, well it just doesn’t work anymore. In fact, there may be nothing but downside, as using the F-word is just offensive enough to keep your band’s name out of the paper and off showbills. And if that’s the case, what’s the fucking point?

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Conor on Letterman; Iron & Wine whine pays off; Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:43 pm February 25, 2011

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday afternoon, Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds and now also of Bright Eyes, posted a photo on her Facebook page of her with Norman the Dog taken shortly after yesterday’s taping of BE’s performance on The Late Show with David Letterman. Laura called Norman “the show’s biggest talent,” and other than her band, she was right. Norman, a big shaggy lovable hound, stood on a scooter and pushed it across the studio floor — two paws on handlebars, one paw on scooter, and No. 4 pushing him along. It was part of a Stupid Pet Tricks package that included a border collie that could cook breakfast (an Eggo waffle). The only other part of the show I didn’t fast-forward through was Letterman berating comments from Sen. Rand Paul after coming off of a commercial break, saying how he didn’t understand how anyone could take away collective bargaining while giving tax breaks to “fat cats.” Amen, brother Letterman.

As for the BE performance, these things have become old hat for Conor and Co. A little bird told me Wednesday night that, due to time constraints, they’d be performing “Jejune Stars” off the new album (which Letterman held up in its vinyl format, the sleeve looking irredescent in the studio light), and sure enough that’s what they tore up on stage. Everyone did fine, and the sound was good (as you’ll see on the YouTube version). Laura mostly provided backing vocals as it appeared that Nate Walcott handled most of the keyboard chores. The star of the performance was Clark Baechle, looking like a cross between Anthony Jr. of the Sopranos and Matthew Sweet. Percussion drives this song, and the camara knew it, often focusing on Clark during the frenetic chorus breaks. Very nice, indeed. Next stop for Bright Eyes is kicking off the North American tour next Tuesday night in Miami with Cursive.

The website twentyfourbit.com has compiled a nice online retrospective of Bright Eyes TV performances over the years. Check it out.

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Looks like my whining has paid off. One Percent Productions announced yesterday that Iron & Wine is now slated to perform at Slowdown June 5. Tickets go on sale next Friday.  Yes, yes, you can thank me for the booking (Just kidding, Marc). Iron & Wine was on my list of “why don’t they ever come to Omaha?” bands that I posted Wednesday, here. That post got a bit of feedback, including a “get-your-shit-together” comment from people informing me that Tyvek has played in Omaha the past two years at drug-laden house parties. As I pointed out, I ain’t going to any house parties where I can get my ass thrown in jail because some under-age patrons decided to take a nip of the hooch (or fire up some chronic) when the cops show up to bust the joint. Also the fact that most kids at a house party would think I was a cop and/or an angry father keeping an eye on his daughter is enough to keep me out of Hotel Frank or The Jerk Store or whatever it’s called these days. Someone needs to book Tyvek at a larger space, say O’Leaver’s or The Barley Street or The 49’r…oops, I mean CVS (btw, have you seen the mass destruction of the neighborhood behind The Niner? ’tis a pity.). Someone also pointed out that Ted Leo opened for Against Me… three years ago. Go to the thread and add your “most wanted” bands to the list, or just comment below this blog entry. People are watching…

* * *

And so we made it to the weekend and tonight’s mammoth album release party for Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship’s new LP, Hanga-Fang, at The Waiting Room. This should be a gala event, with opening bands  Yuppies, Ideal Cleaners and The Answer Team, all for a mere $7, so you’ll have plenty of jack left over to pick up a slab of that luscious orange vinyl. Seriously, buy this album, which I believe also comes with a download key that’ll let you add the digital version to your iPhone/listening device. It looks cool (at least in pictures) and is a pretty fantastic collection of songs. Find out for yourself tonight. Show starts at 9. See you there.

What else tonight? Well, Snake Island is playing a set at The Barley Street Tavern with Lincoln band Climates and Watching the Train Wreck. $5, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) there’s a colorful show slated for The Barley Street Tavern — New York band The Forms along with Kansas City band Soft Reeds, the illustrious Kyle Harvey and Dorkas. The Forms have a new song online with vocals by Matt Berninger of The National and another song featuring Andrew Thiboldeaux of Pattern Is Movement. This could be a hot show. $5, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, noise rock masters Back When play at Slowdown Jr. with Bazooka Shootout, Dapose (from the Faint) and Feral Hands. $7, 9 p.m.

Then Sunday Heartless Bastards open for Drive-By Truckers at The Slowdown. Seems like HB is always opening for someone instead of headlining on their own. Tix are $20/$23 DOS. Show starts 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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Column 311: Lazy-i Interview: Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship; Live Review: Smith Westerns; Tapes ‘n’ Tapes tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:28 pm February 24, 2011

Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship

Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship

Column 311: Smells Like Noah’s Ark

Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship runs a golden mile.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The scene is O’Leaver’s on a Saturday afternoon. How could a bar so fun and full of life in the evening look so bleak and frightening in the daylight? Flat, winter-afternoon sun glared through the dirty windows, cutting the darkness where a handful of faceless people sat stooped over the bar drinking and watching college basketball. The room’s tiny “stage” in daylight was a patch of dirty carpeting behind a couple tiny monitors that I pushed out of the way while dragging a chair up to the table where the boys of Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship sat drinking a variety of tallboys.

Guitarist vocalist Andrew Gustafson was late arriving from a luncheon with his family. We bided time talking about how the band’s music has been influenced by a handful of acts that these guys are way too young to have heard when first released.

“I was in third grade when I first heard Nirvana,” said drummer Rob Webster. “I had a friend whose older brother was really into that shit.”

Guitarist vocalist John Svatos explained how a friend had made a VHS mix tape of “super ’90s bands” that introduced him to Smashing Pumpkins. While bassist Ricky Black professed to being “super into Weird Al. I’m not as cool as these guys.”

Once Gustafson arrived the interview became chaotic, with everyone talking at the same time, made all the more confusing when the jukebox erupted into Thin Lizzy so loud that I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying. I warned them that I was going to get the story wrong, but they didn’t seem to mind.

Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship, Hanga-Fang (Slumber Party, 2011)

Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship, Hanga-Fang (Slumber Party, 2011)

The thumbnail sketch of the band’s history: Gustafson met Svatos during art class at Creighton Prep in 2002. “He had a Nirvana patch on his backpack and was already in (local metal band) Paria at the time,” Svatos said. “We were both into Sonic Youth.”

With bassist Black, the trio played their first gig on the under card of a local metal show at The Ranch Bowl. Drummer Rob Webster didn’t join the band until the winter of 2006, when he was Svatos’ roommate. Back in the old days, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship was an instrumental noise band, very much influenced by Sonic Youth. It wasn’t until Black returned from the University of Iowa that the band added vocals, which changed everything.

Their discography includes a 7-inch on local Dutch Hall Records and an EP on Slumber Party, the record label that’s releasing their debut LP, Hanga-Fang, at an album release show this Friday night at The Waiting Room. I say “album release” because there will be no CDs — just digital downloads and $15 slabs of 180 gram orange vinyl.

You can get the drift of Hanga-Fang‘s post-punk by playing it on your computer speakers, but you’ll enjoy it much more by dropping it on your Technics turntable hooked to your Harman/Kardon stereo and a pair of beefy Boston Acoustic speakers — or at least wearing headphones — where you can pick up subtle hints of Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Husker Du and Fugazi beneath layers of densely packed guitars and crisp, cracklin’ drums.

Noah’s Ark does more than emulate. They reinvent that ’90s facade in a modern setting without taking their eyes off the past. Their sound reminds me of the Lawrence scene circa 1993 (think Vitreous Humor or Zoom) — noise rock taken to slacker extremes born under a lonely, empty sky.

The album was recorded last spring by long-time Noah’s Ark engineer Mark McGowan at his Suitcase Recording studio, and mixed by AJ Mogis at ARC Studios.

The band pressed 500 copies under the Slumber Party moniker. We talked about the logic of only pressing vinyl, and how they couldn’t afford a distro deal. Money is not high on their priority list. “I encourage bootlegging,” Gustafson said, though I couldn’t talk him into allowing me to post the download link in this article.

Their next step is heading east and south on a tour with pals The Yuppies, followed by a western tour this summer that Black has yet to book. They’ve become renowned locally for their live show, but there also have been miscues, like playing Laslo’s Brewpub last summer, a restaurant where Webster was a cook. He warned them.

“We played to kids and grand parents,” he said. “When we got done, you could hear a pin drop.”

“The guys from Oxygen played after us,” Gustafson said. “They told us, ‘We really love your hard-edged sound.'” Webster quit Laslo’s shortly afterward, and the band never did get paid.

But they made up for it opening for Cursive at a sold out New Year’s Eve gig in Chicago that they nearly missed due to an ice storm. “We almost ran over a cop about a half hour outside of Iowa City,” Webster recalled.

For the band, the best part of the job is touring, and discovering weird new places, like Fairfield, Iowa, “America’s capital for transcendental meditation,” Svatos said, though none of the band knew that when they booked the gig.

Gustafson said Fairfield and that tour stop could be summed up by a conversation between him, a local girl and a guy who had just arrived in the U.S. “We were standing on top of this building, and the foreign guy asked, ‘What is medicine?'” Gustafson said. “I told him it’s like a pill that you take when you’re sick. The girl gave me a stern look and said, ‘NO IT’S NOT.’ And then she pointed at a bird that was flying over and said, ‘Medicine is that.'”

“That turned out to be the best show on the tour,” Svatos said.

* * *

Again, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship’s album release show is tomorrow night at The Waiting Room with The Answer Team, Ideal Cleaners and Yuppies. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

Unknown Mortal Orchestra at The Waiting Room, Feb. 23, 2011.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra at The Waiting Room, Feb. 23, 2011.

Smith Westerns’ current hype caught my attention, but it was opener Unknown Mortal Orchestra that got me to The Waiting Room last night for what turned out to be a well-attended show (150+?, maybe). UMO was a trio featuring two Portland guys and a frontman from Auckland (who pronounced the headliners’ name “The Smith Way-sterns” — Frodo would be proud). Marketed as a psych-rock band, their sound was a ’70s throwback (one guy compared them to Love), but with enough throaty rhythms to make me think of Manchester in the ’90s. They were at their most interesting when they went all proggy on their relatively straightforward songs, and broke down the tempos while adding frontman Ruban Nielson’s intricate and sometimes strange guitar lines, before shifting gears into a groove that The Kinks would respect. Virtual unknowns, keep an eye on these guys.

Smith Westerns at The Waiting Room, Feb. 23, 2011.

Smith Westerns at The Waiting Room, Feb. 23, 2011.

As for Smith Westerns — I liked their pop-’70s revival stuff more than their pop-’60s surf revival stuff, mainly because of Best Coast and every other band doing that ’60s shtick. When they moved up a decade, and filled their sound with gorgeous, glammy electric-soar guitars and much-needed keyboards, it was like listening to a Titan Records tribute band (more Gary Charlson than, say, Boys) combined with Sweet or T. Rex. They even had some falsetto vocals thrown in for good measure. As for stage presence, it was dominated by frontman Cullen Omori’s tit-length black hair that hung in front of his face throughout the set (a la Joey Ramone), distracting him as much as it distracted the audience. When he pulled his hair back, he looked like a masculine Sarah Silverman. The evening’s highlight was an orgiastic version of “All Die Young,” which would have been a mega-hit in 1974, and hopefully will be the style of song that points their way to the future.

And what’s the deal with no encores these days?

* * *

Tonight at the Waiting Room it’s Minneapolis indie band Tapes ‘n’ Tapes with Oberhofer. $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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: MAHA play-in round; The Lepers tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 11:52 am May 25, 2010
Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship at The Slowdown, May 24, 2010.

Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship at The Slowdown, May 24, 2010.

How big was the draw at last night’s MAHA showcase at Slowdown? Well, the parking lot was full, and for a big-stage show the room didn’t feel empty. My guestimate would be that 150 people were in the house at any given time. Not bad for a Monday night. I arrived too late to see the band that I would have voted for if I had voted — Dim Light played first at around 8 p.m. I caught most of Betsy Wells’ set. I’d never seen the band before, and hadn’t even heard of them before this show was announced (even though I’m told they’ve played at The Waiting Room before). They’re a young four-piece with two guitars who someone told me sounded like Arcade Fire, which, of course, they sound nothing like. Instead, Betsy Wells was a conglomeration of influences that no one in the band probably has heard of before. Two people in the crowd referenced The Feelies. One person told me they reminded her of Blitzen Trapper. Someone outside on the patio compared them to U2 and Neil Young (uh, no). I think if you listened to them long enough you’d hear whatever band you wanted to hear in their music.  In other words, they sound like everyone — and no one. They’re a talented indie-pop band with a big-stage sound, but with songs that simply don’t stand out. Generic? Maybe. I think there’s something there, but it just ain’t “there” yet.

Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship added some stage spice in the form of a formal ball gown worn by lead guy Andrew Ancona Gustafson. Seems like everyone compares Noah to Sonic Youth, but to me, they sound like Seattle circa 1992 or one of the heavier, artier bands on Athens Ga. – Inside Out. Gustafson is a great lead singer who will take them far if he can tap into his undiscovered vocal range — and if they ever get “discovered.” They’ve got a new album coming out shortly (or so they said from stage).

Last up was Flight Metaphor, but I didn’t stick around. About an hour after the show ended, the MAHA organizers announced that Betsy Wells had won the ad hoc battle of the bands and would be invited to play the small stage at the MAHA Music Festival. Did the crowd — and conversely, the MAHA organizers — make the right choice? Find out for yourself July 24.

* * *

Tonight at The Brothers Lounge it’s The Lepers CD release party with Bazooka Shootout and Kyle Harvey. $5, 9 p.m.

Lazy-i