Ten Questions with The Faint (@Maha Saturday); new Sun-Less Trio, Sam Evian; Graham Ulicny, Field Club tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:51 pm August 17, 2017

The Faint at The Slowdown, Dec. 30, 2016. The band is among the acts playing at this year’s Maha Music Festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This is the seventh in a series of Ten Questions interviews with bands performing at the Maha Music Festival Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. For the printed version of all interviews, pick up the August issue of The Reader.

The Faint

This isn’t the first time The Faint has graced the Maha Music Festival stage. The band was one of the headliners along with Spoon and Superchunk at the 2010 festival, held at Lewis & Clark Landing. Their top-bill status — then and now — is well deserved.

One of a trio of acts that put Saddle Creek Records (and Omaha) on the indie music map in the late ’90s and throughout the 2000s, The Faint exploded onto the national scene with 1999’s Blank-Wave Arcade, an album that defined their post-punk, electronic-fueled dance-rock style. Non-stop touring and a reputation for putting on electrifying, sweat-soaked live shows quickly made them concert favorites throughout the country.

Fronted by Todd Fink with guitarist Dapose, drummer Clark Baeckle and newest member, keyboardist Graham Ulicny, The Faint continues to put out new music including three new songs on 2016 “greatest hits” compilation CAPSULE:1999-2016 (Saddle Creek).

What is your favorite album?

Todd Fink: I would never do that to  myself.

2. What is your least favorite song?

Bare Naked Ladies, “Cherry Cola”

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Free Cabernet

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

The music.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?

Egg nog.

6. In what city or town do you love to perform?

Tokyo or Berlin.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

A festival in Switzerland(?) I had a complete Billy Joel/Casey Kasem meltdown on stage.  I used to really hate it when the vocoder wasn’t hooked up right.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

We live in a castle for free.

8.5 What do you eat then?

Carrots.  With bunnies.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

I’ll be a milliner soon.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

That Omaha made the reuben.

The Maha Music Festival is Aug. 19 at Aksarben Village. The day-long concert runs from noon to midnight. Tickets are $55. For set times and more information, go to mahamusicfestival.com.

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With everything else happening this weekend, I didn’t want the fact that Mike Saklar’s band, Sun-Less Trio, is celebrating the release of a new album, When Rivers Rebirth Different Maps, at two shows. The first is tomorrow night, opening for Stephen Sheehan at Reverb Lounge (which you read about here). The second is Saturday night at Brothers Lounge with Lupines and Bled Notes.

From the album’s liner notes, Saklar describes the sessions as: “A fabulous disaster. Like a broken record that hops back a few grooves endlessly. The completion of this record is yet another audio miracle notch in the analog belt. The third recorded miracle.” Check it out below:


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Speaking of new albums, Saddle Creek announced today it’s releasing a new EP by Sam Evian with drummer Chris Cohen called Need You, out Oct. 8. Evian also announced a fall U.S. Tour, but it’s a NOmaha affair at this point.

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Former Omahan Maria Taylor is part of the band backing Daniel Johnston when he plays in Los Angeles Nov. 2, according to Pitchfork. Other band members include Ben Lee, Mike Watt and members of Silversun Pickups.

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A couple shows tonight…

Graham Patrick Ulicny (the newest member of The Faint) is playing at Kaneko tonight as part of their Soundscapes Series. 7 p.m., $10. More info here.

Also tonight, local indie band Field Club plays at Reverb Lounge with The Senators and Bokr Tov. $7, 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Album Review Sam Evian, Premium (2016, Saddle Creek); Off With Their Heads, Bad Cop / Bad Cop tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:59 pm September 14, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

From the label’s earliest days, there have been those who have sworn there’s a “Saddle Creek sound” that iconically identifies every act on the roster. And, of course, they’ve always been wrong. There is no sonic common denominator that linked Bright Eyes with Cursive with The Faint, nor with late-comers like Ladyfinger, Rilo Kiley or Son Ambulance, and certainly not with latter-day acts starting as far back as Tokyo Police Club through the list of artists you may already have forgotten, like Rural Alberta Advantage and Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson.

If there was a common thread among Creek artists, one could point toward solid song-writing and an uncompromising approach to the music that seemed genuine and unselfish. No one can accuse a Saddle Creek act of trying to write a hit song to benefit themselves or the label. Just didn’t happen (as far as I know). Instead, acts were — and are — free to make their own decisions based on the music they want to make, for better or worse, and commerce be damned.

Maybe that same philosophy drives the label’s roster decisions. After all, how does an act like Sam Evian fit into Saddle Creek’s history of signings? What qualities did the staff hear that made them decide, “We need to sign this guy; he belongs on Saddle Creek Records”? It certainly wasn’t a commerce-driven decision. I can’t imagine anyone thought, “Sam Evian’s gonna make this label a fortune.” It’s a head-scratcher.

Sam Evian, Premium (2016, Saddle Creek)

Sam Evian, Premium (2016, Saddle Creek)

So no, after listening to Premium for the past few weeks, the new album by Sam Evian, I can’t figure out why the label signed them. But then again, who would have thought that recent roster additions Big Thief and Hop Along were natural Saddle Creek bands? None have ties with Nebraska or sound like anyone else on the label.

Sam Evian’s music has a casual pop sound, an easy-going, loping meter augmented by glowing guitar tones, lilting synths and Sam Owens’ (the real Sam Evian) cooing voice that add up to the perfect soundtrack for walking barefoot along a West Coast beach at sunset. Call it Indie Yacht Rock; these tracks would sound right at home next to ’70s FM soft rock heroes Boz Scaggs, Player, Stephen Bishop, 10 cc and Bertie Higgins.

There are modern touch-stones as well. I was reminded of laid-back Kurt Vile and Foxygen. Highlights include the screaming sax solo on “Dark Love,” the 10 cc-sh “I Need a Man” and opening track and natural first single “Sleep Easy.” The whole album is warm and pretty and easy to take in, but unlike some of the more substantial Saddle Creek releases over the years, that good feeling is rather fleeting. Like a walk on the beach, the golden moment is lost after the sun goes down. This isn’t life-changing music, but it’s fun.

How does the album fit into the Creek catalogue? For those who’ve come to expect a quality product from the Saddle Creek imprint release-after-release, they won’t be disappointed. And maybe that’s the only requirement that matters. Premium comes out Sept. 30.

* * *

I felt as if I had to write something about Saddle Creek after a post on Facebook a few days ago about tonight’s Off With Their Heads show at Lookout Lounge suggested I only write about O’Leaver’s and Saddle Creek bands. Pshaw… (though, yeah, I do write a lot about Saddle Creek and O’Leaver’s…).

Minneapolis punk band Off With Their Heads records for Epitaph. They’ve toured with Bad Religion and Dropkick Murphys, among others. Openers include West Coast act Bad Cop / Bad Cop (Fat Wreck Chords), Omaha hardcore act Stronghold and The Ridgways. $15, 8 p.m.

* * *

Quick Note: That big (but actually quite small) show I mentioned last week that I didn’t get to announce will be announced tomorrow at noon… probably.

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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

Ten Questions with Deerhoof; Conor Oberst’s ‘Ruminations’ out Oct. 14; Sam Evian Creek debut Sept. 30…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:40 pm August 3, 2016
Deerhoof returns to The Waiting Room Aug. 4.

Deerhoof returns to The Waiting Room Aug. 4.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

San Francisco experimental rock band Deerhoof are known as much for their live shows as their quirky, jittery, inventive music. On stage the four-piece is an explosion of music that fuses rock, jazz, prog and noise into one throbbing, powerful sound. Frontwoman/basist Satomi Matsuzaki is a wound-up rock ‘n’ roll cheerleader, jumping and kicking and chirping in a language that sounds like a fusion of Japanese and English. It is, indeed, a sight to behold.

While the band’s idiosyncratic art-tortured albums can be a challenge to navigate, their latest, The Magic (2016, Polyvinyl) comes as close as they’ve ever dared to something resembling traditional rock. Nestled among the Eno-esque rhythms are some of the best holy-shit power-chord riffs I’ve heard from a rock band since Superchunk. Over the course of 15 tracks, the band can go from high-energy Sonic Youth grind (“Dispossessor”) to throbbing, blue-light art lounge (a cover of “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire”). The Magic is a career high-water mark.

With the band returns to The Waiting Room Thursday, Aug. 4, I caught up with Satomi Matsuzaki with a Ten Questions survey. Here you go:

1. What is your favorite album?

Satomi Matsuzaki: The Magic by Deerhoof

2. What is your least favorite song?

“Hotel California” by Eagles

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?

Making music with Deerhoof.

4. What do you hate about being in a band?

Long flights when we go on tour.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?’

Barley tea and dried squid.

6. In what city or town do you love top perform?

Everywhere we go.

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?

If there was any, I already erased that memory from my brain. I wanna stay positive and keep going forward. I learn from mistakes and just move on.

8. How do you pay your bills?

Usually bank wire through my phone bill payment app.

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?

My profession is music and I prefer not to do other work. I won’t hate any job though if I decide to do whatever to live.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

I have been there before. It’s located in the middle of USA and The Waiting Room is a great venue! They have a laundromat in backstage and that helps me a lot on tour!

Deerhoof plays with Blank Spell and Thick Paint Thursday, Aug. 4, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. Showtime is 9 p.m., tickets are $15. For more information, go to onepercentproductions.com.

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How did you spend last winter? If you’re like me, you wasted those cold January days watching TV and wishing for spring to return.

Conor Oberst, Ruminations (2016, Nonesuch)

Conor Oberst, Ruminations (2016, Nonesuch)

Conor Oberst spent his winter writing a new album called Ruminations, which drops Oct. 14 on Nonesuch Records.

Said Oberst about his winter in Omaha last year: “I wasn’t expecting to write a record. I honestly wasn’t expecting to do much of anything. Winter in Omaha can have a paralyzing effect on a person but in this case it worked in my favor. I was just staying up late every night playing piano and watching the snow pile up outside the window. Next thing I knew I had burned through all the firewood in the garage and had more than enough songs for a record. I recorded them quick to get them down but then it just felt right to leave them alone.

Over the span of 48 hours, Oberst recorded Runinations at ARC Studios with engineer Ben Brodin. According to Oberst’s publicist, the tracks don’t have the multi-layered instrumentation of the most recent Bright Eyes and solo albums: This is Oberst alone with his guitar, piano and harmonica; a sort of throw-back to his earliest recordings, but with modern lyrics.

Pre-orders are under way at the Nonesuch website. The tour kicks off in Grand Island Aug. 18. and some locals are opening some dates, such as MiWi La Lupa, Anna McClellan, and on Nov. 23 Simon Joyner will open when Oberst plays solo at Carnagie Hall in NYC. That should be a show for the ages.

* * *

Sam Evian, Premium (2016, Saddle Creek)

Sam Evian, Premium (2016, Saddle Creek)

Saddle Creek Records also announced today that the debut release by newest roster addition Sam Evian, entitled Premium, will drop Sept 30. Sam Evian is Brooklyn’s Sam Owens of band Celestial Shore. You read about his signing in Lazy-i here.

According to the publicist, the album’s nine songs “reflect the casual, relaxed atmosphere Sam created for himself at Brooklyn’s Figure 8 Studio.” Among the players on Premium are Austin Vaughn on drums (Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple), Brian Betancourt on bass (Hospitality, Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple), Michael Coleman on keys (Figure 8’s studio manager), Dan Iead on pedal steel (Cass McCombs), vocalists Cassandra Jenkins and Hannah Cohen, Shahzad Ismaily, Eddie Barbash (the saxophonist on the Colbert show) and Steve Marion (aka Delicate Steve).

Pre-orders are, of course, under way at Saddle Creek’s online store.

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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

The Reader’s top bands list(s); Saddle Creek signs Sam Evian; Charly Bliss, Lightning Bug tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm June 16, 2016
Charly Bliss plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

Charly Bliss plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I recently was asked by one of the many local music festival organizers (and there’s a lot of them these days) if I had any recommendations for local bands to play his festival. I sent him the following list, and told him he couldn’t go wrong with any of these bands and musicians.

The Reader compiles this list annually, usually in late winter toward the end of the year. But this year Reader publisher John Heaston decided to move the annual Music Issue up to June, and asked me to supply a list of my favorite bands. So, I submitted the following acts who — in my humble opinion — are making unique, heart-felt, personal, smart and (above all) kick-ass music, either live or on recordings.

Some of these names have been around for years (even decades). Some debuted within the last 12 months. All are worth your time and effort to seek out, both in the clubs and in the local record bins.

Without further ado, my 2016 favorite local artists lists (six months early):

Anna McClellan
Bien Fang
Bloodcow
Brad Hoshaw
Chemicals
Clarence Tilton
Closeness
Digital Leather
Dumb Beach
The Good Life
Gordon
Hand Painted Police Car
High Up
Jeff Runnings
Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal
Little Brazil
Lupines
Matthew Sweet
Matt Whipkey
Relax, It’s Science
Sam Martin
See Through Dresses
Simon Joyner
Sucettes
Super Ghost
Thick Paint
Those Far Out Arrows
Twinsmith
Uh Oh
Wagon Blasters

A few caveats: Bands had to be active. The Faint, for example, haven’t done much this year, but look out for later this year. Same holds true for Conor Oberst, who (other than his fun country covers project) has been relatively dormant after last year’s cancellation of that Desaparecidos tour. I suspect we’ll see more out of him later this year.

My list is “indie centric” because that’s the kind of music I listen to. That being the case, Reader colleague BJ Huchtemann, who focuses on blues and R&B, provided The Reader with her list of favorites for 2016:

All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
CJ Mills
Electroliners
Hector Anchondo Band
Jack Hotel
Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal
Kris Lager Band
Matt Cox
Mesonjixx
Michael Campbell
Sam Ayer & The Love Affair
Shawn Holt & the Teardrops
Tim Budig Band

Both lists are in the current issue of The Reader. If you or your band is missing, I wouldn’t worry about it, because, let’s face it, lists are only good as conversation starters, and little more…

* * *

Yesterday Saddle Creek Records announced its latest signing, a band out of Brooklyn called Sam Evian, the latest project by musician Sam Owens.

According to Impose.com: “Sam Owens of Celestial Shore, (is) going by ‘Sam Evian’ for his solo project because there is apparently an entirely different New York musician named Sam Owens who locked down an internet presence first and because ‘bottled water is weird and totally irresponsible (kinda like playing music) but that one tastes the best to me.‘”

Celestial Shore’s 2014 album, Enter Ghosts, was released on Hometapes and got a rousing 6.8 rating from Pitchfork. The Sam Evian track that Saddle Creek shared yesterday reminds me of a cross between Kurt Vile and Foxygen. Good stuff.

Saddle Creek label exec Robb Nansel said they’ve “been talking to him for over a year… just waiting for him to make the right record and he finally did!” and “He’s had some other projects in the past that were on our radar; and everything came together with this one.”

“Sleep Easy” is the first track to be shared from Premium, the debut Sam Evian LP, scheduled for release by Saddle Creek this year. The label is on something of roll lately, striking gold with their last two recruits, Hop Along and Big Thief. Will Sam Evian continue the streak?

* * *

Tonight at Reverb Lounge Brooklyn grunge-pop 4-piece Charly Bliss headlines. On their latest single, “Ruby,” they sound like a cross between Weezer and Breeders, though frontwoman Eva Hendricks has some distinctive Cyndi Lauper overtones to her vocals.  Lightning Bug opens. $10, 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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