Currently listening to: new Hotline TNT, Uranium Club, Mary Timony, Pete Yorn…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 8:34 am January 24, 2024
Minneapolis Uranium Club at Pet Shop Gallery Dec. 9, 2017. They’ve got a new album coming out.

by Tim McMahan,

As we wait for February and touring bands to return to Omaha, we’re left checking out new music, of which there is much. Here’s a sampling:

Hotline TNT played a rad show at Reverb last year. They’re still out plugging away at their most recent album, Cartwheel, and yesterday dropped a new video for the track “Stump.” 

This song came to be in just one afternoon when I was reflecting on a game of cards I played with my family in Minnesota. I’m glad we finally made a video for it because the man who seduced us all with the biggest Billboard smash of the 20th century (Rob Thomas) posted the track on his Instagram story and that was all I needed to know we made a hit.”

A few years ago, Minneapolis Uranium Club showed up in Omaha and played a head-spinning show at Petshop Gallery that is still one of my best memories of the place (along with that amazing Ceremony show, who remembers that one at Sweatshop?). Well the Club is back with a new album, the first since 2018. If you’re into Devo-influenced head trips, here’s your ticket. Infants Under the Bulb is out on Anti Fade and Static Shock, March 1, ollowed by an 11-day Australian tour. Someone bring them back to Omaha, please…

Remember Mary Timony? Sure, we all do. The former Helium frontwoman (and Ex-Hex and Wild Flag) is releasing her first solo album in 15 years, out Feb. 23 on Merge Records.  Untame the Tiger emerged after the dissolution of a long-term relationship and was bookended by the deaths of Mary’s father and mother. “This was the hardest thing I’ve been through. Every week I had to manage a new crisis. Because I was making impossible decisions on behalf of my parents, creative choices now seemed more manageable.”

Pete Yorn’s latest claim to fame was a cameo appearance in Killers of the Flower Moon, which I have yet to see, and probably won’t before the Oscars. He’s also got a new track out called “Someday, Someday,” that sounds like classic Pete Yorn. No idea if this is a prelude to a new album…

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Hotline TNT, The Dirts at Reverb…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:24 pm November 23, 2023

Hotline TNT at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 22, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

A quick review on this holiest of Turkey Days.

Reverb Lounge was semi-packed (not jam-packed, not cram-full) for last night’s Hotline TNT show. Pushing through the crowd to get my Rolling Rock, I noticed the booths toward the back were full of very young people stacked up around the tables, looking tired and annoyed. I’m sure there’s an interesting back story to this that involves the two opening band, which I missed.

I had no idea who was on stage – a five piece dominated by a dude playing a Flying V, surrounded by an all-female backing band. This obviously wasn’t Hotline TNT, but who was it? I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. Especially the dude on the V who had a decent voice. He shared vocals with a woefully under-amped lead guitarist, who, when she sang, could barely be heard. 

The Dirts at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 22, 2023.

The guy, however… an interesting voice. It almost sounded like he was singing with an accent. It wouldn’t be until the end of their set, while the guitarist was looking for a capo, that he said (without an accent), “We’re The Dirts and this is ‘High Flying Bird,’” — their last song of their set. I ran into MarQ Manner in the crowd, who said they were, indeed, local and that the guy also was in Garst. The only “Dirts” band I could find online was the Swedish punk act by the same name. TIme for a name change, folks, and please let me know when you play out again…

Hotline TNT came on at around 10:30. Their style — very ‘90s wall-of-guitars — thanks to having three guitarists. Very much a Sugar/Bob Mould/Teenage Fanclub vibe – just a pure ’90s post-punk sound that was even better live than on their much-lauded, overblown (recording-wise) debut album. The only drawback to the live renditions were frontman Will Anderson’s lackluster vocals, but in the end, it didn’t matter when the night’s theme was, “How can we build on this guitar riff?”

Throughout the set, the third guitarist kept breaking strings. When he broke the first one, the lead guitarist handed him his guitar and picked up another. Then when he broke a string on that one, it looked like he borrowed a guitar from the Dirts (though I’m not certain — though it looked like same SG). 

This guitar swapping required much between-song tuning, where Anderson asked the crowd if anyone was taking part in tomorrow’s Turkey Trot. No response. He kicked off the next song with, “Let’s see your Turkey Trot right here,” pointing at the area in front of the stage. Not from this crowd. Instead, he just got more fervent head nods.

I liked listening to these guys if only for the sheer guitar-riff power and the wayback-machine quality of their post-punk songs. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night before Thanksgiving…

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Lazy-i Interview: Criteria (at The Waiting Room Saturday, 11/25); Hotline TNT tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 8:12 am November 22, 2023

Criteria plays this Saturday night at The Waiting Room with Little Brazil and Healer.

by Tim McMahan,

This isn’t so much an interview with Criteria as a “catching up with Criteria”-style chat that took place at frontman Stephen Pedersen’s beautiful midtown home while his boys ran around the living room. 

The occasion for the discussion is Criteria’s annual holiday concert, which is this Saturday at The Waiting Room. Joining them as they do every year is Little Brazil, and opening the show is Dan Brennan’s band Healer. The Criteria holiday rock show has become an Omaha indie-rock tradition that dates back years — sometimes it happens around Christmas or New Year’s, more often lately it happens on Thanksgiving weekend. 

It’s also one of the only shows Criteria plays these days. The band only performs in public once or twice a year (They played at Outlandia festival this summer). This year marks the 20th anniversary of the band’s 2003 seminal album, En Garde, released during Saddle Creek Record’s heyday, when bands like Bright Eyes, The Faint and Cursive ruled the indie world and fans whispered that Omaha could become the “next Seattle.” We can all laugh about it now…

If you’ve heard Criteria’s music (and if you’re still reading this, you no doubt have), you know part of the attraction is Pedersen’s uncanny, acrobatic vocals. They go up-up-up, above everything else, a fragment or dagger that counters  his and guitarist Aaron Druery’s most-righteous riffage and the thunderous rhythms from drummer Mike Sweeney and bass player A.J. Mogis. His vocals are bright and effusive, going places few male vocalists would dare go. 

Twenty years ago, scaling such heights was rather matter-of-fact for Mr. Pedersen, but now that he has entered his late 40 — knocking on the door of the big 5-0 — and only playing out twice a year, how does this lion in winter keep hitting those blessed high notes?

“I go downstairs in the practice space, put in earbuds, turn on the PA, play the guitar and try to push out the same amount of air,” Pedersen said. “And I also do cardio. I run three times a week and do push ups and pull ups.” 

He nods when asked if he’s lost anything off the top end. “It’s not that it’s high and angular; it’s that when we play I sing a lot,” he said. “I’m constantly pushing air. A big part is just figuring out the breathing so you don’t get winded. And I drink a ton of water.”

As the conversation continues, members of Criteria show up one at a time and take a seat in the living room, arriving for the band’s scheduled practice, which I’m interrupting. Our topic of discussion — the new songs. Criteria will play two or three new ones Saturday night. In the band’s early days, Pedersen’s lyrics were meta playthings that focused on the band’s struggles to break through to the next level while the inevitable responsibilities of adulthood knocked on their doors. Or, as the opening lines of “Prevent the World” from 2005’s When We Break, go:

I’m stuck in a basement world, where even if I tried
To make rock my living, it wouldn’t coincide
So how will I reconcile six years of my life with 
The rational urges?

These days Pedersen’s rational urges more likely involve spending time with his lovely family and focusing on his career as a corporate lawyer. And as such, the nature of his songs’ lyrics have shifted to much more adult matters.

“A lot of the new songs are about people in our extended social circles getting divorced,” Pedersen said. “Something happened during the pandemic, and the social reverberations in the home tested a lot of marriages. These new songs are very abstract. I’m not telling anyone’s story, but (I’m singing about) the concepts surrounding communication and misunderstanding and losing the fire in the belly for someone.”

With that, Pedersen turned to the rest of the band and asked what they think about the new songs.

“They’re a little more stoner rocker,” says Druery.

“That’s just because they’re in a lower tune,” adds Mogis.

Regardless, the band plans to enter the studio soon to record the tracks. Could an EP be on the horizon? Stay tuned. In the meantime, you’ll be able to hear these new ballads of marital woe Saturday night at The Waiting Room. Healer kicks things off at 8 p.m. followed by Little Brazil. Just $10. See you there!

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Tonight grab your pre-holiday cheer at Reverb Lounge when NYC-based Hotline TNT headlines. The band is the project of Minnosota songwriter Will Anderson (a.k.a. Flip Sandy, according to Wiki), previously of the Canadian band Weed. Anderson is the sole permenant member of HTNT, joined by a rotating backing band.

Their latest, Cartwheel, was released earlier this month by Third Man Records and received the coveted “best new music” designation from Pitchfork, which gave the album a huge 8.4 rating. It is pretty good, combining the dirty early ’90s sounds of Teenage Fanclub and Dinosaur Jr., rife with overblown guitars that often overpower central melodies. It’s a dense forest of noise for sure.

This is another massive four-band bill, with The Dirts, Western Haikus and Paid to Smile. It all starts at 8 p.m. $18.

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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 © 2023 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.