Orenda Fink, The Hold Steady tonight; new Faint vid, Jenny Lewis, RAA, Strand of Oaks…

Screenwriter of Jurassic Park III, Alexander Payne, is among those who will be on hand for tonight's Chuck Hassebrook fundraiser. Hey Al, just playin' with ya...

Screenwriter of Jurassic Park III, Alexander Payne, is among those who will be on hand for tonight’s Chuck Hassebrook fundraiser. Hey Al, just playin’ with ya, Mr. Oscar…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

There’s a couple shows happening tonight scheduled in such a way that you should be able to hit up both of them.

Show No. 1 is Orenda Fink at The Slowdown. The gig is a campaign fund-raiser for Chuck Hassebrook, who’s running for Nebraska governor against Pete Ricketts.

The lowest entry price-point for this show was $50, but organizers repriced general admission tickets to a mere $15. Also on hand will be screenwriter of Jurassic Park III (and director of a few movies, including About Schmidt and The Descendents) Alexander Payne.

Opening for Orenda are The WordSmiths (?) and McCarthy Trenching. Look, it’s a good opportunity to do what you can to keep Ricketts out of office while getting some quality music to boot. You can give more than $15 if you wanna. Donations range right on up to $2,500, Mr. Moneybags.

Get your tickets here. The program runs from 5:30 to 8:30 tonight.

That means you’ll have plenty of time to get across town to The Waiting Room, where The Hold Steady will be playing tonight. I can take or leave ol’ Craig Finn and Co., but have to admit it’ll be a treat to see them on TWR stage, and surprisingly, this one has yet to sell out. Opening is the Josh Berwanger Band (He’s the dude from Lawrence band The Anniversary and The Only Children). This is nice-priced at $18. Show starts at 9.

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Check out the new video by The Faint for “Scapegoat” off SQE release Doom Abuse. What dungeon basement was this shot at?

* * *

Also released yesterday, the title track off Jenny Lewis’ upcoming album The Voyager. Check it below. Lewis is booked to play the Slowdown Aug. 4, by the way…

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While I’m cleaning out the ice-box, here’s the latest track from Saddle Creek band Rural Alberta Advantage. Their new one, Mended with Gold, comes out Sept. 30 on the Creek.

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This is connected to nothing local, I just wanted to pass along that I’ve been digging the new album by Strand of Oaks, HEAL (Dead Ocean). I’ve been looking for the vinyl in Omaha, and of course, no one has it. This one is on my shortlist for the first half of 2014. For you Spotify-ers out there:

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In this week’s column, what happens when a top music PR flack (Catherine Herrick of Beggars Group) turns her back on the business and hits the road with her band? You can read it in the current issue of The Reader or online right here.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

New Orenda Fink 8/19; new vids (HERS, Rig 1) Protomartyr tonight; the MF-ing Food Express (in the column)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 1:04 pm May 15, 2014
Protomartyr at this year's South by Southwest Festival. The band plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

Protomartyr at this year’s South by Southwest Festival. The band plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Orenda Fink, Blue Dream (2014, Saddle Creek)

Orenda Fink, Blue Dream (2014, Saddle Creek)

The always amazing Orenda Fink yesterday announced that her new album, Blue Dream, is coming out Aug. 19 on Saddle Creek Records. The first released track off the album, “Ace of Cups,” is being streamed at Soundcloud here.

The press release calls the new album “a year-long meditation on death” that started with the death of Fink’s dog of 16 years, Wilson. I’m already feeling bummed out.

The album truly came together at ARC in Omaha, NE with the help of producers Ben Brodin and Todd Fink (The Faint), along with drummer Bill Rieflin (Ministry, Swans, R.E.M., King Crimson),” says the release. Sounds enticing.

* * *
Speaking of new releases, a few new videos from bands with local ties (and new albums) have been released in the past few days.

Former Omaha Melissa L. Amstutz, and her band. HERS, debuted a new video for “Please,” a track of her forthcoming album Youth Revisited. The vid was directed by filmmaker Lindsay Trapnell.

Also, Desaparecidos keyboardist Ian McElroy’s Rig 1 project has a new video for “Duality,” the first single off the new album North of Maple (Team Love Records).

* * *

One of my favorite discoveries from this year’s South By Southwest Festival, Protomartyr, headlines a show tonight at Slowdown Jr. The Detroit band’s post-punk sound has been compared to The Fall, Pere Ubu and Wire. Their new album, Under Color of Official Right (Hardly Art) is already on my best-of list for 2014.

Opening for Protomartyr is Coaxed, Worried Mothers and Telepathy Problems. This is a big one, folks. $10, 9 p.m.

* * *

In this week’s column, a rant about the Omaha World-Herald‘s litter distribution system called “Food Express” and how the paper is reacting to the public uprising against it. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader, or online right here.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

New ROAM online (David Matysiak a.k.a. Coyote Bones, featuring Orenda Fink); Dead Meadow, Snake Island, Dim Light tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:59 pm March 5, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Roam - I Had the Weirdest Dream, March 2014

Roam – I Just Had the Weirdest Dream, March 2014

Remember David Matysiak? He’s the guy behind music project Coyote Bones and CoCo Art. David used to live here in Omaha. You might have seen him carrying sound recording equipment in Nik Fackler’s new film Sick Birds Die Easy. One of his many projects these days is ROAM, a monthly podcast he curates engineered by Mason Brown with ideas by Devin Brown and design by Jordan Noel.

This month’s ROAM (the 7th installment) includes contributions by Matysiak, Mason and seven others including Orenda Fink of Azure Ray. The theme, well, let David tell you: “For this 7th installment of the ROAM podcast series we challenged our incredible collection of contributors to compose a piece of sound art that is the encapsulation of a dream, a vision, a nightmare that is so compelling and concretely manifested as to render obsolete this cliche about the pointlessness of narrating our dreams.

It’s pretty friggin’ trippy. Check it out here or below (but put your headphones on first). All past ROAM transmissions are online here, including last month’s, which featured a contribution by Tim Kasher. Check ‘em out.

* * *

Interesting show tonight at Slowdown Jr. Dead Meadow headlines a bill that includes Snake Island, Dim Light and Swamp Walk. Dead Meadow released three records on Matador before moving on to Xemu Records. This should be a good one. $12, 8 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Orenda Fink’s ‘Nebraska,’ Simon Joyner and Ron Wax tonight; new Maria Taylor…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:41 pm September 25, 2013

Orenda Finkby Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Just in time for fall, Hell for Breakfast, the blog run by Orenda and Todd Fink, posted a recording of Orenda’s rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” (embedded below). Orenda’s breathy coo on this grim lullaby could entice any pick-up driving sumbitch to go on a killing rampage…in a good way.

You’ll get a chance to hear Orenda sing it live tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s.

Todd writes, from the HfB blog:

“On Wednesday Orenda will be playing (Springsteen’s) song “Nebraska” along with a bunch of new and old songs.  She’s letting me sit in on the drums. Our neighbor Greg Elsasser (from Capgun Coup, and No, i’m the Pilot) will be bowing the spooky-saw and playing bass. Christine Fink (O’s sister who recently moved here) and Pearl Boyd (Outlaw con Bandana) will be singing backups. And Orenda’s usual partner in crime, Ben Brodin, will be playing his tape delayed moody guitars.”

Also on the bill, the incomparable Simon Joyner (check out his one-on-one Hear Nebraska interview conducted at midtown meat house The French Bulldog) and Chicago’s Circuit des Yeux and duo Spires that in the Sunset Rise (that’s STITSR, which is very similar to TSITR). This one is $7 and starts at 9 p.m. sharp. Get there early.

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Speaking of members of Azure Ray, yesterday Maria Taylor debuted her first song off upcoming Saddle Creek release Something About Knowing called “Up All Night,” and it’s a baby song (of course). The new record comes out Oct. 29.

* * *

Also happening tonight at The Brothers Lounge it’s the return of Lincoln’s Ron Wax (a.k.a. Ron Albertson) along with KC punkers Lazy and our own Video Ranger. $5, 9 p.m. Check out some Ron Wax 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

Notes: RS premieres new Kasher track; Finks’ Hell for Breakfast; New Maria Taylor; the week ahead, No Blood Orphan Friday, Love Language Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:22 pm August 28, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Rolling Stone yesterday premiered “Truly Freaking Out,” a track from Tim Kasher’s upcoming Saddle Creek release Adult Film (due Oct. 8). You should check it out.

I like this new Kasher album more than his Monogamy/Bigamy solo records. It seems more thought out and complete, more than a refacing of Good Life or Cursive tunes. Kasher’s thrown in a lot of interesting sonic twists. Like RS said, “Truly Freaking Out” is buoyed by “bloopy bass barrels… and fuzzy, escalating synths…” It’s strangely retro. And the keyboards on “The Willing Cuckold” and “Life and Limbo” also shift the usual Kasher melodies to new places. In fact, the keyboards throughout the record are the difference-maker between this and other Kasher-fronted projects.

Lyrically, pretty dark. Kasher — a self-proclaimed atheist — appears to be coming to grips with his mortality, as well as his loved ones’ impending end. Listen too close and you’re in for a bummer of a ride. Regardless, Adult Film is the most satisfying record Kasher has produced since Help Wanted Nights.

* *

Todd and Orenda Fink have launched a “lifestyle blog” called Hell for Breakfast. Yes, it contains music (the duo perform as Low Angle Eyes), but it also has other cool stuff like art and video and various writings. The latest posted recording is of the duo covering Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” during last week’s Saddle Creek Shop / Omaha Public Library event. Go to the website to hear and see more…

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Speaking of members of Azure Ray…

Maria Taylor, Something About Knowing (Saddle Creek, 2013)

Maria Taylor, Something About Knowing (Saddle Creek, 2013)

Maria Taylor announced last week that Saddle Creek will be releasing her next solo album Oct. 29, titled Something About Knowing. The record was influenced by “the life-changing joy and newfound responsibility of being a first-time parent.” Maria said she recorded it during her son’s naps and its brimming with “bliss and contentment.” Should be quite a contrast to Kasher’s record, eh? Ol‘ Mike Mogis was apparently behind the knobs on this one, and Andy LeMaster (Hey, whatever happened to Now It’s Overhead?) mixed two songs.

* * *

Since I’ll be out the rest of the week, here are the highlights from the music calendar for the balance of the week and weekend.

Tonight (Aug. 28) Lincoln punk band Tie These Hands headlines a show at Slowdown Jr. with Eli Mardock and Saltwater Sanctuary. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight (Aug. 28) Columbus Ohio band Emily and the Complexes play at The Sydney with Saturn Moth. It’s probably $5 and probably starts around 10.

Thursday (Aug. 29) Under Water Dream Machine plays at The Barley Street with Love Technicians and Portland act There Is No Mountain. $5, 9 p.m. While I’m thinking about it, there’s only 12 days left in the Bret Vovk/Nick Carl Kickstarter campaign, and they’re still a few hundred dollars from their target. Help these brothers out

No Blood Orphan, Top Shelf/Lost Tricks (Ant, 2013)

No Blood Orphan, Top Shelf/Lost Tricks (Ant, 2013)

Friday night (Aug. 30) it’s the return of No Blood Orphan to O’Leaver’s. Consider it a reunion show, with all five classic No Blood Orphan members (Bartolomei, Cox, Esterbrooks, Phillips, Saklar) returning for one special performance. In fact, Mike Saklar emailed to say that in addition to No Blood Orphan, there will be “mini-sets” by: Stephen Bartolomei (Mayday, McCarthy Trenching); Chris Machmuller (So So Sailors, Ladyfinger); McCarthy Trenching (So So Sailors, Mal Madrigal); Lincoln Dickison (Chromafrost); Cricket Kirk/Custom Catacombs (Dirty Fluorescents) and more. Available at the show will be a new clear vinyl 7″ and a dual-EP CD titled Top Shelf and Lost Tricks. This one will be special $5, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday night (Sept. 1) there’s a pretty sweet show going on at O’Leaver’s — Merge Records band The Love Language headlines a show with Pony Wars and No, I’m the Pilot. It’s listed as a 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $7 and are actually being presold right here. A ticketed, early show at O’Leaver’s? Will wonders never cease… You’ve got Monday off, so there’s no excuses for missing this one.

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Have a happy Labor Day. Say goodbye to summer…

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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

Simon Joyner, Orenda Fink at Pageturners tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:48 pm January 7, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Simon / Orenda poster

Simon / Orenda poster

Tonight at the house Conor Oberst and Phil Schaffart built (I’m talking about Pageturners Lounge on Dodge Street) Simon Joyner and Orenda Fink will perform. The gig starts at 9 with Orenda joined by Ben Brodin and Christine Fink. They’re followed by Mr. Joyner, who I believe will be doing a solo set. The best part: The show is absolutely free. If you (like me) haven’t been to Pageturners yet, here’s your chance to check out this cool new bar and see two of the area’s best singer/songwriters.

When Pageturners opened last year the initial reports were that it would not host live shows. Since then, Dan McCarthy has become a regular performer on the bar’s piano, Chris Machmuller (of So-So Sailors) has done a set and now this. And why not? There’s always room for more stages in the Omaha music scene.

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Lazy-i Best of 2012

Lazy-i Best of 2012

Speaking of Simon, his song “If I Left Tomorrow” is among the collection on this year’s Lazy-i Best of 2012 compilation CD, along with songs by Paul Banks, Tame Impala, Cat Power, Mere Mortals, The Faint, Ladyfinger, Pujol and a ton more.  The full track listing is here (scroll to the bottom). To enter the drawing to win a free copy send an email with your name and mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.comHurry! Deadline is Jan. 15.

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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

Orenda Fink’s Harouki Zombi (at rollingstone.com); The Shanks release lost track; A.A. Bondy tonight, Back When tomorrow, David Bazan Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:53 pm November 4, 2011
Harouki Zombi

Harouki Zombi

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A couple newsy items before we get to the weekend lineup…

Orenda Fink, who’s known for her work in Azure Ray, O+S, Art in Manila and her solo projects, has a new project called Harouki Zombi. “It’s a DJ/VJ/performance project of mine and Nina Barnes (Kevin from of Montreal’s wife),” Fink said in an email. “We just premiered our first original track and video on Rollingstone.com and have much more to come.”

The track is called “Swamp Theme,” and according to Barnes in Rolling Stone, the video “explores the mercurial quality in the female psychology as it enters the world of dreams, violence and beauty. It is a statement of the empowerment of the female bond, but also how this bond is taken to a dark place, making the sirens scream instead of sing.”

You can see the video online right here at the RS site. Pretty trippy stuff, massive beats…

* * *

Everyone’s favorite band of miscreants, The Shanks, may be gone (for now) but their legend lives on, thanks to the ongoing release of material.

“We are releasing via free download the only left-unreleased Shanks song,’Down by the River,’” writes Shanks member Todd VonStup. “It was recorded by Steve Sampley in Dave Goldberg’s basement on 4-track cassette during the same time we recorded the Backstabber 7″ that Tic Tac Totally released.  We wrote this song on the spot wasted, and decided to record it.  Like always it came out great.”

That it did. This a must-download for any Shanks fan or punk fan. “Down By the River” was a centerpiece at the Shanks reunion show held this past summer. Find out why. Download it now, right here.

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Three nights of solid shows at The Waiting Room kind of makes things easy…

Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s the return of A.A. Bondy. You read my review of Bondy’s latest CD, Believers, yesterday. Now see him and his band perform it live. Opening is Seattle band Gold Leaves (Hardly Art Records). $12, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at The Barley Street Tavern tonight it’s Everyday/Everynight with Honey & Darling and Betsy Wells. $5, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night (Saturday) it’s a huge rock bill at The Waiting Room headlined by riff-metal masters Back When and featuring Landing On The Moon, Lincoln’s The Machete Archive and Lighting Bug. $7, 9 p.m. Hot.

Meanwhile, over at The Barley Street Saturday night it’s Blue Rosa with The War I Survived and the amazing Lincoln duo of Once a Pawn. $5, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, The Side Door Lounge (which is emerging as a new place to see shows even though they do the shittiest job of any venue in town of actually listing their shows (Come on, guys, get a website or something, or at least update your Facebook events page)) is hosting Mike Saklar (No Blood Orphan), Lincoln Dickison (ex-Putrasene), Colin Hotz and headliner John Paul Carmondy. 8 p.m. and free.

And if you know someone who goes to school at Creighton, maybe they can get you into the Ben Folds/Matt Pond PA show at Creighton’s Lied Center Saturday night. It’s free… but only for Creighton students. Starts at 9.

Finally, Sunday night it’s the return of David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) to the Waiting Room with Midwest Dilemma. $12, 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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: McCarthy Trenching; MAHA showcase lineups announced; Big Harp signs to Saddle Creek (probably)…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 11:48 am May 30, 2011

by TIm McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I swung by The Barley Street Tavern last night for Orenda Fink/McCarthy Trenching, and it was (as expected) a packed house, which means there were more than 50 people in the bar’s “music room,” where folk stood along the wall in the back and women sat on their boyfriends’ laps. Another 20 or so people were pushed into the main bar area, content with watching the performance on the security monitor-style camera above the bar.

Yeah, it was crowded, but had you wanted to see the show, you could have. I caught the last few songs by Whispertown’s Morgan Nagler, one of which was accompanied by Fink and another two accompanied by Omaha ex-pat Jake Bellows. Nagler had an innocent, some might say childlike, flair to her simple acoustic ballads. Bellows took over right after her set and played five or six solo acoustic tunes, sounding better than ever. He remains one of Omaha’s best lonely-heart crooners, like an Elvis lost on a desert island.

Dan McCarthy came on at around 11, taking advantage of the Barley’s house piano, which he said was made in 1917 and last tuned in 1918. Despite that, the rustic keyboard sounded perfect for his style of Randy Newman-meets-Chuck Brodsky-meets Tom Waits folk balladry, which included a few Scott Joplin rags. A couple members of hot new band Gus & Call joined him in the middle of the set (playing stand-up bass and that piano) when McCarthy picked up an acoustic guitar. He eventually made his way back to the piano and was still at it when I left at midnight, too tired to wait for Orenda (unless, of course, she played before Whispertown, which I do not know). The crowd had a hipster wedding reception feel to it, consisting of members of the Saddle Creek Records family and their friends and colleagues, all out to “welcome back” Orenda and Todd Fink to Omaha.

* * *

The folks at the MAHA Music Festival took a decidedly smart turn in how they picked the bands for their local stage this year — three of the five bands were chosen by folks involved with hearnebraska.org (including myself as an HN board member, though only one of the three bands chosen were on my list). As a requirement for accepting the local-stage gig, each band was tasked with curating one pre-festival showcase, where they would play along with two or three other bands of their choosing. Last Friday MAHA announced the line-up for these showcase events.

Strongest of the three is the showcase curated by So-So Sailors at Slowdown July 28. Playing along with SSS will be power-punk band Millions of Boys, the more traditional indie stylings of Fortnight, and one of the area’s best punk/garage/new wave rock bands, Digital Leather, who (one could argue) should have been in consideration for one of those three MAHA local stage spots.

The other Omaha showcase will be held June 22 at The Waiting Room, curated by Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship. Joining them will be New Lungs, a new trio featuring Danny Maxwell of Little Brazil on guitar and vocals, drummer Corey Broman and bassist Craig Fort. Think Polvo meets Dinosaur Jr. meets Mission of Burma meets classic ’90s Linoma punk. Also on the bill are noise rockers Ketchup and Mustard Gas.

And finally, there’s the Lincoln showcase curated by The Machete Archive to be held at Duffy’s Tavern July 1. Joining Machete will be Her Flyaway Manner, Irkutsk and Powerful Science. Brendan McGinn’s HFN has been around for years playing brutal, Fugazi-inspired punk. I can’t say as I know a thing about the other two bands.

All three showcases are all-ages events and absolutely free, so you best mark them down on your calendar.

There’s still one more MAHA local stage spot up for grabs, which will be determined by a public-vote talent competition as part of the OEA Summer Showcase July 8-9 in Benson.

* * *

One final bit of news: Judging by their Facebook fan page, it looks like Big Harp, the husband-and-wife duo of Chris Senseney (Baby Walrus) and Stefanie Drootin-Senseney (The Good Life, Consafos) are the latest “signing” by Saddle Creek Records. They’re still not listed on the Creek site, but I’m sure that’ll come any day now. It’s good to see Creek continuing to sign new talent in this era of music industry decline…

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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 294: Lazy-i Interview: Azure Ray; So-So Sailors, Conduits, The Stay Awake tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:45 pm October 27, 2010
Azure Ray

Azure Ray's Maria Taylor, left, and Orenda Fink.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Column 294: Starting Over

The return of Azure Ray.

What better way to open an interview with Azure Ray’s Maria Taylor than with a scoop?

Regarding band mate Orenda Fink, and her husband, The Faint’s Todd Fink, Taylor made the following statement: “I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few years they pop out a little Fink.”

Boom goes the dynamite. OK, maybe it wasn’t that big of a scoop, but it was the closest I got to one while talking to these two indie rock divas (and I use the term “divas” in only the most loving way).

Taylor did most of the talking, as Fink was behind the wheel of the van that carried Team Azure Ray to San Diego after a show the night before in Phoenix. Talking to Taylor is like talking to your best friend’s goofy little sister; she’s sweet and funny and gets your jokes even when they’re not very good.

It was obvious that, so far, the tour has been hit-and-miss. “It’s going pretty good, getting better and better,” Taylor said. “We have more of a fan base on the West Coast. So the crowds are getting better, but it’s still a challenge to make people aware of us.”

The crowd’s amnesia couldn’t have been a complete surprise. Azure Ray was at its career apex with 2003′s Hold On Love. A year later, Taylor and Fink went their separate ways due to creative differences, or for some other reason I’m sure we’ll never know. In addition to her solo work, Fink went on to form Art in Manila and collaborate with Cedric Lemoyne as O+S. Taylor worked with Bright Eyes, Moby, Crooked Fingers and Joshua Radin when she wasn’t recording and touring in support of her own solo projects.

Azure Ray, Drawing Down the Moon (Saddle Creek). Out 9/14/10.

Azure Ray, Drawing Down the Moon (Saddle Creek). Released 9/14/10.

Then, rather organically a couple years ago, the duo found themselves living in Los Angeles and hanging out together. “We thought, ‘Why not just put out another record together?’” So they teamed up with long-time producer/collaborator Eric Bachmann of Crooked Fingers (and Archers of Loaf before that) and recorded Drawing Down the Moon, released in September by Saddle Creek Records. The album is earmarked by those same soothing, whispering harmonies and heart-breaking lyrics that defined Azure Ray from the beginning, which is appropriate considering that in many ways, Azure Ray is starting over.

“I think people have small attention spans,” Taylor said. “I don’t think they’ve forgotten us, it just needs to be brought to their attention that we have a new record out.” Judging by the crowds there, apparently the word didn’t make it to Florida. Taylor was unwilling to share the attendance numbers. “The scary thing is you have to pay your players and make money. We didn’t have any expectations, and we like to keep it that way.”

Still, one expects to make money playing music, especially if you’re one of the more influential indie music duos of the early part of the last decade. They both point to the Internet for the current state of affairs.

“As far as the music industry goes, I’ve lost a lot of faith that I’ll be able to make a living doing this much longer,” Taylor said. “In 2002, people were still buying records and a career in music seemed like an option. Our friends were doing so well. But that was a different time. We were just talking about this in the van, how amazing the Internet is and how it’s just screwed us.”

Taylor handed the phone to Fink. “Maria is right. The biggest change is the culture of the music industry and the economy,” Fink said. “In a strange way, being on the road now is like when we first started — we really didn’t know what was happening. It was before cell phones and the Internet. Now with technology, it’s creating still more uncertainty. The bubble has burst. The industry was cruising along for a number of years with a formula for how records were sold and how tours were sold and promoted. That formula doesn’t exist anymore, and everyone is trying to figure out how to make it work in this new climate.”

That uncertainty played a small role in both Taylor’s and Fink’s exodus from Los Angeles. Orenda and Todd recently moved to Athens, Georgia, while Taylor bought a house in Birmingham, Alabama. “We’re going to be touring so much and it’s so expensive to live in Los Angeles,” Taylor said, “And being closer to our families kind of seems nice.”

They haven’t forgotten Omaha. “We miss our friends a whole lot, especially when tragedy happens or hard times, it’s hard to be so far away from the people that you’re close to,” Taylor said. “I definitely miss it. I even miss the snow.”

Something tells me that the Nov. 3 Azure Ray show at Slowdown will be like a family reunion, or a time machine that takes everyone back to 2003. The difference is that this time Taylor and Fink are in it for the long haul. They’re already talking about their next record. “With this new record, we were specifically not trying to draw from what we learned in our solo work. We wanted to recreate the same feeling from the first album,” Taylor said. “We’ll experiment a little more with the things we learned on the next album.

“It definitely feels great to be together and work together again,” Taylor said. “We’ve been friends for 20 years — two people who, since they met, enjoy spending time together. We definitely don’t take each other for granted any more.”

Azure Ray plays with Tim Fite and James Husband Wednesday, Nov. 3, at The Slowdown, 729 No. 14th St. Show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 adv./$14 DOS. For more info, go to theslowdown.com.

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There are two shows going on tonight competing for essentially the same audience. Over at O’Leaver’s it’s So-So Sailors with Portland trio System and Station and Conduits. $5, 9:30 p.m. Meanwhile, over at The Barley St. Tavern, it’s The Stay Awake and Techlepathy. $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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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