New Simon Joyner digital-only release; For Against in Pitchfork (7.8); Sleigh Bells tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm April 22, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s another way to generate gas money for your next tour…

Simon Joyner and the Ghosts are releasing what they’re calling their Gas Fund Tour Exclusive Recordings to generate quick cash for their upcoming tour.

Joyner writes (via his Facebook page) that the band (as a trio) has “been recording our rehearsals to Tascam 4-track in preparation for this West Coast/Mountain West tour with Wooden Wand and we’re assembling a collection of 10 songs for those interested in supporting the tour who unfortunately cannot see any of the shows.”

The American West is vast and costs a fortune in gas to conquer, says Joyner, “so consider pitching $10 or more into our gas fund via Paypal (simon@simonjoyner.net) and receive a link via email to 10 selected songs.

Links to the tracks will go out to donors before the band leaves April 30, and also will be available (via donation) throughout the tour.

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For Against Box Set (2014, Captured Tracks)

For Against Box Set (2014, Captured Tracks)

Last week the arbiters of all things hipster at Pitchfork reviewed the For Against Box Set (2014, Captured Tracks), giving it a whopping 7.8. Impressive.

The review (read it here) concludes with: “They deserve recognition for their early-adapter approach to post-punk, as well as for sticking with it until and after everyone finally came around. Most importantly, though, these albums just sound great, as this box set represents a band hearing something from somewhere else and doing something specific and unique with it.

The box collects the band’s first two full-lengths, 1987′s Echelons, 1988′s December, and the 1990 10″ In the Marshes, originally out via Independent Project Records. The vinyl, which has been out of print for over two decades, is accompanied by a booklet and early For Against ephemera. The package is available for just $65 from the Captured Tracks website, here. I got to get me one of those…

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Sleigh Bells returns to The Slowdown tonight. The band released its latest album, Bitter Rivals, last October on Mom + Pop Records (that label is becoming a thing). The band just played Coachella last weekend so it’ll be just like being there without being there. Opening is Florida electronic/dance act Sumsun. $20, 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Bellows out with Margot; Solid Goldberg, Polanski’s Baby, Joyner’s Ghosts at Film Streams tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:06 pm March 27, 2014
Solid Goldberg from May 2011. He's playing tonight at The Brother's Lounge.

Solid Goldberg from May 2011. He’s playing tonight at The Brother’s Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Former Nebraska resident now Cali-dude Jake Bellows snagged a sweet opening slot on the Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s tour, which comes to Omaha and The Slowdown May 11. Margot’s solid fan base will get more ears behind Jake’s latest album, New Ocean, released on Saddle Creek late last year.

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It was pointed out to me yesterday that The Faint’s new record already is available on vinyl. Pick up a copy at Homer’s.

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There’s a lot going on tonight…

Over at The Brothers Lounge Omaha legend Solid Goldberg a.k.a. Dave Goldberg headlines a show with KC band Burial Teens, who call their genre of music “Head-Wave.” It’s some heavy shit. Opening is the always entertaining Killer Blow. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight down the street at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s Nashville band Roman Polanski’s Baby, which sound guy Ian says are “so f***ing good.” Don’t make me wash your mouth out with soap, Ian. Also on the bill is Manic Pixie Dream Girls and Megajoos. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, Blue Bird headlines a show at The Barley Street Tavern with Buffalo Rodeo (Bowling Green, KY) and Township & Range. $5, 9 p.m.

And finally, Film Streams’ Hitchcock 9 Silents in Concert Repertory Series continues tonight. It features the silent films of Alfred Hitchcock brought to life sonically by live musicians. Tonight it’s the 1927 film The Lodger featuring live music by The Ghost Collective, headed by Simon Joyner.

Says Simon: “The band is made up of Mike Friedman, Megan Siebe, Kevin Donahue, myself, and my friend Michael Krassner who produced and played on all my records from Yesterday Tomorrow and In Between to Out Into the Snow. He flew in from Phoenix just for this.”

Tickets are $12 general; $10 students and $8 for Film Streams members. The curtain rises at 7 p.m. Find out more here. Should be special.

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Speaking of Film Streams, I give it a shout out in this week’s column, which talks about how television and living rooms are winning out over motion pictures and theaters. You can read it in this week’s issue of The Reader or online at thereader.com 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

Live Review: Simon Joyner and the Ghosts, Universe Contest…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:42 pm December 30, 2013
Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at the Hear Nebraska album release show, The Waiting Room, Dec, 27, 2013.

Simon Joyner and The Ghosts at the Hear Nebraska album release show, The Waiting Room, Dec, 27, 2013.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever seen a better Simon Joyner performance than what we got at last Friday’s Hear Nebraska album release show at The Waiting Room. I’d have to go back and back, maybe to some of the Fallen Men shows when Skeleton Blues was released in aught six, or further and further still, to the Howard Street Tavern days when Simon was first joined by Chris and Alex and Lonnie.

Sitting on a bar stool center-stage surrounded by no fewer than six musicians (The Ghosts), Joyner played a loud, droning, wonderful set of seasick hangover blues folk ballads heavy on feedback and pure on vocals. I knew a few of the folks up there with him — brilliant pedal-steel man Mike Friedman, violinist Megan Siebe (of Anniversaire and more recently cellist with Cursive – Megan is becoming Omaha famous, before you know it she’ll be touring Japan with Bright Eyes), and (who I think was) dashing singer/songwriter Noah Sterba.

The rest I did not know, including the shaggy gentleman ripping apart an electric guitar, spraying shards of love and anger and pain throughout the crowd. I was told the next day (by the proprietor of Almost Music, Brad Smith) that it was likely David Kenneth Nance. Brad than played a track off Nance’s 2013 Grapefruit Records release Actor’s Diary, which I should have purchased on the spot (but instead ordered online the next day). On Friday night, Nance provided the Sturm to Joyner’s drang, pitching one bright sustained note after another alongside Joyner and the rest of the band, who were lost in their own howling storm.

Among the set list was a new one about a drinking buddy, and a lot of old, familiar ones including “The Only Living Boy in Omaha” and Joyner classic “Double Joe” and Ghosts highlight “Vertigo,” which closed out the set with Joyner leaning back and (almost) falling off his bar stool. As his trademark straw cowboy hat fell from his head a bevvy of photographers rushed the stage to try to capture the moment. It was a glorious spectacle indeed.

Universe Contest at the Hear Nebraska album release show, The Waiting Room, Dec, 27, 2013.

Universe Contest at the Hear Nebraska album release show, The Waiting Room, Dec, 27, 2013.

Joyner made way for the night’s headliner — Lincoln band Universe Contest who brought a lighting rig the size of which I’ve not seen with any other local indie band since, well, The Faint. The Faint’s first foray in lighting entertainment — multi-colored floor floods controlled via foot pedals operated on stage by Joel Petersen during the performance — was quaint and crude, but effective.

Universe Contest’s light rig was a series of blinding LED light panels attached to a massive metal framework — it must be a bitch to haul around and set up. A lighting guy controlled the synchronization from a controller behind the sound board. Sometimes the effects were dramatic and impressive, other times they were distracting. At their best they provided a contrast, dimming to nearly nothing during quiet moments, blazing white hot during peaks. The investment is proof these guys have their sights squarely set on getting to the next level.

Countering the hard work that went into lighting was all the flying debris. Universe Contest is apparently the band you throw shit at. I counted no less than seven empty beer cans hurled at the stage throughout their set, as well as an assortment of other trash. One beer can bounced off the guitarist’s fretboard; he reacted without a flinch. I waited for someone in the band to pick up a can and say, “The next person who throws shit at us gets this shoved right up his ass,” but it never happened. Instead, the garbage continued to rain down on them. Maybe it’s a Lincoln thing because I’ve never seen anyone throw anything at any other band on The Waiting Room’s stage. (Imagine what would happen if someone threw something at Joyner).

Anyway, it was a distraction from what everyone should have been paying attention to — the music. Early in their history, Universe Contest had a Modest Mouse thing going on that was unmistakeable. They’ve moved beyond that, though there’s still touches here and there, as well as marks of other band such as MGMT and Le Savy Fav. Their sound is more electronic than I remembered and certainly more rhythm-heavy. While I could barely hear the guitars, I could feel the bass, and the drums — a standard trap set mixed with electronics.

I counted at least three vocalists sharing leads throughout the set, most were handled by the guitarist and bass player, though the keyboard player’s vocals were the most restrained (and the most sublime). There were only a few numbers where the vocals did more than add to the rhythms, which is one way of saying there were few if any central hooks in these songs, nothing you’re going to hum to yourself as you walk back to your car.

Instead, Universe Contest’s music is openly simple, with a number of songs centered around a repeated phrase that builds momentum with every turn. When the band gets in a groove it exudes a modern tribal energy that’s both neo-psychedelic and progressive.

Add it all up — the lights, the music, the flying debris — and Universe Contest is never less than entertaining. They sound like they’re halfway between being an indie pop band and being a full-on prog band; and that indecision defines them (for now).

So.

I’m told the crowd was just under 200, and Hear Nebraska sold quite a few albums. I spied a copy and they look pretty cool. I haven’t gotten mine yet since I bought a super-special signed copy and they were still getting the sigs. Where can you buy your copy? For now, they can be purchased here at hearnebraska.org. Sweet orange vinyl. Get one while you can.

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The way the holidays sit on the calendar this year has got me discombobulated. Is it Monday or is it Friday? If you’re like me, you have tomorrow and Wednesday off, which makes this a Friday. Unfortunately, the clubs didn’t get the memo and mistook this for just another Monday… Come on, people….

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TOMORROW: The blog entry you’ve all been waiting for: MUSIC PREDICTIONS FOR 2014. Be here and find out what’s going to happen to you next year…

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Lazy-i Best of 2013

Lazy-i Best of 2013

A reminder to enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2013 compilation CD. The collection includes songs by Arcade Fire, Eli Mardock, Foxygen, Yuppies, Tim Kasher, Speedy Ortiz, Low and a ton more.  The full track listing is here. Entering has never been easier: To enter either: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3, retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 6!

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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

Unread Records and the joy of cassettes (in the column); The Stone Roses tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 2:01 pm November 6, 2013

Unread Records logoby Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

In this week’s column, the story of Unread Records and why the label, which is celebrating its 19th birthday this Saturday with an 11-band concert at the Sweatshop Gallery, continues to release (primarily) cassettes. It’s in this week’s issue of The Reader, and online right here

And heck, since the column is music-related, online below.

Celebrating Cassettes: The Joy of Low Fidelity

by Tim McMahan

Every year right around now, I put my Mini Cooper convertible in storage and replace it with a ’96 Geo Tracker. My Cooper has virtually no ground clearance, which makes it useless in any measurable snow, while the Tracker not only stands high above the ground but also is four-wheel-drive, making it virtually unstoppable.

The downsides of my Geo: It’s beginning to rust. The driver’s side door handle is broken. The rims are the wrong size, so the tires have a habit of deflating overnight. It smells like my dogs.

The upside: It has a cassette deck. There’s something particularly awesome about digging out a mixtape from the summer of 1994 and listening to forgotten bands like Uncle Joe’s Big Ol’ Driver or Morphine or The Wedding Present or Game Theory.

But for Chris Fischer, the label executive behind Unread Records, cassette tapes are more than just a nostalgia trip. The motto on the homepage of unread-records.com: “Creating homemade tapes from empty aluminum cans since 1994.”

Fischer used to live in Omaha. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native, now living in Pittsburgh, was wooed to our city in the late ‘90s by none other than Conor Oberst after Fischer set up a show for him in Lancaster back in the early Bright Eyes days.

Back then, Fischer’s Unread Records was part of the underground world of cassette-tape-only record labels. Now 19 years later, it still is, even though super-cheap digital music technology should have made cassettes obsolete. Instead, Unread boasts a catalog of 148 cassette tapes by artists such as Charlie McAlister, Ramon Speed, Spirit Duplicator and Omaha’s own Simon Joyner.

Those artists will join seven more from the Unread Records roster for Junkfest #19 — a concert at the Sweatshop Gallery in Benson this Saturday at 6 p.m. Fischer said the event, which celebrates the label’s 19th birthday, will be “a great show, very bizarre, an experience.”

When I interviewed Fischer back in 2000, the central question was: Why cassettes? Not so strangely, the question remained at the forefront when I talked to him last Saturday. He admitted cassettes have inferior sound quality, degrade faster and are more expensive to mass produce than CDRs. And if you thought finding a turntable was hard, finding a cassette deck means scouring eBay, Craig’s List or your local pawn shop.

Fischer said his love of cassettes is a product of growing up idolizing tape labels of yesterday like Shrimper, Catsup Plate and Omaha’s Sing! Eunuchs. “Cassettes are more artistically attractive to me,” he said. “It’s a mechanical thing, a physical object. It feels better to hold a cassette. It jangles around a bit. It has screws. It’s not that I’m anti-technology, there’s nothing wrong with CRSs, they just don’t look as attractive, and I don’t understand how they work.”

Plus, like vinyl records, cassettes have two sides. “Everyone now just wants to purchase a song off iTunes or just buy increments of music as opposed to a whole album,” Fischer said. “There’s nothing better than listening to an album — the A side, the B side, hits or no hits, I like to hear it all for what it is.”

Over the years, Fischer has gone from a production process that involved plugging tape decks together to dub six tapes at a time to using professional dubbers. He dubs between 50 and 150 tapes per title, depending on how well he thinks they’ll sell, then gives half of them to the artists. Not a total Luddite, Fischer said if an artist provides the master on CD, he makes the tracks available for digital download. But it’s the cassettes that are the cool, collectable thing, not the downloads.

Simon Joyner, who ran Sing! Eunuchs with Chris Deden, said cassettes became an important medium in the late ‘80s into the ‘90s because everyone had a cassette player and recorder at home. “So, people who wanted to create music could do it very easily and inexpensively. They could try anything they wanted because no studios were necessary, no label was necessary. Out of this, labels formed around this DIY concept that artists were everywhere and here’s the music, cheap and accessible.”

But Bandcamp and other digital music file-sharing sites have made cassettes unnecessary. “What’s going on now is fetishistic, econo-chic,” Joyner said. “There is nostalgia around the cassette medium because so many great, important artists and bands started out that way, during that time when it was the cheapest, easiest way to get music out there. (Today) most people releasing music on cassette are feeding that population of cassette fetishists while also releasing the same music in other ways, having their tape and eating it, too.”

Joyner said when he was putting out tapes, he “longed for vinyl, and that hasn’t changed.” Fischer agreed, and Unread has released a number of vinyl records. “I would love to do a lot more,” Fischer said, “but 80 percent of my catalog is cassettes only because of cash flow. If I won the lottery, I’d do more vinyl.”

But even if he did, there would still be a fascination for cassettes. “Nowadays, cassettes are cool and retro,” Fischer said. “A friend of mine approached me to put out a cassette and didn’t have the first idea how they worked or what they were. It blew my mind.”

Joyner, who never liked the “low-fi” label placed on him early in his career, accepted tape hiss as an unavoidable product of recording limitations.

“You should only love that sound if the music in the foreground is good,” Joyner said. “Then as now, a lot of music released on tape is no good, and having it on tape doesn’t change that fact. But when it is good, there is something nice about the hum and hiss as I drive around the city in my decrepit Ford Escort just to hear it.”

Or in my Geo Tracker.

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 tim.mcmahan@gmail.com.

First published in The Omaha Reader, Nov. 6, 2013. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

The latest mysterious message about O'Leaver's Black Friday event...What could it mean?

The latest mysterious message about O’Leaver’s Black Friday event…What could it mean?

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Village Pointe Cinema is hosting a special screening of Made of Stone: The Stone Roses. The documentary by covers the Manchester band’s 2012 and 2013 reunion tours, which culminated with a headlining spot at the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in California. The screening is scheduled for 7:30.

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OK, now O’Leaver’s is just playing with us. This showed up on the email right before lunch. Can you decipher its meaning?

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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: Benson Days, Dumb Beach, Simon Joyner and the Ghosts; Pleasure Adapter tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:58 pm July 29, 2013
Simon Joyner and the Ghosts at Benson Days, July 27,2013.

Simon Joyner and the Ghosts at Benson Days, July 27,2013.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The only aspect of Benson Days in which I partook in was the beer garden/band stage. Instead of the usual setting on Military Ave just outside of Jake’s, the stage was set up on 62nd St., right in front of the old “building and loan” and just east of Jane’s. It’s a good location, with park benches and plenty of trees and just enough space for Jake’s booze tent. The fact that it was so much smaller than the Military Ave. stage area was a plus in that it brought the crowd closer together.

Dumb Beach at Benson Days, July 27,2013.

Dumb Beach at Benson Days, July 27,2013.

Another plus: The smaller space made for better sound. I have no idea who was in charge of that aspect of the show, or for that matter, who booked the day stage, but both did a good job. I got there late in the day, just in time to see Dumb Beach plug in and tear it up with their gritty, brutal style of garage rock. The band formerly known as Peace of Shit has pushed its way toward the top of my list, as sort of an Omaha all-star collection of garage rock glitterati led by Austin Ulmer.

They were followed by Simon Joyner and the Ghosts. Joyner has surrounded himself with his own all-star cast, among them old reliable Mike Friedman on pedal steel and Omaha legend Dave Goldberg on keys. The group was rounded out by a fiddle player, a bassist and a guy on kettle drum/snare. The result was raucous yet tuneful versions of songs like set opener “Vertigo” and “If I Left Tomorrow,” both from Simon’s latest album Ghosts.

As the set wore on we wandered out of the beer garden looking for food, but by 7 or so, Maple Street had become a blocked-off ghost town. I guess you had to get there early to get in on food booths…or maybe there weren’t any. I noticed a food truck parked nearby, but it was closed. We ended up (as always) at Pizza Shoppe, which I’m happy to report has really turned it around service-wise. Was a time when it would take a half hour just to get your order in; these days PS has the best food service in Benson, and their pizza’s pretty good, too.

That’s it for my weekend. This pestilence that I mentioned last Friday continues to have me in its grip, which meant no night shows last weekend…

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That same pestilence will likely keep me away form O’Leaver’s tonight where Pleasure Adapter and Touch People will be hosting their tour send-off. And guess what: It’s free. Show starts at 9:30.

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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

Mogis/Walcott soundtrack; Desa to play TWR; Alessi’s Ark vid; Simon Joyner’s latest; I’m Wide Awake goes gold…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s some news bits found whilst going through my email box this morning:

For what may be the closest thing you’re going to get to a new Bright Eyes album in the foreseeable future, Varèse Sarabande Records will release the Stuck in Love – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack digitally May 28 and on CD and vinyl June 11, 2013.

Written and directed by Josh Boone, the film features an original score by Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott (of Bright Eyes), and new songs “At Your Door” (by Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott featuring Big Harp), “You Are Your Mother’s Child” (by Conor Oberst) and “Somersaults In Spring” (by Friends of Gemini: Corina Figueroa Escamilla, Nathaniel Walcott and Mike Mogis). The film, which IMDB lists as 2012 release but is slated for theaters June 13, 2013, stars Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, and Kristen Bell.

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Speaking of Oberst projects, Desaparecidos announced this morning that they will playing at The Waiting Room Oct. 22. Tix go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. for $25. The gig is part of a 12-date tour that starts Oct. 20 in Englewood, CO, and closes out Nov. 4 at The Fonda Theater in LA.

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You remember Alessi Laurent-Marke, don’t you? The super talented, super-cute Brit who once called Omaha home has a band that goes by the name Alessi’s Ark, and the video for that band’s first single, “Tin Smithing,” from their new album, The Still Life (Bella Union) just went online (embedded below). Alessi’s headed to these shores on tour, but so far, no Omaha date. We miss you Alessi!

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Omaha’s songwriter laureate Simon Joyner announced yesterday that he’s teaming up with Dennis Callaci of the band Refrigerator (and of the label Shrimper) for a new 11-track LP titled New Secrets. Backing the duo are members of Simon’s band The Ghosts as well as guest spots by Franklin Bruno (Human Hearts, Nothing Painted Blue) & Kevin Morby (Woods / The Babies). The new record hits the bins June 11 on Shrimper. Check out track “The Frayed End of the Rope,” below:

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And finally, eight years after its release, Saddle Creek Records announced today that I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning has been certified gold (500,000 units sold) by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Measuring the value of art based on sales figures is a ridiculous idea; and clearly there is no direct correlation between album sales and quality,” said label chief Robb Nansel in this online message. “But every once in a while we get reminded of why we do what we do; that our efforts aren’t completely futile; and that music, as cliché as it may sound, can change the world. This feels like that type of moment.”

Congrats to Robb, Jason, Conor and everyone who took part in the making of that record. Soak in the achievement, because gold records for indie labels were extremely rare to begin with, and the way the industry has gone over the past decade, are destined to be a thing of the past.

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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

Live Review: Simon Joyner & The Ghosts; Jack White, Harry and the Potters tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 1:00 pm August 6, 2012
Simon Joyner & The Ghosts at The Sydney, Aug. 3, 2012.

Simon Joyner & The Ghosts at The Sydney, Aug. 3, 2012.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

You wouldn’t know by attending Friday night’s show at The Sydney that Simon Joyner’s new album, Ghosts, consists mainly of down-tempo numbers. That’s because Joyner wisely only played the most uptempo stuff off the double LP during his set. Tunes like rousing drunk ballad “When the Worst Doesn’t Happen,” playful death nod “If I Left Tomorrow” and acid shot album opener “Vertigo.”

The seven-member drone-folk orchestra kept the vibe in a noisy haze throughout the night, filling every inch of dense space with waves of feedback, pedal steel, violin and cello, with two percussionists keeping beat for the tribe. Joyner did slip in one of the album’s most distorted, dissonant and disturbing tunes, the 6-plus minute noise ballet called “Answering Machine Blues” a dark, foreboding nightmare reminiscent of hours spent playing records backwards listening for hidden messages in the grooves. He closed the set with a rarity — “Tums” off the ’93 album Iffy, a tune that’s screaming to be rerecorded with this full band. As a whole, it was a very satisfying night spent listening to a dark orchestra play dark balladry in the dark. What more do you want?

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Tonight Jack White of the White Stripes plays at The Music Hall. I’m one of only a handful of people in the entire world who never “got” Jack White, always found his guitar work derivative and never much cared for his voice. But I can’t fault those who are into the guy, who by everything I’ve read, has done a lot for the garage scene. This one has been sold out for a long time.

Also tonight, nerd-core messiahs Harry and the Potters play at Slowdown Jr. with Potter Puppet Pals. Early 8 p.m. show, $10.

Finally, Trampled by Turtles is playing at The Waiting Room. I have never heard a single song by this band, whose music is described as “bluegrass.” Opening is Joe Pug. $18, 9 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

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Simon Joyner and Woody Allen? (in the column); Little Brazil, Millions of Boys tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 1:07 pm August 2, 2012
Simon Joyner (in hat) and his band. Photo by Zach Hollowell

Simon Joyner (in hat) and his band. Photo by Zach Hollowell

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Simon Joyner said way too much to get into one article, so the overflow went into this week’s Over the Edge column. The headline: The Woody Allen of Indie Folk. It has to do with a comment Joyner made about record labels and his music and the fans’ role in supporting art over the long haul. The column is in this week’s issue of The Reader, or you can read it online right here. Joyner and his band celebrate the release of their latest album, Ghosts (Sing, Eunuchs! 2012) tomorrow night (Friday, Aug. 3) at The Sydney.

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The weekend starts early tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s for what will no doubt be a raucous display of public inebriation combined with dollops of rock music and sexiness. That’s right, Little Brazil returns to the house that Frederick Pabst built (or maybe it was Joseph Schlitz?). The party starts at 9:30 with Underwater Dream Machine, followed by Millions of Boys. $5. Free parking. Go.

Also tonight, The Bishops and All Young Girls Are Machine Guns are at The Sydney. $5, 9 p.m.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Lazy-i Interview: Simon Joyner reflects on life and death on a stunning new double album; Oberst talks new Desa; Star Slinger tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:00 pm August 1, 2012
Simon Joyner (the one in the hat) and his band.

Simon Joyner (the one in the hat) and his band. Photo by Zach Hollowell.

Simon Joyner: The Ghosts in the LP

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Also published in The Reader, Aug. 2, 2012.

Singer songwriter Simon Joyner would very much prefer that you listened to his new double album, Ghosts, as it was intended to be heard: Played on a record player.

Unlike other artists who over the past few years have made their recordings available on vinyl as a sort of kitschy gimmick or nod to a hipster scene that prefers analog over digital, Joyner wrote Ghosts, which comes out Aug. 14 on Sing! Eunuchs!, as four sides contained in a one gatefold sleeve, its dark themes ebbing and flowing from the dissonant chaos of Side One to depths of guilt, confusion and regret on Side Two to the grim, bleak darkness of Side Three to a deceptive pop relief on Side Four. The time it takes to get up and turn the record over gives listeners a brief respite between waves of desolation.

“There’s a lot of death on this record,” Joyner said. “Our guitarist, Mike Friedman, said that it was so heavy that he listened to the first record and then took a couple hours off before he listened to the second one.”

Simon Joyner, Ghosts (Sing, Eunuchs! 2012)

Simon Joyner, Ghosts (Sing, Eunuchs! 2012)

It’s hard to imagine listening to a digital version of Ghosts on an iPhone in shuffle mode while jogging, and stumbling across a song like the piano-and-guitar dirge “Swift River, Run” with its lines: “I’ve seen the levee burst / Seen fences devoured by the sun / Should the giant redwood burn / The ash will darken everyone.” Taken out of context sandwiched between, say, KC and the Sunshine Band and a Twin Shadows track, the slow, dismall song could seem almost comical. Taken in its proper place with the rest of the album, and it’s sobering darkness before the dawn.

Is it too much to ask a generation of distracted iPod-slinging youth to listen to and experience all four sides of Ghosts in their entirety? “I don’t think so,” Joyner said Saturday over the phone.

“I really don’t appreciate what that convenient form of listening has done to the album as an album. It’s kind of ruined it in a lot of ways,” he said. “There’s been some damage done to the album as a work of art in the new media, but I think there will always be serious appreciators of music who want the whole experience and not just convenient and quick entertainment. But it’s always been comparatively few.”

Joyner said he created the song arc on Ghosts in an attempt to make the listeners feel like they’ve “been through something and come out on the other side, whatever it may be.”

“Especially with a double record, the middle can get really deep into it. The songs work in a way where you’re kind of getting through the mess of what’s being worked on thematically.”

Side One opens with “Vertigo,” a violent, psychedelic, psychotic blues song that’s a crash of noise and fear. “(The song) announces some of the (album’s) themes: Escape and entrapment,” Joyner said. “Musically speaking, it sets the tone as far as the jagged, dissonant qualities of a band doing jagged, dissonant songs. It lets people know that this is going to be something different.”

“Different,” as in a change from Joyner’s usual style, though there’s nothing “usual” about a Simon Joyner album. Joyner began playing intelligent, personal coffee-shop-style folk back in early ‘90s, releasing his first cassette of songs, Umbilical Chords, when he was just 17. Since then, he’s recorded a dozen albums that range from the static folk of his landmark 1994 release The Cowardly Traveller Pays His Toll to the droll, bleak Heaven’s Gate (1995) to the afternoon balladry of ’99’s The Lousy Dance to the midnight acid blues of ’06’s Skeleton Blues to the somber beauty of ’09’s Out Into the Snow. Though the albums vary in their own ways, the common thread always has been — and continues to be — Joyner’s personal lyrics that provide dark and sometimes uncomfortable glimpses into the way he views life and death and all the stuff in between.

Ghosts continues those themes, but with more death than usual. It’s not so much a collection of eulogies as much as elegies to his own life and the lives of friends now gone. Side Two highlight, “Cotes Du Rhone,” for example, is about singer songwriter Vic Chesnutt, an old friend and musical influence who took his own life on Christmas Day 2009.

“I wrote (the song) in a Vic way, describing things in sort of a goofy, poetic way that I associate with him,” Joyner said. “I tried to write a Vic Chesnutt song about Vic Chesnutt’s death.”

The rock incantation “If It’s Alright With You (It’s Alright with Me),” which bridges Sides Two and Three, also is a tribute to Joyner’s friends who have passed. One verse, for example, repeats “If it’s alright with Jessica / It’s alright with me.” Joyner said he’d read a book about the Viet Nam War with a section about soldiers marching through the jungle chanting a similar recitation for their fallen comrades.

“It was a way of preparing themselves for death, trying to strengthen themselves for what’s going to happen,” Joyner said. “It got me thinking of the people I had lost over the last couple years and how it was weighing on me, and this idea of cataloging them as a way of respecting the dead. The more you deal with and interact with the difficult things in life, the better you will be in actually confronting these things. It’s not always a celebration.”

If it sounds depressing — and it certainly can be — there are plenty of breaks in the clouds, like the Side Four gem “If I Left Tomorrow,” which could be mistaken for a pop song. “It’s hopeful in its own way lyrically,” Joyner said. “It’s saying even though this thing is probably going to end, it’s not just wasted time, we didn’t compromise anything.

“Sometimes a tornado will take a house and will leave a staircase, that’s a hopeful thing,” Joyner said, referencing a line from the song. “There are disasters and rough stuff we go through, but there’s usually some exit, something provided that allows you to make it through another day. And whether it’s in a relationship or just whatever various things that life presents, that’s where the hope comes through.”

Simon Joyner and his band will celebrate the release of Ghosts with Solid Goldberg, Lightning Bug and Sun Settings Friday, Aug. 3, at The Sydney, 5918 Maple St. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $5, or purchase the album for $20 at the venue and admission is free. For more information, call 402.932-9262 or visit thesydneybenson.com.

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There’s a second part to this interview with Simon Joyner that appears in print as this week’s column in The Reader. It talks about record labels and Kickstarter and that sort of thing. I’ll link you to it tomorrow.

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Conor Oberst picked The Huffington Post to debut and explain the new Desaparecidos single “MariKKKopa,” which you can read and hear right here. It’s a darn good punk song laser focused at Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Ariz. Once again, Conor proves he’s not afraid to name names to give his message some teeth. The single and its b-side “Backsell” (streamed at Alt Press) features (as the article says) “Oberst adopting the voice of anti-undocumented immigrant groups.”

Also from the article:

As far as paying for public services for these new Americans — although I believe their participation in the economy would do so — I’d recommend cutting our military budget in half. We’d have more than enough money for all the basic public services we all require. I’ll never understand how we allow public health and education to suffer here at home while we spend endless amounts of money overseas fattening the purse of defense contractors.”

Tell it like it is, Mr. Oberst. Something tells me he’ll have even more to say when he takes the stage at The Maha Music Festival next Saturday night at Stinson Park.

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Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s Manchester UK producer/DJ Star Slinger with LOL Boys and Touch People (Darren Keen, ex-The Show Is the Rainbow). $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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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