For Against reissues via Saint Marie (and Pledge); New Stef Chura (w/Will Toledo); Eric Stoakes remembered…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:25 pm March 7, 2018

For Against’s ’90s albums get the reissue treatment from Saint Marie.

by Tim McMahan,

I’ve been under the weather the past few days. What ever’s going around finally got me, but I’m on the mend. With that in mind, here’s some catching up.

* * *

Dreampop label Saint Marie Records is reissuing three ’90s-era For Against albums — Aperture, Mason’s California Lunchroom and Shelf Life. The label released frontman Jeff Running’s solo album Primitives and Smalls a couple years ago, which got them talking about this reissue series.

Each record has been fully remastered and includes updated and expanded artwork. But that’s not all. Saint Marie has created a For Against Pledge page that not only offers pre-order of those three albums, but lots of other goodies, like T-shirts, posters, even a $1,700 signed Fender Modern Player Starcaster Guitar.

Check it out at

* * *

Saddle Creek Records latest roster addition, Stef Chura, today released a new single produced by Will Toledo fo Car Seat Headrest. “Degrees” and it’s b-side, “Sour Honey” were originally supposed to be included on Chura’s debut, Messes, but instead got a collab treatment from Toledo, who also plays guitar and bass on the A-side. The limited single will be released on Record Store Day April 21. If this is any indication, her next album, which will also include Toledo, could be a knock-out.

* * *

Finally, I worked with Eric Stoakes for a number of years at The Reader. While John Heaston is the paper’s guiding torchlight, Eric was the one who stoked the flame and hustled to keep it lit. He passed away last month. Here’s a remembrance that also appears in the current issue of The Reader. Goodbye Eric, we miss you.

* * *

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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Ten Questions with Annalibera (at Milk Run tonight); more For Against reissues in the works…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:49 pm July 25, 2016
Annalibera plays at Milk Run tonight...

A screen-cap from the film “Loveil” by Annalibera.The band plays at Milk Run tonight…

by Tim McMahan,

Annalibera is a project fronted by Nebraska ex-pat now Des Moines resident Anna Gebhardt. She’s been performing since 2012, but made her first indelible mark on the music world with 2015’s Nevermind I Love You, a dense, soaring 8-song collection of chiming, beautiful indie rock songs you absolutely must seek out (It’s on Spotify, btw).

In a change of direction, Gebhardt followed the album with ambient/noise/experimental cassette called Loveil (Warm Gospel Records) that included a 26-minute companion film shot at her family farm in Nebraska. Available on YouTube or at the art film is haunting in a Warhol-ian sort of way. Gebhardt will be joined by drummer David Hurlin for the July 25 Milk Run show performing songs from Loveil, along with new material.

I caught up with Gebhardt and gave her the Ten Questions treatment:

1. What is your favorite album? 

Anna Gebhardt: To answer this question I go by what album I’ve listened to the most times so it’s between Loveless or Heaven or Las Vegas.

2. What is your least favorite song? 

Kid Rock “Picture,” that song makes me want to crawl out of my skin, always has.

3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band? 

The usual stuff, making music, touring, it’s fun.

4. What do you hate about being in a band? 

Juggling everyone’s schedules, all the marketing and emailing.

5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)? 

Water. So versatile.

6. In what city or town do you love top perform?

Not sure I’ve toured enough for this question. Always great shows in Nashville and Chicago. Recently been thinking about a great one in Gorzow Wielkepolski (Poland), but so far I’ve only played there once. A lot of times those smaller towns make for a magical show (if you go on a weekend).

7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)? 

That’s a toss up between Columbus, OH, or Paris. Long story.

8. How do you pay your bills?

With money, unfortunately. (Freelance writing and teaching piano/voice lessons. Occasionally I am employed to be a backup singer! Can’t pay the bills singing in Des Moines, IA, though).

9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do? 

I would like to study visual art. I would hate to be in business, law or politics – those are not me. I would feel like an actress every day in my suit.

10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?

Omaha Nebraska wasn’t good enough for me / always thought i was the roaming kind / with a pocket full of dreams and my one shirt on my back / I left there lookin’ for something to find/ Omaha you’ve been weighing heavy on my mind/ Guess I never really left at all/ I’m turning all those roads I walked around the other way / And coming back for you Omaha (When it’s late and people are passing the guitar around I sometimes play this song, one of my favorites!).

Annalibera performs with Devin Frank Vanishing Blues Band, Sean Pratt & the Sweats and Mike Schlesinger Monday, July 25, at Milk Run, 1907 Leavenworth. Tickets are $7, showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to

* * *

Some of the For Against relics at Friday night's This is Jeff Runnings program. Photo by Stephen Sheehan.

Some of the For Against relics at Friday night’s This is Jeff Runnings program at Hi-Fi House. Photo by Stephen Sheehan.

Friday night Hi Fi House hosted an appreciation of the music of Jeff Runnings — former frontman of the seminal ’80s-’90s band For Against — as part of HFH’s new “This is…” series. I was asked the day prior to the event to conduct the interview with Jeff alongside Stephen Sheehan, former frontman of ’80s Omaha ambient-rock band Digital Sex. It turned out to be a quite a night.

Runnings brought a rather sizable archive of For Against recordings, posters and other relics that spanned the band’s career. The interview traced the history of the band, with Runnings filling in a lot of blanks along the way. Sheehan provided insightful questions taken from the vantage point of someone who lived in the rock ‘n’ roll trenches alongside them.

The entire interview was videotaped with professional-looking gear (and technicians). I have no idea when or where this video will be made available. The interview was followed by a “listening” of Running’s new solo album, Primitives and Smalls, released earlier this year by Saint Marie Records.

A bit of news that surfaced during the interview — Saint Marie is planning on reissuing four more For Against albums: Aperture (1993) and Mason’s California Lunch Room (1995), both originally released on Rainbow Quartz Records; Shelf Life (1997) released on World Domination, and 2002’s Coalesced, released by Minneapolis label Words on Music. No word on the exact timing of these releases, but they’ll likely drop sometime early next year. There’s even whispers of a possible For Against reunion (but only for Europe).

* * *

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.


This is your life, Jeff Runnings; Cherry Death, Eklectica tonight; Graham Ulicny, Omaha Girls Rock Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:52 pm July 22, 2016

Jeff Runnings’ career and future career are celebrated tonight at Hi-Fi House.

by Tim McMahan,

The super secret/mysterious Hi-Fi House is putting on a special program tonight at 7 p.m. called “This is, Jeff Runnings.” This celebration of Running’s career “so far” will include a sit-down Q&A discussing his musical endeavors as well as a spin of his latest album, Primitive & Smalls (2016, Saint Marie), which I’m listening to now on my home hi-fi system (worth dramatically less than the one at Hi-Fi House).

Runnings, as you may or may not know, was a member of seminal Lincoln ambient-rock band For Against, which I wrote about waaay back in 2007 when the band reunited. The write-up includes a brief history of the band, whose members also included guitarist/keyboardist Harry Dingman III and drummer Gregory Hill. Runnings was the singer and chief songwriter. Read that story here.

In their day, no one around these parts were writing and performing the kind of music For Against was making. Spotify users can dive into the catalog, though I’m told there may be a vinyl alternative available again soon.

Runnings new album takes the most accessible elements of For Against and modernizes it in beautiful ways. Jeff’s breathy voice lies warmly atop layers and layers of synths and beats that shimmer like a dream. Gorgeous stuff.

I’m not sure what the rules are for Hi Fi House, and there is no information on the Facebook event listing. If you’re interested, I suggest showing up just before the 7 p.m. start time. The house is located at 3724 Farnam St. Capacity is limited to 100. See you there.

What else is happening tonight and this weekend?

Tonight at the infamous Brothers Lounge Oklahoma City indie band Cherry Death headlines. Check out their latest EP here. Opening is Stomach, Carl Miller & The Thrillers and Nathan Ma & The Rosettes. Whoa, that’s a huge bill. This 9 p.m. show will run you $5.

Meanwhile, over at fabulous O’Leaver’s, Waterloo, Iowa band SIRES plays with Eklectica and Lineman’s Rodeo. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night the kids from Omaha Girls Rock! play a summer showcase at The Waiting Room. The free event starts at 5:30 p.m. Then later that night at O’Leaver’s, the Omaha Girls Rock instructors are putting on a show of their own. Who will grace the stage? Find out. $5, 9;30 p.m.

There’s a special program at Kaneko Saturday night — the tbd. dance collective will be performing to live original music by Graham Ulicny of Reptar. In addition, Nik Fackler will be premiering a short film called “One Day, One Month, One Year.” The 6:45 p.m. show is free for Kaneko members and $10 for the rest of you. Kaneko is at 1111 Jones St.

Also Saturday night, Scott Severin performs at The Barley Street Tavern with Two Shakes and Bazille Mills. $5, 9 p.m.

That is all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a red, hot American weekend…

* * *

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.



Jeff Runnings (For Against) signs to Saint Marie, new album in late summer…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:49 pm January 20, 2015
Jeff Runnings of For Against will have his solo debut on Saint Marie later this year.

Jeff Runnings of For Against will have his solo debut on Saint Marie later this year. Photo by Phil Glynn.

by Tim McMahan,

There has been plenty of buzz about about a new For Against album in the making.

Waitaminit? You never heard of For Against? The Lincoln band was one of the first Nebraska acts to make a national mark in the ’80s for its unique take on post-punk. As I said in this 2007 interview with the band, For Against made 4AD/Factory Records-style Euro-pop that bordered on today’s version of electronic dance music. Their sound was directly influenced by ’80s and ’90s-era European post-punk from bands like Durutti Column, Joy Division, Gang of Four and Kitchens of Distinction.

Last year, NYC-based indie label Captured Tracks released a box set of the first three For Against full lengths: Echelons (1987), December (1988) and In the Marshes (1990), originally released by Independent Project.

Now comes word that For Against frontman Jeff Runnings has signed with Saint Marie records, who will release a new Runnings solo album as well as more For Against reissues. Jeff said he recorded the new album at his home studio last year “then decided to finish by doing the vocals in a ‘proper’ studio with good microphones (Milktone Studios, Lincoln, NE). I mixed the album with Mark Wolberg (owner of Milktone).”

What inspired the making of the record?  “A challenge to myself,” Runnings said. “Can I make a record alone? Guess so! ”

Saint Marie was so impressed with what they heard, they not only offered Runnings a deal for the record, but also expressed “great interest” in reissuing the For Against albums from the ’90s — Aperture, Mason’s California Lunchroom, the long out-of-print Shelflife, and Coalesced.

“The offer was accepted and I signed with Saint Marie,” Runnings said. The label has a focus on shoegaze, dreampop, electronica and more, and includes among its roster Seasurfer, Static Daydream and Scarlet Youth.

The album, Primitives and Smalls, will be available on CD/digital in July or August 2015, Runnings said. He’s still working out details on a vinyl edition. “I play all the instruments on this album, all the vocals, lyrics, etc., which is why it’s a solo album instead of a For Against album,” he said.

Runnings said he’s also contemplating a solo tour in support of the release. “It’s certainly being discussed (Europe, NOT the U.S.); nothing set in stone yet, though,” he said.

Well then, what about a For Against reunion? “I want to get Mave (Steve Hinrichs) and Paul (Engelhard) to tour for the reissues,” Runnings said, “but (I’m) not sure when the reissues will ‘hit the shelves’… before year’s end?” Keep your fingers crossed.

BTW, I’ve heard three tracks off the Runnings solo album and they are, in a word, sublime. For Against fans (and anyone who likes groovy indie dreampop) are in for a treat.

* * *

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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


New Simon Joyner digital-only release; For Against in Pitchfork (7.8); Sleigh Bells tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:47 pm April 22, 2014

by Tim McMahan,

Here’s another way to generate gas money for your next tour…

Simon Joyner and the Ghosts are releasing what they’re calling their Gas Fund Tour Exclusive Recordings to generate quick cash for their upcoming tour.

Joyner writes (via his Facebook page) that the band (as a trio) has “been recording our rehearsals to Tascam 4-track in preparation for this West Coast/Mountain West tour with Wooden Wand and we’re assembling a collection of 10 songs for those interested in supporting the tour who unfortunately cannot see any of the shows.”

The American West is vast and costs a fortune in gas to conquer, says Joyner, “so consider pitching $10 or more into our gas fund via Paypal ( and receive a link via email to 10 selected songs.

Links to the tracks will go out to donors before the band leaves April 30, and also will be available (via donation) throughout the tour.

* * *

For Against Box Set (2014, Captured Tracks)

For Against Box Set (2014, Captured Tracks)

Last week the arbiters of all things hipster at Pitchfork reviewed the For Against Box Set (2014, Captured Tracks), giving it a whopping 7.8. Impressive.

The review (read it here) concludes with: “They deserve recognition for their early-adapter approach to post-punk, as well as for sticking with it until and after everyone finally came around. Most importantly, though, these albums just sound great, as this box set represents a band hearing something from somewhere else and doing something specific and unique with it.

The box collects the band’s first two full-lengths, 1987’s Echelons, 1988’s December, and the 1990 10″ In the Marshes, originally out via Independent Project Records. The vinyl, which has been out of print for over two decades, is accompanied by a booklet and early For Against ephemera. The package is available for just $65 from the Captured Tracks website, here. I got to get me one of those…

* * *

Sleigh Bells returns to The Slowdown tonight. The band released its latest album, Bitter Rivals, last October on Mom + Pop Records (that label is becoming a thing). The band just played Coachella last weekend so it’ll be just like being there without being there. Opening is Florida electronic/dance act Sumsun. $20, 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Nothin’ happenin’ here; For Against box set news; Conor storms Boston…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 2:40 pm December 11, 2012

by Tim McMahan,

You know it’s the holiday season when the music calendars for the week boast non-music events like pub quizzes, wine tastings and screenings of lame ’70s Christmas cartoons. Well, let’s just hope the holidays are the reason for this intense slowdown in shows. I have no room to complain as I missed both nights of fantastic shows this past weekend. I blame general holiday fatigue for my absence, and maybe that’s why the clubs are keeping the listings light — they know that people are pooped this time of year. Or maybe not… Anyway, the only show in Omaha tonight is a Christian-core act at TWR and it’s looking pretty light until Friday night’s sold-out Faint show at Sokol Aud…

The For Against box set.

The For Against box set.

What else is going on? Well, Captured Tracks announced that it’s reissuing the first three full lengths from seminal Lincoln post-punk trio For Against. Originally released by Independent Project between ’84 and ’90, these releases will see their first vinyl appearance in more than 20 years as part of a deluxe edition limited boxed set. The set features a bonus booklet and ephemera from the band’s early career. It won’t be available until January, according to the Capture Tracks website. As part of this release, will we see an onstage reunion of Harry Dingman III (last seen playing as part of The Millions reunion) with Jeff Runnings?  The last time I saw these guys play as For Against was way back in 2008.

* * *

Boston University’s Daily Free Press has a review of last Thursday night’s Conor Oberst gig in Boston that’s a hint of what we’re going to get at his Dec. 21 show at Joslyn’s Witherspoon Hall with Whispertown. Sounds like ol’ Conor is playing an acoustic “best of Bright Eyes” set with some other morsels thrown in. Read the review here. Tix, by the way, are still available for $25 right here.

* * *

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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


AP: Fremont could suspend immigrant law; Black Mountain at TWR; For Against in Lincoln tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:28 pm July 27, 2010

by Tim McMahan,

The Associated Press is reporting (right here) that the Fremont immigrant law that is the focus of Saturday’s Concert for Equality in Benson may be on the verge of being suspended.

According to The AP: “The (Fremont) City Council is scheduled to vote on suspending the ban on Tuesday night, a day before the city goes to court over the measure. The city faces lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund. City officials have estimated that Fremont’s costs of implementing the ordinance — including legal fees, employee overtime and improved computer software — would average $1 million a year.”

Money raised from this Saturday’s concert is earmarked for the Nebraska ACLU to help fight the Fremont immigrant law. N-ACLU’s director Amy Miller said in the article, “If the City Council decides to stop the law from going into effect themselves, that would be a step in the right direction.”

Is it possible that by Saturday’s concert, the Fremont law could be dead before it had a chance to go into affect? Regardless of what happens, I have no doubt that the show will go on, but it could take the sting out of the day’s rhetoric.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room, it’s Jagjaguwar recording artist Black Mountain, whose frontman, Stephen McBean, you might remember from head-buzz band Pink Mountaintops. With The Dodos (Frenchkiss). $12, 9 p.m.

For those of you in Lincoln, For Against is playing a warm-up show tonight at Knickerbockers with Pharmacy Spirits before they head off to Brooklyn to play at The Big Takeover Magazine’s 30th Anniversary Festival this Saturday with Mark Burgess (ex-Chameleons), Jon Auer of The Posies and a ton of other bands. This is the first Lincoln For Against show in two years, and the first Lincoln show since the release of their eighth LP, 2009’s Never Been. Show starts at 9, no idea on the price.

* * *

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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.