Lazy-i Best of 2021 Compilation CD; Pagan Athletes, Bad Bad Men tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 10:27 am December 22, 2021
Lazy-i Best of 2021

by Tim McMahan,

On reflection, it has been a strange year in music. Certainly that was the case from a local music perspective, especially if you compare the output of new local music in 2021 to what was released in 2020, during the heart of the pandemic.

Last year 10 of the 21 tracks included in Lazy-i Best Of 2020 comp were from Nebraska artists — a record of sorts. This year, only two artists on the annual Best Of compilation have Nebraska connections (three if you include Azure Ray). My theory is that most local artists released albums in 2020 and waited until ’21 to try to push them via live performances — why work on new material if you haven’t tried to sell the old stuff? Maybe that was the case, I certainly hope it was.

The artists included in the 2021 Best Of Lazy-i Compilation are an eclectic mix of old timers and brand new talent. Of the 21 artists, only 12 previously have played in Nebraska (and only three played here last year), while a couple are headed our way (Parquet Courts, Azure Ray). The comp is usually comprised of acts I’ve interviewed or reviewed over the past year, but because so few local bands released material last year and so few acts came through town, this is more of a collection of my favorite tracks from 2021.

Here’s the track list:

Hand Habits – “More Than Love” from the album Fun House (Saddle Creek)
Claud — “Soft Spot” from Super Monster (Saddest Factory)
Indigo De Souza — “Pretty Pictures” from Any Shape You Take (Saddle Creek)
Low — “Days Like Theses” from HEY WHAT (Sub Pop)
Sufjan Stevens, Angelo DeAugustine — “Back to Oz” from A Beginner’s Mind (Asthmatic Kitty)
Wet Leg — “Chaise Lounge” single (Domino)
Life in Sweatpants — “Good 2 Yourself” from Good 2 Yourself (Long Time Friend Discount)
Flyte — “Everyone’s a Winner” from This Is Really Going to Hurt (Island)
Cassandra Jenkins — “Michelangelo” from An Overview on Phenomenal Nature (Ba Da Bing)
The Coral — “Vacancy” from Coral Island (Run On)
Parquet Courts— “Walking at a Downtown Pace” from Sympathy for Life (Rough Trade)
Brad Hoshaw — “My Dying Day” from Living on a Sliver (self-release)
Mdou Moctar — “Ya Habibti” from Afrique Victime (Matador)
Courtney Barnett — “Sunfair Sundown” from Things Take Time, Take Time (Milk!)
Nation of Language — “Across That Fine Line” from A Way Forward (Play It Again Sam)
Spoon — “The Hardest Cut” single (Matador)
Turnstile — “BLACKOUT” from GLOW ON (Roadrunner)
PawPaw Rod — “Lemonhaze” from A PawPaw Rod EP (Godmode)
Matt Whipkey — “Mayday” from Hard (Unusual)
CHVRCHES, Robert Smith — “How Not to Drown” single (Glassnote Entertainment)
Azure Ray — “Bad Dream” from Remedy (Flower Moon)

Want a copy of the CD? Enter to win one in the annual drawing! To enter, send me an email with your mailing address to Hurry, contest deadline is Monday, Jan. 3, at midnight.

The playlist also is available in Spotify. Simply click this link or search “Lazy-i Best of” in Spotify then select Playlists, and you’ll find it along with a few from past years, too.

BTW, that’s Greta on the cover, the newest member of the McMahan family.

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Tonight at Reverb Lounge it’s Pagan Athletes (chaotic keyboards/drums from the Wolf Factory) with Bad Bad Men (classic line-up of Wolf/Siebken/Hug) and Nowhere (Thor’s (Retox) new band featuring Camille (No Thanks) and Gabe (Natural States)). $10, 9 p.m. What a way to bring in the holiday…

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


2021 Music Year in Review, or The Year of Resiliency (favorite albums, live shows, etc.)…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 1:55 pm December 7, 2021

by Tim McMahan,

Ah, the annual Year in Review article. Well, The Reader now limits this to a mere 800 words, so that forced me to write tight and leave out some things that I’d normally include. You can read The Reader version of the article right here. It features a big photo of No Thanks playing one of the last shows at The Brothers Lounge (though it wasn’t “the last show”… I didn’t make it to that one). Or you can read the year in review article below:

2021 Music Year in Review

…or, The Year of Resiliency

I know, I know… it’s only December, and anything can happen before the year is actually over, but I ain’t got that luxury, deadlines being what they are. Rather than wait until January after you’ve (hopefully) long forgotten and moved on from 2021, I thought I’d do the recap now while it’s fresh in your memory (because we’re still living it).

This time last year, things looked rather bleak.

Venues were closed, tours were cancelled, we were hunkered down in our bunkers, wiping down our groceries and wondering if we’d ever see live music again. The worst of COVID-19 was still ahead of us. And if you were lucky, missing your favorite bands was all you were worried about, as the death toll continued to rise. There were whispers of a vaccine, but that was still a long way away. The only glimmer of hope was that the Commander in Boob had just been defeated, though he promised not to go quietly, and, by God, he kept his word.

By February a vaccine was in hand, but the club owners and promoters still predicted it wouldn’t be until the fall of 2021 or the following winter before bookings would look anything like “normal.” And so, the clubs stayed dark, and the closest we got to live music was streamed to our computer screens.

Finally, toward the end of May, live music slowly began to return. I attended my first live show at Dr. Jack’s Drinkery May 29, a farewell gig by indie band Bull Nettles. But it wasn’t until July that venues really started booking on a regular basis, and national touring bands began to hit the road again. The Maha Festival and Farnam Fest were announced and pulled off without becoming a “super spreader” event. Maha even sold out its limited-capacity one-day event.

Despite a readily available vaccine, people still wore masks at shows — and still do to this day. Every face at the near-capacity Nov. 6 Soccer Mommy concert at The Waiting Room was masked throughout the evening. We were back, sort of.

A few positive things stood out during this Year of Resiliency:

The music never stopped. Artists continued to record and release new albums, most of them created in isolation during the height of the pandemic and some among the best of their careers.

New venues were announced. You’d think coming out of a pandemic, investors would be gun-shy about pouring money into new music venues, but three of the largest new developments were announced or broke ground this year: refurbishment of Sokol Auditorium, renamed The Admiral, the Steelhouse Omaha standing-room live music hall by Omaha Performing Arts, and the massive Astro amphitheater project, which — when completed in January 2023 — will host 2,500 people indoors and 5,000 outdoors. Each project is a gamble that the worst is behind us.

Record stores resurged. With so much forced alone time, people continued to fall in love with their vinyl. The Old Market now has as many record stores as it had during vinyl’s heyday, with Grapefruit Records at 1125 Jackson Street joining Vinyl Cup Records and the old favorite, Homer’s.

But as COVID-19’s bloody tide recedes, it leaves behind business casualties. While large clubs like Slowdown and the 1% venues are coming back better than ever, the smaller venues haven’t been so lucky. The Barley Street Tavern in Benson was the first to close its doors for good, though the room reopened under another name and new management. O’Leaver’s, arguably the best place in Omaha to see small live rock shows, still hasn’t reopened its stage. There’s hope it could soon return.

But the biggest loss of all was the permanent closing of The Brothers Lounge at the end of October. More punk bar than music venue, The Brothers was a way station for the misfits, oddballs and troubled geniuses of Omaha who preferred their music garbed in black leather and blood. The Brothers was where everyone ended up at last call. Now it’s had its last call, and the auction hammer falls Dec. 12.

Winners and sinners, that’s what we’re left with after a pandemic. Goodbye and good riddance, 2021. At least you were better than 2020. And 2022 will see us thanking our lucky stars.

Before we go, what would a Music Year in Review be without my list of favorite albums of 2021 (in no particular order):

Flyte, This Is Really Going to Hurt (Island)

Indigo De Souza, Any Shape You Take (Saddle Creek)

The Weather Station, Ignorance (Fat Possum)

Turnstile, Glow On (Roadrunner)

Low, Hey What (Sub Pop)

Cassandra Jenkins, An Overview On Phenomenal Nature (Ba Da Bing!)

Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine, A Beginner’s Mind (Asthmatic Kitty)

Parquet Courts, Sympathy for Life (Rough Trade)

Hand Habits, Fun House (Saddle Creek)

Mdou Moctar, Afrique Victime (Matador)

Strand of Oaks, In Heaven (Galacticana)

Wet Leg, “Wet Dream” b/w “Chaise Longe” (Domino)

Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at

So what’s missing from the article? The list of best shows of the year. After 2020, last year was a veritable bonanza of shows, but that said, they were still few and far between. My favorites are almost all the shows I ended up attending:

Bull Nettles at Dr. Jack’s Drinkery, May 29 — This was my first show after COVID, and the last show forever for Bull Nettles, as the band’s frontman, Travis Linn a.k.a. Travis Sing, has moved out of Omaha.

A Tomato A Day at The Little Gallery in Blackstone, June 12 — The first performance by Brion Poloncic (formerly of Cactus Nerve Thang) in years, was in support of an art opening of his latest work. Is there a Cactus reunion somewhere in the future?

Digital Leather at The Sydney, June 26 — The line-up: Frontman Shawn Foree, was backed by long-time DL drummer Jeff Lambelet; Blake Kostszewa, synths; newcomer Bobby Hussy on guitar, Erica Van Engen on synths, and MiWi La Lupa on bass, playing songs off COVID-era release New Wave Gold.

Idaho at Reverb Lounge, July 8 — First touring act post-COVID for me, and my return to Reverb Lounge. And one of my favorite shows from an act who made its mark almost 30 years ago.

Maha Music Festival, Stinson Park, July 31 — Omaha’s favorite festival was back after the COVID hiatus, sold-out (though tickets were limited to 8k), with perfect weather and great sets by Japanese Breakfast and Thundercat, among others.

Petfest, behind Pet Shop, Aug. 14 — And then along came the Delta variant, but that didn’t stop folks from showing up to this small outdoor festival that featured the best collection of local bands assembled in the past couple years.

Grocer at Reverb Lounge, Aug. 17 — The Philly band’s style was in the early Pixies tradition, angular and cool riding high on the bass line and backbeat drums, while guitarist Emily Daly shredded feedback-drenched leads run through a muffled effects pedal.

Elvis Costello at Memorial Park, Aug. 28 — A surprisingly light crowd took in a greatest hits set by a legend. For once the park concert had more going for it than the fireworks.

No Thanks at Brothers Lounge Sept. 17 — Little did we know this would be one of the last shows at The Brothers Lounge, as the club closed its doors for good at the end of October.

Indigo De Souza at The Slowdown Oct. 2 — The Saddle Creek Records band played the big stage for my return to Slowdown post-pandemic. Great set, highlighted guitarist, Dexter Webb, who reminded me of Mr. Lindsey Buckingham.

Tokyo Police Club at Slowdown Jr., Oct. 28 — First Slowdown Jr. show for me since the pandemic was a corker from a former Saddle Creek act, though some I talked to thought opener And How stole the show.

Soccer Mommy at The Waiting Room, Nov. 6 — Finally, a return to The Waiting Room for a near sold-out show, evidence that indie rock was alive and well and touring through Omaha.

Matt Whipkey and his band at The Jewell, Nov. 12 — Celebrating the release of his new LP, Hard, Whipkey was backed by what arguably was one of the best bands he’s ever assembled, in an effort to blow the lid off the downtown jazz club.

Criteria at The Waiting Room, Nov. 27 — Last but not least (and likely, not last of 2021) was the annual “holiday show” by the ever-young ’00’s band, sounding as good as ever. Long live rock and roll.

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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 © 2021 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.