SXSW Sched is up; PUJOL leaks new track; Kasher will play in someone’s living room (and you can watch)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:52 pm March 3, 2014

by Tim McMahan,

No shows for me last weekend. I intended to see Digital Leather and Twinsmith, but talked myself out of both shows due to: 1) the cold, and 2) the fact that I’ll likely see them both in Austin next week.

Speaking of South by Southwest, for those of you attending (and for those of you who aren’t but want to see what you’re missing), Sched’s Unofficial Guide to SXSW 2014 is now live. Though not recognized by the powers that be at SXSW, it is somewhat definitive…

* * *

What else…

PUJOL, Kludge (Saddle Creek, 2014)

PUJOL, Kludge (Saddle Creek, 2014)

In case you didn’t know, next up on Saddle Creek Records’ release calendar is the new full-length by PUJOL titled Kludge. The album has a street date of May 20, but you can pre-order it now from the Creek site. And you can stream or download the first single from the album, “Pitch Black,” at VICE, where Daniel Pujol talks in detail about the new album: “I wanted to make an album that sounded completely fictional. Like a cartoon nightmare. Tiny wind-up orchestra.” It goes on (and on)

* * *

Speaking of Saddle Creek artists, Tim Kasher is embarking on a “Living Room” Tour, and tickets to the March 24 Omaha Living Room Show are now available for $20 right here. No idea where this is being held. I guess they let you know after you buy your tickets…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Cursive, night three (with two more to go?), Ladyfinger; The Seen, Hotlines, Daft Punk tonight; Brigadiers, Envy Corp Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:24 pm December 20, 2013
Cursive, Night Three at The Waiting Room, Dec. 19, 2013.

Cursive, Night Three at The Waiting Room, Dec. 19, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

Night Three — the final night — of Cursive at The Waiting Room was just as packed as Night Two. Well, maybe not just as packed, but impressively crowded nonetheless.

The set-up was the same as the past two shows, but the set list was firmly in “extra angst” mode. The band came on around 11 and launched into “A Gentleman Caller,” which would have its usual reprise during the encore, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first half of the set felt dominated by odd, angular, proggy obscurities off the early releases, mixed with Gemini songs. Here’s a little secret: Though I have the records, I’m not intimately familiar with the band’s early material. Without access to a set list, my process for figuring out song names is to tap-in a specific lyric into my iPhone notepad, figuring I could look it up on the InteWeb the next morning.

Hence, this morning I typed “I once had pride, I once had guts…” into the Google machine and out popped the lyrics to “A Little Song and Dance,” from the band’s second album, The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song.

You lying naked next to me…” was from “Excerpts From Various Notes Strewn Around The Bedroom of April Connolly, Feb. 24, 1997” off 8 Teeth to Eat You.

“What are you missing…” was “Dedication to Desertion” off the band’s first album, Such Blinding Stars for Starving Eyes.

You’re a major leaguer now…” — “A Career in Transcendence” from Storms

And so on.

Crib notes weren’t needed for the hits, such as “Rise Up! Rise Up!” “Dorothy at 40” and “I Couldn’t Love You.”

The band played with the usual panache, but seemed a bit reserved through the first half. For added effect, pre-recorded noises and sound clips played between songs — something I didn’t notice the first two nights — maybe a device to help hold the set together?

While the old stuff was well received, the audience didn’t explode until the last 30 minutes of the night. The set was definitely back-loaded with gold. “The Casualty” went directly into “The Martyr,” and the crowd went nuts. The back-to-back performance was the “arena moment” I’d been waiting for, though frontman Tim Kasher’s voice began to give out on the high-octane screams.

Lovely cellist Megan Siebe (of Anniversaire) was particularly mesmerizing last night. The band needs to recruit her for the next album (if she’s willing, and who wouldn’t be?).

They closed out with “Big Bang” (Chris Machmuller again joining on sax alongside trumpeter / keyboardist / Kasher wingman Patrick Newbery) and one of my all-time faves, “From the Hip” before exiting and returning for a two-song encore of “Mothership, Mothership, Do You Read Me?” (off the Burst and Bloom EP) and perennial closer “Staying Alive” sounding more bombastic than ever.

Any one of the three nights of shows that comprised Cursive’s Waiting Room “residency” would make anyone’s “best shows of the year” list. All three taken as a whole is something of a landmark for local music, which (hopefully) will be documented for the ages with a live album next year.

And so it ends. Or does it?

Word leaked out last night that we might get two more nights of Cursive — tonight and Saturday — at O’Leaver’s, both nights also to be recorded. Scuttlebutt was that the band would announce the shows from stage last night, but they never did, which makes this a “secret show”… if it happens at all. Take your chances.

Ladyfinger at The Waiting Room, Dec. 19, 2013.

Ladyfinger at The Waiting Room, Dec. 19, 2013.

Hey, what about last night’s openers? I missed Ted Stevens Unknown Project (sorry Ted), but caught all of Ladyfinger. Someone pointed out a grievous error on my part — Ladyfinger’s last album, Errant Forms, actually came out in 2013. I forgot all about it while putting together my year-end “favorites” list. Had I remembered, I likely would have included it (“The list” comes out next week, btw).

Last night’s set drew heavily from that album. While the rest of the band couldn’t have been more on point — break-back rhythm section, screaming guitars — when it came time for frontman Chris Machmuller to sing the inspirational lines from “Galactic” he went into complete mumble mode. WTF! Just an off night for Mach? No. He followed it with a vocal performance on “Dark Horse” that would make Springsteen blush. So who knows. Needless to say, at the end of their short set I wanted more.

* * *

I would tell you that my weekend plans are skewed by rumor of “secret” Cursive shows except that I was planning on going to O’Leaver’s this weekend anyway, starting tonight for The Seen and McCallen, Texas, band Crystal Wolf. Will Cursive also perform? Find out. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight is Barley Street Tavern’s Xmaspalooza Showcase, featuring Jeremy Mercy, Darren Keen, John Klemmensen, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns and a handful more. 9 p.m., $5.

Meanwhile, down the street at The Sydney it’s Hotlines (Dereck Higgins, Amanda DeBoer Bartlett, Javid Dabistani and Luke Polipnick), with American Cream. No details, but probably $5, 9 p.m.

And for an extra-special dance treat, Darren Keen and Crew are covering Daft Punk tonight down at House of Loom. $5, 10 p.m.

Tomorrow night it’s The Brigadiers with Bear Antlers at O’Leaver’s (and maybe/probably Cursive?). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also Saturday night, The Envy Corps headlines at The Waiting Room with Oquoa and Millions of Boys. $8, 9 p.m.

Lastly, Sunday night The Mezcal Brothers headline at The Waiting Room with Matt Cox. $7, 6 p.m.

Have a good weekend…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Cursive (Night 2), Criteria, Bazan; Pro-Magnum, Acid Test tonight; Omahype holiday rock shop Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:54 pm December 13, 2013

Cursive at The Waiting Room, Dec. 12, Tim McMahan,

The line to get into The Waiting Room last night stretched down the sidewalk at 9 p.m. I could hear David Bazan doing his usual sad-dog electric solo set while I waited. The lady behind me said she was worried the show would sell out, and phoned a friend further up in line to buy her ticket. She was right to be concerned. The place was packed, especially compared to last week’s show.

I’ll get to the openers in a minute. First, Cursive.

The set-up was the same as last Thursday, but the actual set was altogether different. Not entirely in song choices — there were a couple repeats, including “The Martyr” and “Sierra” (I suppose they have to play those at every show) — but in the performance. Cursive brought the heavy shit last night. The band was tuned to metal, even Kasher’s guitar was extra-gritty.

While last week’s set list was a mish-mash with a heavy dose of their more-popular tunes, last night was a deep dive into obscurata, light on melody, heavy on thunder. Or maybe it just seemed that way. Again, I didn’t recognize about a third of the songs. Among the rarities was “Sucker and Dry” off their second single (rereleased on The Difference Between Houses and Homes), “Retirement” from their first album Such Blinding Stars for Starving Eyes, and something off second album The Storms of Early Summer: Semantics of Song. Kasher ended each chestnut with a wry laugh as if saying, “Remember that one? Of course you don’t.

The band played two sets. Set One highlights included “The Night I Lost the Will to Fight,” “Rise Up! Rise Up!” and “Sierra,” along with a song or two off I Am Gemini. Then they left the stage and comedian Ian Douglas Terry, maybe the bravest man in the word, came out and did 10 minutes as people screamed at him from the floor. As Dan Rather used to say: Courage.

By the time Cursive returned, the crowd had thinned slightly. They dove back in with “Sink to Swim,” “The Worst Is Over,” “Let Me Up,” “Holiday,” and a song or two off I Am Gemini, before closing with a rearranged, gospel-tinged version of “What Have I Done?” which cements Mama, I’m Swollen as my favorite Cursive record.

It was during the second set that they rolled out “The Martyr” again. I can’t put a finger on it, but this week’s version was looser, groovier, more brazen that last week’s, and was indicative of the entire set. While there was more head-scratchers on the set list this week, the overall performance was louder, meatier, more primal — i.e., it was pretty fantastic, maybe the best Cursive show I’ve seen since that secret “sneak” show at O’Leaver’s seven or eight years ago when they rolled out Happy Hollow songs for the first time.

As everyone knows, last night was one of three shows at The Waiting Room being recorded for a (proposed) live album. I think they pretty much got what they needed. God only knows what we’re in for next week. The conventional wisdom is that now that they have the necessary tracks in the can, next Thursday’s show will be a fuck-it free-for-all where anything goes. It could be a marvel or a bloody mess, and either will make for grand theater.

Speaking of grand theater, the near sold-out crowd was just as enthusiast about Criteria as they were the headliner.

Criteria at The Waiting Room, Dec. 12, 2013.

Criteria at The Waiting Room, Dec. 12, 2013.

When I was a kid I used to read Hulk comics (who am I kidding, I still read Hulk comics). The best part about ol’ greenskin is that no matter how much they throw at him, he just gets stronger. The same thing can be said about Criteria frontman Stephen Pedersen.

When the band came out and played their first song, I texted a buddy hidden somewhere in the crowd: “Steve’s losing his voice. Those high notes, just a tad out of reach.” I don’t remember what song it was, one of those early Criteria classics.

But it didn’t take long for Pedersen to get in range. Maybe he needs to warm up more before the show? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t know how he’s even able to sing those songs, each one is a circus-act tight-rope walk of searing high notes akin to an indie-rock yodel thrust loudly into the crowd via that thick, bulging vein in his neck. Pedersen is a marvel of art and science. As is his band, whose rhythm section sits proudly alongside Cursive’s as among the finest in the land.

By the end of the set Pedersen was unstoppable. I expected his voice to be a worn-down burned-out nub, but it only got stronger. Don’t get him angry, you won’t like him when he’s angry…

The big news was the slew of new Criteria material — all solid. Though not a new direction by any means, each song held its own (and then some) alongside the band’s stellar back catalog. Pedersen’s announcement that the band is recording a new album in January was met with whoops of approval from the crowd. Is this the beginning of a second act by a band that’s sorely missed?

As for Bazan — good ol’ Bazan — his solo set was well received, though there was a lot of chatter in the back of the room. I’d be surprised if many of the youngsters in the crowd even heard of Pedro the Lion. As per usual, he paused a couple times between songs and asked if there were any questions. Someone asked him to play an older tune, and his response was something like, “Sorry man, I’m no longer the guy who wrote and played that song.”  So it goes.

* * *

All right, it’s Friday. The weekend’s looking… interesting.

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s noise-rock band Pro-Magnum headlines what they’re calling “Metal \m/ Night” featuring Old Bones (self-described hardcore band featuring ex members of Split Second, 8th Wave and Ryan McLaughlin (Rymo) of Race for Titles), Relentless Approach, and Borealis (self-described death metal). Sounds loud, doesn’t it? $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, it’s Snake Island, Worried Mothers and the incomparable Dereck Higgins at Venue 51, 1951 St. Mary’s Ave. They’re calling this show “Acid Test” and describing it as “a night of interactive light and group levitation. Projections, Psychedelia, and euphoria…” $5, 9 p.m. Fitting that it’s Friday the 13th?

Tomorrow night back at O’Leaver’s it’s The Doneofits (Michael Trenhaile), Under Water Dream Machine and The Love Technicians. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Meanwhile Saturday evening down at Slowdown it’s Omahype’s annual Holiday Rock and Shop featuring local designers and crafts-makers, as well as bands: All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, John Klemmensen & The Party, Manic Pixie Dream Girls, cellist April Faith-Slaker and Seer States. Between bands buy a hip-ass bag by Artifact, a foxy dress by Hello Holiday or a kick-ass poster by Doe-Eyed Design, among others. The fun starts at 6 and entry is $5. More info here.

Sunday there’s a “Whiskey Tasting” being held at O’Leaver’s at 4 p.m. That just seems like a bad idea to me…

Have a good weekend.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: See Through Dresses; new Kasher Love Drunk; later this week…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:46 pm December 2, 2013
See Through Dresses at The Waiting Room, Nov. 30, 2013.

See Through Dresses at The Waiting Room, Nov. 30, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

I guess I should have bought a copy of See Through Dresses’ debut album at last Saturday night’s CD release show because I can’t find it online anywhere. Their Bandcamp page doesn’t offer downloads or even album streaming (except for two songs). And they don’t have a “proper website” (fewer and fewer bands do these days). Savvy marketing? Maybe (though I’m probably just missing the link).

Without a copy of the record to relive the memory of Saturday night’s show at The Waiting Room, I’ll just have to listen to Dinosaur Jr. and the most recent Thurston Moore solo album. Or maybe pull out dusty records by The Church or Dream Academy — all bands that STD’s sound resembles.

The band isn’t exactly bashful about their influences. Co-frontperson Sara Bertuldo introduced one song by saying (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Here’s one that will remind you of the mid-2000s,” and two more by saying “These ones sound like the ’80s, a time when I just barely existed and Nate didn’t exist at all.” Or something like that.

No doubt rock music by its very nature constantly eats itself. For about a year every new local band sounded like the second coming of The Cure or Pavement. Recently Sonic Youth has (again) become a favorite for emulation. The difference is that STD doesn’t sound like any one band, but rather like a band influenced by an era, which makes their music both unique and familiar. Their heroes are easy to spot, though See Through Dresses’ sound is purely their own.

And it rocks. Most of the vocals are handled by Matt Carroll, who has a soothing croon that lies somewhere between Thurston and J. Mascis. It’s countered by Bertuldo’s twee, childlike voice that’s straight out of K Records territory. It’s easy to bury Sara in the mix, but the sound Saturday night was pristine enough so that the (estimated) crowd of around 120 could catch every note. Nate Van Fleet’s throaty drumming was another highlight, as was Robert Little’s bass work (a little bird tells me Little is leaving the band).

Now if I could only get a copy of their CD…

* * *

Speaking of Bertuldo, that’s her on bass in this just-released Love Drunk video for Tim Kasher song “A Raincloud Is a Raincloud,” shot (ironically?) at Countryside Community Church.

* * *

The early head’s up for this week’s shows:

John Klemmensen and friends Wednesday at The Waiting Room.

Cursive Thursday at The Waiting Room.

OEAA Showcase Friday in Benson.

So-So Sailors and Brad Hoshaw Friday at O’Leaver’s.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


The return of Steve Bartolomei (Mal Madrigal); Saddle Creek Records news; Black Friday O’Leaver’s revealed…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:07 pm November 12, 2013


by Tim McMahan,

You remember Steve Bartolomei, right? The guy behind Mal Madrigal?

Well, ol’ Steve’s got a new album coming out under the moniker Steve Bartolomei and his Comrades called All the Ghosts. Steve’s “comrades” on this collection are pretty much the same ones I remember from his Mal Madrigal days: Ben Brodin, Ryan Fox, Dan McCarthy, John Kotchian and Mike Saklar.

But get this: “We recorded and mixed the album at Chicago’s Electrical Audio with the mighty Steve Albini at the helm.” Whoa!

Bartolomei said the album was recorded in three days. “With the completion of each ‘tight rope take’ the six of us claimed a small victory, one song at a time,” he said in an email. “As such, All the Ghosts is a performance album with all the nuance, spontaneity, and spirit of a live show. Recording All the Ghosts was something special, and I hope you’ll hear it there in the grooves of this vinyl record.”

Yeah, vinyl record. In fact, he’s already taking pre-orders for the vinyl record (Who needs Kickstarter?). Those who pre-order will reserve a hand numbered LP with silk-screened jacket (Shipping ASAP in December), a download copy, plus bonus video downloads and access to demos, alternate versions and live recordings in the weeks leading up to the album’s official release.

You can pre-order your copy right here for $18. Or pick one up at the official album release show, Dec. 28 at The Slowdown, but who can wait that long?

Here’s a taste from the new album via Vimeo:

Faces Made Of Clay by Stephen Bartolomei with His Comrades from Stephen Bartolomei on Vimeo.

* * *

Saddle Creek Records issued its monthly newsletter today. The highlights:

– Bright Eyes’ A Christmas Album is now available in stores for the first time ever.

– The Rural Alberta Advantage as the three-piece enters the final stages of writing before hitting the studio to record their forthcoming third LP – due out in 2014.

– The new 7″ from Omaha’s own Twinsmith. Honestly, comes out next Tuesday.

In additional Saddle Creek news, Tim Kasher was the guest for the latest installment AV Club’ “hatesong” column, where he lambasts the song “Some Nights” by Fun.  Though after reading it I’m not entirely sure Kasher actually hates the song. I guess you can talk Tim into anything…

* * *

The Black Friday show at O’Leaver’s was revealed yesterday. It is, in fact, Talking Mountain, Video Ranger and M34n Str33t, Nov 29. Did you figure it out on your own?

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Twinsmith 7-inch to be released on Saddle Creek; new Maria Taylor in WSJ; Pro-Magnum in HN; Kasher in Paste…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:41 pm October 9, 2013


by Tim McMahan,

Omaha indie band Twinsmith is seeing its first 7-inch released on none other than Saddle Creek Records Nov. 19. The tracks are “Honestly” b/w “1’30″ and “Big Deal.”

“Honestly” premiered today on Minneapolis’ Radio K (right here). “Recorded and produced by Matt Carroll and J.J. Idt at Omaha’s Little Machine Studio, ‘Honestly’ – with its fuzzed-out guitars reminiscent of Blue Album-era Weezer – shows off the evolution of a band still in its infancy.” Congrats Twinsmith, and welcome to the big time.

* * *
Maria Taylor’s next track off upcoming Saddle Creek LP Something About Knowing, titled “Tunnel Vision” premiered today on that great, gray bible of all things financial, The Wall Street Journal (here). The new album hits the streets Oct. 29.

* * *

In other release news, Omaha proto-punkers (not sure what that means, but it sounds important) Pro-Magnum premiered two new songs on available from their Bandcamp page (below).

* * *

An addendum to yesterday’s Tim Kasher reviews round-up: Paste Magazine yesterday gave Adult Film a rousing 8.7 rating, concluding: “If this is a new avenue of self-loathing for Kasher, it’s a welcome change of form from the perhaps more angular output of his screaming past. His gifts for wrangling emotive detours from unlikely sonic realms is his best talent, but he couldn’t do that without his crafty capacity for language, too. Stripped of the angry adornments of his yesteryears, we now may take him at his word.”  Read the full review here.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Tim Kasher’s Adult Film drops, vinyl delayed, first reviews; Yuppies score 7.4 Pitchfork; Killer Blow tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:59 pm October 8, 2013
Peach Kelli Pop

Peach Kelli Pop

by Tim McMahan,

It’s drop day for Tim Kasher’s Adult Film LP.

But it sounds like (based on Kasher’s comments at his tour kick-off show last Saturday) our friends at Saddle Creek Records are having a tough time getting the vinyl. Kasher told the crowd the manufacturer hadn’t come through, and was offering download keys and a spot on the album’s wait-list. Creek’s Jeff Tafolla confirmed the delay saying the label’s supposed to get new test pressings this week, and if approved, they could get their vinyl in a week, if they rush it.

Interestingly, Creek announced yesterday that it finally got the vinyl in for Jake Bellows latest, New Ocean, and is shipping pre-orders. That one had a drop date of Aug. 6. I’m guessing the national vinyl craze is hitting the handful of vinyl producers hard, and they’re having a tough time keeping up with orders. Oh what a strange time for the music industry…

Meanwhile, here’s a handful of early reviews of Adult Film:

Absolute Punk gave the record a 9/10. Conclusion: “Wherever you place Adult Film in the Kasher canon, it’s hard to deny that it’s one of the best albums of the year, and arguably his most versatile yet. If I needed convincing before, all doubt is erased – this man can only put out good music.” (review here)

Racket Magazine gave the album 7/10. Conclusion: “‘Where’s Your Heart Lie’ is kind of the epitome of Kasher for me: a beautiful piano melody behind him being simultaneously terrified of and bored in monogamy. Dude, we all freak out, I hope you can get over the terror of the unknown.” (review here)

Colorado Daily didn’t give Adult Film a rating, but they sure did like it.  The conclusion: “The feelings and their intensity are all over the place — so fantastically manic, it must be real. And if it’s not, all that organ is enough to keep things exciting.” (review here)

American Songwriter gave the LP 2.5 stars out of 5. The conclusion: “Even the most ardent Kasher followers can cop to the relatively one-dimensional nature of his songwriting, yet during Cursive’s brief, restless reign, his internal struggle made for an intriguing and sometimes thrilling listen. Adult Film, unfortunately, isn’t.” Yikes. (review here) was even harsher, giving the album 2.3 out of 10. Conclusion: “The only people who might get something out of Adult Film are those who receive an endorphin rush from hearing Kasher’s voice, and even if that describes you, I’ve got to hope that there is a better way to get that high.” Oof. (review here)

Of course none of those matter after the Pitchfork review comes out…

* * *

Speaking of Pitchfork, Yuppies debut album just got the Pitchfork treatment. The so-called arbiter of indie taste gave the album a respectable 7.4 rating. The conclusion: “If you are accustomed to listening to Wire albums as one long, glowering run-on sentence, never bothering to confirm the title of the minute-long scrap you’re currently hearing, than you’ll probably settle into the rhythm of Yuppies quickly.” Read (and try to decipher) the full review here.

* * *

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s it’s the return of Killer Blow. Joining them is Burger Records band Peach Kelli Pop and Sean Pratt and the Sweats. This one should indeed be killer. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also, I was informed by the folks at Eyeball Productions that Crystal Stilts has cancelled their appearance at O’Leaver’s Friday night, but the show will still go on with Pleasure Adapter and TBD.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Live Review: Tim Kasher; this week’s coming attractions…

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 12:43 pm October 7, 2013
Tim Kasher at The Waiting Room, Oct. 5, 2013.

Tim Kasher at The Waiting Room, Oct. 5, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

So how was Tim Kasher Saturday night at The Waiting Room?

Pretty damn good, thanks for asking. Kasher’s set  drew from both solo albums, plus The Good Life and Cursive catalogs. Though backed by a ripping band that included sassy bassist Sara Bertuldo and musical genius/multi-instrumentalist Patrick Newbery (I’m not sure who was on drums, but he was awesome), the set’s tone was low-key and downright mellow.

For example, Kasher’s cover of “From the Hips” (off Cursive album Mama, I’m Swollen) took the usually rousing, bombastic rocker and re-imagined it as a quiet lullaby. In fact, there were a lot of quiet moments throughout most of the set, and maybe that was driven by the chatty crowd, who Kasher acknowledged when he sat down at a keyboard to play a solo version of a Good Life song that “none of you know.” Unfortunately, he eventually talked himself out of it, and his band instead returned to the stage to resume the usual setlist. While there  were a lot of new arrangements for older material, the tunes off Adult Film got the same treatment heard on the album.

The evening’s bright spots came during the encore, when Kasher and Co. lit into a spot-on cover of The Faint’s “Worked Up So Sexual” that got a few folks in the 200+ crowd jumping. The energy stayed for the evening’s closer, “Totally Freaking Out,” from the new album.

* * *

Here’s some guidance for the coming week….

Pageturner’s has Colleen Lynch and Grape Soda tonight. It’s free and starts at 10 p.m.

Killer Blow headlines at O’Leaver’s Tuesday with Peach Kelli Pop and S. Pratt and the Sweats. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Saturn Moth plays at Slowdown Jr., Thursday night with Manic Pixie Dream Girls and Hussies. $5, 9 p.m.

Man Man closes out the week at Slowdown’s big room Friday night with Xenia Rubinos. $15, 9 p.m.

And Crystal Stilts plays at O’Leaver’s Friday night with Pleasure Adapter and Zachary Cole.

Actually a pretty busy week of shows…

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: Tim Kasher, Pt. 2 (his voice, criticism and his ugly album art explained); QUASI, Jeffrey Lewis tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 11:49 am October 3, 2013
Tim Kasher, Adult Film (Saddle Creek, 2013)

Tim Kasher, Adult Film (Saddle Creek, 2013)

by Tim McMahan,

And here’s Pt. 2 of the Tim Kasher interview. Pt. 1 was posted yesterday. Both parts are in this week’s issue of The Reader. Pick up a copy at your local news rack or bar or coffee shop or convenient store today.

Over the Edge: Leftover Kasher

Like the headline says, here’s some leftover wisdom from Tim Kasher that didn’t make it into the feature story.  I thought it would be a shame to leave it on the cutting room floor.

For example, nowhere in the feature story did I explain the title of Kasher’s new album, Adult Film, and the origin of its hideous cover art. Hopefully Eric in production has a copy of the artwork to include with this column so you can see just how repulsive it truly is. So gruesome is the cover that I almost dropped the CD’s jewel case when I took it out of the promo mailer’s envelope.

The artwork is actually quite simple — it’s a nude head-and-shoulder photo of Kasher covered in some sort of greasy, slimy substance, as if a giant woman-thing gave birth to him full-grown only moments prior to the shoot. Mixed in with the shiny, viscous substance are bits of what look like shit or placenta or snot balls. Even Kasher’s well-combed hair lays flat like it hadn’t been washed in a couple weeks. The photo is just straight fucking gross; so ugly you can practically smell it.

The art is made all the more disturbing by the placement of the words ADULT FILM in yellow all-caps on top of a black bar that blocks out Kasher’s eyes, as if to hide his identity even though his name appears right above his head.

Creepy. Needless to say, there had to be some sort of meaning behind it.

“There’s not a ton to it, and I feel like I suffer when I explain it,” Kasher said sheepishly. “I just quite simply saw the two words ‘adult film’ in my head and I separated them from what they’ve come to mean in our society. I tend to play around with words, and it occurred to me how odd those words were together. They’ve come to mean ‘pornography’ and nothing else. but if they had never been used for pornography they would conjure this gross thought; this film that people collect that gets wrinkled and corse as it goes old and untouched.

“I think (in that context) it’s fitting for the album’s subject matter. That meaning casts a wide net. It’s a catch-all for mortality and getting older, but also about career and dating and aging and whatever pursuit you happen to be in.”

He said said he’s “a little uneasy with the porno aspect” of the title. As for the guck, “It’s Vaseline and dirt; potting soil and some mulch and some green dye to give it a bit of a sheen.”

Aren’t you glad I asked?

At one point during our interview I also asked Kasher about his vocals on the album’s roaring, rolling opener “American Lit,” and told him it reminded me of something from Slowdown Virginia, one of Kasher’s first bands from way back in ’93 that some say was a starting point for what would become the Saddle Creek scene.

“That’s a relief to me,” Kasher said. “I sing lower almost always now. I’ve been having vocal issues over the last four years. I write in low registers just in case. I just can’t stay on top of it. I don’t know when it’s going to go out next, with bronchitis or something.”

That was a surprise. So was Kasher’s comments about Help Wanted Nights. I mentioned that Adult Film was my favorite Kasher album since that classic 2007 album by his other band, The Good Life. It turns out that Help Wanted Nights also was notable to Kasher, but for a different reason.

“It was the first time that I got bad reviews,” he said. “It knocked me down for like two days, and then for the next few records I watched (the reviews) a little bit more than before. It became a sick curiosity, and I got a little obsessed.”

Kasher said he eventually got past his preoccupation with critics. “I’m not going to do that anymore,” he said. “It’s not that I’m against critics, it’s that they’re not the ones who I should be writing for.”

Help Wanted Nights was actually a sort of soundtrack to an unproduced script of the same name. Written a few years prior to the album’s release, it was the first script Kasher tried to get produced, catching the interest of a handful of Los Angeles money people. Still, six years later, the script remains unshot.

“I set it aside just before I began working on (The Game of) Monogamy (Kasher’s 2010 debut solo album). It had some renewed interest for a few months.”

Kasher hasn’t given up his silver-screen dreams. “I have another script being worked on to go into production,” he said. The new one is about couple swapping — ironic, considering the title of this new album.

Kasher said the movie business is “a hard game with a lot of money involved I keep writing and handing stuff out, and here and there get reactions. I’ll cautiously kind of let it play itself out and see what happens.”

One last thing I forgot to mention in the feature: Adult Film doesn’t come out until next Tuesday, Oct. 8, on Saddle Creek Records (of course). You should pick up a copy when you go to see Kasher and his band celebrate its release at The Waiting Room Saturday night. Whatever you do, don’t judge the record by its cover.

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

First published in The Reader, Oct. 2, 2103. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

* * *

One of the biggest shows of the month takes place tonight at Slowdown Jr.

Some of you may not be old enough to remember Quasi and the Portland band’s seminal 1998 album Featuring “Birds,” but it was one of the defining albums of the late ’90s and the high water mark this band. Frontman Sam Coomes had just left two pretty successful bands — Donner Party and Heatmiser, a band that also featured Elliot Smith — to form this band with Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss. Featuring “Birds” came out of nowhere and was a critical smash thanks to ultra cool songs like “I Never Want to See You Again,” “The Poisoned Well,” and of course “California.” Heck, every track is good.

Six more albums followed, including their just released Mole City, which came out Tuesday on Kill Rock Stars. Tonight’s show kicks off their tour in support of that album.

Joining Quasi is Jeffrey Lewis, who’s album End Result (2007, Rough Trade), is one of my faves. Lewis has recorded with Kimya Dawson and most recently with Peter Stampfel. Our very own See Through Dresses opens. You get all three for a mere $15. Starts at 9. GO!!

Also tonight, Louisville, KY singer/songwriter Cheyenne Mize (Yep Rock Records) plays at fabulous O’Leaver’s with Eli Mardock and Blue Bird. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And The Waiting Room is hosting another Songwriter Death Battle featuring 40 or so local singer/songwriters passing around John Klemmenson’s beat-up acoustic guitar for one song apiece. Hear Nebraska has the line-up info right here. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: Tim Kasher Pt. 1 (on Adult Film, O’Leaver’s, The Good Life, and getting older); Marisa Anderson tonight…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 12:57 pm October 2, 2013

TIm Kasher promo photo

This is (sort of) the first part of a two-part feature/interview with Tim Kasher. Pt. 2 appears in this week’s column, which is essentially outtakes from Pt. 1. Look for that tomorrow. In the meantime…

Tim Kasher’s Adult Film

The Cursive frontman celebrates the release of his second full-length solo album.

by Tim McMahan,

There’s a lot of death on Tim Kasher’s new album, Adult Film.

On the record’s first single, “Truly Freaking Out,” Kasher wrestles with the idea that his friends and family will all die some day, and he isn’t too happy about it. He bleakly points out over rolling keyboards: “I know, I know, I know the end is near / I know, I know it’s all downhill from here. / We’re all cascading to our graves / Tugging back at gravity’s reigns.”

At age 39, has Kasher, a staunch atheist, finally come to the realization that dead means dead, and there’s no coming back?

“I touch on it a lot it seems throughout the record,” Kasher said via cell while walking to Logan Square in his newly adopted hometown of Chicago. “There’s this kind of sobering that comes with age that anyone of us experiences who has gotten older and on the other side.”

One of Kasher’s dreams in his youth was to be a jazz drummer when he retires. “I wanted to be the cool guy that plays at a bar down the street,” he said. “Now that I’m turning 40 next year, I’m putting that aside. You start having sober realizations of how much time you have left. I also know that so much time has been nicked off, trimmed, shorn from our existence. I don’t feel like I’ve wasted time. I want to keep having more time, if anything.”

He may never become the next Buddy Rich or Joe Voda, but if the clock quits ticking for Kasher, he would leave behind an impressive list of other musical accomplishments that his loved ones would be proud of.  Kasher is arguably one of the best personal songwriters to come out of Omaha in the past 20 years, alongside his old pal Conor Oberst and local folk legend Simon Joyner.  Since ’97 he’s written and produced 12 full-length albums both as a solo artist and with his bands Cursive and The Good Life, almost all of them released on indie label Saddle Creek Records.

An entire generation of Nebraska singer/songwriters credits Kasher both as an influence and a survivor. In a time when musicians are being strangled by the economics of a financially crippled music industry, Kasher has continued to make a living doing nothing but music, though he’s beginning to diversify.

Last year he became partners in one of Omaha’s most notorious bars — O’Leaver’s on South Saddle Creek Rd. Kasher is a co-owner along with Cursive bandmates Ted Stevens and Matt Maginn, and long-time O’Leaver’s manager Chris Machmuller, lead singer of Saddle Creek band Ladyfinger.

“It’s hard to consider it my bar,” Kasher said. “It’s really their bar, but I’m glad to be able to contribute monetarily.”

While portfolio diversification was the main reason for joining the partnership, “the first reason was because Matt was interested in buying it,” Kasher said. “We’ve been working together forever and he’s always wanted to diversify but wanted to do it in a way that seems enjoyable. Who wants to buy a paper company because he hears it’s a good investment?”

Kasher said eight or so years ago when Cursive and The Good Life were at a financial peak, people just assumed he was “living high off the hog. I’m basing this on people I run into in other states who have lofty concepts of my success that don’t even remotely match reality,” he said.

“When someone writes a book, you figure ‘Well now, they must be loaded. They wrote a book.’ But in reality they’re actually a struggling teacher. These days most people think that I should have another job. I’m pretty much off the radar; nothing I do elicits some kind of suggestion of a lot of success, but I manage to do okay anyway. My career, at this point, has some girth to it.”

It also helps that Kasher does more than one musical project at a time. “A lot of why music is still a full-time job is because I tend to do it about twice as much as other musicians in that I release under multiple monikers” he said. “I always knew that (Cursive and The Good Life) kept each other afloat. When I set The Good Life aside it was like I had stopped my bar tending job. The money dwindled.”

Not for long. Kasher began releasing solo work with 2010’s The Game of Monogamy and its follow-up, 2011’s More Songs from the Monogamy Sessions EP.  The perennial question with every release is how Kasher decides which material will go toward which project. Cursive music tends to be harder, faster and more acidic than the lighter, more melody-driven tunes heard on Good Life albums. The music for Adult Film falls somewhere in between.

Recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studio in Chicago and mixed by John Congleton at Elmwood Recording in Dallas, Adult Film is the most tuneful Kasher project since The Good Life’s Help Wanted Nights in 2007. Songs like failure anthem “A Raincloud Is a Raincloud,” breakup drama “The Willing Cuckold,” and the pounding “A Looping Distress Signal” are as close to straight-up rock songs as Kasher can probably get.

Never has keyboards played such a dominant role in one of his productions. From the pounding organ on “Life and Limbo” to the wonky rolling synth on the aforementioned “Truly Freaking Out” that sounds like a Kubrick-ian nightmare to the piano-tightrope walk on “Where Your Heart Lies,” keys are on almost every song.

“We had that in mind from the onset,” Kasher said, pointing to collaborator Patrick Newbery who is credited with organ, keys, synths and horns on the recording. Newbery is joined on the record by Sara Bertuldo (bass, vocals), Dylan Ryan (drums) and a handful of other musicians caught in Kasher’s orbit.

So why were the songs on Adult Film used for a solo album?

“It’s just what I’m doing right now, and it’s logical,” Kasher said. “I want to get my own name off the ground a bit more. We’re all getting older and if I were to continue to do any of this, it’ll be easier to lean on just myself to put out an album.”

That said, there’s little doubt about Cursive’s future. Last year the band released the full-length I Am Gemini on Saddle Creek Records and spent a good part of the year on the road. Saddle Creek Records said the album had U.S. Soundscans of 10,379 and more than 430,000 track streams on Spotify. Kasher said he was satisfied at how well that record performed.

“It gave us (Cursive) a lot of vigor, we had a great time being together and felt good about the finished product,” he said. “We got a chance to play the songs every night to a lot of people who were crazy for it. It was a lot of fun. In the largest sense we’ve become a niche band. We’re kind of a small posse, but a good community.”

The future of The Good Life, however, is more in question. “I feel that all the projects are still alive. Some are more dormant than others,” Kasher said. “The Good Life is very dormant now, but we still chat and think about it. I still try to look at my schedule long-term and think where I might do this or that band. In my head, it’s not dead at all. My impression is that we’ll all get back together in time.”

Even if that time is running out. While there is a looming sense of despair on his new record, Kasher said, “We’re still living in a good age. There’s a lot of joy everywhere. Everyone is having babies. We’re on the edge between getting joyful phone calls that someone is in labor and getting calls that someone is in the ICU.”

Tim Kasher plays with Laura Stevenson and The Brigadiers Saturday, Oct. 5, at The Waiting Room, 6212 Maple Street. Showtime is 9 p.m.. Admission is $11. For more information, go to

First published in The Reader, Oct. 2, 2103. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

* * *

Tonight at O’Leaver’s, composer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Marisa Anderson takes the stage. According to her online profile, Anderson’s second solo record, The Golden Hour (Mississippi Records 2011), features “12 improvisations inspired by Delta blues, West African guitar, vintage country and western, gospel, noise, rhythms, cycles, mortality, and praise.” Grapefruit Records, the label run by Simon Joyner, is releasing Anderson’s next album in December. Opening for Anderson is Rake Kash (Lonnie Methe’s latest project) and Zach LaGrou. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Marisa Anderson from De Kreun on Vimeo.

Also tonight, Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional’s new band Twin Forks plays at Slowdown Jr. with Matrimony and Skypilot. $15, 8 p.m.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.