#TBT March 23, 2007: Little Brazil release show for Tighten the Noose; The English Beat tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:46 pm March 23, 2017

Little Brazil circa 2007. The band hosted the album release show for sophomore album Tighten the Noose 10 years ago today.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Another highlight of ’07 along with the opening of The Slowdown and The Waiting Room was the release of Little Brazil’s sophomore album Tighten the Noose.

The album’s official release date according to AllMusic.com was Feb. 6, 2007. That website gave the recording a 3-1/2 star rating, but was less than complimentary in its review, saying, “…while these are perfectly admirable sonic references, they point up Tighten the Noose’s primary flaw: Hedges’ songs are solid, and he’s a perfectly decent singer and guitarist, but there’s a faintly anonymous quality to Tighten the Noose that keeps the album from sounding like more than the sum of (Landon) Hedges’ influences…

I remember when I first read that review thinking it was pretty lazy, especially considering the comparisons the writer threw out (Dream Syndicate? Apples in Stereo? Huh?). To me, Tighten the Noose would become Little Brazil’s “rock album,” comprised of the catchiest tracks they’ve recorded in their career. Tunes like “Last Night,” “Shades” and “Never Leave You” became staples of their set over the years and epitomized their sound. These are the tunes the band will be remembered for, along with the more epic, story-telling songs on the follow-up, 2009’s Son.

At this point in the band’s career, Little Brazil was still trying to pull itself away from Landon’s association with a couple of his former bands — Desaparecidos and The Good Life.

From Lazy-i March 21, 2007:

(Bass player Danny) Maxwell is skeptical that Hedges’ history has had an impact on drawing people to Little Brazil shows. “They don’t say, ‘Holy shit, it’s the guy from Desa.'”

Still, Maxwell said fans are aware of the band’s history and its connection to the Omaha music scene. “They ask us what Conor is doing right now,” Maxwell said. “I usually respond with, ‘I don’t know. We’re here with you tonight.'”

“There are fans out there that love that style of music and ask us what it’s like to be part of it,” (guitarist Greg) Edds explained. “I don’t mind when they’re being sincere. On the other hand, there are the ones who hand us gifts to bring back to Conor and Tim (Kasher).'”

“It’s annoying at this point in our careers,” Hedges said.

“But it’s getting to be less and less of a problem,” (drummer Oliver) Morgan added. “We’re starting to make our own mark.” — Lazy-i March 21, 2007

Read the whole story here.

According to my review in Lazy-i the next day, about 250 people showed up for the album release show at Sokol Underground March 23, 2007. The Photo Atlas was the opener. There was even a balloon drop halfway through Little Brazil’s first song, and Landon almost passed out from the heat/humidity.

From the 2007 review:

“Landon… is a pure crooner, an Omaha-style indie singer cut from the same bolt of cloth as Tim Kasher (a la The Good Life, not Cursive). Every time I see him with his just-woke-up hair and cheap wireframe glasses I think of Corey Haim as Lucas or a bespeckled Bobby Brady, age 13. His voice kinda/sorta matches his appearance — an unpretentious caterwaul that has no problem reaching for the high notes at the peak of a heart-wailing phrase. Little Brazil’s music isn’t exactly a bold, new direction in the world of indie rock. You got your cool guitar riffs, your lean bass lines, your thunderous drums (Oliver Morgan is always at his best every time I see him on stage — he has no second gear), coming together to form a verse-verse-verse song (why are there never any choruses these days?) that typically builds to a predictable — if satisfying — “big ending.” The differentiator — Landon’s Bobby-at-13 voice, that is both honest and simple and, well, good enough to cut through the din. It’s kind if quirky, but perfectly on pitch. And it follows a melody that rises and falls…” — Lazy-i, March 24, 2007

The next day the band drove to Denver to open for The Photo Atlas at their album release show…

Anyway, if you haven’t already, check out Tighten the Noose at Bandcamp. I listened to it again this morning on my way into work and it holds up exceptionally well. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the head if Landon and Co. got together for a 10-year anniversary performance of Tighten the Noose? Think about it, Maha…

* * *

One of those bands that never seems to forget Omaha when it tours, Dave Wakeling and The English Beat, return to The Waiting Room tonight. Local ska band The Bishops opens. 8 p.m., $25.

* * *

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.

Share | Email | Bookmark

Lazy-i

#TBT: The Waiting Room: Book It and They Will Come; Conor Oberst (SOLD OUT), Har Mar Superstar headline anniversary show…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 11:35 am March 9, 2017

Marc Leibowitz, left, and Jim Johnson a few days before the March 9, 2007, grand opening of The Waiting Room Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Has it really been 10 years? Guess it has, though it doesn’t seem like it.

When the venue opened March 9, 2007, there was never any doubt in my mind that The Waiting Room would still be in operation a decade later. And sure enough, here we are. The club is bigger and better than ever, and arguably was the keystone on which the Benson revitalization was built upon.

I’m not going to get all maudlin and nostalgic about the club or the people behind it (I’ll save that for The Reader article, which I’m hoping to write for the June issue). Instead, here’s the original interview with Waiting Room founders Marc Leibowitz and Jim Johnson from the March 8 2007 issue of The Reader (and entry on Lazy-i.com) where the dynamic duo explain why they built the club and their plans for the future.

Actually, before we get to that, tonight is the official 10th Anniversary show featuring Conor Oberst and The Felice Brothers. This one has been sold out for a long time. The club is having an invitation only celebration prior to that show, though everyone is invited to the 10th Anniversary After Party featuring Har Mar Superstar at Reverb Lounge. Tickets are still available for that one for $10, but I suggest you buy them before it, too, is sold out. Har Mar starts at 11 p.m.

Now let’s step into the Wayback machine to March 8, 2007…

The Waiting Room: Book It and They Will Come
from Lazy-i.com, March 8, 2007

A mere month after taking possession of the building that used to house Marnie’s Place, D Dubs and the legendary Lifticket Lounge, The Waiting Room in the heart of Benson is ready for business.

Its owners — Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz — are ready for business as well.

Since getting the keys from the landlord, a visibly worn but excited Johnson has spent 12 hours a day every day cleaning, painting and repairing the facility, from building a gorgeous new bar to upgrading the stage to remodeling the bathrooms, and he’s not through yet. One week prior to its grand opening more work still needed to be done. The Pepsi guy was scheduled to show up the next morning, more tables and chairs were on the way, a collection of posters from past One Percent Productions shows (what the duo is known for) had yet to be hung and the booze hadn’t arrived yet (nor had their liquor license).

But the most important element — the venue’s monster stage, sound and lighting system — was in place and ready for lift-off. Using an iPod plugged into the soundboard, Johnson and Leibowitz ran a brief test of the system, playing tracks by Red House Painters, The Replacements and Frontier Trust, finally settling on Beck’s Sea Change. Even with one of the large stage speakers still yet to be hooked up, the sound was pristine — huge and full-bodied — and very loud.

“It’ll be even louder when the bands are playing,” Leibowitz said. “It’s basically a supped-up version of Sokol Underground’s PA in a room half the size. It has the same speakers, but the amps are better. The monitors are the same, the board is a lot better and there are twice as many stage lights.”

Enormous subwoofers are mounted beneath the stage, surrounded by 5,000 pounds of sand used to dampen vibration. Running the board will be soundman Jason Churchill from the Satellite Blues Band, who has been working sound at One Percent shows for the past couple years. “We thought he had a good sound from the get-go,” Leibowitz said. “He’s used to working with large bands. We bought his PA, he sold his cube truck and now this is his home.”

It’s a first-class set-up that will quickly be recognized as one of the best performance rooms in the city. And unlike Sokol Underground, where large metal poles always block your view, all sight lines are unobstructed.

Beyond the stage and sound, the lounge itself sports a clean, comfortable, lived-in feel, from the booths along the south wall to the pinball-machine room in the back. The place even boasts two sets of restrooms — one by the pinball room, the other to the right of the stage. Johnson will get to know them intimately as he’ll be the guy cleaning them every morning after what he hopes will be plenty of use.

Although lifted from a Fugazi song, the club’s name — The Waiting Room — is appropriate for reasons beyond sheer tribute. Leibowitz and Johnson waited 11 years to open the club.

“We thought in 1996 that we’d find the right place within a year,” Johnson said. “We figured we could do shows as One Percent Productions for awhile and prove that we could make enough money to convince a bank to give us a loan. Eleven years later, and we realized it wasn’t that easy.”

Part of the reason for the delay was that they were too “picky.” Over the years they considered venues in the Old Market, along Farnam St., in South Omaha and even the building that currently houses Sullivan’s. Then this last December Johnson stepped into Marnie’s Place at 6212 Maple St. and talked with the building’s owner. Within weeks, he was handed the keys.

“One reason we chose this location was because it was affordable,” Leibowitz said. “Every other place we looked at cost too much money. And we like Benson. A lot of people that go to our shows live around here.”

Friday night’s opening will feature Art in Manila (a new band fronted by Orenda Fink, who has released albums on Saddle Creek Records), Lawrence band 4th of July and folk band Black Squirrels. The following night, punk bands Bombardment Society, Now Archimedes!, and The Stay Awake take the stage. Sunday night’s show is a special invitation-only affair that will feature one of the area’s biggest acts.

That’s three nights of indie and punk bands, and although One Percent built its rep on indie music, Johnson and Leibowitz know that they’ll have to reach beyond that genre to keep the bar open, especially with Saddle Creek Records’ mammoth Slowdown entertainment complex opening downtown in just a few months.

“We’re not indie music promoters; we’re independent promoters,” Leibowitz said. “Indie music got us where we are today, but we now book more metal and hardcore than anyone in town.”

“These days, I’m really getting into country music,” Johnson said, adding that had someone stepped into the building anytime over the past month, they would have heard plenty of pedal steel along with the hammers and saws.

“We want to book whatever people want to come see,” Leibowitz said. “Yes, the indie shows that can fit into this room will be here. But there also will be some bands that we would have booked at Mick’s — like Jolie Holland and Dave Dondero. We want to do the Americana stuff that the Sunday Roadhouse series is known for. We’ve been offered jazz and reggae shows in the past and had no room for them. Now we do. It’ll be all across the board.”

Which begs the question how One Percent will be able to book Sokol, Slowdown and their own club without an obvious conflict of interest. Leibowitz said The Waiting Room isn’t in those venues’ league.

“The competition will be between Sokol, Scottish Rite Hall and Slowdown. All really cater to the same size shows,” he said, adding that economics differentiate the three. Sokol is cheap to operate. “From what we’ve been told, Slowdown could be more expensive, and Scottish Rite is very expensive.”

Where an artist plays will depend on what the artist wants out of a show. “They may want to play a less expensive room that allows them to walk out with more cash,” Leibowitz said. “On the other hand, from a production standpoint, nothing will touch Slowdown. It’ll have the nicest stuff in town. It comes down to expenses, availability and capacity, and I can push artists only so far in one direction.”

For example, Leibowitz said he would prefer to have the upcoming Andrew Bird show at The Scottish Rite Hall. “It would have been amazing,” he said, “but the economics of Sokol Underground made more sense to them.”

As you can tell, despite the new bar Leibowitz’s focus will remain on growing One Percent Productions. Johnson will be dedicated to running The Waiting Room full-time. “You won’t see the two of us running around everywhere like before. We want hands-on control of this bar.”

The whole point of having their own club was to be able to do it their way. Every time they started booking shows at a new venue, they’ve brought a list of suggestions to improve its business. “We asked Sokol to repaint, put in some lighting in the room adjacent to the main room and add seating so people could sit down and drink. No one listened,” Leibowitz said. “We went into the Saddle Creek Bar and said ‘Make it sound right. Don’t add more speakers, make it better. ‘ At O’Leaver’s I walked out of one show (a performance by the band Bella Lea) embarrassed. I can’t put a delicate sounding band in there.”

“We never held any of our own cards at those other bars,” Johnson said. “Here, we have control of our own destiny. We can make it the way we want to make it. After doing 800 shows, we think we’ve determined what this town needs.”

With that level of control, a risky proposition like opening a bar is a chance they’re willing to take. “We’ve proven with Sokol that people will come if you book the right shows,” Leibowitz said. “O’Leaver’s has proven that, too. We know if we bring in bands people want to see, they’ll come. — Lazy-i.com, March 8, 2007

* * *

More trivia: That was a busy night back in 2007 even if you weren’t at The Waiting Room. Kite Pilot, Razz the Kid and Or Does It Explode played at The Saddle Creek Bar. Or Does It Explode was a band that featured Robert Little and Matt Stamp from Mariannes, Tim from Latitude Longitude, and Pat D from RTO and Cactus Nerve Thang. $5, 9 p.m. The Terminals were playing the Black Shoe Bash and Dance Party at the Bemis Underground with Brimstone Howl and Denver’s The Machine Gun Blues, and The Take Action! Tour was happening down at Sokol Auditorium with The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Emery, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, A Static Lullaby, and Kaddisfly… Ah, those were the days…

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

‘Bad Guitarist’ David Nance in HN: TBT: Feb. 2, 2007 — Them House Show Blues and old Commander Venus reunion rumors…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:44 pm February 2, 2017
Slowdown Virginia at Slowdown, Dec. 23, 2010.

In the #TBT Lazy-i Archive: Slowdown Virginia at Slowdown, Dec. 23, 2010.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

No shows again tonight and not much else happening, though I want to point you to a feature that just went online at Hear Nebraska — a mammoth profile of David Nance by Andrew Stellmon that’s worth your time, with a classic line:  “After once seeing The Ghosts, Conor Oberst told (Simon) Joyner that Nance was ‘the best bad guitarist’ he had ever seen.'” Joyner goes on to explain the quote, but I don’t want give away any spoilers, go read it yourself and get to know Nance, who is bubbling up in a national sort of way.

This week’s #TBT dip into the Lazy-i archives is a mixed bag, but I figured it might be fun just to see what we were all up to in a kinder, gentler time before our government was taken over by a monarchy, and so on… take a look.

Them house party blues, Ed Grey, Oxford Collapse tonight; Slowdown Virginia reunion?Lazy-i, Feb. 2, 2007

One of the biggest shows of the weekend is, in fact, a house party being held tonight at “Frank’s Hotel” across the street from The Brother’s Lounge and starring Capgun Coup, Coyote Bones, The Family Radio and Flowers Forever.

House parties continue to be a staple of indie music, they’re the most convenient outlet for bands and their underage fans to get together without the added cost of a hall rental. It also turns the tables on the whole age issue. Just like those under 21 can’t get into bars, those over 21 can become somewhat suspect at house shows. Those over 30 become oddities. And those over 40 who don’t know anyone there become the elephant in the room: “Look, someone’s dad is here.” “Sir, please, take my chair, I’m fine standing up.” “How’s it going… cop.” Or, simply, “Who’s the freak in the corner?” I joke, of course.

But I have to admit I remember a time when I was in high school and went to house parties (ones where the centers of attention were a keg and a Hal Holbrook party hat (Editor’s Note: That’s slang for beer bong.). Whenever you saw an old guy there (say, in his mid-20s) you thought, “Jeeze, I hope I don’t end up like that old guy.” Music transcends age issues (especially indie music), but that doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable for those of us with graying temples. It is, as I’ve said before, my problem and no one else’s. I know I wouldn’t be the subject of ridicule (at least not in earshot), but still…

Look, if you’re wise and mature enough to not have my hang-ups, don’t miss this show. Coyote Bones is one of those bands that obviously has “it,” and will get signed by a savvy indie label in the very near future. The Family Radio is Nik Fackler’s posse and features arguably the best bass player in Omaha in Dereck Higgins (a guy who has no qualms about his age, nor should he). Capgun Coup epitomize the Archers of Loaf/Pavement slacker esthetic with an extra scoop of Omaha tuneful(less)ness thrown in for good measure. And Flowers Forever will be celebrating their debut.

So what will I be doing this weekend (in 2007)?

There are two other good shows tonight. Sokol Underground gets back into the indie swing of things with Sub Pop recording artist Oxford Collapse, Thunderbirds Are Now! and Latitude, Longitude. 9 p.m., $8.

Meanwhile, down at O’Leaver’s it’s a folk explosion with Iowa City’s Ed Gray. Ed’s worked with John Crawford (Head of Femur, Grey Ghost), violinist Tiffany Kowalski (Lullaby for the Working Class, Mayday, Shelley Short), and producer Alex McManus (The Bruces, Bright Eyes) as well as a ton of other Omaha musicians creatively linked to Simon Joyner. Also on the bill, the rocking Miracles of God, Petit Mal and The Front. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Finally, in an interview with Conor Oberst posted on MTV.com, the boy wonder talks about a possible Slowdown Virginia or Commander Venus reunion in honor of the grand opening of the Slowdown entertainment facility this summer.

Says the article: The opening could feature a performance by erstwhile indie rockers Slowdown Virginia. And Oberst said that while nothing’s been discussed yet, he thinks reuniting his former band, Commander Venus – which disbanded in 1997 after just two years – would make the night even more interesting.

“It would be very funny if that happened,” he said. “I wouldn’t imagine there’s much of a demand for that reunion, but it’s possible. We’re all still around, but I doubt [guitarist] Robb [Nansel] would ever get onstage again.” But Oberst says that reuniting with his other former outfit, Desaparecidos, is “certainly a possibility. I could see that happening at some point down the line.” (Read the whole interview, (still online) here.)

Conor’s talked about a Desa reunion since before Wide Awake came out, and others close to the project all the way back in March 2005 told me that new Desa music had been recorded and only awaited Oberst to add the vocals — which apparently never happened. As welcome as a reunion would be, I’m not holding my breath on this one. A Commander Venus reunion would be fun, but a Slowdown Virginia reunion would be stellar, and appropriate. Why the original Slowdown CD — Dead Space — hasn’t been reissued by Creek (or someone else) is a mystery to me, since it stands up today (I just listened to “Whipping Stick” again this morning). —Lazy-i, Feb. 2, 2007

* * *

Well, that Commander Venus reunion never happened and likely never will. But the Desaparecidos reunion did happen, and we all know how that ended. And Slowdown Virginia reunited three years later in 2010 to a sold out Slowdown crowd (Here’s the review).

Frank’s Hotel (I think) is West Wing these days, but the under-21 set also has Milk Run for shows, and now we’ve got an under-age ordinance thing that allows minors into music venues with parental permission slips, which wasn’t around 10 years ago.

And though I’m 10 years older, I’m still not intimidated about going to shows at Milk Run where I’m clearly old enough to be most of the crowd’s grand-pappy. That’s one of the reasons I like indie rock — most of us who listen to it are outsiders (and misfits) and there’s always room for another misfit at an indie rock show, no matter how old he is…

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

#TBT: Jan. 31, 2007: The Wait Is Over; Turnpike Troubadours tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 3:02 pm January 26, 2017

In beautiful Downtown Benson..

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This truly is a landmark year for Omaha’s music scene as two of its prominent music venues are celebrating 10-year anniversaries.

When The Waiting Room was announced a decade ago this month it was a surprise to many. We knew the dudes at One Percent Productions were looking for a place to call their own rather than to continue renting Sokol Underground; but few people knew where they were looking. There had been rumors that the Sokol facility was in their cross hairs along with the Saddle Creek Bar (can you believe at one time both The Slowdown and One Percent were looking at the Metcalf Park area for their locations?).

I wonder how The Waiting Room and The Slowdown will celebrate their anniversaries… We’ll just have to wait and see. For now, step back into the Lazy-i vaults and relieve this announcement all over again…

Column 112: The Wait Is Over
One Percent to Open Music Venue
Lazy-i, Jan. 31, 2007

For the guys at One Percent Productions, a long-held dream is about to become a reality.

That dream is called The Waiting Room, a new venue slated for an early March launch at 6212 Maple St., the location of the now-defunct Marnie’s Place. The impending opening is bound to send shockwaves throughout the Omaha music scene, sending askew the delicate balance that exists among a handful of clubs that also host indie rock shows.

Why all the hoo-ha? Because The Waiting Room is owned and operated by Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz, the dynamic duo behind what is arguably the city’s most important promotion company, One Percent Productions — the folks who, along with Saddle Creek Records, helped forge this city’s reputation as a national indie music Mecca.

Anyone who’s known Johnson and Leibowitz over the past decade knows that they’ve spent almost as much time looking for a suitable location to open their own club as they have booking shows. Now they’ve found it in the heart of Benson.

Though it’s been talked about in hushed voices for weeks, Johnson officially confirmed the rumor a few days ago after negotiations with the landlord were signed, sealed and delivered. Details are still sketchy since he and Leibowitz only received the keys on Monday, but here’s what Johnson knows for sure:

The estimated 250-capacity club will book a wide range of music in a variety of genres, not just the indie fare that One Percent is known for. Johnson said in addition to local and national indie bands, look for more adult-oriented music, including rockabilly, country, folk, reggae, blues, and yes, even cover bands. Plans call for live music five days a week, with Leibowitz doing the lion’s share of booking.

Facility-wise, look for the usual bar accoutrements, including pool tables, pinball machines, a good jukebox, even those stupid bar-top videogames. The establishment will have a full liquor license, but no food will be served, which means — you guessed it — smoking will be permitted.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what about parking? Johnson said there’s plenty of street parking and also some parking to the south of the building, behind the hardware store.

He said the venue’s premium sound system will set it apart from all the other clubs in Omaha. “We’re spending a lot of money on the sound system,” Johnson said. “Jason Churchill, who does sound for us at Sokol Underground, is designing the system, and it will be among the best.”

But Johnson said The Waiting Room’s edge over the other guys comes from the duo’s decade of experience successfully booking bands in rooms all over town. One Percent Productions’ rep is renowned among national agents who handle the highest quality touring bands. “We’ve shown what we can do at the clubs we’ve worked with over the years,” Johnson said. “That’s really our advantage.”

So what about that name, The Waiting Room? Johnson said it’s derived from the opening track off Fugazi’s classic 1989 album, 13 Songs. The throbbing post-punk anthem sports the line: “I won’t make the same mistakes / Because I know how much time that wastes / Function is the key / In the waiting room.” It’s kind of like how the promotion company’s name came from a Jane’s Addiction song, “1%,” which has the inspiring lyric, “I’m tired of living the bosses’ dream.” The duo was toying with the idea of renaming the club The Liftticket Lounge since it’s the site of the fabled venue that hosted, among others, Nirvana and Soundgarden.

“The room has a legacy,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of cool.” In the end, they preferred to leave that legacy as part of Benson’s history.

The other burning question is how the club will impact One Percent’s ongoing promotion operations. Over the past decade, One Percent has booked nearly 1,000 shows primarily at Sokol Underground and Sokol Auditorium, but also at O’Leaver’s, The Saddle Creek Bar, The 49’r and nearby Mick’s.

Johnson said their promotion efforts won’t be affected at all, and in fact “it should allow us to do more shows at other places in town,” he said. “By offering another room, we’ll hopefully be able to get bigger and better shows. We still need Sokol and Slowdown and The Mid America Center and The Orpheum and The Rococo in Lincoln.”

In fact, tucked away in the back of the new venue will be the first official offices of One Percent Productions. “It’s going to be nice for Marc and I to be able to sit in an office together,” Johnson said. “Maybe it’ll give me the opportunity to be more involved with the live booking than I’ve been in the past. We already discuss every show over the phone, but now we’ll be able to do it face to face.” — Lazy-i, Jan. 31, 2007

* * *

So what’s going on at The Waiting Room tonight? So-called “dirt country” band Turnpike Troubadours plays TWR tonight with Dalton Domino. $30, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

Lazy-i

#TBT: Jan. 24, 2007: Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) drinks tea at Target and strolls the dying halls of Crossroads…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:58 pm January 19, 2017

Dev Hynes circa 2007, then a member of Lightspeed Champion, stands next to a giant Buster Sword at Ala-Ka-Zam in the Crossroads. Blood Orange was still years away…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The future of Devonte Hynes was a bit murky 10 years ago when the following story was published in Lazy-i and The Reader. I’d never heard of the singer/songwriter and was simply looking for a way inside Mike Mogis’ at-the-time brand-spanking-new ARC Studios. Little did I know after working with the likes of Sky Ferreira, Carly Rae Jepson, Britney Spears even Kilie Minogue that Hynes would emerge years later as the break-out act Blood Orange, with the infectious dance hit “Best to You” off last year’s Freetown Sound.

On this Throwback Thursday, let’s step into the Wayback Machine and set the dials to 2007 and revisit Dev Hynes before he became Blood Orange…

Column 111: Englishmen in Omaha — Lazy-i, Jan. 24, 2007

Of Target, Chili’s and large knives

So I get this e-mail from UK label Domino Records telling me that one of their bands, Lightspeed Champion, was in Omaha recording with superstar producer Mike Mogis at ARC Studios — the new mansion studio that replaced Lincoln’s Presto! studios. Having seen the bands I’ve covered in the past, would I like to do an interview for Lazy-i?

Devonte Hynes, the mad genius behind Lightspeed, used to be the vocalist in Test Icicles, a band that only a couple years ago was on the verge of exploding across the London musical landscape, thanks to a rowdy style that combined noise with hardcore dance beats. After only a few club gigs around London in ’05, Test Icicles became the subject of a fierce label bidding war. Domino won, but a year after the release of their debut, For Screening Purposes Only, Test Icicles broke up. Here was a chance to find out why, while also getting a glance inside what I’ve been told is the sweetest recording studio in the region.

Domino set up the interview for last Monday. I was to meet Dev at the studio at 7 p.m. It was colder than hell the night I drove up to the large, ’60s-style house right on Dodge St. Sure didn’t look like a studio. I walked up to the door and knocked, certain that I had the wrong address. But no. Answering the door was Mike Mogis, spoon in hand. He was in the throes of making dinner for his family — a smiling wife appeared at the stairs, an adorable child skipped across the floor, and even Mike’s Brother, AJ, was there, standing next to the kitchen island by a large bowl of salad-looking food. I felt like an ass.

Dev? Oh, he’s over in the guest house. Mike pointed out his back window to another house across the compound. He kindly let me cut through his kitchen and out the back door. As I made my way across the frozen tundra, off to the right was the recording studio building, glowing in the night. That was the closest I got to it.

Instead, I made my way to the guesthouse where I was met by Tom Clarke, a cello player and part of Lightspeed. Inside, Dev sat behind a Powerbook near a kitchen table overflowing with sugary Halloween candies. Tiny empty boxes of Nerds littered the table. From upstairs came Ian Aeillo, an engineer who works with Mogis and is working on the Lightspeed project.

“They want to go to Target,” Ian said. “I’m sorry about all this.” There’s nothing like Target in London — at least not in the part of London where Dev and Tom are from — and the duo had become obsessed with it, having walked to Crossroads a number of times since arriving a week earlier to begin recording. So we all piled into my dirty Sidekick and headed to the mall.

So far, the English duo’s Omaha experience had been like Bowie’s in The Man Who Fell to Earth, aliens discovering mysteries in the most mundane things that we take for granted. Tom and Dev’s other memorable shopping experience: USA Baby, which they had mistakenly pronounced USA, Baby! and hence, expected a mod fashion boutique instead of a store filled with baby goods. “We have nothing like that in London,” Tom said. Nor do they have stores dedicated to cowboy gear, like Wolf Brothers next door — a store they were too intimidated to enter. “But we’re going back,” Tom said. “I want hats and spurs.”

“I could happily stay here for awhile,” Dev said, sipping his tea. “I’m quite content. I don’t need much.”

Omaha couldn’t be more different than the poverty-laden area where Dev lives, an East London borough called Hackney. “It’s one of the worst places in the UK,” he said. In fact, a few days before leaving for Omaha Dev was jumped by a gang brandishing guns and knives. He recounts the story nonchalantly. “The guy said, ‘You want your life to end right now?’ and I said, ‘I don’t fucking care.’ My friends had to pull me away, and pull me into my place so I didn’t get shot in the face.”

“We live there because our friends live there,” said Tom, who lives a few blocks from Dev in the nearby borough Towers Hamlets. “London isn’t like here. It’s so big. Here, it’s so small. Literally everyone is in this small place. It’s surprising, this Saddle Creek thing. There are a lot of bands in East London, but it’s not a connected scene, just a lot of people in bands. Here, it’s all local and integrated, it’s so awesome.”

Becoming part of that scene was the last thing on Dev’s mind when he made the demo that ended up with Mogis, who agreed to produce their debut album. “I was quite shocked,” Dev said. “He’s done some pretty awesome stuff, like Cursive’s The Ugly Organ.”

So far, Clark Baechle, Nate Wolcott and Mogis all have contributed to the Lightspeed recording. “The Tilly girls might do some percussion,” Dev said. “The music scene here is a bunch of friends. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. Ian and Mike don’t think twice about it. The other day they were talking about asking Tim to come over to watch football. I turned to Tom and said, ‘Is he talking about Cursive?’ It’s the way everyone wants their music scene to be.”

For the next hour over peppermint tea at Target, Dev and Tom talked about the recording and explained what happened to Test Icicles.

“We’d been saying we would split up for ages,” Dev said of his former band. “We didn’t like the music, we didn’t want the money, we didn’t want to be famous, why were we doing it? So we just split up. Everyone was saying, ‘Man, you could have played Brixton Academy.’ Well, wouldn’t you rather make music you like? People around London didn’t understand. Now they do.”

Dev said Lightspeed Champion gives him a chance to do what he wants. “The music shifts between country, folk and grunge, with a running story line,” he said. “And we’re doing this comic book with it. It’s all completely selfish. Being here now, recording it, it blows my mind.

“It’s going to be the best album in the world,” he added, half-joking. “Sometimes I’m recording and I hear a whisper in the distance, and that whisper is saying ‘Grammy, Grammy, Grammy…‘ I’m aiming for the shelves of Target, the ones with the picture above it.”

Certainly the indie scene could use a savior to lift it from its current doldrums. Dev and Tom seemed skeptical that a savior is coming from London or anywhere else any time soon.

“Nothing’s happened on a world-scale since The Strokes, and before that, Nirvana,” Dev said. What about Arcade Fire? Dev and Tom both lit up with the mention of the Canadian band, having loved Funeral, but said a lot is riding on the band’s follow-up, the forthcoming Neon Bible. “I like to think that no one cares about this sort of thing, but if Neon Bible doesn’t sell as much as Funeral, it’s instantly going to be deemed a failure. You see it all the time. People are now talking about the downfall of The Arctic Monkeys. How can that band fall from grace without even having released a second album or touring?

“Shit like that is why (Test Icicles) broke up,” Dev said. “Things got to a really weird point. I’m sure there are a million bands doing what Test Icicles was doing. It wasn’t groundbreaking.”

Still, songs like the brazen “Circle. Square. Triangle.” were pure dance-floor candy. “I was listening to Dance Macabre at the time that came out,” Dev said. “We were listening to Ex Models a lot, and the first Rapture stuff. When we wrote it, we said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if this gets played and the club reopened? — The song is an ode to the club we played in, kind of like a joke.”

Did Dev outgrow his former band’s clubby sound? “We didn’t grow out of it, we weren’t into it as much,” Dev said. “You kind of change between 17 and 20. At the time, we all were making new bands every week out of complete enjoyment. We’d play a gig and break up. We did it repeatedly, constantly.”

Dev said that after the Lightspeed Champion sessions end — probably in the next few weeks — he’s going to disappear. “Mike will mix the record. I guess it’ll come out in the fall — it’s not up to me. After this is done I’m just going to lock myself away for awhile. I’m going to stay inside and chill until it’s time to tour.”

Before heading to Chili’s to pick up a “to go” order, the four of us strolled through the half-dark, dying mall to Ala-Ka-Zam, a store that features giant, 60-pound Final Fantasy “Buster Swords” (a best-seller, according to the store’s proprietor who was happy just to have someone to talk to), along with a collection of bizarre decorative weaponry inspired by comic books and role-playing games — the kind of stuff you see sold on cable shopping channels at 3 a.m. by guys who sound like trailer-park hillbillies.

Of course Dev and Tom had never seen anything like Ala-Ka-Zam, and took the opportunity to snap pictures holding the gigantic cheaply made metal swords. In a few weeks, they’ll be back in London, thousands of miles away from Omaha and Target and our dying mall. Ah, but they’ll always have the memories. — Lazy-i Jan. 24, 2007

BTW, the name of the Mogis-produced album Lightspeed Champion released a year later on Domino Records was Falling off the Lavender Bridge. It reached the No. 45 spot on the UK album charts. Pitchfork gave it a 6.3 rating and it pretty much has been forgotten in the annuls of time…

* * *

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.

Lazy-i

#TBT: 2006 Year in Review; Wrong Pets, Legal Creep (Javid/Steve Micek Explosion), La Casa Bombas, Josh Hoyer tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:46 pm December 29, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Before we step into the Wayback Machine, a head’s up about tonight’s musical events.

Wrong Pets returns to fabulous O’Leaver’s tonight. Wrong Pets is a new band fronted by Reagan Roeder with Landon Hedges (bass), Danny Maxwell (guitar) and Ryan Haas on drums. It’s some heavy shit. That alone is worth $5, but in addition, tonight also marks the reunion of La Casa Bombas, who haven’t played  together since Kit Carson moved to LA, and the debut of Legal Creep, the drumming duo of Javid Dabestani (Lupines, ex-Bright Calm Blue) and Steve Micek (ex-The Stay Awake, The Mariannes, Real Time Optimists). $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Josh Hoyer continues his Omaha outreach. He and his band played O’Leaver’s a week or so ago. Tonight they play at Reverb Lounge with Stonebelly. $8, 9 pm.

Now, back to our Throwback Thursday special. In the coming days, The Reader will be posting my annual Year in Review and Predictions articles. Until then, let’s step into the past and read my Year in Review from a decade ago — 2006. It was a different time. Saddle Creek was flying about as high as it ever would. Slowdown and The Waiting Room were merely twinkles in their founders’ eyes. It all doesn’t seem that long ago…

From Lazy-i, Dec. 28, 2006…

Those Awkward, In-between Years
2006: The Year in Music

Lazy-i Best of 2006

Lazy-i Best of 2006

I got plenty of shit last year for saying in these pages that indie music peaked in ’05. Looking back at ’06, tell me I was wrong.

Sure, there were plenty of new indie records and rock shows down at Sokol, but did anything from this past year really stand out? Contemplating this article, I wracked my brains for a theme for ’06, but only came up with this truth: 2006 was a year that indie music — both locally and nationally — was in a holding pattern.

There were no new trends, no standout acts, and maybe no place left to go. No, I don’t think indie has run its course, but I do think that we’re all getting tired of the same old mopey jangle-rock, the wonky 10-piece chamber-pop ensembles, and the endless reinvention of Gang of Four-inspired post-punk. If there was a trend in indie, it was toward the odd. Joanna Newsom, that harpist with the voice of Lisa Simpson, was lauded by indie music scribes as the artist of the year (I’ve yet to be able to make it through her new disc, Ys, in one sitting). Then there were the gypsy folk acts like DeVotchka and Beirut, and kitschy chamber pop bands like Decemberist that seemed to make a name for themselves based on their sheer idiosyncrasy. It’s all about being peculiar these days.

It’s not like we heard anything earth-shaking on the radio, either. Look, I like that Gnarls Barkley song as much as the next guy, but “Crazy” was hardly the ground-breaking single that “Hey Ya!” was for Outkast. The rest of the Billboard charts were dominated with the usual gang of hip-hop-sters, illiterate goon-rock bands and tuneless, silicone-powered divas. Can music get any worse?

We’re living in a state of inertia. That certainly was the case for Saddle Creek Records. For the label at the epicenter of Omaha’s indie music scene, 2006 will be remembered as an off year. This despite having signed three new acts — local heavy-punk rockers Ladyfinger (NE), Crooked Fingers singer-songwriter Eric Bachmann, and hippy folk rockers Neva Dinova, who (probably) won’t release their Creek debut until next May.

Meanwhile, one of the label’s holy triumvirate, Cursive, made perhaps the best records of its career. Released in August, Happy Hollow also is the label’s most significant creative achievement in ’06. But despite having sold more than 27,000 copies, it wasn’t its biggest seller. That honor goes to Bright Eyes’ 2005 release I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, which sold more than 47,000 copies, bringing its grand total to over 380,000. Is there a Gold Record in Conor Oberst’s future? Ironically, the biggest-selling Creek-related release was Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins’ Rabbit Fur Coat, which actually came out on Oberst’s Team Love label. Since its January release, Rabbit Fur Coat has sold a remarkable 97,000 copies, according to Saddle Creek executive Jason Kulbel.

Creek only had seven releases in ’06 — a quiet year by record label standards. But that didn’t mean the label was sitting on its hands. After months of waiting, the iron finally arrived at the site of Slowdown, Saddle Creek’s long-planned, multi-purpose complex just north of downtown Omaha. Construction began on the multi-million dollar office/music hall/bar/movie theater/condo project in September with plans for a grand opening in summer ’07 — a year after its original target date.

Meanwhile, Presto! Studios — where most Saddle Creek artists record — bid adieu to Lincoln last summer. The Mogis Brothers are currently building a new studio in tony Fairacres, right next to a mansion purchased by Saddle Creek superstar Conor Oberst. As a sort of homecoming celebration, Bright Eyes performed a bone-drenching concert in Memorial Park June 17 that inspired the editors of The World-Herald to declare Omaha “fun city” (the saps!).

So, yeah, 2006 probably will be remembered as a limbo year for the Omaha indie music scene. But with Slowdown opening and new releases by Bright Eyes and The Faint, ’07 could mark a turning point for Omaha and Saddle Creek Records.

But before we look into the future, let’s look back one more time. Here’s the list of my 10 favorite releases of ’06 (in alphabetical order):

Eric Bachmann,To the Races (Saddle Creek) — Bachmann’s sweet indie lullabies mask stories of death and loss, all-too-often sung in a voice that Neil Diamond would happily kill Rick Rubin for.

Beck,The Information (Interscope) — His best effort since Mellow Gold. ‘Nuff said.

Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit (Matador) — The retro upbeat dance record drew heavily from Bowie and T. Rex. I hated it at first, but it grew on me (like a fungus).

Cat Power, The Greatest (Matador) — The first album from Chan Marshall that I’ve enjoyed from beginning to end — the most heartfelt and tuneful songs of her career.

Cursive, Happy Hollow (Saddle Creek) — It stands alongside Domestica as the band’s career-setting high-water mark. A pop, punk, drunk, funk achievement.

Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love) — A twangy rock marvel, the best thing Lewis has produced since The Execution of All Things back in ’02.

Simon Joyner and the Fallen Men, Skeleton Blues (Jagjaguwar) — Standing alongside a solid band, Joyner has finally released his inner-rock star, emerging cautious and slightly broken in a cloak originally tailored for the likes of Dylan.

The Terminals, Forget About Never (Dead Beat) — With producer Andy Caffrey, the band reinvented its hep-cat-cool retro garage punk into blown-out, raw mayhem. Turn it up.

Two Gallants, What the Toll Tells (Saddle Creek) — Though a little of these hippy ship-galley sea-shanty balladeers goes a long way, I now see why they appealed to the sexy young execs at Saddle Creek.

Yo La Tengo, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador) — The latest in a series of intimate rock head-trips, almost indefinable in its scope, which ranges from 10-minute acid-rock jams to ethereal early morning acoustic walks in a forest to cow-bell driven, falsetto-sung dance-rock rave-ups.

Venues, for the most part, remained status quo last year, with a couple new players added to the mix. Sokol Underground and Auditorium continued to have a stranglehold on all things indie, as they have for the past three or four years, thanks to One Percent Productions. Little ol’ O’Leaver’s also kept its rep as the small venue that hosts some of the best shows, while Mick’s remains Omaha’s keynote location for acoustic (or electric) folk. The only venue to really fade in ’06 was The 49’r, which hosted fewer shows than ever, probably because they pack the place just fine without live music.

Two new venues for live music also made their mark last year. With shows by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins and Gillian Welch, The Scottish Rite Hall on 202 So. 20th St. was rediscovered as a hidden gem in downtown. It could become Omaha’s version of Lawrence’s Liberty Hall. The other notable new player was The Saddle Creek Bar at 1410 No. Saddle Creek Rd. Around for literally decades only to reopen last summer, the venue’s old-home atmosphere, weird stage and exceptional location could place it on top of the list for live music venues. Its future, however, depends on solid booking.

With Slowdown opening next summer and a couple new bars in the works, Omaha could actually suffer from a glut of live venues — and not enough quality bands to fill the stages. That’s a good problem to have (as long as new talent actually emerges). So what were my favorite shows of ’06? Here’s the rundown:

Simon Joyner and the Wind-Up Birds, Jan. 27, O’Leaver’s — Joyner and his band unveiled the sound that would become Skeleton Blues and hit the proverbial sweet-spot where melody and dissonance meet to form a beautiful, soulful noise that burns going down.

Cursive, Feb. 8, O’Leaver’s — A “secret show” where Cursive unveiled the sound that would become Happy Hollow. Their big-shouldered strut felt more relaxed and, quite frankly, funner than the usual furrowed-brow Cursive stuff.

Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins, March 11, The Scottish Rite Hall — A warm set in one of the city’s warmest venues, Lewis showed that she’s bound to become the biggest act on Oberst’s Team Love label (besides Bright Eyes, of course), and could spur a C&W revival among the indie set. God help us all.

Ladyfinger, March 18, Sokol Underground — The irony: They seem like nice guys, but their music is some dark shit, black and negative, psycho angry, rattling around loud and scary like a box of smoking chainsaws. Did I mention how loud it was?

NOMO, June 8, O’Leaver’s — To say it was celebratory would be an understatement. O’Leaver’s glowed. The seven-piece afro-beat ensemble closed the night by parading through the bar, ending in a chanting circle right in front of the bar.

Bright Eyes, June 17, Memorial Park — Oberst never sounded better performing in front of a park filled with a few thousand of his new neighbors. Halfway through the show, the sky opened and the rain came. In buckets. But throughout the maelstrom, thousands refused to leave, both young and old. Talk about your acid test in the park.

Thor, Sept. 10, The Saddle Creek Bar — Donning a huge black (plastic) chest plate and a series of gruesome rubber masks, Thor had the crowd in the palm of his mighty fist, proudly belting out one heavy metal ditty after another. It was like being back at Fat Jacks circa 1985.

Yo La Tengo, Oct. 8, Sokol Underground — Two hours, three encores, selections from throughout their catalog, their style was all over the board, from raging indie jams to urban, falsetto R&B to quiet, acoustic ballads. Show of the year.

Twilight Singers, Oct. 30, Sokol Underground — The highlight: Mark Lanegan entering from back stage looking like a cross between a straight-haired, goateed Will Ferrell and Frankenstein, striking a pose with one hand on the microphone, the other firmly grasping the mic stand, eyes clamped closed, barely moving. Scary.

The Who, Dec. 7, The Qwest Center — Memorable, despite a hoarse Roger Daltrey. After 90 minutes of music, the encore included a medley of songs from Tommy, Daltrey gasping to get through “Pinball Wizard,” while Townshend shined on a raucous version of “Underture” that was the night’s highlight. — Lazy-i, Dec. 28, 2006

Still feeling nostalgic? If you have Spotify, you can now hear the Lazy-i Best of 2006 playlist right here (minus songs by The Terminals and Prince, which ain’t in Spotify)….

* * *

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

#TBT: Dec. 2, 2006: Slowdown under construction; new Maria Taylor streams; American Wrestlers, Varsity, Eric in Outerspace tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:47 pm December 1, 2016
#TBT, The Slowdown complex under construction, Dec. 2, 2006.

#TBT, The Slowdown complex under construction, Dec. 2, 2006.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

As a #TBT, this from the Lazy-i archives, Dec. 4, 2006 (though the photo was actually taken Dec. 2, 2006):

Here’s an updated pic of the Slowdown construction project. Amazing how much they’ve gotten done. This “pano” shows that they’ve apparently started on the condos on the property’s north side while they slowly begin closing in the theater on the south side. Can they get it buttoned up before the first snow?

Things did start going at a faster clip after that…

In other news, NPR is hosting a “first listen” of the new Maria Taylor album, In the Next Life, which will be out next Friday. Listen below or go to their website.

Tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s American Wrestlers, who I wrote about yesterday. Opening is Chicago indie band Varsity, and our very own Eric in Outespace. $10, 8 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

TBT: Sept. 25, 2006: Iron rises at Slowdown; Reader website redesigns; Chasm, Bib, The Vibrators tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:53 pm September 22, 2016
#TBT: Guess what this is...

#TBT: Guess what this is…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this Throwback Thursday, from Lazy-i, Sept. 25, 2006. Can you believe it’s been 10 years?

Finally, after months of sitting dormant, serious work has begun again on the Slowdown compound. I was surprised to see steel beginning to go up last week from my office window and felt compelled to take a few snappies as I drove by the property yesterday afternoon (see above photo). If the 24-Hour Fitness on 77th and Cass is any indication, once the steel arrives it’s only a matter of weeks before the whole damn thing is framed and walls become enclosed, and before you know it, they’ll be working on the interior. I’m hearing from various sources that one of the retail bays is now spoken for by a coffee shop, though the folks at Slowdown deny that any tenant has signed a lease. At first blush, a coffee shop seems like an ill fit for an indie music venue, offices and film house, until you realize that there will be a couple hotels right across the street (to the north, which I suspect at the rate they’re going up, will be open for business before the first band takes the Slowdown stage). I’ll continue to take pics as construction progresses. — Lazy-i, Sept. 25, 2006

* * *

A quick note in case you have noticed it (and why would you?): In the last week or so, The Reader launched a new website design at thereader.com. This one actually makes sense, especially if you’re reading it on your phone. In addition to being easier to read, the site is responsive, which means it looks just as good on your phone as your tablet as your desktop. Take a look.

* * *

A couple hot ones tonight…

At The Brothers Lounge, KC heavy stone band Chasm headlines with metal dudes Super Moon and one of the area’s most talked about noise-punk bands — Bib. Come see what all the hype is about. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, UK punk legends The Vibrators headline at Lookout Lounge. The full docket includes Tiananmen Squares, Buggy Lewis and The Rabbit Grenades. $8, 8 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT: Guess the band, venue and date…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:50 pm August 25, 2016


by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

For this week’s Throwback Thursday special, guess the band in the above photo, along with the venue and approximate date. Here’s a hint: These out-of-towners have played here about a dozen times since, including at a rather majestic downtown venue… Put your guesses in the comments section.

The only show worth mentioning tonight is local surf-rock band The Sub-Vectors are playing down at Slowdown Jr. Joining them are The Regulation and The Fat Timmys. $7, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Remembering Rilo Kiley 15 years later (#TBT from the Lazy-i vault); Deerhoof tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:46 pm August 4, 2016
Jenny Lewis with Rilo Kiley circa 2002.

Jenny Lewis with Rilo Kiley circa 2002.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Music blog UPROXX has a remembrance of sorts of Rilo Kiley on the band’s 15th anniversary. The writer goes through their catalog and has some nice comments about the sole Saddle Creek release in 2002, The Execution of All Things, which was something of a landmark for the label, its first real, non-Nebraska success. Rilo Kiley also would become the first band to to leave the label.

The details of their defection are interesting a decade later. This from Aug. 2, 2004, Lazy-i:

Rilo in the L.A. Times — Aug. 2, 2004

The LA Times published a story about Rilo Kiley yesterday with the headline “Leaving indie life behind — L.A.’s Rilo Kiley, with a new album on its own label and support from Warner Bros., believes its time has come.” Jenny Lewis lays out the logic behind jumping from Saddle Creek, saying essentially that they felt it was time for their big break, even if it costs them their creativity.

“I think we’re excited, but we’re a little nervous as well because we’ve been completely independent up until this point,” says Lewis, 28, in the LA Time article. “Once you start considering stockholders and the way these corporations are run, it isn’t necessarily in line with experimental music and continuing to do things in a totally organic way. But at the same time I feel like, you know, it’s been eight years for us, and if we’re not gonna do it now, then when? And I think we owe it to ourselves to continue to grow.”

Later, she explains that the band couldn’t get airplay on an indie label, which is absurd. “I think after making the record we started playing songs for our friends and we realized for the first time that [radio airplay] could possibly be an option, and I think that led to our decision in trying new things,” she said in the Times article. “With the shift that’s happening in music right now, where bands like Modest Mouse and Franz Ferdinand and all these rock bands are starting to get played on the radio again, it just seemed like the appropriate time.”

That’s kind of like saying that Creek bands are damned to only get airplay in college radio. She could have led the charge to help change that. Oh well, I’m sure there’s more to the story than this…— Aug. 2, 2004

There was.

Two years later I got a chance to ask Rilo Kiley drummer Jason Boesel about why the band strayed from Saddle Creek in this interview. Here’s an excerpt from the story from Sept. 22, 2004:

“We made this record with Saddle Creek and made it for Saddle Creek and figured it would come out on Saddle Creek,” (Boesel) said from his home in Los Angeles where the band is rehearsing for the upcoming tour. “Shortly after completing the record, we had some ideas and talked about them with Saddle Creek and discovered that we differed on a couple issues. Ultimately, we created our own record label to have total freedom over the record and the music.”

That, despite the fact that the CD was already in the can. Seems the disagreements between the band and Creek stemmed not from creative issues, but from what Boesel characterized as limitations inherent to indie record labels. Saddle Creek label manager Jason Kulbel said in last month’s issue of Alternative Press that one of the main differences was in how the two parties approached commercial radio. “Even if we had it, we are just not down with throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at commercial radio so they will play our stuff,” Kulbel said in the AP article.

But Boesel said it was more than just the cost of doing business with commercial radio. “I don’t know if we’re throwing thousands down for commercial radio. That might be an exaggeration,” he said. “We didn’t want to put a ceiling on what we did.”…

“At some point, the hope is that this record would move to Warner Bros. proper,” Boesel said. “We wanted that to be a possibility. Even if it had been released by Saddle Creek that was a possibility, but it wasn’t something they (Saddle Creek) were comfortable with. They’re definitely crusaders with high morals and ethics, trying to do this thing for the greater good. For some, that’s the right approach. For us, it wasn’t. We’re trying to do something similar, but in a different way. We’re trying to enter into that world with full knowledge of the traps. We came in with a finished record and have not compromised it in the least.”

(Saddle Creek label executive Robb) Nansel said there were a number of reasons why Saddle Creek frowned upon a deal where Warner Bros. or any other major would simply take over the record. “They wanted us to sell ‘x’ number of records and then they would take it from us,” Nansel said. “The first few weeks are the most difficult time for any release.”

Boesel added, “It would be wrong to say we’re not taking a gamble choosing to go into this world. We’re taking a risk. These companies are set up to make money, while indies like Saddle Creek started out as a way to put out good music, which is a completely different thing.”--Lazy-i, Sept. 22, 2004

It is indeed. So did the gamble pay off? One assumes (maybe incorrectly) that Rilo Kiley made more money by moving to a major. Regardless, the band officially broke up in 2014. Jenny Lewis went onto a semi-successful solo career.

Actually, I don’t know how any musician or artist measures success these days. She had a number of quality solo releases; who knows how well they did from a money standpoint.

Lewis’ new project, Nice as Fuck, is something of a step backwards compared to her solo work. The first single, “Door,” is fun and clever but as lightweight a pop song as you’ll ever hear. And then it’s regurgitated six more times to fill out the collection (the band’s “theme song” is also included on the album). A nice little distraction for Lewis until she gets around to her next solo outing…

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room is that Deerhoof show I mentioned yesterday. $15, 9 p.m. You really should go. Philly dark-punk band Blank Spell opens along with local hero Thick Paint.

* * *

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