Conor numbers, vinyl sales; Street Eaters, Viva La Vinyl tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:56 pm June 17, 2014
Street Eaters play tonight at Sweatshop Gallery in Benson.

Street Eaters play tonight at Sweatshop Gallery in Benson.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Sometimes there just isn’t much going on, and now is one of those times.

Here’s something left over from last week. Mike Fratt, who runs Homer’s Records, told me last Friday that sales of Conor Oberst’s latest solo LP, Upside Down Mountain, stood at 17,653. Not bad at all. The number was bolstered by sales of just over 2,500 the week prior to last, keeping him somewhere on the top-200. Sounds like the long-delayed vinyl version or Conor’s record also shipped last week. I told Fratt I was surprised that vinyl copies of UDM sold at Conor’s show a couple weeks ago were priced at $30.  Fratt said Homer’s has it for $34.98. “Double vinyl, gatefold, CD included, 140 gram, pressed at Pallas; all that stuff drives up costs,” he said.

Speaking of vinyl, Fratt said that Homer’s sold more vinyl copies of Jack White’s new album, Lazaretto, during its first week of release than the CD version.

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Couple things happening tonight.

Sweatshop Gallery in Benson is hosting a show with headliner Street Eaters. The Berkeley duo of Megan March and Johnny Geek have an acidic, proto-punk style (that reminds me of Well Aimed Arrows/The Protoculture). Opening is Manic Pixie Dream Girls and Skeleton Man. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Brad Hoshaw’s Viva La Vinyl is happening at The Barley Street Tavern. Due to popular demand, the vinyl night is now twice per month on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays. The rules: “Bring down one of your own records and put your name on the list to spin a side of an LP on our house turntable. Enjoy some great conversation with other vinyl lovers, $2 Tall Boys, free peanuts and no cover. 7:30 to 10 p.m. Sign up starts at 7.” Maybe I should bring in my copy of The Wolfgang Press’ Bird Wood Cage

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

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Oberst scores #58 (and still no vinyl); Oberst and Dawes tonight at Sokol…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:48 pm June 4, 2014
Conor Oberst fronting Bright Eyes at Westfair Amphitheater, June 4, 2011. He plays solo backed by Dawes tonight at Sokol Auditorium.

Conor Oberst fronting Bright Eyes at Westfair Amphitheater, June 4, 2011. Three years to the day, he plays solo backed by Dawes tonight at Sokol Auditorium.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Last week Conor Oberst sold another 4,356 copies of his new solo album, Upside Down Mountain, enough to land him at No. 58 on the sales charts. He’s managed to do this without selling any vinyl, because vinyl copies of his record still are not available.

Seems outrageous on the surface. Isn’t having timely vinyl production part of the reason to head to a major label like Nonesuch? Mike Fratt, general manager at Homer’s Records, says Conor’s lack of vinyl is a hangover from Record Store Day, and he’s not alone.

The hangover “also affected the Zeppelin reissues that came out yesterday with only 28 percent of the orders being filled,” Fratt said. “We (Homer’s) got lucky and got all our order except for one version of Zep III, which we should have later this week.”

Fratt said Oberst’s record also should arrive later this week, which could keep him on the charts for a couple more weeks.

BTW, find out other reasons why Conor went to Nonesuch right here.

* * *

Tonight Conor Oberst and his backing band, Dawes, take the stage at Sokol Auditorium. As of this writing, $30 tickets were still available for what is bound to be a memorable show. If the set list follows what he played at First Ave. in Minneapolis a couple nights ago, expect plenty of Bright Eyes tunes (though no “Lua”) as well as some Mystic Valley songs. Show starts at 8 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Oberst record sales good for No. 19 (and vinyl’s impact); See Through Dresses, Simon Joyner tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:55 pm May 30, 2014
See Through Dresses at The Waiting Room, Nov. 30, 2013. The band kicks off its summer tour tonight at O'Leaver's.

See Through Dresses at The Waiting Room, Nov. 30, 2013. The band kicks off its summer tour tonight at O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Billboard is reporting that first week sales of Conor Oberst’s Upside Down Mountain came in at roughly 11,000 units, enough to put him on top of the Folk charts.

Conor Oberst starts at No. 6 on Top Rock Albums and scores his first No. 1 on Folk Albums with “Upside Down Mountain” (11,000),” says the Billboard article. “It’s Oberst’s first title credited to his name alone (as opposed to his moniker Bright Eyes, or Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band) since his eponymous album in 2008, which debuted and peaked at No. 3 on Top Rock Albums. “Mountain” is Oberst’s first major-label set, released on Nonesuch/Warner Bros. He crowned Top Rock Albums in 2007 with Bright Eyes’ “Cassadaga,” which also earned him his highest rank on the Billboard 200 (No. 4).

According to SoundScan data, the Upside Down Mountain came in at No. 19 in overall sales with 10,674 units sold last week. FYI, Coldplay’s Ghost Stories was No. 1 selling 382,665 units. Mike Fratt, general manager at Homer’s Records, said Oberst would have finished higher on the sales charts had his vinyl been available — apparently it wasn’t and isn’t.

“There was a production issue, so vinyl is still not at retail,” Fratt said. “Just checked WEA b2b and (the record is) still not in stock. So, that hurt sales. Maybe as much as 4,000 to 5,000 units.” That would have been enough to push the record to No. 15.

Fratt’s estimate of vinyl sales seemed way high to me — 5,000 units would have represented about a third of the record’s total sales had it been available. But Fratt says his estimate is right on.

“Vinyl for an artist like Conor could be as high as 40 percent of first week sales,” he said.  “There have been a a handful of indie releases in the last year where the vinyl share has exceeded the CD or digital component. These have been releases that have sold less than 10k total for the first week. Vinyl now represents approx 30 percent of an indie store’s sales now.”

Fratt added that in Omaha alone, Upside Down Mountain sold 140 units, according to Soundscan.

* * *

Onto the weekend. Two good local shows tonight.

At fabulous O’Leaver’s, See Through Dresses kicks off its 2014 Summer Tour in support of the self-titled debut LP released last fall. Opening is personal faves Gordon along with Worn Out, which I think is the band formerly known as Adtrita fronted by the man known as Steve Micek formerly of the band The Stay Awake (I’m making a massive assumption about Worn Out based solely on the fact that the link on the show’s Facebook invite for Worn Out goes to the Adtrita bandcamp page)(And you know what happens when you assume?) $5, 9:30 p.m.

Also tonight, Simon Joyner opens for Portland’s Marisa Anderson (Mississippi Records). Also on the bill is Mike Schlesinger. $8, 9 p.m.

Unless I’m misreading the data, that’s it for this weekend. Let me know if I’m missing something. And a Denny Lewis used to say, ‘Good living to ya.’

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Live Review: Mousetrap, RAF; Oberst LP out today (Pitchfork gives it a 6.5); Morrissey tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:01 pm May 19, 2014
RAF at The Waiting Room, May 17, 2014.

RAF at The Waiting Room, May 17, 2014.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Rough crowd at the Punk Rock Reunion show Saturday night at The Waiting Room. An example of just how rough:

While standing at the bar waiting to buy my usual Rolling Rock, a big fat biker-looking dude about my age tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Thanks a lot for cutting in line.” I looked over at him and his two big fat biker buddies and said, “Sorry, didn’t see you guys standing there,” at which point he gave me a “What the fuck?” look, and then said, “Don’t worry man. What’s your name?” I said it was Tim, and he said (while shaking my hand), “My name’s Jack, as in Jack Miyoff — haw haw haw.” His fat pals rolled at that one.  I just rolled my eyes and moved along, feeling like Luke Skywalker during the Cantina scene of Star Wars, hoping Obi Wan would show up and cut the fat biker’s arm off.

Strange crowd. Lots of bumping and jostling. Lots of angry old people. Lots of drunks. But I guess it’s what you’d expect from a punk rock reunion. The only thing worse than angry young punks is bitter old ones. But at least they have good taste in music.

As evidence, I give you RAF. The band put out a few cassettes back in the ’80s, including one that spent a lot of time in the tape deck of my Ford Fiesta. The band consisted of guitarist Paul Moerke, drummer Tim Cox, bass player Dereck Higgins and frontman Matt Miller, who formed the band. For Saturday night’s reunion gig, Kelly Callier, formerly of Jimmy Skaffa, took over the frontman role and did a yeoman’s job pushing the crowd to match the energy on stage. The break-neck performance was matched by a break-neck mosh pit, just like the old days.

Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, May 17, 2014.

Mousetrap at The Waiting Room, May 17, 2014.

Mousetrap followed. Their set felt more realized and steady than the last time they played at The Waiting Room about a year ago. There’s always been something disturbing about the band’s music. When they were just kids, you chocked-up the music’s pain and violence to energy and youth. Now that they’re older, the songs take on a more sinister quality. Or maybe it seems more dangerous because it seems real, like these guys could actually do whatever it is frontman Patrick Buchanan is singing about. Scary.

In case you’re wondering, local hero Matt Bowen pulled it off behind the drum kit, supplying the necessary bombast to keep the action rolling.

Cordial Spew provided a hardcore ending to what turned out to be a hardcore night. They played a set that was much more together and professional than the band I saw play at Our Lady of Guadalupe Social Hall in the ’80s. The show back then was a brutal mess, while Saturday’s show was simply brutal, and a reminder (along with the night’s earlier sets) that some things do get better with age, just ask Mr. Miyoff.

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Conor Oberst, Upside Down Mountain (Nonesuch, 2014)

Conor Oberst, Upside Down Mountain (Nonesuch, 2014)

Breaking with the usual Tuesday release-day schedule, today is the official drop day for Conor Oberst’s new solo album, Upside Down Mountain (Nonesuch, 2014), and the reviews are coming in fast and furious. They are arguably the best reviews he’s had for one of his LPs in years.

Not the least of which is the all-important Pitchfork review, which gave the album a slightly better than mediocre 6.5 rating. The review’s conclusion: “It’s gorgeous to the point of near gaudiness, a ‘return to form’ after a strange decade evolving from wildly prolific, heartbreak soundtracking, Winona Ryder-dating enfant terrible into a domesticated Americana bard no longer interested in why to be young is to be sad. Hopefully, Oberst will find a way to make ‘older and wiser’ just as revelatory.

Rolling Stone was more laudatory with its 4-Star review. None other than David Fricke weighed in with: “But like Neil Young’s Harvest and Jackson Browne’s Late for the Sky, this is dreaming stalked by despair, then charged with rebound. ‘There are hundreds of ways,’ Oberst sings in that song, ‘to get through the day. . . . Now you just find one.’ Here’s a good place to start.”

All Music gave the record 4 Stars. Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s review concluded with: “Oberst remains an eccentric — he’s not one for obvious hooks, or even insistent melodies — but of all his albums, Upside Down Mountain feels open-hearted, measured, and bright, the kind of record that opens up a new chapter in a career and possibly wins over new listeners.

The Guardian also gave the record 4 stars, concluding “…melodies emerge strongly from these simple musical settings and there’s little to distract from his lyrics, which explore solitude and regret – those hoary old staples of US road music – in rich and inventive ways.”

Drowned in Sound gave the record 8 out of 10, saying “...the new album is bathed in a Laurel Canyon glow, but it’s by no means a throwback. It comes on with a rootsy, sure-footed poise far removed from the dense electronics of Bright Eyes’ 2011 release The People’s Key, though the bigger difference here is the nature of the lyrics found within.

Consequence of Sound gave the album a grade of B, concluding with “...Oberst at least has his first good album in years, and the songwriter’s narrative has a ways to go before we can judge whether he fulfilled all those expectations put on him 20 years ago when he was still a child.”

To counter all the raves, Pretty Much Amazing gave the record a grade of C-, stating: “…the very distance between the album’s mellow, casually lovely sonic maturity and Oberst’s thematic arrested development results in an eerie, unintended detachment.

As for what Lazy-i thinks, I’ve only had the album for a couple days so I’ve yet to come to a conclusion other than to say it’s the most overly produced Oberst album I’ve ever heard, and that it seems to be an obvious reach for a larger audience.

* * *

Tonight I’m off to Lincoln for the Morrissey concert at Rococo Theater. We have general admission balcony seats, which means we may or may not be able to actually see the performance. This one’s been sold out for a long time.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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