New J Mascis album is sublime; Disq gets Saddle Creek Document treatment; #TBT: Top 20/Next 15 from 2008…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:47 pm November 15, 2018

A screencap from the new video by Disq, “Communication,” soon to be released by Saddle Creek Records.

by Tim McMahan,

The new J Mascis album Elastic Days (2018, Sub Pop) has been on repeat all morning. I’ve always been a Dinosaur Jr. fan but never rabid. Mascis’ voice sounded overtly scruffy and rabid on a lot of those records (which, for me, showcased riffs rather than voice).

Mascis’ vox are in control on this new, mostly acoustic collection of afternoon-lit folk rock songs that soar to next-level heights when he rips into one of his trademark cosmic guitar solos. Gorgeous stuff that sits right on top of the tunefulness scale with anything by Lou Barlow. I’d love to see him perform it live here in Omaha.

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Disq is a couple Wisconsin folks, Isaac deBroux-Slone and Raina Bock, who count Todd Rundgren, Weezer, Big Star and The Beatles among the musicians whose records helped inform their own creative process. As part of its Document Series, Saddle Creek Records is releasing their single, “Communication” b/w “Parallel,” on Jan. 25, but you can check out one of the tracks below and pre-order the single now from the Saddle Creek Store.

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On this Throwback Thursday, here’s the list of the Top 20 and Next 15 bands from Lazy-i for the year 2008. This was created for The Reader’s annual Music Issue, which was published this week in November 2008.

Interesting how many bands are still active today, and how many disappeared or became something else…

The Top 20

Brad Hoshaw
Brimstone Howl
Conor Oberst
The Faint
Filter Kings
For Against
Flowers Forever
The Good Life
McCarthy Trenching
Midwest Dilemma
The Monroes
Neva Dinova
The Show Is the Rainbow
Son Ambulance
Thunder Power
Tilly and the Wall
The Whipkey Three

The Next 15

Black Squirrels
Box Elders
Little Brazil
Mal Madrigal
Outlaw Con Bandana
Perry H. Matthews
Sarah Benck and the Robbers
Satchel Grande
The Shanks
Shiver, Shiver
Simon Joyner
The Stay Awake
Talkin’ Mountain

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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 © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


J Mascis, Luluc at The Waiting Room tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:35 pm October 8, 2014
J Mascis headlines tonight at The Waiting Room.

J Mascis headlines tonight at The Waiting Room.

by Tim McMahan,

Big show tonight at The Waiting Room where Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis takes the stage.

To give you a taste of what you might be in store for, Mascis’ set list from his Oct. 4 show in Louisville, KY, included five Dinosaur Jr. songs (including “Get Me” off ’93’s Where you Been, and “Ocean in the Way” off ’09’s Farm), a Mazzy Star cover (“Fade Into You”) and a Cure tune (“Just Like Heaven”), as well as solo number “Every Morning,” which is the first video off his new Sub Pop release, Tied to a Star (and the reason he’s on the road). Sub Pop labelmates Luluc open. $17, 8 p.m.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 337: MAHA 2011 Had Everything (Except the Crowds) — the review, the numbers, the postmortem…

Category: Blog,Column,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:45 pm August 17, 2011

The MAHA Music Festival, Aug. 13, 2011
by Tim McMahan,

The weather was perfect. The bands were awesome. And the crowd was… well, it could have been bigger.

The final “official” head count, according to MAHA Music Festival organizer Tre Brashear, was 4,000, “slightly down from last year.”

A disappointment, and yet, by all other accounts, this year’s MAHA, held last Saturday at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, was a success, certainly from a fan perspective. I realized this about 15 minutes into Guided By Voices’ set, standing in a crowd of T-shirts and sunscreen and Coors Lites snuggled in red Kum & Go koozies, the sun just peeking over the western horizon after a long day of warm light, slight breezes, temperatures in the upper 70s — a perfect day weather-wise. By all accounts, by everyone I spoke with, MAHA was flawless. The bands and the stages and the sound were fantastic. You could not have asked for anything more… except, of course, for more people.

The review: In addition to Guided By Voices, which flawlessly tore through a set of their finest (“14 Cheerleader Coldfront,”  “I Am a Scientist” “Hot Freaks,” “The Official Ironmen Rally Song,” you know, the classics), the other main stage standout was — strangely, unexpectedly — J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. Seated with an acoustic guitar on his lap, looking like a worried Mr. Natural in nerd glasses, long gray hair blowing in the afternoon breeze, Mascis leaned forward and played a blistering set that drew from his solo work and D. Jr. catalog, highlighting his intricate, ornate, gorgeous guitar work. His voice, a craggy, weary, heart-broken moan, sang of personal yearning while his guitar didn’t gently weep, but soared. Undeniably beautiful, but at the same time, desperate and utterly depressing. By mid-set, it was actually bringing me down.

Mascis was quite a contrast to what came right before it — So-So Sailors on the “second stage,” located to the left (south) of the main stage and sounding somewhat better, thanks to an easing of volume and the natural earth barrier behind it. You could argue that the main stage sounded slightly overblown, overdriven, just plain too loud. By the end of the evening my voice was ragged from having to scream to talk to the person standing right next to me (no matter where I stood in the Stinson compound).

So-So Sailors was the second stage’s highlight, along with Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship, which has people asking if they’re the best unsigned band in Nebraska. The other local stage highlight was Lincoln instrumental prog act Machete Archive, a band perfectly suited to cover Rush’s 2112 if only one of them knew how to sing. OEA talent show winner The Big Deep and Lincoln electronic dance/groove act Somasphere rounded out the “little acts.”

Cursive crowds the stage at MAHA.

Cursive crowds the stage at MAHA.

Des Moines’ The Envy Corps launched the “big acts” on the main stage shortly after 1 p.m. to a smallish crowd that was still 10-fold larger than the typical early afternoon crowd at last month’s multi-million dollar Red Sky Festival. The Reverend Horton Heat followed with an omnibus career-spanning set of indie rockabilly. Local superstars Cursive, featuring original drummer Clint Schnase, was the most bombastic (and loudest) of the day. To me, it was worth thirty bucks just to hear them do “The Martyr.” So-called “headliner” Matisyahu’s electronic reggae rap closed out the evening to a dwindling crowd (despite the half-priced beers).

Overall, a great day in the park for any indie music fan. Still, “from an ‘economic’ perspective, the day was just OK,” Brashear said. “We had good ticket numbers, but we found that people didn’t stay for the whole day, which hurt our food/beverage/merch sales. People came just for RHH, or just for Cursive and GBV, or just for Matisyahu.” The “coming and going” is likely a symptom of MAHA not being a true “festival” — a multi-day event where people have to commit (due to traveling and camping) to stay for the duration. For MAHA to expand to something like that next year (and yes, there will be a “next year”) the festival will need to find a “presenting sponsor,” which it lacked this year.

Maybe the day’s biggest winner was Stinson Park. “The fans LOVED it,” Brashear said, “but (we’re) not sure what Aksarben Village thinks about us.” He said more volunteers were needed for after-show clean-up. “We had too much mess left over when the Farmer’s Market started the next morning.”

Guided By Voices after sundown at MAHA 2011.

Guided By Voices after sundown at MAHA 2011.

Then there’s Aksarben Cinema, who I’d been told was livid after discovering during last month’s Playing With Fire concert, also held at Stinson, that they had some sound “leakage” problems that caused Harry Potter fans to experience Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings from their theater seats. The buzz Saturday was that the theater, which is the central village draw, was going to put its foot down for future festivals.

During Matisyahu’s set, I walked over to the theater and chatted with the kind gentleman stationed at the ticket-tearing gate and asked if they’d had any noise complaints. He said a couple patrons mentioned something, but that was about it. He suggested I find out for myself. “The auditoriums closest to the park are probably 5 and 6,” he said. “Pop in and see.”

So I did. The Smurfs movie was playing in No. 5. I stretched my eardrums as much as I could, and thought I heard something, maybe a low rumble, but I couldn’t be certain. No. 6 was seating for Harry Potter. Pre-movie commercials and music were playing. Again, I heard nothing. Matisyahu wasn’t “Cursive loud,” but they were certainly earplug loud.

Instead of fighting it, the theater needs to figure out a way to tie into MAHA, that is if it’s held in the park next year. If it were up to the fans I spoke with, it would be. They all said they preferred Stinson’s cool grass lawn to the sun-baked concrete slab of Lewis & Clark Landing. But for MAHA to grow into a real multi-day festival, it’ll need to find some place even bigger and better than both those locations.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.