Live Review: The Faint, Plack Blague; 2016: The Year in Music (fave releases/fave live shows); spotty reception this week…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 2:07 pm January 2, 2017
The Faint at The Slowdown, Dec. 30, 2016.

The Faint at The Slowdown, Dec. 30, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I think we’re going to start a new tradition for New Years — instead of celebrating on New Year’s Eve, when the drunks are out, with all the traffic and the unholy fireworks, we’re going to celebrate the new year the night (or the weekend) before NYE. I figure I’m going to be home on NYE at midnight anyway to shield the dogs from the war noises booming overhead, I might as well celebrate the new year before the fact. Kind of like we did this year. Now if only we could get The Faint to play a pre-NYE show every year.

The Slowdown was packed Friday night, but not too packed. In the old days, The Faint would have easily sold out two nights in a venue the size of The Slowdown. Now the best the band can do is comfortably fill a large venue two nights in a row. Let’s face it, the band’s heyday was 15 or so years ago with the breakthrough of Danse Macabre, and even back then, I remember seeing The Faint perform that album at Sokol Underground — a show that stands out as my all-time favorite Faint performance. It’s followed closely by an unannounced pre-grand-opening performance at The Waiting Room in 2007 — probably the loudest Faint show I can remember.

That same year, in June 2007, The Faint had sold out a two-night residency at Sokol Auditorium. All of those Sokol Aud shows from that decade (and the years that followed) were complete madness — hot sweaty bouncing dancing messes of humanity; absolute spectacles.

Last Friday night’s show didn’t quite reach the level of those Sokol shows, but it was a good time nonetheless. If there was a drag on the performance it came from the audience, because the band was clearly on point playing a set of greatest hits in support of their CAPSULE: 1999-2016 album that just came out on Saddle Creek. It’s easy to forget how many great songs these guys have recorded. It’s a good time to mention that the new material — three new songs released as part of the CAPSULE album — stand tall among their finest efforts, seamlessly blending into the set.

A haunting Clark Baechle behind The Faint’s drum kit….

A ghostly Clark Baechle behind The Faint’s drum kit….

The Faint’s light show has been an evolution over the years. I remember the days where they controlled colored floodlights with floor pedals, to haunting effect. These days the light show is a flashing, strobing choreographed wonder in perfect sync with every bone-rattling beat. I have no idea how it could get any better.

Maybe it was thos awe-inspiring lights or the enormity of the music but the audience on the floor seemed a bit dumbfounded. It took half a set to get their butts moving and not until the end until they got their arms in the air and bodies began to be carried over the crowd — a far cry from those old Sokol Aud days.

The band kicked off the four-song encore with a rehearsal of sorts for a surprise they intended to roll out the next evening, NYE — a cover of Prince’s “1999” — a sloppy, rowdy, slam-bam version wherein the band got lost somewhere after the second verse, which the crowd either didn’t notice or didn’t care. The whole place blew up for the last song of the encore — a celebratory version of “Glass Danse” that left them covered in sweat. There is no such thing as a bad Faint show.

Plack Blague at The Slowdown, Dec. 30, 2016.

Plack Blague at The Slowdown, Dec. 30, 2016.

I missed Closeness, but got to see about half of Plack Blague’s set. It’s been too long since I’ve experienced Raws on stage. The last time was at O’Leaver’s a few years ago for a set of ear-bleeding distorted noise and screaming. Last Friday night’s set was a different story — a raw, leather-clad set of electro-noise-fueled disco fronted by a bondage geek with slippery, greasy dance moves. For any other crowd, Plack Blague would be controversial if not shocking, but Faint fans have been following Raws’ path for years and expect nothing less than the most salacious performance. What a way to kick off a new year…

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2016yearinmusic
It wouldn’t be a new year without looking back on the old year, and as such my 2016: The Year in Music story finally went online at The Reader‘s website.

The article includes a look back at a rather rough year, a year that will be remembered more for its deaths than its music. We lost a lot of heroes in 2016, and the wounds are still very much open for a lot of us.

The article also includes my list of favorite albums as well as my favorite live shows from 2016, along with a crapload of photos. Take a look.

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

And while you’re remember 2016, you might as ell ahead and enter the drawing for a copy of Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD.

The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: The Faint, Oh Pep!, Mitski, Quilt, Low, Big Thief, Father John Misty and lots more. The full track listing is here, or take a listen if you have Spotify.

Entering to win a CD copy is super simple: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 9.

* * *

Reception at Lazy-i central will be spotty this week as I’m off to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). I may or may not update the ol’ blog. I’m considering posting photos and info about cool music-related gadgets that I find on the show floor, or maybe I won’t. Best bet is to check back either way…

* * *

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

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High Up video debuts, new EP on Team Love; The Faint, Closeness, Ridgelines tonight; goodbye 2016 (and good riddance)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:53 pm December 30, 2016
A screen capture from the new video for High Up tune "Two Weeks."

A screen capture from the new video for High Up tune “Two Weeks.”

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Looks like the fine folks in High Up have been plenty busy. Today Elle magazine debuted the new video for the song “Two Weeks,” deeming it one of the “10 Best New Songs to Listen to in January.” I guess someone forgot to tell the editors that the song came out two years ago. But the video, directed by Harrison Martin, is brand new and features a lot of local heroes. See how many you recognize.

The other bit of news from this video release is that High Up is now working with Team Love Records, who is releasing the band’s EP Jan. 20. What other High Up music will Team Love be releasing?  This could be the beginning of something big…

* *

You’ve made it to the NYE weekend.

The big show tonight is at The Slowdown where The Faint takes the stage. As of this writing, tickets were still available from The Slowdown website. Who knows how long they’ll last. Opening is Closeness (featuring Todd and Orenda Fink) and Lincoln noise-beast Plack Blague. This is a 9 p.m. show. If you intend to see Closeness, you better get in line early (doors open at 8). My past experience at Slowdown is that they start the shows at the stroke of 9 p.m. regardless of the monstrous line of people waiting to get in. Tix are $25.

The Faint play Slowdown again tomorrow night for Happy Goo Year X, which I assume will feature Goo DJ sets in addition to a Faint performance. Tix to that one are $40 today, $50 tomorrow.

Back to what’s happening tonight…

Ridgelines is hosting a show tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s that will also feature The Sunks and hip-hop act Both. Ridgelines, which is an electronic/ambient project by Mike Johnson, will be celebrating the release of their new album The Scarlet Ibis: a soundtrack by ridgelines tonight as well. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, Milk Run has Club Nothing (Anna Sun), Twin Reflex and Inflatable Egg. $3, 9 p.m.

Which brings us to New Year’s Eve… NYE is a night dedicated to DJs and cover bands — not a night to see original music (let alone indie music). I shall spend mine at Alamo Draft House and will be home in time to protect my poor hounds from the annual firework onslaught, which has become worse than the 4th of July.

On many fronts, 2016 has been a pretty lousy year, but with the New Year brings new hope for a better tomorrow *puke*. Here’s hoping yours is better than ever.

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

Lazy-i Best of 2016 Comp CD

But before we leave 2016 behind, why not remember it one last time with the Lazy-i Best of 2016 comp CD? The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Among those represented: Conor Oberst, Maria Taylor, Jeffrey Lewis, Navy Gangs, Jeff Runnings, Pet Shop Boys and lots more. The full track listing is here, or take a listen if you have Spotify.

Entering to win a CD copy is super simple: 1. Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Write a comment on one of my Lazy-i related posts in Facebook, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet. You also can enter by sending me a direct message in Facebook or Twitter. Hurry, contest deadline is midnight Jan. 9.

* * *

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

Happy Halloween… New Faint video; Faint and Gang of Four tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:41 pm October 31, 2016
A screen cap from The Faint's new video for "ESP." The band plays tonight at Sokol Auditorium.

A screen cap from The Faint’s new video for “ESP.” The band plays tonight at Sokol Auditorium.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Halloween on a Monday night is kind of weird. Actually, any holiday on a Monday kind of sucks because you have to go to work (or school) the next morning.

It’s the same problem with great shows on work nights. Like tonight, when The Faint close out their month-long tour with Gang of Four at Sokol Auditorium. Faint shows are always spectacular, and judging by the reviews and photos that have been posted throughout this tour (like this Westword review of Saturday’s show) tonight’s will be no exception.

There are those who pointed out that Gang of Four’s only original member is guitarist/vocalist Andy Gill, and thus discount this as not a true Gang of Four show. More like Gang of One. Regardless, it sounds like they’re as brittle and off-kilter as ever. Do not miss if you can avoid it. Tickets are $28. Pictureplane opens at 8 p.m.

To help you get psyched for tonight’s show, The Faint released a new video for “ESP,” directed by Omaha filmmaker (and member of Icky Blossoms and InDreama) Nik Fackler. This one features choreography by Nik’s wife, Kat. Check it out at Stereogum.

Have a good Halloween…

* * *

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

Catch up: Faint go cartoon; Conor goes NYT; Navy Gangs in Flood; I go swimming (in the column); Infinite Me tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:40 pm October 13, 2016
The Faint on Adult Swim's Stupid Morning Bullshit.

The Faint on Adult Swim’s Stupid Morning Bullshit.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I haven’t neglected you, I’ve just been busy. And it’s tough to adjust to this season that precedes months of ice and cold, months that I despise. I belong in southern California or Key West or the Texas Gulf, not here in the winter-time.

Anyway…

Firstly, David “Doc” Matysiak wrote to tell say that The Faint appeared on Adult Swim’s streaming morning show Stupid Morning Bullshit on Wednesday. Todd, Clark and the guys played improv-style while the hosts rambled on about things like Runzas and ComicCon, plus there were segments like “Paint with the Faint” and “Blazing Saddle Creek.” It’s basically a video podcast featuring a floating shot of The Faint performing throughout.

Matysiak, who we all remember from Coyote Bones and CoCo Art, works on the show as a hands-on producer. Check it out online here.

* * *

Conor Oberst on the New York Times' Facebook Live session.

Conor Oberst on the New York Times’ Facebook Live session.

Yesterday Conor Oberst did a Facebook live session for the great, gray, digital New York Times. The 17-minute video includes a few songs and a Q&A with questions via Facebook.

Among the questions, where’s one of your favorite places to perform? Conor: “There’s this place called O’Leaver’s that is one of my favorite places to play. It’s a dive bar but it has a special place in my heart…” Awww….

Watch it here.

* * *

Brooklyn by way of Omaha band Navy Gangs has a new EP coming out and it’s sublime, one of the best spins so far this year. Flood online is hosting the first video from the EP and a tour diary (which I can’t find). Check it out. How come none of you told me about these guys before?

PREMIERE: Fight Your Post-Debate Malaise with Navy Gangs’s “Mondays” Video

* * *

This month’s Over the Edge column in The Reader is about the challenges I’ve faced learning how to swim — a topic that fits right in with this month’s cover story theme, politics (not). Anyway, a fun read you can check out online here or on newsstands now.

* * *

Tonight at Milk Run it’s Minneapolis post-punk (emo) rockers Infinite Me with Timecat and Pando Potential Meter. $7, 9:30 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

Another new Faint song ‘ESP’; new video for ‘Young and Realistic’; tour starts tomorrow…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm September 28, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Faint released what I believe is the third new song off their upcoming CAPSULE:1999-2016 album, out Oct. 28 on Saddle Creek. Consequence of Sound got the honors. This one might be my favorite. The tour kicks off tomorrow in Minneapolis, headed to Omaha and Sokol Auditorium on Halloween.

And yesterday SPIN debuted the video for “Young and Realistic,” the second new song off the new record, directed by Faint frontman Todd Fink and Nik Fackler of Icky Blossoms. It’s creepy.

Feels like old times…

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

Lazy-i

New Faint video; Car Seat Headrest returns in November; Kevin Seconds (7 Seconds), Kait Berreckman tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:55 pm August 24, 2016
At Brad's Corner during last week's Benson First Friday festivities, from left, are Matt Whipkey, Kait Berreckman and Brad Hoshaw. Berreckman celebrates the release of her debut album tonight at O'Leaver's.

Kait Berreckman, center, during a recent First Friday performance at Brad’s Corner in Benson. Berreckman celebrates the release of her debut album tonight at O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Let me be the last to the party to tell you about the new Faint video for “Skylab 1979.” I’m just now watching it for the first time over my lunch hour. Pretty cool. Directed by band members Todd Fink and Graham Ulicny. The song, taken from the upcoming CAPSULE: 1999-2016 collection (via Saddle Creek) sounds like classic Faint, which means it’ll blend right into the compilation. Check it out below:

* * *

Wouldn’t you know it, on the Monday after Maha One Percent Productions announces that festival standout Car Seat Headrest will be playing The Waiting Room Nov. 2. For $15, I’ll be there. Wonder what other Maha festival performers will be coming through town again soon…

* * *

Kinda busy night tonight show-wise…

Tonight at The Brothers lounge Kevin Seconds of the hardcore band 7 Seconds headlines with Steve Soto of The Adolescents and The Broke Loose. $10, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at The Waiting Room Ace Frehley (formerly of KISS, though does anyone ever really leave that band?) headlines with SIMO. $40, 8 p.m.

And down at fabulous O’Leaver’s (where I’m sure there was a river just outside their door last night) Kait Berreckman celebrates the release of her debut album Battle Scenes. Joining her are Soul Tree and Tara Vaughan. $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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

Lazy-i

Live Review: Pleasures, Universe Contest; The Faint release retrospective on Saddle Creek…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:45 pm August 8, 2016
Pleasures at O'Leaver's, Aug. 6, 2016.

Pleasures at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 6, 2016.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I can’t think of a band as densely electronic as Sarasota’s Pleasures, who played at O’Leaver’s Saturday night. The four-piece drenched everything in technology, from the guitar, which was run though an onslaught of pedals, to the the stack of synths to Katherine Kelly’s vocals that were twisted and stretched and strangled by synths and vocoders and pedals all night. The music dripped in a haze of buzzing distortion cut through by a top-notch rhythm section that kept things grounded and rocking.

As interesting as the tech was, there were a few too many times when the vocal distortion got in the way of the music, and I wondered how the songs would have sounded had Kelly simply sung them sans electronic filters. The few moments when her voice peeped through the digital fog reminded me of a young Grace Slick, and certainly she carried the stage with a similar pomp.

Universe Contest at O'Leaver's, Aug. 6, 2016.

Universe Contest at O’Leaver’s, Aug. 6, 2016.

Pleasures were followed by Lincoln’s Universe Contest, whose pounding riffage and bellowing vocals were as musically subtle as hitting a thumb-tack with a sledge hammer — massive walls of throbbing sound and quirky (though barely recognizable) proggy melodies a la early Modest Mouse. The band had one of the better rhythm sections I’ve heard in recent memory, fantastic drumming. And hat’s off also to the violinist, who added much needed sonic nuance (and to the sound guy for somehow making sure she was heard through all the racket).

* * *

That massive Faint / Gang of Four tour is beginning to make more sense. I had been wondering why The Faint had signed up for so many dates without a new album to push. Then last week the band announced that it’s set to release Capsule:1999-2016 on CD and digitally on Sept. 30 and 2xLP on Oct. 28 via Saddle Creek.

The retrospective collection represents a golden era for The Faint and includes 16 of their most beloved songs from five albums reaching back to Blank-Wave Arcade (What, nothing from Media?). The 2xLP is pressed on sexy silver vinyl and the first pressing will contain a bonus  7-inch featuring new songs “Skylab1979” and “ESP,” which feature the newest member of The Faint, Graham Ulicny (Reptar) on synths. Pre-orders are being taken at The Saddle Creek online store, where you can check out the track listing.

It’s a pretty solid collection, though most early Faint albums are pretty solid top to bottom. In fact you can’t go wrong with the trilogy of Blank-Wave Arcade, Danse Macabre and Wet From Birth, whose tracks dominate this new collection…

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

Lazy-i

New Faint track, tour dates w/Gang of Four (Omaha Oct. 31); new boat concert; Will Johnson (Centro-Matic, Monsters of Folk) living room concert tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:40 pm May 17, 2016
Will Johnson plays a living room concert tonight in Omaha.

Will Johnson plays a living room concert tonight in Omaha.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Faint released a new synth-dance-rock track this morning called “Young and Realistic” via YouTube (listen below). In a Stereogum article, Faint frontman Todd Fink said, “This might be a love song. Maybe it’s a respect song. Those are intertwined concepts I suppose. Without respect, love is a weaker bond.

One assumes a new album can’t be far behind. Even more noteworthy was the announcement that The Faint will be touring with Gang of Four throughout October, closing out the tour at Sokol Auditorium Oct. 31. Start working on that costume now.

* * *

In other Fink-related news, looks like the fine folks at Perpetual Nerves are riding the wave of success from Sunday’s concert on the River City Star, announcing yesterday that they’re doing it again July 16. The featured artist is High Up, with Benson Soul Society, so be prepared to dance.

Since July 16 is a Saturday, they pushed the boarding time back to 10:30, with the cruise lasting until 1:30 a.m. Whoa! Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. The last one sold out in a matter of hours, so be prepared with your credit card. More info here.

* * *

Somewhere in mid-town Omaha tonight, singer/songwriter Will Johnson will be playing a concert in someone’s living room.

While the address is not on the website where you can buy your $20 tickets, it’s located on the event’s Facebook invitation. It’s somewhere north of Dundee.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Will way back in 2004, where I learned that as much (or more than) music, he loves baseball.  From that article:

Driving around alone also allows him to indulge in one of his more eccentric past-times — visiting baseball parks. While in Omaha, he hopes to check out Rosenblatt Stadium and, if necessary, sneak inside. “I have a list of stadiums I’ve visited,” Johnson said. “I love them. I love the architecture — just the choices that were made in designing and building a stadium. And I love baseball. It’s a flawless, beautiful game. The challenge is sneaking in and getting out. I’ve had quite a few close calls, including Wrigley Field.”

He’ll be in for a big surprise if he tries to visit Rosenblatt today. Actually, Johnson has been through town a few times since that ’04 concert at The Ranch Bowl, where Teresa and I were among the few in the audience. Will swung by our table and had a drink with us afterward. I’m sure he’ll do the same with you if you go to tonight’s concert.

The $20 tickets must be purchased online here. No tickets will be sold at the door. Show starts at 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 May 11, 2000: Saddle Creek announces two major releases (Bright Eyes, Cursive)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:48 pm May 12, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

On this Throwback Thursday we’re turning the Wayback Machine all the way back to May 11, 2000, a simpler time before 9-11, before the first iPod and before Nebraska had defined itself as an indie music Mecca. The two releases mentioned in this old Lazy-i blog entry (that also was published in the old Omaha Weekly) would impact the scene for years to come…

Lazy-i May 11, 2000: Saddle Creek Records announced two major CD releases for late spring and early June.

Bright Eyes, Fevers and Mirrors (2000, Saddle Creek Records)

Bright Eyes, Fevers and Mirrors (2000, Saddle Creek Records)

Bright Eyes’ Fevers and Mirrors, the full-length follow-up to last year’s Every Day and Every Night EP is slated to hit the streets May 29. Pre-release hype is huge and already the CD has debuted at No. 42 on the College Music Journal (CMJ) charts, says Saddle Creek’s Robb Nansel. Unlike sales charts, CMJ compiles college and non-commercial radio airplay reports, as well as other key industry indicators,

Fans of Bright Eyes singer/songwriter Conor Oberst’s moody, confessional style won’t be disappointed by what arguably is his most thought-out and well produced effort to date. Oberst has developed a rep for writing rather dreary songs that depress more than uplift. From that standpoint, Fevers and Mirrors is quite a departure, featuring some pretty heavy numbers as well as fully realized accompaniments that move things along quite nicely (look for a full review in an upcoming issue of Omaha Weekly).

Recorded over a month at Lincoln’s Dead Space Studios, the CD features a stable of Saddle Creek special guests, including Lullaby for the Working Class’s Mike and A.J. Mogis, The Faint’s Todd Baechle, and Cursive’s Matt Maginn and Clint Schnase.

Cursive, Domestica (2000, Saddle Creek Records)

Cursive, Domestica (2000, Saddle Creek Records)

Speaking of Cursive, Domestica, that band’s full-length follow-up to 1998’s The Storms of Early Summer, has been pressed and is ready to hit the store shelves June 19. Those who are expecting a quiet return to form from a band that has gone through a break-up and a reunion over the past year, guess again. This one is brutal.

We’re to believe that Cursive singer/songwriter Tim Kasher’s recent marriage and subsequent divorce had nothing to do with these stark rockers that make Trent Reznor’s darkest moments sound like the theme from The Newlywed Game. Song titles like “The Casualty,” “The Martyr” and “The Night I Lost the Will to Fight” paint a not-so-pretty picture of domestic despair.

Despite the mid-June street date, fans can pick up copies of the CD at Cursive’s CD-release party May 27 at Sokol Underground.

With their stable of releases ever growing, Saddle Creek just signed an exclusive distribution deal with Southern Records in the United States, Nansel said. Southern also has exclusive distribution deals with Dischord, DeSoto, Teen Beat, Simple Machines, Tree and Thick as Thieves records. “We think they’re much more representative of our style of music,” Nansel said. “We’ll still be able to consign material and sell CDs at venues.”

The exclusive deal with Southern means the distributor will get a bigger cut of the revenue, but Nansel said that would be offset by better promotions as well as placement in regional chains. — Lazy-i, May 11, 2000.

Pitchfork would place Fevers and Mirrors at number 170 on their list of top 200 albums of the 2000s; while Domestica is listed as No. 25 on Rolling Stone’s “40 Greatest Emo Albums of All Time.” Many point to these two releases as the start of what would become a hitting streak for Saddle Creek and its artists, though The Faint’s Blank-Wave Arcade was actually released the previous November. It would be followed by Dance Macabre in 2001. And the hits just kept on coming…

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

Lazy-i

#TBT: March 22, 2006: When The Faint flew the coop…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:41 pm March 24, 2016
The Faint circa August 2001, from left, Jacob Thiele, Joel Petersen, Todd Fink (then Baechle), Dapose and Clark Baechle.

The Faint circa August 2001, from left, Jacob Thiele, Joel Petersen, Todd Fink (then Baechle), Dapose and Clark Baechle.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Here’s another Throwback Thursday from the Lazy-i vault. From 10 years ago, to be exact. The first two paragraphs are the blog intro, followed by the column, which also was printed in The Reader. Seems like only yesterday. Lean back and enjoy this music history lesson…

Lazy-i: The Faint headed to American? – March 22, 2006

Let me take a moment to reiterate my policy regarding rumors — I don’t print ’em. Now, a certain promoter in town does not agree with this assessment — he calls me a “gossip columnist,” which is fine since he doesn’t know what I’m calling him behind his back (just kidding). Look, I hear more than my share of rumors on any given night at the bar, club or venue, but I don’t publish any of them unless I get some sort of official verification about their truthfulness. At which case, it ain’t a rumor no more. To a large part, I depend on people passing me information, and they do so with confidence that 1) I’m not going to reveal my sources unless they want to be revealed, and 2) I’m not going to print anything until someone is willing to verify the information “on the record.” Consider it my own, personal Woodward & Bernstein clause. So when I heard rumors about The Faint leaving Saddle Creek five or six weeks ago, I sat on the story because no one would comment “on the record.” Meanwhile, everyone short of the late Mayor Ed Zorinsky let me know all about it “on the down low.”

Why has this rumor become so pervasive? I think because there’s a tremendous amount of concern as to what it could mean to Saddle Creek and the Omaha music scene if it becomes a reality. The Faint, Cursive and Bright Eyes are the holy triumvirate that has made the label what it is today. There was a similar level of concern a few years ago when rumors began circulating that Cursive was breaking up (a deep throat fed me that tidbit weeks before it become public as well). Different bitter factions may snipe endlessly about how much they don’t like the label or its bands, but at the end of the conversation, they always punctuate it with a statement like, “regardless, I admire what they’ve accomplished, it’s been good for the Omaha music scene as a whole.” Everyone wants Saddle Creek to succeed — there’s nothing but upside to their continued prosperity. So when word of a breakup or defection gets hung on the grapevine, brows furrow and anxiety ensues that perhaps a turnaround in Omaha’s good fortune may be in the offing. If this becomes a reality and contracts are indeed signed, I see downside for some, upside for others and hope in the fact that The Faint are investing a lot of time and money in facilities right here in river city. The band is putting down roots even though they could live anywhere in the country that they wish.

Column 69 — Not for The Faint of Heart
Is one of Saddle Creek’s biggest bands flying the coop?

Omaha is a very small town. And once a rumor gets traction — any traction — there’s no slowing it down. We are a species of gossips and information whores, constantly on the look-out for hot scoop (or poop, in some cases). Information isn’t power in Omaha, information is the new smack that forces those locked in the music scene to stumble around for their next fix.

There was plenty of smack on the streets last weekend in the form of a rumor that The Faint, one of the holy triad of Saddle Creek Records’ bands, is leaving their home-town label for greener pastures. Specifically pastures fed and watered by hip-hop guru and professional turn-around artist Rick Rubin.

I could not grab a beer at any bar without someone leaning in and whispering, “I’ve got a lu-lu. But you didn’t hear it from me,” then saying that The Faint are not only sniffing around, but have already signed a deal with American Recordings and are flying Rubin to Omaha in a silver dart to begin recording sessions post haste at The Faint’s swank new rehearsal space.

It wasn’t exactly fresh news. I had heard about it five weeks ago, maybe more. A well-connected deep throat sent me an e-mail with a single sentence: “The Faint are leaving Saddle Creek.” It sounded like shit to me. The band has been solid all around with the label from day one; no one’s held up the Saddle Creek banner higher. Whenever it came press time, the Baechle brothers were always first in line with a faithful quote. “Why would we leave when we got it so good here? You think we’re stupid?”

But my source had never been wrong. Never. Every bit of info no matter how lame-brained always proved solid. Even when I thought it was pure cockamamie, asking around always came up diamonds. But this seemed too big.

I immediately asked Creek about the rumor, but got zilch back on the record. Weeks went by with nothing new from the grapevine. Deep Throat was swollen shut. Then out of the blue a week ago, I got another tip from a different source. Same story. More details. This time Rick Rubin was mentioned by name along with his record label, American Recordings, home of Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and Slayer. By last weekend it was all over the streets; it was just a matter of time until I’d read it in the World-Herald, until it was old news.

Calls and e-mail to a member of The Faint went unreturned. No surprise there. So I tried Saddle Creek again, figuring label executives Robb Nansel and Jason Kulbel would be too busy schmoozing at South by Southwest to reply. Lo and behold, Nansel clarified the rumor. “They have not signed anything with American,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Not sure if they will. They are still talking to them, but that is all at this point.”

Nansel went on to write that Rubin has indeed expressed interest in working on the band’s new record, “but I don’t know that he ever expressed doing that in Omaha, let alone at their space.”

What’s in it for Saddle Creek? One story had it that negotiations were under way to compensate the label for its years of support, promotion, and all the other benefits. Apparently not.

“We are not negotiating any compensation with the band,” Nansel wrote. “We have briefly discussed different ways we could/could not be involved with their future records (assuming they don’t end up on Saddle Creek). (We) have not come to any agreement on whether we would be involved at all or not.”

None of this can be a complete surprise to Nansel or anyone at the label. It’s only a matter of time until one of their biggest acts leaves the nest. There are limits to the meaning of the word “loyalty” in the rock and roll business, especially when millions of dollars are at stake. The Faint have had offers before, but always turned them down. Something else must be driving this new level of interest beyond cash.

So, if it’s all true, why isn’t Nansel pissed? “The possibility of a band leaving has always been there,” he wrote. “The bands will ultimately make a well-informed decision about what is in their best interest. We will support their decision regardless of what it is, and hope that all parties are satisfied at the end of the day. Certainly (we) would not be pissed.”

But what would it mean if The Faint does leave the label? How would it financially impact Saddle Creek, especially during a time when so much of the label’s money is tied up in a new, untried venture — the Slowdown entertainment complex slated to begin construction this week just a couple blocks west of The Qwest Center? Nansel didn’t say. Maybe it’s too early to speculate. After all, Elvis hasn’t left the building… yet. — Lazy-i March 22, 2006

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Well, for whatever reason, The Faint didn’t go to American Recordings or work with Rick Ruben on their next record, but they did leave Saddle Creek. Their next album, 2008’s Fasciinatiion, was released on their own blank.wav label.

Some point to the The Faint’s departure from Saddle Creek as the beginning of the record label’s decline. Fact is, no one expected The Faint, Bright Eyes or Cursive to stay on a small label like Saddle Creek forever. All signs pointed to The Big Three eventually flying to the majors. In the end, only The Faint stepped out on the label. Bright Eyes stayed with Saddle Creek (though Conor Oberst struck out on his own), while Cursive never left the nest. And all three continue living happily ever after.

As for Saddle Creek, the label had a great year in 2015, and with new records by The Thermals and new addition Big Thief on the way, things continue looking up…

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

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