Live Review: Hand Habits, Tomberlin; Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!), Rob Noyes, David Nance tonight…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:36 pm April 2, 2019

Hand Habits at Slowdown Jr., April 1, 2019.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Sara Beth Tomberlin — or just Tomberlin as she’s known professionally and Toblerone as I sometimes mistakenly call her — sat center-stage at Slowdown Jr. last night with an acoustic guitar balanced on her crossed legs and sang heart-breakingly sad personal-journey songs in a voice I can only describe as “angelic.” You’d expect someone who writes such painful lyrics to be church-mouse quiet between songs and mumble morose thank you’s but instead, Tomberlin was a natural crack-up, talking about the time she was on the Jimmy Kimmel show during a bomb threat and how long it takes to get to the nearest Target from her hometown (hour and a half).

Tomberlin at Slowdown Jr., April 1, 2019.

She sang songs off her Saddle Creek debut as well as a couple new ones that fell into the same solemn territory as the others.  She thanked the crowd for being so quiet — the audience of around 60 stood as if in a trance throughout, except for two younger audience members who did a modified grind dance to every sad song.

By contrast, Hand Habits was a veritable rock show. Playing as a trio with bass and drums, Meg Duffy led with an electric guitar that broke away a few too few times for soaring solos that would make Richard Thompson proud. Duffy’s guitar work was stellar and I wished they’d work more of those solos into the set.

Instead, the band played mostly by the numbers songs from their latest Saddle Creek release, Placeholder, which is an early runner for my 2019 top-albums list. On the record, Duffy’s voice sounds like it’s always in harmony with someone or some thing. Live, the drummer added gorgeous harmonies, but for the big single, “Can’t Calm Down,” Tomberlin came up to the stage for one of the night’s highlights.

I can’t quite put my finger on who Duffy reminds me of, and I suppose they’d appreciate that (I’ve yet to meet a musician who likes being compared to anyone). That said (haha) I was at times reminded of Aimee Mann, at least in terms of the way Duffy and company made the most out of simple compositions for maximum emotional impact.

Not surprisingly, both acts said they were happy to be playing home base for Saddle Creek Records, whose reps were sprinkled throughout the audience, proudly watching their latest signees knock them dead.

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Huge show tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s. Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! is playing with her band, The Devouring Mothers. Advanced tickets to this show are long gone, but there may be a few available at the door for $22.50. The door is at 6:30, so if you’re interested, you’ll want to get in line well before than. The show starts at 7:30 with opening sets by Mercy Union and Control Top.

Also tonight, guitar virtuoso Rob Noyes performs at Reverb Lounge. Joining him are Jon Collin and our very own David Nance. $10, 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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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There’s a good show every night this week; Hand Habits, Tomberlin, Mansionair tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:34 pm April 1, 2019

Hand Habits plays tonight at Slowdown Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

There’s a flood going on in Nebraska all right… a flood of great shows. Hope you got your sleep this weekend because you’re not getting any this week, because there’s a great show every night.

Starting tonight when Saddle Creek Records’ latest roster additions — Hand Habits and Tomberlin — play at Slowdown Jr. Headliner Hand Habits is the project of singer/songwriter/guitarist Meg Duffy, whose new album, Placeholder, was released on Saddle Creek earlier this year. The album is sneaky good, and heavier than you might expect. Duffy is also a member of Kevin Morby’s band, and has done studio work on guitar for a number of artists, including The War on Drugs.

Opening the show at 8 p.m. is another recent Saddle Creek addition, singer/songwriter Tomberlin. Her style is pretty much what you’d expect — quiet, withdrawn, personal acoustic confessions. You get both for a mere $10.

Also tonight, dreamy electronic trio Mansionaire (Glassnote Records) plays at Reverb Lounge with Beacon. $15, 8 p.m.

And then, take a look at what’s in store the rest of the week:

— Tuesday: Laura Jane Grace (Against Me) & The Devouring Mothers at O’Leaver’s
— Tuesday: Rob Noyes with Jon Collin and David Nance at Reverb
— Wednesday: Playboy Manbaby and The Candy Boys at Brothers
— Thursday: Telekinesis at Slowdown, Jr.
— Thursday: Bad Bad Men with In the Whale at O’Leaver’s
— Friday: Kero Kero Bonito at The Waiting Room
— Saturday: Twinsmith at Reverb
— Sunday: Gymshorts at Reverb

Holy smokes!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker gets Saddle Creek solo; new Tomberlin video…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:51 pm August 7, 2018

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Saddle Creek Records announced this morning that it’s releasing the solo debut by Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker, titled abysskiss.

Songs can be slippery and following a 2+ years on the road with Big Thief, Lenker felt a growing need to document this particular time in her life in an intimate, immediate way. The result is her new album, abysskiss, out October 5,” sayeth the press release.

The album was co-produced with Luke Temple (Here We Go Magic) and recorded by Gabe Wax (Soccer Mommy, Ought, Palehound). This looks like another big score for Saddle Creek. Pre-order it here.

Speaking of Saddle Creek releases, the next one out of the gate is the Tomberlin’s LP At Weddings, which comes out Friday. Sarah Beth released a new video, “Any Other Way” this morning.

No shows tonight!

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Azure Ray heads East; Saddle Creek signs Tomberlin…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:46 pm June 5, 2018
Azure Ray at The Slowdown, Nov. 3, 2010.

Azure Ray at The Slowdown, Nov. 3, 2010. The duo is headed to China in a couple weeks.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Some news…

If like me you’ve been wondering what Azure Ray has been up to, well, the duo of Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor are headed east, as in the Far East for a tour of China.

The dates for this mini tour, announced on Facebook and elsewhere:

June 17 / Shenzen, A8 Live House
June 19 / Ghungzhou, Mao Live House
June 21 / Shanghai, Modern Sky Lab
June 23 / Beijing, Tango Live House

If you’re in the area, drop by one of the shows! Seriously, I didn’t even know the duo had been playing together. The last release I’m aware of was EP As Above So Below, released on Saddle Creek Records in 2012. Their last live show was a reunion gig at Lodge Room Highland Park this past Jan. 20.

BTW, this is not the first Asian tour for Azure Ray. The duo played China and Taiwan back in 2013.

* * *

Speaking of Saddle Creek Records, the label today announced that it’s signed Tomberlin a.k.a. Sarah Beth Tomberlin. Her debut album, At Weddings, was released as part of Joyful Noise Records’ “White Label Series” last October. Saddle Creek is re-releasing it Aug. 10 with three new songs added (pre-order here).

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, and now based in Louisville, Kentucky, Tomberlin wrote most of At Weddings while living with her family in southern Illinois during her late teens and early twenties,” according to Saddle Creek. “At Weddings is laden with reverence for music itself, for the power it has to heal others and help people navigate their lives.”

It’s turning out to be a big year for Saddle Creek, and I’m sure there are more announcements to come…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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