Future Tense: 2012 Music Predictions, Pt. 2 – The Lightning Round; Conduits sign to Team Love; Stolen Kisses tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:33 pm January 12, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

futureAnd now, the conclusion of my annual music predictions columns, where I gaze into the glossy black finish of a Fender Squier and see visions of what will occur in the coming days / months / years. Hang onto your hats, because it’s time for the Lightning Round!

— With all this new technology that (presumably) puts every bit of music ever released at our fingertips, a new appreciation for curated radio will emerge. And by that, I don’t mean radio programmed by a closet full of brain-dead suits somewhere in balmy El Lay, but rather a low-watt or web-based alternative station whose content is developed by a guy or gal who could be standing next to you in line at Baker’s. Look for not one, but two stabs at creating a low-power FM community radio station in Omaha next year, the result of S.592, a.k.a. the Local Community Radio Act. And remember, it’s only as good as you make it.

– Benson’s rebirth as Omaha’s music/tattoo/booze/vice hub hasn’t gone unnoticed outside of our little burg. A Hollywood film crew will set up shop in ’12 to document the creation of our little street of dreams as a weekly “reality” TV show featuring a gaggle of lovable characters. The Real Housewives of Benson? Benson Venue Wars?Benson Park Hillbilly Hand Fishing? Make sure the camera gets your good side.

— Speaking of film making, the fine work of one of our many local videographers will catch the attention of a large-ish national record label who will either fly one of their rock stars to Omaha or fly an Omaha video crew to the rock star to create a music video that will air on MTV and/or go “viral” on the interwebs.

— Last year saw Homer’s worldwide chain of stores get whittled down to just one measly location in the Old Market. This year will mark a rebirth of sorts for Omaha’s favorite independent music retailer when it alters direction to broaden its customer base. Translated: Homer’s will become much more than just a music store.

– As we mourn the death of The Anchor Inn interest in outdoor concerts continues to grow (even as club attendance at rock shows continues to dwindle). Local promoters will reach out to a few new park-like compounds to host large concerts like MAHA and Playing with Fire in places you’d never imagine. And yes, Memorial Park and a certain Sarpy County ballpark will be in the mix.

— Speaking of outdoor festivals, did that burning sea of empty pavement that greeted Red Sky’s unattended day programming and a half-empty (or more) Ameritrade Ballpark teach MECA anything? This year at least one big name indie-style rock act – someone you’ll actually be excited to see — will get booked for Red Sky and make you rethink the whole debacle… until you see the rest of the festival’s line-up. Another poor year of ticket sales will force MECA to rethink Red Sky’s future (just like the organizers of Kanrocksas are doing right now).

– Early planning by the fine folks at the MAHA Music Festival, on the other hand, will pay off big time this year as they land one of their all-time dream bands (But will they be able to sell enough tickets and find enough sponsors to pay the enormous guarantee? Yes). This will be MAHA’s the last year at Stinson Park, as the concert turns into a real-life “festival” in 2013.

— Artists we’ll be talking about this time next year: MGMT, M.I.A., Conduits, The xx, Lana Del Rey, Bloc Party, Black Sabbath, Frightened Rabbit, Sleigh Bells, Garbage, Modest Mouse, The Shins, Paul Westerberg, The Mynabirds, Van Halen, The Arcade Fire, Husker Du, Digital Leather, Tilly and the Wall, Best Coast, Ritual Device and Beck.

— Artists we won’t be talking about this time next year: Katy Perry, Cee Lo Green, Metallica, Bright Eyes, Kanye, Black Keys, Black Lips, Ryan Adams, Bon Iver, M83, Vampire Weekend, RHCP, Madonna, The Bieber and The Gaga.

— This year all of Eddie Van Halen’s problems will be resolved once and for all.

— Despite the many music- and culture-focused websites that have popped up over the past couple years, a new locally produced, slick print publication will emerge in 2012 with a special emphasis on music, art and fashion. And don’t bother looking for it online.

— As an experiment, Matador, Sub Pop or our very own Saddle Creek will release an entire formal full-length album by one of their top acts as a free download (You’ll still have to pay for the vinyl, and there will be no CD). Its success will breath new life into an already-established (though waning) act who will see its biggest crowds ever on tour, generating merch and back-catalog sales for the label and causing the music industry to rethink (again) how it does business.

— The next local act to break through on a national level won’t come from the indie ranks, but from Omaha’s under-appreciated hip-hop scene. As a result, look for a new hip-hop / urban-focused club to launch somewhere in midtown or downtown in 2012.

— Bright Eyes never made it onto SNL, but nothing will stop Cursive from stepping onto that famous 30 Rock stage.

And finally, one of the city’s longest-running local music columns will call it a day in 2012, in print (though it will continue to live on (forever?) on the Internet). Now who could I possibly be talking about?

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Moving on…

Conduits, self-titled (Team Love, 2012)

Conduits, self-titled (Team Love, 2012)

Yesterday’s red-hot news was that everyone’s favorite local shoe-gazers, Conduits, announced that they’ve signed with Team Love Records, who will release their self-titled debut album March 20. Pre-orders are being taken now at the Team Love online shop ($12/CD; $16/vinyl), which will get it into your earbuds two weeks before the street date. In addition, the band hits the road with Cursive and Cymbals Eat Guitars in March for a couple months.

It’s a nice return to form for Team Love, who also recently announced that it is releasing Simone Felice’s self-titled solo debut April 3, recorded with members of Mumford & Sons and his fellow Felice Brothers. So does this mean that Team Love also will soon announce the release of the highly anticipate Tilly and the Wall album? And what about Icky Blossoms, Derek Pressnall’s reinvention of Flowers Forever, a band that released its debut on Team Love in 2008? Will Team Love release an Icky Blossoms full-length in the near or distant future? We’ll have to wait and see.

For now, let’s bask in the Conduits’ news. For most of us, the music on this debut will seem almost rustic, having been played at local clubs for more than a year. In fact, the recording itself was created nearly a year ago. Will Conduits be able to keep up the intensity on songs they’ve been playing since 2010, and how will they ease any new music into the set list? We’ll see when they hit the road in March.

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Tonight at Slowdown Jr. it’s a free rock show featuring the reunion of Stolen Kisses, the surf-pop garage band that features members of Talking Mountain and Omaha expat Chris Kramer, who is back in town from Chicago on vacation. Tonight they’ll be performing as a five-piece and unveiling some new songs, and possibly a few chestnuts. Opening the show is Lincoln’s Powerful Science, headed by Joshua Miller of Columbia vs Challenger, and fellow Lincolnites Well-Dressed Man Disguise, which Kramer described as “psychedelic punk rock. Probably like early XTC.” Sweet. Like I said, it’s free, and the show starts at 9 p.m.

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Lazy-i Best of 2011

Lazy-i Best of 2011

Well, folks, we’re getting down to the wire. If you want to enter the drawing for a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2011 Sampler CD you better do it now. This year’s disc includes tracks from tUnE-yArDs, St. Vincent, Icky Blossoms, Decemberists, Gus & Call, Lana Del Rey, It’s True, Eleanor Friedberger and a bunch more (check out the track list at the bottom of this blog entry). To enter, just send an e-mail (to tim@lazy-i.com) with your name and mailing address. It really is that easy. Hurry! Deadline is Jan. 17!

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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.


Future Tense: 2012 Music Predictions (Pt. 1) — How will musicians survive?; Eric in Outer Space tonight…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 1:34 pm January 5, 2012

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

And so, as we enter into the year 2012 (the last year of our existence, according to another great seer), it is once again time for me to gaze through the fabric of time to reveal how all of our lives will unfold, music-wise, anyway. Before we get to the little ol’ Omaha music scene, let’s look at The Big Picture. The following will happen, if not next year, then soon:

Digital subscription music streaming services such as Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody – and eventually iTunes – have only just begun to take their toll on CD sales, which already were in the shitter.

The lone bright spot has been the sales of vinyl records. But unfortunately, we’ve already seen the peak in that nostalgia. The novelty of vinyl will begin to wear off, as people finally come to the realization that paying twice as much for a new release that they’re going to have get up and turn over on their record player, that they can’t play at work or on their smart phone or in their car, is quaint but woefully inconvenient. There always will be the luddites who refuse to acknowledge technology — who will hold on dearly to the ideas of yesteryear — but their numbers will only wane

Meanwhile, the technology behind streaming music will only get better. We’ll see better quality streams and better connectivity to streaming sources. Eventually it’ll get to the point where fans won’t even remember purchasing individual albums or singles. The music they want to hear will just “be there,” as long as they’re within reach of a Wi-Fi or 3G/4G/5G hot spot. Just turn on your device, dial in your favorite artists, and the music appears. What do you mean, “buy your new album”? As a subscriber to Spotify, I already own your music.

The problem, of course, is that only American Idols and huge international pop stars make real money off services like Spotify. The smaller independent artists, who used to be able to scratch together enough cash from CD sales to finance recording another album, will only make a few bucks from streaming (if they’re lucky).

That cold reality will spawn a backlash against these services, but in the end (just like with iTunes) artists will cave – especially after it becomes easy for them to get their music available on these services.

Spotify and the others will adopt iTunes’ seller model. Right now, any band with decent credit can set up an account in the iTunes Store. They don’t have to be associated with a record label or an “aggregator” such as CD Baby or Tunecore. That’s not the case with Spotify, but that will change (especially after iTunes adopts a subscription model). Getting music in Spotify (and the other services) will be as easy as setting up an account, and eventually anyone with access to Spotify (or the other services) will have access to any artist’s music.

(By the way, those “other services” will eventually go away. Just like The Highlander, there can be only one. It’ll be either Spotify or iTunes or one of the others, but only one will survive as the sole online catalog for recorded music, that is until the regulators step in and break up the monopoly.)

If the above model becomes reality – if all music is streamed or downloaded by subscription – than publishing rights, which have helped sustain musicians by paying them for use of their music on television and films, will eventually erode. Artists will begin paying to have their music played in TV and movies if only to widen their exposure.

So with no income from CD sales and publishing rights, how will the independent musicians of old make a living? Three ways: charity, subsidies and performances.

Kickstarter, an online funding platform launched in 2009 to help artists and musicians generate money through pledges, was a first glance at what will become one of the only sustainable models for independent artists to generate income to record new albums. Some bands will blanch at the idea of asking for “charity” from fans, but let’s be honest: most of us buy local artists’ CDs now not because we want the music (which we already have on our computers), but because we want to support their efforts. The only thing missing is the ability to write off those purchases as a charitable donation (at least for now).

Which brings us to the government and private foundations. In Canada and some European countries, governments and private charitable organizations have subsidized artists and musicians for years. Organizations such as Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records (FACTOR) are credited with making Canada the third largest producer of musical talent in the world. These private foundations are critical, especially as the global recession takes its toll on budgets.

But these foundations will never be enough. Here in the U.S., federal and local governments have to step up – either in the form of tax breaks or subsidies for musicians – or risk losing our creative class altogether. Look, we’ve subsidized farmers and other industries for years, now we have to do it for artists.

Finally, the last and most important source of income for musicians is live performances. Because no matter how available recorded music becomes, fans will always pay to see a great performance, whether it’s in a club, coffee shop, concert hall or arena. The live experience is something that will never be replicated digitally, thank god.

Next week, the fun stuff: Future Tense: 2012 Music Predictions, Pt. 2, the local edition.

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It’s a night of low-fi rock down at Slowdown Jr. this evening with Built To Spill/Pixies-influenced rockers (at least judging by this Bandcamp track) Eric in Outer Space headlining a show that also includes K.C. band Knot Lazy, Omaha garage noise act The Dads and the mysterious Iron Hug. $5, 9 p.m. Get out in this spring weather, wouldja?

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Lazy-i Best of 2011

Lazy-i Best of 2011

OK, folks, time to remind you yet again to enter the drawing to win a copy of the highly coveted, highly collectable Lazy-i Best of 2011 Sampler CD.  All’s youse gotta do is send me an e-mail (to tim@lazy-i.com) with your name and mailing address and your name will be dropped into the ol’ shoebox with all the others for a chance to win this once-in-a-lifetime prize. Because, really, who doesn’t need another valuable CD in their collection? Hurry! Deadline is Jan. 15!

Track listing:

1. Eleanor Friedberger, “My Mistake”
2. Peace of Shit, “You Can’t Let Me In”
3. Lykke Li, “Youth Knows No Pain”
4. The Beastie Boys, “Nonstop Disco Powerpack”
5. tUnE-yArDs, “Gangsta”
6. It’s True, “I Don’t Want to Be the One”
7. The Decemberists, “Down By the Water”
8. Big Harp, “Goodbye Crazy City”
9. Kurt Vile, “Jesus Fever”
10. Low, “Try to Sleep”
11. So-So Sailors, “Young Hearts”
12. Destroyer, “Downtown”
13. St. Vincent, “Cruel”
14. Icky Blossoms, “Perfect Vision”
15. Gus & Call, “To the Other Side of Jordan”
16. Lana Del Rey, “Video Games”
17. Digital Leather, “Young Doctors in Love”

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.