Can Lizzo, Lewis, Barnett and Thee Oh Sees sell tix? Maha thinks so; Jason Steady and Chris Twist tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:39 pm April 24, 2019

Jason Steady and the Soft Ponies at Burrito Envy, Oct. 26, 2018. Jason returns with Chris Twist tonight for an early 7 p.m. album release show.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

By now you’re familiar with this year’s Maha Festival line-up. On the day they announced the bands I was thrilled, and said something like “I’m going to provide an in-depth review Monday, blah-blah-blah…” But Monday came and I didn’t have time before work; same thing Tuesday. And now here we are, and while I think it is, indeed, my favorite line-up they’ve ever put together, I’m wonder how well it’ll draw.

For example, headliner Lizzo isn’t exactly a household name like Weezer or Death Cab for Cutie. When I posted in as much Friday, someone said “You just wait and see.” But I’ve had a handful of people who follow indie music and Maha ask me who the heck she is. Her style is hard to describe. I consider her a modern-day Queen Latifah. I didn’t discover her until she came through Omaha a couple years ago, when I watched a couple of her YouTube videos, and flipped for “Good as Hell.”

No doubt the audience for Lizzo isn’t your typical indie fan. Her new record, Cuz I Love You (2019, Atlantic), is getting positive/mixed reviews (some complained she’s trying too hard to make a hit). And no doubt she’ll be touring late night TV for the next few months.

Jenny Lewis and Courtney Barnett are personal favorites. Lewis has a hot new album, On the Line (2019, Warner Bros.), and is a long-time friend of the Nebraska scene from way back in the Saddle Creek glory days. Barnett has written some of the best indie songs in the past few years. Her record that came out in 2018, Tell Me How You Really Feel (Mom + Pop Records) was on my favorites list. The caveat for Barnett – I’ve seen her perform at SXSW a few years ago and she basically just stood up there and played with little crowd interaction, so it was kind of a snore, but… great music.

The highlight of the line-up (for me, anyway) is Thee Oh Sees. A garage/psych-rock band that in my opinion blows away anything Jack White has ever done. I’ve been bitching for years that this band has avoided Omaha/Lincoln on all its national tours, which made me think they had something against Nebraska, though I know a lot of rabid Oh Sees fans around here.

The band is powered by guitarist/vocalist/legend John Dwyer, a madman on stage. I’ve seen them play a couple times in Austin. Expect craziness. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they play in the field among the crowd instead of on stage. I’ve loved this band and Dwyer’s previous band, Coachwhips, for years. But again, though there’s a hardcore following among in-the-know indie people locally, Thee Oh Sees are very likely widely unknown among Omaha’s great unwashed masses. So, not likely to be a big ticket-seller. And neither is the rest of the line-up… More tomorrow (probably)…

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Tonight at, of all places, Burrito Envy & Tequila Bar in Benson, Chris Twist and Jason Steady are celebrating the release of their new album, Return of the Paisley Angels. I’ve seen Steady play at the burrito place and it’s a surprisingly good venue for what’s essentially an low-volume / unplugged-type country rock show.

I’ve written about these guys a few days ago (read it here). Lincoln duo Smith’s Cloud opens at 7 p.m. – yep, it’s early. But the whole thing is free so you’ll have plenty of cash to buy a margarita or a taco. Fun!

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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CD Reviews YTD 2012 (in the column, and right here); The Wombats, Kite Pilot, Pony Wars tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 12:56 pm September 27, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I typically don’t run my Reader column in this here blog because it typically doesn’t focus on music (and this is a music blog after all). Sure, I add a line of hype about the column on Thursdays, but then I simply link to it. Well, this week I can’t find the column online at thereader.com. So because of that, and because the focus this week is on music, I’ve included it below. As always, you can also read it in print in The Reader.

Over the Edge: Of Sound Mind (and Opinion)
CD Reviews, YTD 2012

This week’s column is a return to my old indie music criticism schtick. Because I still listen to music — lots of it — and have more than 20 years’ experience writing about it, which I think gives my critical analysis a modicum of relevance.

Or maybe not.

The role of the music critic has become somewhat (mostly) marginalized. Anyone interested in modern music with the available income to purchase it also has access to Spotify or one of the other music streaming services that makes (most) new music available with the flick of a finger from their iPhone/Android/computer-powered listening device.

In other words, if you want to know if the latest buzz band is worth listening to you no longer have to risk your hard-earned ducats and make a blind purchase like in the old days. Now all you have to do is listen to it online. That means the critic’s role has been relegated to: 1) saving you time by pointing you toward an interesting path, or 2) validating your already made-up mind.

Reviews don’t even mean that much from a marketing perspective since artists don’t (and can’t) rely on income from album sales anymore. The ones who want to make a living making music depend on income generated at live performances. Still, if they’re going to get butts in seats, they have to get their music heard in the first place, and maybe that’s where the critics come in. My how the world has changed in just 10 years.

With all that in mind here are my impressions of some recent music, for what it’s worth…

Purity Ring, Shrines (4AD/Last Gang) — Chime-bot sounds from outer-space tone rockers is at its best when melody outdoes beat, but man it can get tiresome.

Thee Oh Sees, Putrifiers II (In the Red) — A crowing cock-a-doodle-doo of a garage punk band, no one does it better or with more style. Stands for Orange County if you’re wondering. So why can’t we get them to come to Omaha?

Digital Leather, Yes, Please, Thank You (Southpaw) — Another in a series of recordings (something like four LP/EP releases in the last couple years?) that sounds like Gary Numan post-wave synth rock bolted to a doped-up garage-punk band. One of Omaha’s finest. BTW, this is a cassette-only release. Yes, you read that right.

Peace of Shit, Business as Usual (Rainy Road) — Local perusers of thee garage aesthetic write songs as clever (or crass) as their name. Also on cassette (I see a luddite trend here).

Two Gallants, The Bloom and the Blight (ATO) — This original snarling guitar-and-drum purveyors of the punk sea shanty waited until they left Saddle Creek to make the best record of their careers. They’ve never been more focused, or ferocious.

Cat Power, Sun (Matador) — Chan Marshall puts aside afternoon-light fragment pop for something more upbeat, trippy, tuneful and almost happy, until you listen to the words.

Azure Ray, As Above So Below (Saddle Creek) — By combining the best of their respective solo projects, the Fink/Taylor duo have (finally) struck the perfect balance between strutting and soulful, sounding (finally) comfortable in their own skins.

TEEN, In Limbo (Carpark) — Maybe the best all-girl indie rock band going. Less self-assured than Best Coast, but better.

Ember Schrag, The Sewing Room (Single Girl Married Girl / Edible Onion) — Local singer/songwriter’s clear-as-a-bell coffee-shop folk ruminations, worth it if only for the perfect jewel of “Your Words.”

Dinosaur Jr., I Bet on Sky (Jagjaguwar) — Everything ‘80s is new again, at least to the young ears that weren’t around the first time. As good as anything they did back then, at times even better.

Bob Mould, Silver Age (Merge) — Everything ‘80s is new again, again. Bob put away his dancing shoes and rediscovered his electric guitar and hasn’t sounded this good since his Sugar days.

The xx, Coexist (Young Turks) — Among the hottest (or most heralded) of the droll vibe bands, no matter how much I try it bores the shit out of me.

McCarthy Trenching, Plays the Piano (Slumberparty) — Half ragtime instrumentals and half ragtime-influenced piano ballads, they say he’s Omaha’s Randy Newman but he’s really just a nice guy lost in better days. And I like his “Solace” better than Marvin’s.

The Intelligence, Everybodys Got It Easy But Me (In the Red) — The best under-the-radar indie rock collection that you’ll probably never find. By the numbers, but it still gets me every time.

PUJOL, United States of Being (Saddle Creek) — Proof that Saddle Creek still has a nose for finding new talent (even though Jack White found it first). All his earlier recordings have been leading up to this. Not anthemic, but epic nonetheless.

David Byrne and St. Vincent, Love This Giant (4AD) — Waters down the best parts of both, it’s not weird enough to be interesting and not straight-forward enough to be interesting.

Violens, True — Everything ‘80s is new again, the dream-pop edition. Lush.

Wild Nothing, Nocturne (Captured Tracks) — Everything ‘90s is new again, the (upbeat) shoe-gaze edition.

Twin Shadow, Confess (4AD) — A dizzying trip back to ’80s electro-pop with a sound that recalls everything from General Public to Fine Young Cannibals to New Order to Peter Gabriel. If you’re gonna steal a style, this is how to do it.

Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits (Merge) — Better than the last couple Spoon albums (or anything by Wolf Parade).

Various Artists, Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac (Hear Music) — Unnecessary tribute album’s only highlights are Billy Gibbons’ “Oh Well,” and Antony’s fey “Landslide,” though it’ll make you want to seek out the source material.

Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, the media and the arts. Email Tim at tim.mcmahan@gmail.com. Published in The Omaha Reader, Sept. 27, 2012.

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Tonight at The Slowdown it’s Liverpool indie-rock trio The Wombats (Bright Antenna). Their sound has been described as “post-punk” but falls much closer to alt-pop or power-pop. Some say they’re destined for Arctic Monkey-level stardom. Who knows… maybe. This one was originally scheduled for the “junior room,” but was moved to the big stage thanks to pre-sales. Opening is Morning Parade and The Royal Concept. $12, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, our old pals Kite Pilot is playing tonight at The Sydney with Betsy Wells and Black Jonny Quest. $5, 9 p.m.

Last but not least, Pony Wars (Craig Korth, Craig Meier, Mike Brannan, Eric Ebers) is headlining a show tonight at O’Leaver’s with I Was Totally Destroying It and Millions of Boys. $5, 9:30 p.m.

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

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