#TBT: Remembering SLAM Omaha (Lazy-i, May 2009)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:44 pm May 16, 2019

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A few things before I cut you loose on this Throwback Thursday Lazy-i column from a decade ago.

First, SLAM Omaha is dead. In fact, it’s long dead, so don’t go looking for it online. Social media ate its corpse a long time ago.

Second, though it’s been a decade since this was written, the typical cover for live bands at fabulous O’Leaver’s remains just $5. Inflation be damned. I figured by now the going price would have risen to, say, $7 or $8 per show, but no. Still only $5 to see some of the best local and touring indie bands going. Yes, for special shows O’Leaver’s does raise the price accordingly, but for the most part… $5.

Finally, who would have thought my comments about Facebook and social media would be relevant 10 years later. I blame Facebook for a lot of the political troubles we’re facing these days. That said, I wouldn’t want it to go away….

Lazy-i May 20, 2009: Column 222: The Art of Conversation
Online discussion boards are under siege.

Original SLAM Omaha logo.

Almost didn’t have a column this week. These are, indeed, the doldrums, my friends; the time just before summer where nothing “musically” is going on, no CDs are arriving at my door (or in my e-mail box). Everything is on hold, waiting for something to happen.

So in these times of uncertainty, when I’m clawing for an idea — any idea — for this column, I do what I normally do — I check out S.L.A.M. Omaha to see what the chatter’s all about.

S.L.A.M. Omaha (or just Slam), for those of you completely out of the loop (not by choice but by ignorance), is a website located at slamomaha.com that includes music and art events calendars, news and probably its most popular feature, message boards. For a decade at least, Slam has been a local musicians’ and music fans’ watering hole where folks shoot the breeze over last night’s show, tonight’s show, next week’s show and everything else in between. The occasional well-thought-out analysis of a specific music genre, artist or performance is mixed in with assorted dick jokes, insults and personal attacks. It’s the latter that keeps some musicians and music fans away, or chases away others who feel that the site isn’t living up to what the SLAM acronym stands for: Support Local Art and Music. My response to them: It’s a friggin’ discussion board. It’s the Internet. What did you expect? Along with unmonitored discussion comes controversy and general stupidity as well as the occasional thoughtful insight and humor.

Despite its outdated technology and general lack of interest (or contempt for) indie music and Saddle Creek artists, Slam continues to be one of the most important online resources for Omaha music information. It is the first place I go for a daily perspective on the local scene. If a musician had a breakdown on stage the night before, you’ll read about it the next morning on Slam.

But lately, sites like Slam are under siege by new-ish social media “services” — Facebook and Twitter come to mind. Now musicians and music fans can create their own online communities and share their comments only with those who have a like-minded point of view — their “friends,” their “fans,” their “followers.” It’s safe, it’s easy, it avoids uncomfortable feedback from those who might not dig what you’re doing. For musicians, it paints a perennial rosy picture that almost always is untrue. Facebook can create a dangerous tunnel vision, a guarded, unnatural point of view, and before you know it, the emperor is parading down Maple Street naked with a guitar slung over his shoulder.

* * *

An example of an interesting recent Slam thread asked whether venues’ “regulars” should be forced to pay a cover charge when there’s a live band scheduled to perform. Well, as with most popular threads on Slam, the discussion morphed from “regulars” not paying the cover charge to roadies and even free-loading music critics. Wrote Klark Kent (the K Mart of Supermen): “I’m wondering how long it’s been since (for example) MarQ (Manner, the patron saint of the Benson music scene) or Tim McMahan (has paid to get into shows — I had to finish the sentence because Klark apparently lost his chain of thought — don’t go to discussion boards for good grammar or spelling).

There was a time when I always was on “the list,” back in the Sokol Underground days, when the guys running the door just stamped my hand. Those days are gone, not because I pissed them off, but because those guys aren’t working the door anymore, and quite frankly, they don’t need to give the guy who writes Lazy-i a free pass. They know that — probably more than most people in the club — I can afford it.

Still, whenever I write a preview profile on a touring band or pimp a show in my column, I ask the record label to put me on “the list.” Why not?

The only place where I’ve never been on “the list” is O’Leaver’s. As One Percent Productions’ Marc Leibowitz used to say way back in the day when he booked shows there: “O’Leaver’s doesn’t have a list.” Nor should it. When a band rolls into town after driving in a dirty van all day, wondering if their petrol will hold out ’til they get to the club — hungry, tired, second-guessing this whole rock-star shtick — and then see the dump that they’re going to play at, they deserve every penny of that $5 cover charge from fans who showed up to rock. They need the cash to get to the next town. And while you’re at it, buy a T-shirt, too.

But should that include $5 from regulars? My answer: No, it shouldn’t. These “regulars” are the life-blood of any bar. They’re a hedge against tough times, showing up night in and night out to drop $10+ on booze. Without regulars, a venue is going to be forced to grind out shows on their stage every night, or quickly find themselves out of business (or both). Bands who feel cheated by a toll-free presence should feel lucky to even have a place to perform, because believe me, most bars or venues would rather cater to a roomful of regulars than those bands’ fans, who likely will be bolting the minute they say “Goodnight.”

* * *

So that’s my take. After it’s published, I’ll post a link to this column on Slam Omaha. Some of the website’s regulars will read it and hate it and will say so. But that’s part of the fun. On a discussion board, you’re going to catch a few turds along with any roses. But if we all lived in Facebook, where would we find our turds? — First published May 20, 2009 in The Omaha Reader.

* * *

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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT: That time a decade ago when I wrote for SPIN; Pagan Athletes, Sun Cycles, Matt Whipkey tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:45 pm April 11, 2019

A screen-cap from One of My Kind, the Mystic Valley Band documentary.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

For Throwback Thursday, here’s a link to a SPIN review I wrote 10 years ago yesterday. Conor Oberst was launching his new project, the Mystic Valley Band, and SPIN needed someone to cover the tour launch. It was an easy $100, and I was going to the show anyway.

Over the years I’ve had opportunities to write for other national rags but turned them down, having neither the time nor the interest. Most didn’t pay a dime, offering instead national exposure that I wasn’t seeking. My high school dreams of being a rock ‘n’ roll journalist drifted away when I realized just how expensive full-time gigs like Rolling Stone can be, especially if you have to live in NYC.

From the review:

…Oberst has never looked more content than when he’s playing with the Mystic Valley Band. Still, he’s the kind of guy who never stays in one place — or with one band — for very long. So tell us, Conor, are you in this one for the long run?

Whatever became of the Mystic Valley Band? I get the feeling that Conor could switch that one back on rather quickly if he wanted to. It never reached the heights of his other projects, though it apparently produced a concert film called One of My Kind, shot by Philip Schaffart, which I’ve never seen and I don’t believe was ever screened here. Well, you can now watch it in its entirety on YouTube, below:

* * *

A trio of shows are happening tonight:

I list Pagan Athletes first though the duo is actually opening for a Salt Lake City band called Ugly Boys at Reverb Lounge tonight. I don’t know a thing about Ugly Boys, but I can tell you Pagan Athletes is a head trip worth checking out. Also on the bill is Omaha rock ‘n’ roll start-up Garst. $10, 8 p.m.

Meanwhile, down at Slowdown Jr., a new project by Jessica Hottman of The Hottman Sisters is launching called Sun Cycles. According to the listing, “Steeped in deep synth, big drums, and soaring vocals – the act pulls inspiration from artists like Imogen Heap, Lorn, and Stevie Nicks.” Kethro opens at 8 p.m. $12.

Finally a trio of singer/songwriters are lighting up the stage at the Down Under tonight: Matt Whipkey Chris Koza and Scott Severin. This one starts at 9:30 and there’s no cover.

* * *

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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT: who remembers Flatlander Fest?; Oberst/Bridgers BOCC concert is sold out… sort of, with Christian Lee Hutson, Lala Lala tonight…

The laminate for 1994’s Flatlander Festival.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I hold onto festival laminates. I don’t know why, especially since I don’t have many (Other than Maha and SXSW years ago, I avoid festivals). I found this one while digging through stuff recently, and it has a connection to The Reader‘s 25th anniversary, which is being celebrated this month in print.

If I remember correctly, John Heaston and The Reader (or what would become The Reader) was responsible for this festival, which was held at Sharky’s on around 77th and Cass St., a club that became the new Music Box and which has long been razed and replaced with a 24-Hour Fitness (or whatever they’re calling that monstrosity).

Sharky’s had a railroad business car attached to the west side of the building, and I believe that The Reader had its offices in that rail car for a brief period around when this festival took place. I can’t remember who played the fest, though I think Cactus Nerve Thang was on the bill. Was anyone else there?

* * *

Tonight is the big Better Oblivion Community Center a.k.a. Conor Oberst/Phoebe Bridgers show at The Slowdown.

This show sold out very quickly, within a few days. It was discovered that scalpers bought a large block of tickets, which showed up on sites like stubhub.com. As days passed, those tickets dropped in price. I’ve heard they were as low as $8 at one point — quite a discount compared to the $25 face value.

No doubt ticket scalping has become a problem in some parts of the country where shows sell out and then tickets become available overnight in the after-market for twice or more the face value. That wasn’t the case here, and one wonders if the scalpers got soaked this time. This morning I saw a ticket for under $20 for tonight’s show.

There is no moral to this story. One could argue that in this case, everyone won — the venue sold out a show immediately and fans who understood the after-market situation could buy tickets for well under face value. Which begs the question: Are you better off buying tickets the day they become available or waiting a few days to see how prices shake out?

For example, folks who bought tickets to last year’s Jack White show at The Baxter on the first day paid way more than they needed to, as tickets became available for a fraction of face value due to poor demand. On the other hand, had the show sold out and if there was serious demand, those who waited would have had to pay a premium for seats.

Anyway…

If you’re going to the show tonight, get there early. Opening act Christian Lee Hutson is someone worth catching. He plays in BOCC and has written with Phoebe Bridgers in the past. His latest song, “Northsiders,” has a definite Elliott Smith vibe that leaves you wanting more. The other opener, Lala Lala, is pretty awesome as well.

Doors are 7 p.m., the show starts at 8 p.m. If you want to catch Hutson, get there early because no doubt there will be a line to get in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the opening band from the sidewalk outside of Slowdown because of the lines (which are slow due to the whole under-age look-up scenario).

* * *

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT: When are you too old to rock? (Lazy-i: Feb. 5, 2009)…

Category: Column — Tags: , , — @ 1:42 pm February 14, 2019

And then there’s Keith…

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Ten years later this message still applies. And while I’m no less enamored with music — old or new — I’ve slowed down when it comes to going to shows, both because of work-related reasons and the fact that there simply are fewer indie shows these days (though things are looking up).

One other side note: A local musician recently asked me to help promote an upcoming show in Lazy-i and asked if I knew other channels that might be appropriate. I mentioned a couple folks with strong social media presences and strong connections to the scene. It dawned on me afterward both people I mentioned were in their 60s, and I’m in my 50s. Where are all the young champions for local music and shows?

Column 208: Greasy Kid’s Stuff
Age and music.
Lazy-i, Feb. 5, 2009

I was feeling just fine about everything until Barack decided to join in with his “Let us set aside childish things” rant during the inauguration. What exactly was he saying? Who was he talking to?

After awhile, it does begin to pile up. The whole age thing never occurs to me unless someone else mentions it — directly or indirectly.

Last week a friend who works at The City Weekly pointed out that Mike Fratt “went after me” in his column. Really? By name? No, he never used your name, my friend said. He merely referenced “Omaha’s own aging indie-hipster blogger street weekly writer…” I was flattered that Mike would think anyone would even know who he was talking about (and without that knowledge, a reader would think Fratt was being self-deprecating instead of just snarky — he is, after all, considerably older than I am).

A week before that, I was at a local watering hole listening to a band when one of the city’s better musicians said, not off-handedly, “Why would a 20-year-old want to know what a 40-year-old guy thinks about new music?” He was making a point about himself, of course; about how he thinks no one cares what his favorite music was from 2008 (but we do). I’m sure the fact that I’m in my 40s and still write about indie music never crossed his mind. Did it?

And then there was the time I was speaking in front of a class alongside a former mover-and-shaker in local music retail. I asked him what he thought of Saddle Creek Records. He said he only listens to blues these days. “I outgrew that stuff a long time ago.”

It comes down to the notion that rock music — specifically new rock music — should only be enjoyed by young people. That people beyond their 20s (some say beyond their teens) should have moved on from listening to rock or any music for that matter.

I remember as a teen-ager listening to albums with my headphones on, wondering how much I’d miss it when I got older because, well, “old people” don’t listen to music. Certainly my dad didn’t.

That same backward thinking applies to rock shows — when are you too old to go see a band (other than a dinosaur act at the Qwest Center)? Is it when your friends quit going to shows? Or when you have kids and reprioritize your life so that music no longer plays a role? I can’t speak to the issue of getting married and having a family. I can say that a lot of people I know put music away when their children arrived, and use their family life as an excuse for not going out any more (or doing anything creative, for that matter). And that’s fine. Chances are even if they didn’t have kids they would have quit going to shows anyway. Rare is the person who can continue to “get into” new music after they reach their 30s. That’s just the way it is.

I made that point on my blog, and one reader took offense. He said he used to go to shows at The Cog Factory and Kilgore’s before moving to Chicago and getting involved in the music business himself. He ended up in California “…and then, I had kids. Now you can chalk it up as an ‘excuse’ to ‘quit’ the pursuit of music-passion (or other cultural endeavors), but I actually blame it as much on not only a re-prioritizing of priorities as I do finances,” he said in an email. “When you’ve got a young mouth (or in my case two young mouths) to feed, given the choice between buying groceries or going out to a club to see a band play and then proceed to spend $25 on drinks….well, the choice should be pretty clear.”

I guess it’s like those commercials say: “Having a baby changes everything.” I don’t doubt that. Still, this guy said he continues to subscribe to Magnet and The Big Takeover, and makes notes about bands that might interest him. That alone makes him a rarity. Because most people I know who have kids go home after work and sit in front of the TV for five hours and then go to sleep. Every night. They feel entitled. They’ve worked hard all day, they want to come home and “unwind.” These are people in their late 20s and 30s (and 40s). And before they know it, they’re in their 50s and 60s and then they’re dead. But, dammit, they accomplished something. They raised those kids. And that’s more than I can say for myself.

Would I still be going to shows if I had kids? Well, not 80 to 100 shows a year, but yeah, I’d like to think that I’d definitely make it out at least a couple times a month. But we’ll never know.

Age isn’t so much a state of mind as it is surrendering to a state of mind. I don’t think my personal writing guru, former Village Voice columnist and now Rolling Stone critic Robert Christgau, who’ll turn 67 in April, thought for a second about what was appropriate for someone his age to listen to when he was reviewing the latest albums by Glasvegas (which he gave in A) or Jay Reatard (which he gave an A-). Is he worried that a 20-year-old might scoff at his opinion? I don’t think it crossed his mind. It certainly doesn’t cross mine when I’m writing about the new Animal Collective or Ladyfinger CDs or watching Stolen Kisses or Perry H. Matthews.

Nor should it. Rock was never meant to be only a young man’s game. Just ask this aging indie-hipster blogger street weekly writer. — Lazy-i Feb. 5, 2009, this also was published in The City Weekly at around the same time.

* * *

By the way, Robert Christgau has a new book out called Is It Still Good to Ya?: Fifty Years of Rock Criticism, 1967-2017, which is definitely worth your time, not to mention his XGau Sez entries, which are somewhat awesome. He’s not slowing down at all.

* * *

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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT: The Wrens, The Meadowlands (2003, Absolutely Kosher)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 2:20 pm February 7, 2019

The Wrens, The Meadowlands (2003, Absolutely Kosher)

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

With no news, on Throwback Thursday I thought I’d advocate for you to rediscover The Wrens 2003 magnum opus The Meadowlands.

I had the good fortune of interviewing The Wrens’ guitarist/vocalist Charles Bissell a.k.a. Charles Mexico and writing a story about the making of that album in support of a Sokol Underground gig they played with Criteria back in the day. Turned out, there was an Omaha connection to the record’s origins. From the story:

By the summer of ’99, The Wrens were close to calling it quits. The album that they had expected to take four weeks to record had lingered for six months. That’s when Bissell received a call from someone he’d met at the band’s first-ever show — an August 10, 1994, gig with Babe the Blue Ox and Big Drill Car at the Capitol Bar & Grill in downtown Omaha. It was Todd Baechle of the then little-known band The Faint.

“Robb Nansel (who runs Saddle Creek Records) and Todd wanted to set up a show with us in New Jersey,” Bissell said. “We kept putting them off, trying to tell them we weren’t playing anymore, which sounded preposterous since we were six months into making the record. So we had a nifty loft party for them in Hoboken and played drunk, which is very rare for us. They had just defined their new sound and played this great set. We didn’t play again for four years. They went on to become virtual powerhouses.”

It would be four years after that loft party before The Meadowlands was released and became an instant classic. It still holds up today, almost 16 years later.

As for “where are they now”: According to their last news update on wrens.com the band just finished mastering a batch of new songs. Unfortunately, that last news update was dated January 5, 2017…

Check out the album on 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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT: Jan. 29, 2009: Discovering Twitter and Mama, I’m Swollen; Jocelyn tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:03 pm January 31, 2019

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Reaching back into the archive on this Throwback Thursday, to a time when Twitter was just getting going. Who’da thunk back than that Twitter would become the main tool for the country’s Biggest Tool? And yet, here we are. This column was a sort of introduction to Twitter, and the first time I used the tool for doing live concert reviews. It was also the last time. There’s no point in “real time” reporting a live concert in Twitter. It’s about as interesting as seeing pictures from people’s vacation while they’re still on vacation. Actually, isn’t that what Facebook is based on?

The concert I was tweeting from was a preview show by Cursive of material that would appear on Mama, I’m Swollen, which was released March 10, 2009, and is still one of my favorite Cursive albums.

From Lazy-i, Jan. 29, 2009…

Column 207: In a Twitter
The end of conversation.

Back in the old days — a few short years ago — just blogging was enough. People had a way of electronically publishing their ideas — no matter how mundane — in a format that was accessible to the entire world via the Internet. Bored college students in Toledo could now share their insights with bored college students in Gdansk about such nail-biting topics as: what they had for dinner, why they’re pissed at their boyfriend/girlfriend, and what’s on TV.

Now along comes Twitter. Well, not just now. Twitter’s been around since 2006 (according to Wikipedia, which itself has been around since 2001), but it seems like no one started using it until last year. Oh sure, there were a couple Twitter pioneers (drones who will proudly boast that they’ve been Tweeting (the verb form) for years), but the technology — and the term itself — only just entered our vernacular in the past year or so (or mine, at least).

Brief tech discussion: Twitter is a browser-based “social networking” environment that limits its users to 140 characters per post. The limit is there, in part, to facilitate the use of cell phones as input devices, along with the web. It also forces people to strenuously self-edit themselves, to carefully hone their ideas to only the most critical few words. Each comment answers the universal question: What are you doing? The result: Briefer discussions about what’s for dinner, boyfriends/girlfriends, and what’s on TV.

Unlike blogs (but like Facebook, which is another slice of entropy altogether) people search Twitter for their friends, and then “follow” them. Twitter aggregates everyone you’re “following” into one inane conversation, each comment conveniently time-stamped, something like:

Husker_power: Hungry. Taco Johns tonight fur shure. about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
Santinofan: Watching Top Chef. Ariane got screwed. Padme where are you? about 5 hours ago from web

And so on. Twitter appears to be a natural de-evolution of human interaction. Soon all discussions will be limited to Tarzan-like grunts, culminating in: “Poop. Pee. Eat. Poop. Screw. Eat. Simpsons. Poop.”

So why all this discussion about Twitter? About six months ago, I logged onto Twitter for the first time. You can “follow” my tweeting online at: twitter.com/tim_mcmahan. I quickly discovered that “micro-blogging” has its advantages. Take CD reviews, for instance. Instead of spending hours writing gripping, nuanced examinations of an album’s true meaning, I only have room for:

tim_mcmahan: Listening to the new Ladyfinger album. Brutal fun.

or

tim_mcmahan: Listening to new Springsteen. Nothing new here *yawn*.

Conversely, Twitter allows bands, record labels and assorted famous folk to keep in touch with their fans. I now know what The Willowz (thewillowz), Saddle Creek Records (saddlecreek) and Lance Armstrong (lancearmstrong) are having for lunch. For better or worse.

One perceived value of Twitter is the real-time nature of the medium. Instead of text messaging to one person, you’re text messaging to all of your “followers” at once. To test Twitters’ capabilities and limitations, I took my iPhone to Slowdown last Saturday night for the Cursive concert and annoyed everyone within a few feet of me by tapping in the following comments throughout the evening. Here’s the transcript/review:

tim_mcmahan: Full house. I’m buying Rolling Rocks two at a time. 10:34 PM Jan 24th from mobile web

tim_mcmahan: House music is Michael Jackson, or at least it sounds like Jacko. 10:37 PM

tim_mcmahan: Nice. Kasher’s voice sounds husky. 10:57 PM

tim_mcmahan: Classic Kasher rant. “Bark bark bark.” 11:11 PM

tim_mcmahan: Seems like they’re working trumpet into every song these days. For better or worse. 11:14 PM

tim_mcmahan: Some of this new stuff sounds like The Good Life. The convergence keeps getting closer. 11:31 PM

tim_mcmahan: Halfway through the set. Ted Stevens finally switches from the 12-string to his LP. 11:34 PM

tim_mcmahan: Kasher says he’s got a sore throat and is drinking hot tea. He sounds fine. 11:41 PM

tim_mcmahan: “What Have I Done.” Kasher’s back to the self-referential lyrics. Songs about writing songs. 11:44 PM

tim_mcmahan: His most soulful song since Domestica. 11:46 PM

tim_mcmahan: Cornbread on drums changes the entire complexion of Cursive. They swing now, moreso than the old frontal assault of Schnase. 11:54 PM

tim_mcmahan: Off stage now. Encore’s next. This is a longer set than Union Hall. 11:55 PM

tim_mcmahan: Back. With “Art is Hard.” Crowd loves it. Kasher’s right. Mostly kids huddled along the stage. 11:59 PM

tim_mcmahan: Never get tired of hearing “The Martyr.” 12:04 AM

tim_mcmahan: Okay, now his voice is giving out. 12:06 AM

tim_mcmahan: Struggling through “Sierra.” The last song of the night. 12:11 AM

tim_mcmahan: Kasher takes over the drum kit. 12:13 AM

tim_mcmahan: That’s it. Kasher won’t be talking for a week. 12:14 AM

Just like being there? Not really. Looking over the comments the following morning, I wondered if they needed to be augmented with explanations, but realized that anyone who knows me and what I write about understands the shorthand. They know who Kasher and Cursive is. They know the song titles and the terminology. And if they don’t, they can always find out. On Myspace or Facebook. On YouTube. On Wikipedia. Or on Twitter, which is effectively shoe-horning the world into a conversation that’s only 140 characters wide. For better or worse.

* * *

Tonight, BMG Recording artist Jocelyn releases the first single from her upcoming album, a song titled “Speak Up,” at Slowdown Jr. I’ve heard it and it’s pop-candy fun. Aly Peeler opens the show at 7 p.m. $10.

* * *

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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

Lazy-i

New J Mascis album is sublime; Disq gets Saddle Creek Document treatment; #TBT: Top 20/Next 15 from 2008…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:47 pm November 15, 2018

A screencap from the new video by Disq, “Communication,” soon to be released by Saddle Creek Records.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The new J Mascis album Elastic Days (2018, Sub Pop) has been on repeat all morning. I’ve always been a Dinosaur Jr. fan but never rabid. Mascis’ voice sounded overtly scruffy and rabid on a lot of those records (which, for me, showcased riffs rather than voice).

Mascis’ vox are in control on this new, mostly acoustic collection of afternoon-lit folk rock songs that soar to next-level heights when he rips into one of his trademark cosmic guitar solos. Gorgeous stuff that sits right on top of the tunefulness scale with anything by Lou Barlow. I’d love to see him perform it live here in Omaha.

* * *

Disq is a couple Wisconsin folks, Isaac deBroux-Slone and Raina Bock, who count Todd Rundgren, Weezer, Big Star and The Beatles among the musicians whose records helped inform their own creative process. As part of its Document Series, Saddle Creek Records is releasing their single, “Communication” b/w “Parallel,” on Jan. 25, but you can check out one of the tracks below and pre-order the single now from the Saddle Creek Store.

* * *

On this Throwback Thursday, here’s the list of the Top 20 and Next 15 bands from Lazy-i for the year 2008. This was created for The Reader’s annual Music Issue, which was published this week in November 2008.

Interesting how many bands are still active today, and how many disappeared or became something else…

The Top 20

Brad Hoshaw
Brimstone Howl
Conor Oberst
Eagle*Seagull
The Faint
Filter Kings
For Against
Flowers Forever
The Good Life
Malpais
McCarthy Trenching
Midwest Dilemma
The Monroes
Neva Dinova
The Show Is the Rainbow
Son Ambulance
Thunder Power
Tilly and the Wall
UUVVWWZ
The Whipkey Three

The Next 15

Black Squirrels
Box Elders
Domestica
Fromanhole
Little Brazil
Mal Madrigal
Outlaw Con Bandana
Perry H. Matthews
Sarah Benck and the Robbers
Satchel Grande
The Shanks
Shiver, Shiver
Simon Joyner
The Stay Awake
Talkin’ Mountain

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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#TBT Aug. 13, 2008: Oberst debut solo, Faint’s Fasciinatiion storm Billboard charts; Witch Mountain, Ocean Black tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:57 pm August 9, 2018

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this Throwback Thursday (#TBT), from the blog 10 years ago:

Conor Oberst charts at No. 15, The Faint at No. 45… – Aug. 13, 2008 –

So how did Conor Oberst and The Faint do in their first week’s sales of their new albums? Here’s the skinny by way of Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt:

Conor Oberst’s self-titled album sold 28,546 copies last week, plus 354 copies prior to street date for a total of 28,918 copies. That’s good enough for the album to chart at No. 15 on Billboard. Conor Oberst also was the No. 3 best-selling download on iTunes, moving 9,941 digital units.

The Faint’s Fasciinatiion sold 11,333 last week, plus 222 copies before street date for a total of 11,584 copies — good enough to claim the No. 45 position on the Billboard charts. Fasciinatiion also was the No. 15 best-selling download on iTunes, moving 3,250 digital units.

FYI, digital downloads are included in the overall total sales number. Thanks again to Mr. Fratt for the data. Overall, an impressive first week by both artists. I think you could see both albums continue to climb the charts, but especially Fasciinatiion, which has had less pre-release media attention, and is only now getting the notice it deserves.

And the original reviews from the Lazy-i posted a week later:

Conor Oberst, self-titled (2008, Merge)

Conor Oberst, Conor Oberst (2008, Merge) — It differs from Bright Eyes in its more minimal production, though it’s far from stripped down (just Mogis-less). Song wise, it’s not a stretch at all, though Oberst does seem more relaxed, even resolved to his stricken condition of being ordained the rambling “voice of his generation.” Call him that if you want to; he’s not listening. Unlike Lifted or Wide Awake, there’s no need to block off your afternoon or give it your undivided attention to enjoy it. Like he says on album opener “Cape Canaveral”: “There’s no worries, who’s got time?” No one, Conor, no one. And while there’s nothing as striking as, say, “Lua” or “Waste of Paint” or “I Must Belong Somewhere,” it has its moments of absolute clarity, including country stomper “I Don’t Want to Die (in the Hospital)” and rock anthem “Souled Out!!!” Oberst is too smart to do either. Rating: 4 stars.

The Faint, Fasciinatiion (2008, blank.wav)

The Faint, Faciinatiion (2008, blank .wav) — It’s no wonder that the album’s best song, “The Geeks Were Right,” also is the most straightforward and least dependent on technology to “make it sound different.” You see, I like frontman Todd Fink’s voice just the way it is. And with all of the electronic bleep-blooping going on elsewhere, Dapose’s opening guitar riff feels downright organic. But a straight-up rock band is not what the throngs of stylish, sweaty youth are looking for. Give them the robot-voiced dance machine with its dense bass and thump-thump-thump rhythms. They want to bounce, not think. What are they singing about? Who cares as long as there’s a thick-ass beat and plenty of strobes. Which makes me wonder what would happen if these guys stepped away from the synths, vocoders and effects pedals and picked up traditional instruments once again. They could be that great rock band we’ve all been waiting for, if they wanted to be. But they never will, not now, not when they don’t have to. With a slew of classics already in their quiver, it makes you wonder why they even bother making new CDs in the first place. Rating: 3 stars.

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Tonight at Lookout Lounge Portland doom-metal band Witch Mountain headlines. When it comes to the grind, they’ll have stiff competition from opener Ocean Black, Omaha’s stoner-rock satans. Super Moon is also on the bill. $12, 7 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Priests (not Priest) tonight at TWR; #TBT: 10-year-old album reviews (which held up?)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:40 pm May 3, 2018

Priests play tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

About a month ago I received a promo EP from an artist called Priest. For whatever reason (Maybe because the tracks got indexed on my iPhone with the wrong name) I assumed this was a new EP by Priests, with an “ess” on the end. And I was thinking, “Holy shit, they’ve really changed their sound.” The EP is called Lost Lions and was released on Nordic Records last month.

So when I saw that Priests was heading to Omaha I thought, “Man, that’s awesome that they’re touring a 4-song EP, but I guess when you change your sound like this, why not?” Then I went looking for the EP in Spotify. Nothing.

Turns out I had the wrong priest. Priest is actually Camille Priest. She’s from Orlando. She creates electronic dance music that is crazy catchy in the Charlie XCX vein — actually it kind of reminds me of early Ladytron — about as far away from Priests’ X-inflected post-punk as you’re likely to find. You’ve never heard of her, until now.

Anyway, that’s a long way of saying Priests — the band that played at Maha last year and did this groovy Ten Questions interview — is playing tonight at Reverb Lounge, not Priest (who isn’t playing anywhere tonight). Mellow Diamond and Boner Killerz open. $12, 8 p.m.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for some fun electronic indie-dance pop, check out Priest.

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For Throwback Thursday, a look back at the 2008 Q1 Report, which came out in Lazy-i this week way back then.

It’s interesting to see which of these albums held up a decade later. The releases from Aimee Mann, She & Him and Teenagers still resonate. That Breeders album was a dud (they have a new one out); that Whipkey album was on top of the list until Driver this year; Neil Diamond couldn’t pull off a Johnny Cash; Brian Poloncic is focused on his amazing art these days; and the rest are in the “where are they now” category…

Lazy-i May 8, 2008: Column 172: First Quarter Report
A glance at some recent releases from 2008

Whenever people start asking me what I’m listening to, I figure it’s time for another CD reviews round-up. These are not full, detailed reviews, rather they’re impressions after listening to these albums on and off on my stereo and iPhone over the past few weeks/months. All get the Lazy-i seal of approval.

Aimee Mann, @#&*! Smilers (SuperEgo) — Faithful Aimee Mann fans stood beside this So Cal (by way of Boston) girl back in her ‘Til Tuesday days, did an I-told-you-so when her genius was revealed on the Magnolia soundtrack, and held her hand during all the follow-ups when no one else was around. Here’s their reward: Her best album since Bachelor No. 2.

Black Kids, Wizard of Ahhhs (self released) — Available for free (the trend continues) from their website late last year, the sound is pure ’80s new romantic, and at its finest moments emulates The Cure’s Kiss Me album right down to the Robert Smith groan vocals. Columbia figured it out and gobbled them up for a formal debut slated for July. Black Kids are on the precipice, staring over the edge where bands like Arcade Fire and Modest Mouse stood a few years ago.

The Breeders, Mountain Battles (4AD) — Remember when Kim and Kelley were considered edgy and subversive (and The Pixies were still debonair)? The band never recovered after the burnout suffered at the hands of “Cannonball” way back in ’93, back when MTV still played videos, especially that one, over and over again. There are no Cannonballs hidden here, nor anything as shocking (and grand) as their cover of “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” (from Pod). Still, serviceable; but just barely.

Joan of Arc, Boo! Human (Polyvinyl) — Too often, Tim Kinsella tries to sound weird and unapproachable, so imagine my surprise at the simple acoustic pop of opening track “Shown and Told,” as well as the tumbling “A Tell-Tale Penis” and the back-beat rocker (yes, rocker) “The Surrender #2.” There are still plenty of atonal nightmares, like screamer “9/11 2” and startle-noised “Everywhere I Go.” Download discriminately.

The Long Blondes, Couples (Rough Trade) — Their thump-thump-thump New Wave dance rave-ups, like disco opener “Century” and porn-guitar fueled “Guilt,” remind me of another band named after its frontwoman’s hair color. All right, you youngsters, I’m talking about Blondie. And though vocalist Kate Jackson is no Debra Harry, her music and her band have the same upbeat, heart-of-glass style.

Neil Diamond, Home Before Dark (Columbia) — Note to Rick Rubin: Neil Diamond is famous for his bombastic, over-the-top arrangements that boast enough orchestration to launch a space shuttle. The stripped-down arrangements that worked so well for Johnny Cash may be the wrong approach here. I mean, do his fans really want an evening of intimate, acoustic folk songs? No, they want to stand up and punch the sky along with everyone else during “Sweet Caroline.” That said, there’s more to these tracks than 2005’s 12 Songs. Still, I yearn for the day when Rubin and Diamond finally break down and do an album with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

She & Him, Volume One (Merge) — One of the best moments from the 2003 Will Ferrell break-out film “Elf” was the impromptu duet between Ferrell and a showering Zooey Deschanel. I remember thinking, “Jeeze, she sings as great as she looks.” M Ward (the Him) must have thought the same thing. Deschanel is at her best when she croons her own twangy rocking material, sounding like a cuter version of Jenny Lewis. The charm wears thin in the latter half of the album, thanks to Patsy-styled torch ballads (“Take It Back), cheesy doo-wop (“I Was Made for You”) and too many uninspired covers (Smokey’s “You Really Got Me,” a flawed take on The Beatles’ “I Should Have Known Better”). Now if we can only coax her back into that shower.

The Teenagers, Reality Check (XL) — Sorta funny French synthpop is funnier because of the odd, spoken-word vocal approach, which combines Pepé Le Pew with a Valley Girl. It’s so well-recorded, however, that you can’t help but get into the clean Weezer-meets-The Cars synthpop. Irony was never so catchy.

Tokyo Police Club, Elephant Shell (Saddle Creek) — I’ve been told that a local music mogul predicted this will be the biggest selling Creek release ever, bigger even than Bright Eyes. Early criticism, however, complained that it pales compared to the band’s noisy debut EP. I say it’s far more listenable, like an upbeat Death Cab (a band terminally lost in ennui). They’re young and hip and will look good on TV. Maybe that mogul is right.

A Tomato a Day (helps keep the tornado away), The Moon Is Green (Public Eyesore) — There’s something lost and lonely about Brian Poloncic’s acoustic folk confessions, which plow the same stark territory as, say, Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey or sad Replacements or Todd Grant’s yearning solo album. Three years in the making, it’s time that they’re finally heard. Check them out at the CD release show Friday night at Benson Grind.

The Whipkey Three, 26 (self release) — It’s the best recording Matt Whipkey ever produced with any band. As one person put it who hasn’t cared for any of Whipkey’s past projects: “I guess persistence pays off. I actually like this.” I like it, too. And it’s about as DIY as you’re going to get — Whipkey burned the CDRs and hand rubber-stamped the discs and sleeves. Pick one up at the CD-release show Saturday night at Mick’s. — First published in Lazy-i, May 8, 2008

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

#TBT Stars at Slowdown Nov. 2007; Crushed Out, Hussies, Idlefox tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm September 21, 2017

#TBT: Stars play The Slowdown Nov. 5, 2007.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I posted the above photo as a Throwback Thursday thing because I tripped into it while going through some old photos and was mesmerized by the sculpture that used to be wound among the rafters of The Slowdown. That sculpture was made out of buckets, if I remember correctly, and stayed up in the ceiling for a few months. They should have just kept it up there.

As for Stars, as I said in the review: “Nearly 400 diehard Stars fans got more than their money’s worth last night at Slowdown — a set that lasted nearly two hours. The whole time, you could tell that Torquil Campbell and the rest of the band were thrilled to be there. In fact, they told the crowd so, over and over throughout their set, saying such glowing things like Slowdown was a gem ‘built on music.’ All night, band members would make their way to the microphones and say how proud they were to be there. It was kind of sweet and charming.”

Whatever happened to Stars? They’re still going strong

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Tonight The Brothers Lounge, Brooklyn NY duo Crushed Out rolls into town. “The husband-wife duo of Moselle Spiller and Frankie Sunswept (born and raised in Los Angeles) draw deep from their shared love of ‘atomic’ 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, slide guitar blues, and SoCal surf creating a sound that delivers on all those things rock ‘n’ roll promised us so long ago.” Hussies are the actual headliners. Idlefox opens. $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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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