Phoebe/Conor perform for NIVA; Mal Blum gets the Saddle Creek Document treatment; new Beauty Pill…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:49 pm October 20, 2020
Mal Blum gets the Saddle Creek Document treatment…

Did you tune in last week for SOSFest? I didn’t, either. But most of the performances are now online if you still want to watch. Among them is Phoebe Bridgers at the Troubadour in Hollywood, with special guests Conor Oberst and Christian Lee Hutson. It’s pretty good, but dang, her music is some serious bummage. See below.

Make sure you make a donation toward NIVA’s Emergency Relief Fund, which benefits “independent venues in peril.”

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Mal Blum was among the acts scheduled to play at The Reverb Lounge before COVID-19 blew everything up. It was through researching that show that I discovered Pity Boy, the band’s 2019 Don Giovanni release, which I fell in love with. It’s punk but it’s poppy enough to sing along to, clever, smart with great guitars. It would have been on my 2019 list if I’d known about it in 2019.

Today Saddle Creek Records announced that Mal Blum will be featured as the 14th installment of their Document Series. The 7-inch “Nobody Waits” b/w “San Cristóbal,” will be released Nov. 20 and you can preorder it (and hear the A-side) today.

The tracks were the last thing the band recorded before the COVID-19 lock down. Check it below and keep your fingers crossed that One Percent reschedules Mal Blum at Reverb when the pandemic is finally under control…

BTW, Mal Blum is doing a Crowdcast tonight at 7 p.m. CT. Register here.

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D.C. punk band Beauty Pill dropped a video for new song “Instant Night” today, a song “released out of urgency to inspire people to vote in the November election.”

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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The return of Bright Eyes: Conor Oberst on the new album, COVID-19 and the good ol’ days (in the column)…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:30 pm September 10, 2020
Bright Eyes circa 2020 from left are Nate Walcott, Conor oberst and Mike Mogis.

In this month’s Over the Edge column in The Reader, an interview/feature on Bright Eyes wherein the fearless frontman Conor Oberst talks about the band’s new album, Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was (2020, Dead Oceans), how he’s coping with the pandemic and his love of the folks he played with during the good ol’ days when Omaha was the shining star of the indie music world.

You can read it in the current print edition of The Reader, on news stands now (I picked up my copy at Hy-Vee, but you can find them all over town). You also can read it online right here at The Reader‘s website.

Some background on the interview: It was conducted Aug. 19 over the phone with Oberst calling from his home here in Omaha. We spent most of the 30-some minutes talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and what he’s been doing since it started. It’s all well-covered in the article. Discussing the new album actually came as an afterthought toward the end of the interview.

Among the content that didn’t make it into the story were his thoughts on the actual making of the album. I asked what was the toughest part of putting it together. He said it was effortless for the three of them — Conor, Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis — to jump back in after nine years away from the project.

“As you know, all Bright Eyes records are kind of different,” he said. “There’s different players, and so it was exciting to get to work with, like, Jon Theodore (of Queens of the Stone Age), Flea (of Red Hot Chili Peppers), and people that we had never worked with before. So I can’t really pinpoint something that was like really hard. As with all the records, you don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s a little bit of mystery and there’s a little bit of excitement, but that was stuff I love. I never thought that it’d be, like, Flea doing a slap-bass thing on a Bright Eyes record in my life, but it sounds cool when he does it.”

Check out the article here. I’ll also post it on this website in a few days…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Conor talks COVID-19’s impact on the live music biz; Omaha venues go to #RedAlertRESTART tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:50 pm September 1, 2020
Bright Eyes at Westfair Amphitheater, June 4, 2011.

Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst knows how COVID-19 is killing the live music industry.

In an outtake from an interview last month, which will appear in the September issue of The Reader (on newsstands any day now), Oberst talked about how the pandemic is impacting independent agencies like Ground Control Touring, who has been his booking agent for more than 20 years.

He said Eric Dimenstein at Ground Control Touring asked him to get involved with efforts like the National Independent Talent Organization‘s (NITO’s) push to get legislation passed that will help venues and the entire independent live music ecosystem survive. Oberst said it’s vital that they get federal support with the Save Our Stages and RESTART acts to insure there is a live music ecosystem on the other side.

The problem is very real, and with Congress sitting on its hands last month getting nothing passed, you’re going to start seeing real impacts in the form of venues closing (Lookout Lounge, for example), and support industries like booking agencies trying to figure out how to survive until the pandemic gets stomped down.

That’s one of the reasons why there’s a Red Alert tonight (Sept. 1), where #WeMakeEvents, a coalition of trade bodies, businesses, unions and live events workers, will light up their venues, homes and cities red in more than 1,500 locations across the country to raise public awareness and media awareness in support of the live events sector.

Among the Omaha organizations participating tonight are:

Bob Kerrey Bridge
Event Staging Systems
Audio Visions
FadeUp Design Group
TMS
IATSE Local 42
Theater Arts Guild Omaha
Anastasis Theatre
Baxter Arena
Benson B Side
BLUEBARN Theatre
Film Streams
Omaha Community Playhouse
Omaha Performing Arts
Radio Theatre Omaha
Reverb Lounge
The Backline
The Rose
The Slowdown
The Trap Room
The Waiting Room
University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) Theatre Department

You can participate, too. Again, you need to contact your representatives using the form on this web page: https://wemakeevents.org/#action

You can also show support by posting a red-tinted photo of your favorite live event to your social media with the following caption:

RedAlertRESTART: the live events we love may never recover from the pandemic, we need to take action! Take 2 minutes to contact your representatives here, and post a red photo of you at your favorite event, too: https://wemakeevents.org #WeMakeEvents #ExtendPUA

You can turn your photo red here: https://www11.lunapic.com/editor/?action=tint.

Let me leave you with some stats from the WeMakeEvents website to gnaw on:

  • Live events employ over 12 million people.
  • Live events contributes over $1 trillion annually to the US economy.
  • 95% of live events have been cancelled due to COVID-19.
  • 96% of companies have cut staff and/or wages.
  • 77% of people in the live events industry have lost 100% of their income, including 97% of 1099 workers.

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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.

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Bright Eyes on Colbert; new album drops Aug. 21…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:17 pm June 23, 2020
A screen cap from last night’s Bright Eyes performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

It was a busy day for Bright Eyes yesterday. The outfit led by Conor Oberst announced a new single, “Mariana Trench” and the name and tracklist for their new album, Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was, out Aug. 21 on Dead Oceans.

And the band performed sort of live on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which you can watch below. See Conor sporting what looks like strangler gloves, Mike Mogis in a seed cap and Nate Walcott splitting time between keyboards and trumpet. It’s the band’s first performance in 10 years. Like I told you, they never broke up.

From the press release: “As a title, as a thesis, Down In The Weeds Where the World Once Was functions on a global, apocalyptic level of anxiety that looms throughout the record. But on a personal level, it speaks to rooting around in the dirt of one’s memories, trying to find the preciousness that’s overgrown and unrecognizable.”

After hearing the first four tracks, it sounds like this is going to be another doomsday album from Bright Eyes, which will make a nice bookend with the new one by Conor’s partner in crime, Phoebe Bridgers, which came out last Thursday: Punisher, also on Dead Oceans (poor Saddle Creek).

This new Bright Eyes track is the best one so far, certainly the most upbeat, and along with “Forced Convalescence” sounds like a natural progression post-Cassadaga had the band not gone wandering for a decade, certainly more so than the wooden, folky stuff Conor released on Ruminations/Salutations

No word on a tour yet. Imagine a Bright Eyes / Phoebe Bridgers / Better Oblivion Community Center joint tour. I think my head just exploded…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bright Eyes drops another one; more depressing COVID music news…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:21 pm April 22, 2020

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday Bright Eyes dropped the second song from their upcoming album on Dead Oceans. The track, “Forced Convalescence,” features a bevvy of guest players including Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jon Theodore from Queens of the Stone Age.

From the press release:

“’Forced Convalescence’ finds Conor Oberst at his world-weary best, picking apart the human condition and struggling to reconcile the past with whatever the future holds. All from the comfort of his bed. The slick, near-joyous sounding fever dream grows into a rich and languid swirl with help from a gospel choir. This may be as close to a Rat Pack-era lounge singer as Oberst has ever come. Albeit one with a head full of prose and existential angst.”

Check it out below:

No word on the album’s release date. I can’t imagine they’re in any hurry with touring on hold everywhere.

I’ve been mulling over how bars and venues are going to reopen and allow shows when things begin to ease up COVID-wise. There’s no doubt some states will be opening much sooner than others.

If you believe what it says at this COVID website, social easing wouldn’t begin in Nebraska (and Iowa) until July, whereas Missouri could start as early as June 7 and Minnesota would start May 30, all based on projected peaks, etc. Hot spots like California could begin in mid-May.

With such a random pattern — each state doing its own thing — how are bands supposed to book tours? I guess when you can’t even fathom how a venue will be able to even host a show, tour booking is probably not front of mind.

This NME article describes a show in Sweden where “a room that can hold 350, capacity is restricted to 40 punters – plus a sound engineer, two members of staff and the band, bringing the number up to the guidelines of 50 people in total.

Think about applying similar limitations at our clubs. How many could you allow in for a typical show at The Waiting Room and “be safe”? Fifty? Slowdown’s big room, maybe 75? How about tiny Reverb or fabulous O’Leaver’s?

That being the case, it seems more likely that we’ll see small local live shows before we see any big name touring acts. Or, imagine if you booked a band that would naturally sell out The Slowdown. Could you up the price for tickets knowing they would be limited to fewer than 100? It would be like an intimate performance, with people standing 6 to 8 feet apart… Still, very unlikely when you’re going to have a hard time just getting people to overcome their fear.

Arena shows and festivals now sound like they’ll be on hold until late 2021 or longer, if you read this Los Angeles Times article that pretty much guesses that you’re not going to see pre-COVID-style rock shows until about 70 percent of the population is vaccinated.

The margins in this business are going to be the 20% of fans who won’t go back to shows until there’s a vaccine. We’re at a point where fans can really lose a lot of confidence, and it’ll take more than a vaccine to re-engage them.”

Coachella apparently is still scheduled for sometime in October, but as the article states: Even if California does what it needs to prevent new infections locally, a 125,000-capacity music festival with fans traveling from all over would be an ideal scenario for new transmissions. Every expert interviewed said large concerts and festivals would be a terrible idea for the foreseeable future.

Ugh.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Bright Eyes song premieres; treat your live streams like live shows…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:12 pm March 24, 2020

Bright Eyes today premiered “Persona Non Grata,” the first new song by the band in nine years.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Just under 2,000 people listened in live to the world premiere of the new Bright Eyes song, “Persona Non Grata,” on YouTube this morning.

To me, what sets Bright Eyes songs apart from other Oberst-related music is the dense, fog-lit production by way of master craftsman Mike Mogis — keyboards, drums, bag pipes and Oberst at his quivering-voice best singing about heartbreak of one kind or another to a waltz-time beat. And is that Phoebe Bridgers I hear adding harmonies? Maybe, maybe…

The band said in a letter via the press release that they will be releasing a new album “this year no matter what,” though they are now reassessing touring plans. COVID-19 strikes again, eh?

All in all, it was a pretty successful song premiere. But they did have a captive audience, as we’re all trapped at home with nothing better to do. Dead Oceans (or whoever was behind the premiere) did it right by pre-announcing the exact time and sending out links via social media. There’s a lesson to be learned there.

A lot of artists are now live-streaming performances via Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, etc., but in a lot of cases (for me, anyway), people trip over them after the fact. It’s not a big deal if you’re someone like Bright Eyes, who has a fan base looking for the song, but for the rest of you, well, a little head’s up would be kind of nice.

And it’s as simple as treating your live streams like any other live show performance — i.e., create a Facebook event invitation. It’s how a lot of us keep track of upcoming performances, just like we used to for live shows (Anyone remember live shows?).

For example, the fine folks at The Sydney created a Facebook event invitation for this Friday night’s live stream featuring Mike Schlesinger and Rebecca Lowry. Now the gig will show up on my Facebook events list, just like any other live event. Take a look.

While it’s nice that folks are creating lists of live performances, like this one from NPR, who remembers to go back and look at those?

Yes, I know we’re all home anyway (as someone told me who was arguing against the idea), but the fact is even at home we’re bombarded with a million things to do. Make your live stream performances “appointment watching.”

AND, if I catch wind of your live stream – and you create a Facebook Event listing for it – it’s very likely I’ll also list it in the daily Lazy-i update. Just sayin’…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Land of Talk LP to drop on Saddle Creek; Conor’s acting chops; Trevor Sensor tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:40 pm February 27, 2020

Land of Talk at Slowdown Jr., Sept. 23, 2010.

Land of Talk at Slowdown Jr., Sept. 23, 2010. Saddle Creek Records will be releasing their next album in May.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Hometown label Saddle Creek Records yesterday announced it’s releasing the new album by Montreal band Land of Talk, Indistinct Conversations, on May 15. This is the fourth Creek release by the band, which is led by singer/songwriter Elizabeth Powell. Check out the first single and order online via Bandcamp below.

By now you’ve seen Conor Oberst’s and Phoebe Bridger’s acting debut as production assistants on the Meet the Conan Staff. If you haven’t, the clip’s below. A lot of people are wondering if that’s Conor’s real hair or a wig. I think it’s real, based on the Bright Eyes marketing footage Dead Oceans has been posting for the new BE album.

Meet the Conan Staff is the first scripted original series from Team Coco. The episodes launch weekly on YouTube; it premiered on Feb. 18.

Also yesterday, Bridgers released a dope-fueled video for her first single in three years, “Garden Song.”

Tonight at Reverb Lounge, Jagjaguwar artist Trevor Sensor headlines. According to Paste Magazine, Sensor was discovered by Killers’ guitarist Dave Keuning while playing a gig in Pella, Iowa. His last album, Andy Warhol’s Dream, was produced by Jonathon Rado of Foxygen and the late, great Richard Swift, and includes contributions from members of Whitney. Halfloves open at 8 p.m. $10.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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What’s the deal with Bright Eyes? Relax, It’s Science Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:39 pm January 10, 2020

Bright Eyes new graphic added to its website and social media accounts.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Yesterday the folks behind Omaha indie band Bright Eyes changed the branding on their social media and band websites. What could it mean?

My sources tell me… actually, my sources don’t tell me anything. It could be a promotion for a 20th anniversary release of Fevers and Mirrors. Or it could be that Bright Eyes has retained the rights to its back catalog from Saddle Creek and will use its own label — in this case, Conor Oberst’s Team Love Records — to do a series of reissues, much the way Cursive did when it reissued its back catalog on its label, 15 Passenger Records.

If you sign up for the Bright Eyes mailing list from the rebranded website, you’re provided with this mailing address:

Bright Eyes
11 Church Street
New Paltz, New York 12561

That’s the address for the Team Love Records worldwide headquarters. (By the way, take a look at a Google street view of that address — New Paltz looks absolutely charming!).

Or maybe it could just mean the boys are getting the band back together. With Phoebe Bridgers releasing a new album and presumably touring throughout 2020 and Mogis and Walcott apparently wrapping up soundtracks and other projects, maybe the time is right to kick the tires on the ol’ Bright Eyes jalopy? No doubt a tour would be something special.

Anyway, we’ll find out soon enough. Probably.

There’s only one show of note this weekend: Libations, a KC band that calls itself  “a three piece mathy indie band,” headlines at fabulous O’Leavers Saturday night. Joining them are a couple new Omaha bands I’m not familiar with — Yoga with Cats and Goosehound. In the middle is the double-bass-attack madness we know as Relax, It’s Science. All four bands for just $5. 9 p.m.

That’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section have a great, snowy weekend.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Jack McLaughlin’s new track features help from Conor Oberst, Shawn Foree; he plays tonight at Slowdown, Jr…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:16 pm January 9, 2020

Jack McLaughlin plays tonight at Slowdown, Jr.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Omahan Jack McLaughlin is a relatively new name on the scene. He’s played around Omaha (and Colorado) for a couple years, according to his Facebook page. The singer/songwriter, who’s playing a gig tonight at Slowdown Jr., is releasing a single called “Madyssen Is So Quick to Sin” this month, produced by MiWi La Lupa with a couple special guests — Shawn Foree of Digital Leather and Conor Oberst.

“It’s going to be put out on Jan. 23 as a single with a B-side called ‘Rained All Summer Long,’” McLaughlin said. “Conor came in and sang with me on the third verse. Shawn came in and recorded the main synth melody that plays across the track.”

McLaughlin said he’s known Oberst since he was about 15. “My good friend Phil (Schaffart) used to let me play at Pageturners when I was around that age and I met Conor there,” he said. “I met Shawn through (restaurant Blackstone) Meatball when I was 16. He used to always sit at the bar and say what’s up when I’d pop out on a break from dishwashing!”

You can get a sneak peek of the track below via Soundcloud, and of course, tonight at Slowdown Jr. Also on the bill are The Sunks and Daisy Distraction. $7, 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New music: Jason Steady/Chris Twist (Nobunny), tour; Conor flies solo in July; Lavender Country tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:38 pm April 16, 2019

Return of the Paisley Angels, Chris Twist and Jason Steady (self-release, 2019)

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Jason Steady announced yesterday that he’s got a new album out with Chris Twist called Return of the Paisley Angels.

Indie/garage-rock aficionados know Twist as a member of Nobunny, The Lemons, Slush and The Cowboys, but did you now that the Chicagoan is originally from Omaha and played with Steady in The Cuterthans, Stolen Kisses and Talking Mountain? You did? Well then…

Together, they’ve crafted an LP’s worth of indie-fied Country & Western tunes that will get your boots scootin’ and your hoodie flappin’. Check out a track or two below and pre-order before the April 24 release.

The album shall not be released to any other streaming/digital services for reasons everyone should be aware of by now,” Steady said. “It will be physically available in limited edition on cassette and CD on all of our tour dates. Mail order of remaining copies available after that. Available straight from the source, and that’s about it.

One of those tour dates is the album release show April 24 at Burrito Envy in Benson. After that, Steady & Twist (Maybe they should call the band Steady Twist or Twist Steady?) will be on the road until the end of May.

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Conor Oberst this morning announced he’s doing a solo tour for a few weeks in July (July 17-28, to be exact). This lands in the middle of his touring with Phoebe Bridgers as Better Oblivion Community Center. No word who will back Conor on this tour.

But joining him as the opener on all dates is singer/songwriter Joanna Sternberg, whose new album, Then I Try Some More, comes out July 5 on Team Love Records. Is Conor still directly associated with that label or is he just doing Nate Krenkel a solid?

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Lavender Country, a.k.a. Patrick Haggerty, the LGBT hero who released a collection of gay radical country songs way back in 1973, returns to The Brothers Lounge tonight. Joining him and his band are Gun Outfit and N.Y. Queer country outfit Paisley Fields. $10, early 8 p.m. show.

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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