The Reader’s top bands list(s); Saddle Creek signs Sam Evian; Charly Bliss, Lightning Bug tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm June 16, 2016
Charly Bliss plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

Charly Bliss plays tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

I recently was asked by one of the many local music festival organizers (and there’s a lot of them these days) if I had any recommendations for local bands to play his festival. I sent him the following list, and told him he couldn’t go wrong with any of these bands and musicians.

The Reader compiles this list annually, usually in late winter toward the end of the year. But this year Reader publisher John Heaston decided to move the annual Music Issue up to June, and asked me to supply a list of my favorite bands. So, I submitted the following acts who — in my humble opinion — are making unique, heart-felt, personal, smart and (above all) kick-ass music, either live or on recordings.

Some of these names have been around for years (even decades). Some debuted within the last 12 months. All are worth your time and effort to seek out, both in the clubs and in the local record bins.

Without further ado, my 2016 favorite local artists lists (six months early):

Anna McClellan
Bien Fang
Brad Hoshaw
Clarence Tilton
Digital Leather
Dumb Beach
The Good Life
Hand Painted Police Car
High Up
Jeff Runnings
Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal
Little Brazil
Matthew Sweet
Matt Whipkey
Relax, It’s Science
Sam Martin
See Through Dresses
Simon Joyner
Super Ghost
Thick Paint
Those Far Out Arrows
Uh Oh
Wagon Blasters

A few caveats: Bands had to be active. The Faint, for example, haven’t done much this year, but look out for later this year. Same holds true for Conor Oberst, who (other than his fun country covers project) has been relatively dormant after last year’s cancellation of that Desaparecidos tour. I suspect we’ll see more out of him later this year.

My list is “indie centric” because that’s the kind of music I listen to. That being the case, Reader colleague BJ Huchtemann, who focuses on blues and R&B, provided The Reader with her list of favorites for 2016:

All Young Girls Are Machine Guns
CJ Mills
Hector Anchondo Band
Jack Hotel
Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal
Kris Lager Band
Matt Cox
Michael Campbell
Sam Ayer & The Love Affair
Shawn Holt & the Teardrops
Tim Budig Band

Both lists are in the current issue of The Reader. If you or your band is missing, I wouldn’t worry about it, because, let’s face it, lists are only good as conversation starters, and little more…

* * *

Yesterday Saddle Creek Records announced its latest signing, a band out of Brooklyn called Sam Evian, the latest project by musician Sam Owens.

According to “Sam Owens of Celestial Shore, (is) going by ‘Sam Evian’ for his solo project because there is apparently an entirely different New York musician named Sam Owens who locked down an internet presence first and because ‘bottled water is weird and totally irresponsible (kinda like playing music) but that one tastes the best to me.‘”

Celestial Shore’s 2014 album, Enter Ghosts, was released on Hometapes and got a rousing 6.8 rating from Pitchfork. The Sam Evian track that Saddle Creek shared yesterday reminds me of a cross between Kurt Vile and Foxygen. Good stuff.

Saddle Creek label exec Robb Nansel said they’ve “been talking to him for over a year… just waiting for him to make the right record and he finally did!” and “He’s had some other projects in the past that were on our radar; and everything came together with this one.”

“Sleep Easy” is the first track to be shared from Premium, the debut Sam Evian LP, scheduled for release by Saddle Creek this year. The label is on something of roll lately, striking gold with their last two recruits, Hop Along and Big Thief. Will Sam Evian continue the streak?

* * *

Tonight at Reverb Lounge Brooklyn grunge-pop 4-piece Charly Bliss headlines. On their latest single, “Ruby,” they sound like a cross between Weezer and Breeders, though frontwoman Eva Hendricks has some distinctive Cyndi Lauper overtones to her vocals.  Lightning Bug opens. $10, 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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