Live Review: See Through Dresses; new Kasher Love Drunk; later this week…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:46 pm December 2, 2013
See Through Dresses at The Waiting Room, Nov. 30, 2013.

See Through Dresses at The Waiting Room, Nov. 30, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

I guess I should have bought a copy of See Through Dresses’ debut album at last Saturday night’s CD release show because I can’t find it online anywhere. Their Bandcamp page doesn’t offer downloads or even album streaming (except for two songs). And they don’t have a “proper website” (fewer and fewer bands do these days). Savvy marketing? Maybe (though I’m probably just missing the link).

Without a copy of the record to relive the memory of Saturday night’s show at The Waiting Room, I’ll just have to listen to Dinosaur Jr. and the most recent Thurston Moore solo album. Or maybe pull out dusty records by The Church or Dream Academy — all bands that STD’s sound resembles.

The band isn’t exactly bashful about their influences. Co-frontperson Sara Bertuldo introduced one song by saying (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Here’s one that will remind you of the mid-2000s,” and two more by saying “These ones sound like the ’80s, a time when I just barely existed and Nate didn’t exist at all.” Or something like that.

No doubt rock music by its very nature constantly eats itself. For about a year every new local band sounded like the second coming of The Cure or Pavement. Recently Sonic Youth has (again) become a favorite for emulation. The difference is that STD doesn’t sound like any one band, but rather like a band influenced by an era, which makes their music both unique and familiar. Their heroes are easy to spot, though See Through Dresses’ sound is purely their own.

And it rocks. Most of the vocals are handled by Matt Carroll, who has a soothing croon that lies somewhere between Thurston and J. Mascis. It’s countered by Bertuldo’s twee, childlike voice that’s straight out of K Records territory. It’s easy to bury Sara in the mix, but the sound Saturday night was pristine enough so that the (estimated) crowd of around 120 could catch every note. Nate Van Fleet’s throaty drumming was another highlight, as was Robert Little’s bass work (a little bird tells me Little is leaving the band).

Now if I could only get a copy of their CD…

* * *

Speaking of Bertuldo, that’s her on bass in this just-released Love Drunk video for Tim Kasher song “A Raincloud Is a Raincloud,” shot (ironically?) at Countryside Community Church.

* * *

The early head’s up for this week’s shows:

John Klemmensen and friends Wednesday at The Waiting Room.

Cursive Thursday at The Waiting Room.

OEAA Showcase Friday in Benson.

So-So Sailors and Brad Hoshaw Friday at O’Leaver’s.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Weird cassette noises explained (in the column); Poliça, Dumb Beach tonight; See Through Dresses Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm November 27, 2013

by Tim McMahan,

In this week’s column, an explanation born out of a discussion about cassettes and that weird noise heard at the end of each side. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader, or online right here…or (because it’s music-related) below:

Bu-bu-bu-bu-Bleep!  What’s that Noise on the new Arcade Fire Album?

by Tim McMahan

xdr_logoWe were sitting around a table at The Barley Street Tavern waiting for the band to get its shit together when the discussion turned to the weird bleep-bloop sounds recorded at the end of pre-recorded cassette tapes.

“I think those are some sort of signal to tell you it’s time to turn the tape over,” said the guy sitting with us, a music legend (of sorts). But I knew he couldn’t be right. The noise that tells you it’s time to turn the tape over is the low whine of the motor followed by a loud “Thuck!” of the tape deck clicking off. And besides, just about every tape deck made after 1980 was auto-reverse. Were tape makers trying to tell us that the motors were about to go in reverse and play Side B? Come on…

It just dawned on me that you younger folks are scratching your heads wondering what the hell I’m talking about. What sound on the end of the cassette tape? And what’s a cassette tape?

The sound is a series of electronic tones from low to high each lasting a split second, strung together like a ladder of noise, like a sonic rainbow. The tape manufacturers didn’t start putting it on tapes until later in the life cycle of cassette tape technology, and only for a brief sliver of that technology’s history.

The tones recently made a cameo appearance in modern times. Arcade Fire includes them as an ironic statement about technology on their new album Refecktor at the end of track 7, “Joan Of Arc,” which also happens to be the end of the first CD in the double-disc package (but you wouldn’t know that if you were listening on Spotify).

I always thought the bleep-bloop sound was an audio check, kind of like a TV test pattern for your hi-fi system or car stereo, but what standard was it supposed to be checking against? Or maybe it was an early version of an audio product logo, like the rousing orchestral tone you hear when you fire up your Apple computer, a congratulations heard every time you turn on your MacBook that you wisely chose an Apple product over a Windows PC.

Still, our friend insisted it was intended to tell you to turn your cassette over, like those old children’s books that came with a 45 rpm record that had a recorded tone to tell you when to turn the page.

When I got home later that night I turned to Google for answers and typed in the phrase “weird audio tones at the end of cassettes.” The first thing returned in the search engine was a link to the Wikipedia entry for “XDR (audio).”

According to the anonymous author who wrote the entry, “XDR (eXtended Dynamic Range, also known as SDR (Super Dynamic Range)) is a quality control and duplication process for the mass production of pre-recorded audio cassettes.” XDR boasted a higher dynamic range, “up to 13 decibels greater.”

It didn’t matter that the typical factory-fresh DELCO cassette deck that came pre-mounted in your brand new 1978 Ford Fiesta couldn’t reproduce that range with its 4-inch paper-cone dash-mount speakers, or that even if they could you wouldn’t be able to hear it over the traffic noise or the annoying person sitting next to you.

The Wiki entry went on about tape duplication processes and how EMI / Capitol Records and PolyGram were among the labels that fell for the XDR hustle. It wasn’t until later in the entry that it got to the part about the bleep-bloop noises.

The XDR process included “recording a short test tone burst at the beginning and end of the program material on the cassette, to detect for any loss of audio frequencies in the audio spectrum. The tone burst consists of 11 tones about 0.127 seconds in length (with 0.02 seconds of silence in between each tone), from 32 to 18,000 Hz.”

The entry doesn’t include any dates. The first time (I think) I heard them was on my brother’s Duran Duran Rio cassette, which came out in 1982, or maybe it was his Red Rider Neruda cassette, released in 1983. It couldn’t have been much later than that because I remember buying my first compact disc, The Fixx’s Shuttered Room, at Kmart in 1982. Before long, CDs would be the only format that I or anyone else would buy, and cassettes, along with vinyl, would become relics of the past like the 8 Track tape.

So there it is.

If you go to YouTube and search for “Cassette Tones,” you’ll find a 13-second video that reproduces the bu-bu-bu-bu-bleep! noise in all its hissing glory. For those of us who lived through that era it’s like an audio lighthouse from a kinder, gentler time, before computers and the internet and iPods and smart phones, when “high fidelity” meant gigantic, ugly home stereo systems, ridiculous car stereos with 6 x 9 speakers and twinkling-light equalizers, and cassettes that ended with a rainbow of sound.

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

First published in The Reader Nov. 27, 2013. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

* * *

Happy frickin’ Thanksgiving. Here’s a run-down of the weekend’s hottest shows.

Tonight at The Waiting rom it’s the return of Poliça. The band just came through this past April. Read the review of that show here. The conclusion: “The set held a gorgeous, sexy vibe, like a deep-night strut laced with shot-gun echo, with Leaneagh leading the way through the pitch-black tunnel, holding your hand.” Whew, sexy indeed. Not so sexy is opening act Minneapolis noise band Marijuana Deathsquads — laptops, drums and yelping vocals. $14, 9 p.m. Check out some live MDS below:

Meanwhile across town at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s the mighty Dumb Beach with Mr. & Mrs. Sprinkles (featuring Jim Schroeder of UUVVWWZ). This one’s free and starts at 9:30.

For reasons I can’t fathom, there are no shows on Thursday night…

And then Friday, or should I say BLACK FRIDAY. And the mandatory Black Friday show is, of course, at O’Leaver’s featuring Talking Mountain, M33n Str34t and Video Ranger. Expect the unexpected. $5, 9:30 p.m.

The Waiting Room also has veritable house band Satchel Grande Friday night.

Saturday night’s highlight is the See Through Dresses CD release show at The Waiting Room. Opening is The ACBs and Places We Slept. $7, 9 p.m. Check out the band’s hot new Love Drunk video for “You Get Sick Again,” taped at Almost Music / Solid Jackson Books in Benson:

Also Saturday night, Eli Mardock and Low Long Signal open for Guilty Is the Bear at Slowdown Jr. $7, 9 p.m.

While back at O’Leaver’s it’s Dim Light Saturday night with experimental KC act Be/Non. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Gobble gobble…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Live Review: Jake’s Block Party (See Through Dresses, Oquoa, Twinsmith); Jim James, Basia Bulat, Youth Lagoon tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:02 pm September 10, 2013
And the crowd looked on, at Jake's Block Party, Sept. 6, 2013.

And the crowd looked on, at Jake’s Block Party, Sept. 6, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

Jake’s Block Party in Benson has become an annual (or semi-annual?) must-attend event for anyone interested in local indie music. As in years past, the stage was set up right outside of Jake’s on Military Ave., leaving room for food vendors (Lot 2/Baxter’s, a food truck, fine brews by Jake’s).

This time  the party was teamed up with Benson First Friday, which may explain the rather light crowd for opening band Twinsmith. Though the audience was thin, interest was intense for a marquee act that has all the earmarks of a local breakthrough. Again, I was reminded of Vampire Weekend. Make your own comparisons. One of the most pop-friendly indie bands to emerge from the Omaha scene in recent memory.

Oquoa at Jake's Block Party, Sept. 6, 2013.

Oquoa at Jake’s Block Party, Sept. 6, 2013.

Moreso than when I saw them a couple weeks ago at their O’Leaver’s debut (or maybe it was the outdoor stage) Oquoa sounded like Conduits with a male lead singer, which of course makes sense considering core members of Oquoa were in Conduits. Thick, dense waves of sound rolled through the old brick buildings, but instead of Jenna Morrison’s tonal coo cutting through the feedback we got Max Almquist’s brassy rock voice. I still don’t know what he’s singing about, but that will come when we get a lyric sheet (or a clean recording). If you were a Conduits fan, you need to check these guys out.

See Through Dresses at Jake's Block Party, Sept. 6, 2013.

See Through Dresses at Jake’s Block Party, Sept. 6, 2013.

See Through Dresses had a sound that bounced between Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. Needless to say Sara Burtuldo’s interplay with with frontman Matt Carroll (Nate Van Fleet and Robert Little round out the four-piece) gives the band a Thurston Moore / Kim Gordon flair. When they throw in a New Order cover, well, things get out of hand (in a good way). As a whole, less punk and more post-punk than Sara’s other project.

Speaking of Sonic Youth, Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship followed STD and played their usual cranked up post-punk set, louder than ever. By then, the block was packed. Alas, I didn’t stick around for headliner Universe Contest.

* * *

Early in the evening, word leaked that Conor Oberst was going to mark the anniversary of Pageturners with a performance on the bar’s ad hoc stage. What to do, what to do? In the end, I sat tight at Jake’s figuring that I wouldn’t get there in time to get in and/or if I did the place would be crushed. Unlike Conor’s Krug Park “secret show” a year ago when video and reports leaked everywhere afterward, the only thing I’ve seen to prove that this actually happened was a dark, blurry photo posted on the Pageturners Facebook page.

* * *

Two shows going on tonight. Top o’ bill is Jim James (of My Morning Jacket and Monsters of Folk) at Slowdown. Is Conor still in town? If he is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he joined his old pal on stage for a couple songs. Opening is the amazing Basia Bulat, whose new album, Tall, Tall Shadows, comes out on Secret City Records Oct. 1. As of noon, tickets were still available for $27. Show starts at 9.

Also tonight, spacey rockers Youth Lagoon a.k.a. Boise Idaho’s Trevor Powers, plays at The Waiting Room. His new album Wondrous Bughouse was released on Fat Possum this past March and is, indeed, a head trip in a Floydian sort of way. Opening is Austin low-fi trio Pure X. $14, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.


Conduits head to Europe, say goodbye tonight with Universe Contest, See Through Dresses…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:35 pm October 24, 2012
Conduits circa last January...

Conduits circa last January…

by Tim McMahan,

Conduits are headed across the ocean for their first European tour.

The tour starts on Halloween in Linz, Austria, at Posthof (a gig which apparently features a “Belle & Sebastian DJ set”). From there it’s three weeks of dates in Austria, Switzerland, and France, closing out with a night in Utrecht, The Netherlands on Nov. 22.

But before they climb aboard a silver dart to far off lands, Conduits have a date with you tonight at Slowdown Jr. Opening the show is red hot Lincoln band Universe Contest and See Through Dresses. Who the hell is See Through Dresses? Well, according to their Facebook page, the band consists of Sara Bertuldo (Millions of Boys, Conduits), Matt Carroll, Nate Van Fleet and Robert Little. They list Kate Bush as the band’s influence. Who doesn’t like Kate Bush?

Get there early. 9 p.m., $8.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — 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.