Las Cruxes features local star power (and two drummers); The Mynabirds, Now Now tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:44 pm September 25, 2019

Las Cruxes circa 2017.

by Tim McMahan,

There’s a new version of an old band debuting at The Brothers Lounge Friday night that features some serious local star power.

Las Cruxes is an established rock band from Los Angeles who’s put out a full length and a number of singles. Did I mention they’re a Spanish-language punk band? Here’s their bio via Spotify, translated via Google Translate:

“Las Cruxes is a collective band of Post-Sunflower-Punk-Psychedelic pop led by Eduardo ‘Yayo’ Trujillo, who has been on the American / Mexican scene for several years after having played in bands like Pastilla (Sony / BMG) and Howler (Rough Trade). He began his independent career as a soloist in September 2016 along with Xavier Martinez (and) decided to form a band with a noisy raw sound without rules.

“In March 2017, the independent label of Miami AFONICO signed them and (released their) first EP ‘Casa’ distributed by Sony US Latin. At the same time the Monterrey label CINTAS releases the EP in cassette format. In November 2017 the two singles of the new album came out, ‘Far’ and “Bleach” by AFONICO / SONY US LATIN and the LP in cassette format  ‘ILUSIONES, DEPRESSIONS.'”

Trujillo recently moved to Omaha to be closer to his son, according to Little Brazil’s Landon Hedges. Trujillo wanted to keep his music moving forward, so he asked Hedges to help him “build a band.” So for Las Cruxes’ show Friday night, Hedges will be playing bass, and rounding out the rhythm section will be two of the best drummers in Omaha — Jeff Lambelet from Digital Leather and Nate Van Fleet from See Through Dresses — both playing at the same time. Trujillo’s guitarist also is flying in from Chicago just for Friday night’s show.

The band’s 2018 LP Ilusiones, Depressions is available via Spotify and is somewhat awesome, though I have no idea what they’re singing about. Hedges described the band’s sound as post-punk Pixies, which is accurate. Though singing in Spanish, Trujillo has the same phrasing and style as Black Francis, but Las Cruxes songs are more melodic and less experimental than typical Pixies stuff.

What will happen with this configuration of the band after this show will likely depend on its success. See you at The Brothers Friday night.

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Tonight Laura Burhenn reunites with the version of The Mynabirds that played on her 2012 album Generals (Saddle Creek), when the “We Are Family” tour rolls into Reverb Lounge. I suspect we’ll be hearing most of Generals as well as other nuggets from the past, and maybe even the band’s new cover of Portishead’s “Glory Box,” which was released Monday on Spotify. Jones Family Retro Show and Patric Demphier open at 8 p.m. $15.

Also tonight, Minnesota indie band Now, Now plays at The Waiting Room. Their latest album, 2018’s Saved, was released on Trans- Records. No opener listed. $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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


The Broke Loose EP release show, PWR BTTM, Twilight Hours tonight; Laura Burhenn, No Thanks Saturday; Beach Slang, Bleached, Screaming Females Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:38 pm October 28, 2016
The Broke Loose celebrate the release of their new EP tonight at Reverb Lounge.

The Broke Loose celebrate the release of their new EP tonight at Reverb Lounge.

by Tim McMahan,

Omaha band The Broke Loose’s new EP, Who Are You Wearing? (2016, self release), is a collection of ’90s-flavored indie rock powered by the dual-guitar attack of Matt Evans (Kris Lager Band) and Glenn Antonucci (Dego Red). Frontman Antonucci’s nasal vocals, along with the album’s ever-present pop riffs, remind me of ’90s jewels Too Much Joy, or upbeat Soul Asylum and Goo Goo Dolls.

And while the record was produced by Grammy nominated producer Ken Coomer (ex-Uncle Tupelo/Wilco) there’s nary a twang to be heard on the EP’s five tracks. That said, the band references Son Volt and Wilco on its one sheet along with Replacements and Husker Du and Tom Petty and Springsteen — a broad spectrum. The four-piece is rounded out by the white-knuckled rhythm section of bassist Corey Randone (Jimmy Skaffa) and legendary Omaha punk drummer Tim Cox (RAF). It’s always good to have at least one legend in the band, right?

It’s good stuff, though they’re not exactly blazing a new trail in the rock wilderness, but who is these days? If you’re looking for solid, straight-up, guitar-fueled power-pop, you’d be hard-pressed to find better in these parts. Find out for yourself tonight when The Broke Loose celebrates its EP release at Reverb Lounge with Anthems and Edison & the Elephant. $5, 9 p.m.

According to Broke Loose’s one-sheet, these guys have been playing since 2012, and somehow I’ve managed to miss them the entire time. It’s impressive that they traveled to Nashville to record this EP and are releasing it themselves on vinyl and CD — that a pricey commitment. On top of that, they’ve already laid down a second batch of songs at Make Believe Studios for release next year. Here’s hoping it all pays off for them…


What else is happening this pre-Halloween weekend?

Well, PWR BTTM, a self-described queer punk duo originally from upstate New York, now in Brooklyn, are headlining at Milk Run. They released their debut, Ugly Cherries, on Father/Daughter, but they’re headed to Polyvinyl for the follow-up, which should be out early next year. Joining them tonight are Bellows (Double Double Whammy) and Lisa Prank (Father/Daughter), as well as Jade Lacy. $10, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, the Hi-Fi House, 3724 Farnam St., is hosting an invitation-only performance by The Twilight Hours, a band that includes Matt Wilson (Trip Shakespeare and The Flops) and John Munson (Trip Shakespeare, Semisonic). While the 8 p.m. show is free, it’s not open to the general public. You must RSVP via a member of the secured Hi-Fi House Facebook group. I asked Kate Dussault how people can get involved with Hi-Fi House. Her response: “Membership is invitation only, interested parties can reach out to us via our website once it launches. In the interim they can contact me via email at”

Meanwhile, over at fabulous O’Leaver’s, there’s a Halloween-themed show featuring Des Moines heavy metal act Druids, instrumental synth-horror act Night Stories, our very own Haunted Gauntlet doing “art synced visuals to original and horror soundtrack beats ranging from hip hop to full on punk surf,” and Stephen Nichols doing “video game dungeon horror bass guitar visuals.” They’re calling the event Spew II. $5, 9:30 p.m.

It’s back to O’Leaver’s tomorrow night (Saturday) for the return of Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds. Burhenn just released a couple solo tracks from what I assume (hope) is an upcoming album. Joining her is Anna McClellan and Annie Dilocker. $7, 9:30 p.m.

Also Saturday night, The Brothers Lounge is hosting its annual Halloween Bash. Lude Boys (Social Distortion tribute) and No Thanks perform. $5, 10 p.m.

Finally Sunday night Beach Slang returns to Omaha, this time to Reverb Lounge. Their latest album has been compared to The Replacements, but I think it’s much harder than that — definitely a next-level recording. Opening is Bleached, who I wrote about yesterday, and HUNNY. $16, 8 p.m.

ADDENDUM: Someone pointed out that I missed that Screaming Females show at Milk Run Sunday night — a yuge show. With Moor Mother and Bien Fag. $15, 9 p.m.

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

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Ten Questions with Bleached (Reverb Oct. 30); Oberst on Kimmel; new Burhenn; Crushed Out tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:30 pm October 27, 2016
Bleached open for Beach Slang this Sunday, Oct. 30, at The Waiting Room.

Bleached open for Beach Slang this Sunday, Oct. 30, at Reverb.

by Tim McMahan,

Life can be rough in LA, just ask the members of Bleached. Around the time guitarist/bassist Jessie Clavin was evicted from her house, her sister and bandmate, singer/guitarist Jennifer Clavin ended a torrid, unhealthy romance. The frontwoman struggled and escaped the pressures with drinking and partying, sometimes to excess, feeling like she was losing herself altogether.

The product of that tailspin was Welcome the Worms (2016, Dead Oceans), a 10-song LP created with drummer Micayla Grace (ex-Leopold & His Fiction) and producer Joe Chiccarelli (Morrissey, The Strokes). It’s a snarly, raw pop rock that sounds like Weezer meets Dog Party backed by a California sunrise.

We caught up to Bleached’s Jennifer Clavin and gave her the Ten Questions treatment:

1. What is your favorite album?

Jennifer Clavin: That’s an insanely difficult question… Three Imaginary Boys by The Cure.

2. What is your least favorite song?

“Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson. The thought of a clown crying is so disturbing and depressing.

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

Playing a different show to new fans every night. I kinda get like a high off of it.  At first I get nervous and then it all goes away and I feel really excited and empowered playing our songs and seeing people dance and sing along. It’s really cool.

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

Not getting enough sleep. We just flew over 24 hours to get to Australia and I’m just sleeping when I can.

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

It used to be alcohol but I’m sober now so my new drug of choice is Chai Tea with steamed soy milk and also La Croix soda water flavor orange.

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

Los Angeles! It’s our home town and the shows are always so crazy. Also I can’t forget our last show in Gothenburg Sweden because it was next level wild. The whole room was singing along to our song “Wednesday Night Melody.”

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

That’s hard to answer because even when there is a malfunction like someone’s guitar strap breaks or an amp stops working it’s all part of the show. But my least favorite would be this show we played in a town outside of Detroit and mainly because it was a really awkward room  with fake trees everywhere and I couldn’t hear my vocals at all. Not enough vocals in my monitors always majorly stresses me out.

8. How do you pay your bills?

Playing music. I keep my bills to a minimum but all the touring helps pay them.

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

Fashion design. I always thought that was going to be my lifetime career. I still plan on it.
As for the profession I would hate, being a security guard in a prison.

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

I haven’t heard many stories. However, I have one of my own. The first time I ever went there with my old band Mika Miko we found a random lake to go swimming in. The second I jumped in I broke my toe and had a broken toe on the rest of that tour. :/

Bleached play with Beach Slang and Hunny Sunday, Oct. 30, at Reverb Lounge. Tickets are $16. Showtime is 8 p.m. For more information, go to

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Looking fashionably disheveled, Conor Oberst was on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night doing a couple numbers from his new album, Ruminations. Joining him on stage for the appropriately stripped-down performance was Miwi La Lupa. Someone said the new record is Oberst’s Blood on the Tracks, but in this performance I was reminded more of Randy Newman than anyone else. See for yourself.

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Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds yesterday debuted a new song on NPR’s All Songs Considered. From the NPR website:

The Mynabirds singer wrote this song as a reaction to what she described as her confronting the ‘yawning black void’ of her future. But rather than fearing the darkness, she took comfort in it. She says ‘Apples & Oranges’ is about not knowing anything and being OK with it. Mike Mogis, known for his work with Conor Oberst, helped produce Burhenn’s new single.” Pretty stuff. Check it out below.

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Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s, Crushed Out — the husband-and-wife team of Frankie Sunswept on guitar and Moselle Spiller on drums — headlines a show that also includes The Sub-Vectors, Bruiser Queen and Huge Fucking Waves. $5, 9 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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


BFFFF (Laura Burhenn, Anna McClellen), Bloodcow tonight; Son, Ambulance, Well Aimed Arrows, Omaha Girls Rock! Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:50 pm July 15, 2016
Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds) at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015.

Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds) at Stay Gold, March 19, 2015. She plays tonight at O’Leaver’s.

by Tim McMahan,

Quite a few shows this weekend, though no national touring indie bands (What else is new?). Let’s get on with it.

Tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s is pretty gnarly fundraiser for the Benson First Friday Femme Fest (BFFFF). Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds will be playing a set along with Anna McClellan, Mesonjixx and Badland Girls. Your $10 admission goes to a good cause. According to the invitation: “BFFFF is completely DIY with no budget, and everything made the day of (after pay-to-play costs of the venues/PA rentals/etc.) goes to the bands.” Starts at the usual 9:30.

Also tonight, Bloodcow returns to devastate the Barley Street Tavern with their other-worldly metal mayhem. Joining them are tough guys Hand Painted Police Car and Leaving Vaudeville. $5, 9 p.m.

Tomorrow night everyone’s going to The Brothers Lounge for a sharp bill that includes Well Aimed Arrows, Those Far Out Arrows and Son, Ambulance. $5, 9 p.m.

Before you head out for the evening, there’s a super fun early evening event at The Slowdown. It’s the Omaha Girls Rock! showcase. This performance is a culmination of the girls’ hard work in one week to learn an instrument, form a band, and write a song. Always a good time, and a chance to see the stars of tomorrow. Show starts at 5:30 and suggested donation is $5. Find out more about this very cool program at

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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Album Review: Mynabirds’ Lovers Know (in the column); FIDLAR, Mike Schlesinger, Lighthouse and the Whaler tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:44 pm September 15, 2015

by Tim McMahan,

The Mynabirds, Lovers Know (2015, Saddle Creek)

The Mynabirds, Lovers Know (2015, Saddle Creek)

In this month’s Over the Edge column in The Reader, an extended review of The Mynabirds’ new album, Lovers Know, which was released last month on Saddle Creek Records.

The record is a rather massive step forward for Laura Burhenn and her band, tackling subject matter that might have added meaning to folks familiar with the local music scene. Or as I said in the review:

“….the true meaning behind the record might have been too damn hard for Burhenn to talk about. It only takes one spin of Lovers Know to realize that it’s a devastating portrait of a broken heart — one of the best breakup records since Joni Mitchell’s Blue.”

Read the whole review here. Buy the record here. Stream it here. Then get tickets to tomorrow night’s show at The Slowdown. It’s only $10 and High Up opens.

* * *

It’s a super-busy night for a Tuesday.

LA skate/surf punk band FIDLAR headlines tonight at The Waiting Room. The band comes through after playing the main stages at both Reading and Leeds festivals this year. Their new record, Too, was released Sept. 4 via Mom+Pop Records. Dune Rats open. $15, 9 p.m.

Mike Schlesinger returns to tonight to fabulous O’Leaver’s. He has some of the most listened to tracks on the Live at O’Leaver’s website. Check them out below. Also on the bill are Sam Martin and CJ Mills. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And finally, Lighthouse and The Whaler headlines at Slowdown Jr. tonight. The band’s new album, Mont Royal (Roll Call Records) was produced by Marcus Paquin (Local Natives, Stars, Arcade Fire). Opening is Born Cages and State Disco. 8 p.m. $12.

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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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Dntel remixes Mynabirds; Free Energy, Touch People tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:54 pm June 19, 2013
Generals Remixed, The Mynabirds (2013, Saddle Creek Records)

Generals: Remixed, The Mynabirds (2013, Saddle Creek Records)

by Tim McMahan,

One by-product of touring with The Postal Service is hanging out with Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel, and then seeing if he would remix one of your tracks. Such is the case with Laura Burhenn, who’s on the road playing keys with TPS and now has a Dntel remix of Mynabirds’ “Body of Work” to show for it. You can check it out here at

The track is part of an EP titled Generals: Remixed, which is being released on Saddle Creek July 30. Among the other remix contributors is Clark Baechle (The Faint), Field Days, Richard Swift, Kidsmoke and Dimitry Mak and Kapla. Full details at the Saddle Creek site here, including pre-order info. Get it.

* * *

The way my week’s been going, I could use a good ol’ fun-time rock show, and Free Energy tonight at The Waiting Room might be just what the doctor ordered. Sure, their last album (Love Sign) kind of sucked, but their 2010 debut, Stuck on Nothing (DFA Records) was chock full o’ hooks. Opening is the always entertaining, always unpredictable Touch People (featuring Darren Keen). $12, 9 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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Ladyfinger, The Seen; Mynabirds’ Burhenn joins Postal Service for upcoming tour…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 1:49 pm February 4, 2013
Ladyfinger at The Waiting Room, Feb. 1, 2013.

Ladyfinger at The Waiting Room, Feb. 1, 2013.

by Tim McMahan,

After last Friday night, it’s high time that I dig out whatever parking maps may be available for the Benson area that identifies public parking. Big shows + First Friday = ol’ reliable parking places won’t be available. That certainly was the case last weekend, as I drove around and ’round looking for somewhere to park my ’96 POS Tracker, finally finding a parking lot east of PS Collective’s back parking area. There were no “No Parking” signs anywhere, so I figured I was safe (and was). I’m guessing there’s plenty of parking in Benson — if you know where it is — and even more importantly, where it isn’t. No one wants to go back to their car after a show and find it gone, which is a distinct possibility if you park in a private lot owned by an asshole who loves to tow cars.

But I digress…

I got to Ladyfinger’s album release show Friday night at The Waiting Room around 10:15 in time to see The Seen, who also was celebrating the release of a new record. I’d describe the 5-piece band’s sound as “alternative” in a ’90s connotation, a sort of post-grunge alternative, the kind of music that 89.7 The River plays between its usual spate of grunt/cookie monster goon bands.

Their recipe is big guitar riffs beneath frontman Buck Blanc’s breathy Counting Crows/Adam Duritz-style vocals.  I had one guy tell me his voice reminded him of Conor, but all I heard was Duritz, though The Seen’s music in no way resembled the Crows’. The band was tight, the music well-played, but just not my cup of tea. And no doubt their commercial style of rock would/could attract a much larger audience than the usual indie stuff that I listen to.

I was a tad bit concerned that there could be a drop-off in the crowd after The Seen. The fans pushed up against the stage during their set was way younger than who I’ve seen at past Ladyfinger shows — they looked like regular listerners of The River (which (I’m told) The Seen has been played on). And while the crowd’s demographics did indeed change between sets, the room was no less full when Ladyfinger hit the stage for what was easily the loudest set I’ve heard them play.

The band played mostly songs off their fantastic new Saddle Creek release, Errant Forms, as well as a few older numbers including “Smuggler” from their first record. The giant sound was a good test of The Waiting Room’s new sound system, which was impressive — huge, but with great separation. If there was a nit to pick it was (probably) with the mix. Cursive’s Patrick Newbery joined the band on keyboards for a handful of songs, but I couldn’t hear him above the roar… that is until I went to take a leak, when all the sudden, there were the keyboards coming straight out of the urinal! But once I got back out to the floor, they were gone, lost in the melee.

Errant Forms officially comes out tomorrow. Order your copy of the cool, clear, limited-edition (of 500) vinyl at the Creek store while you can…

* * *

The Postal Service announced today via its press agent (Nasty Little Man) that the project, which centers around Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello, will play its first headlining gigs in 10 years. And get this, joining them as part of the backing band will be The Mynabirds’ Laura Burhenn.

From the press release:

Gibbard and Tamborello will be reuniting on the road with a band fleshed out by Jenny Lewis (Jenny & Johnny, Rilo Kiley) and Laura Burhenn (Mynabirds, Bright Eyes) to celebrate the 10th anniversary and deluxe edition reissue of The Postal Service’s universally acclaimed release, Give Up.  The Give Up Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition out April 9 on Sub Pop, includes the original 10-track album along with 15 bonus tracks–including the brand new songs “Turn Around” and “A Tattered Line of String,” a previously unreleased live recording, and every other official recording the band has ever released-as well as cover versions of Postal Service classics by The Shins and Iron & Wine.

Both the tour and Give Up Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition find Lewis reuniting with The Postal Service: She appeared on the original album and played with the band on its handful of 2003 tour dates. Lewis also sings on the two new songs on the Give Up Deluxe 10th Anniversary EditionGive Up was certified platinum last year just shy of 10 years from its original Feb. 9, 2003, release. Led by the single “Such Great Heights,” the landmark album is the second-biggest selling album in Sub Pop’s nearly 25-year history after Nirvana’s Bleach.

The first tour dates announced were on the West Coast, Europe and NYC. No Omaha dates have been announced… yet. Who remembers when the Postal Service last came through town? Here’s a hint

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Mynabirds, PUJOL drop day; Two Gallants signs to ATO…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 12:36 pm June 5, 2012
A screen capture from The Mynabirds' "Generals" video.

A screen capture from The Mynabirds' "Generals" video.

by Tim McMahan,

It’s another big day at Saddle Creek Records (Do you think maybe that’s how they answer their phones?). Two of the label’s expansion acts, The Mynabirds and PUJOL, drop full-length releases today.

Mynabirds’ Generals is getting a favorable launch, thanks to a big 7.5 rating at Pitchfork — one of the highest ratings a Saddle Creek act has received in recent memory (with the exception, of course, of the recent Bright Eyes Fever & Mirrors reissue). The review concludes with: “Burhenn bookends the record with the plea, ‘I’d give it all, for a legacy of love,’ signaling that she’s willing to sacrifice personal gain for the broader good, instead of setting the whole thing ablaze. Maybe it’s just her voice (and god, that voice), but I believe her.” Nice, very nice. This one has received a boatload of media attention, including stream hosting at Team Coco (Conan O’Brien’s website) and a video launch at IFC (which you can view here. The video features some of the Saddle Creek Records staff in Mad Men/Matrix-Agent Smith costuming, and Burhenn backed by yet another version of The Mynabirds — this time an all-female band). Is Laura Burhenn positioned to be the next Jenny Lewis? We’ll have to wait and see.

We’re still waiting for that PUJOL Pitchfork review. Called United States of Being, this release has been on heavy rotation at K-TIM (That’s what I call my iPhone)(Yeah, I know, that’s pretty sad). Consequence of Sound gave it a 4-star review, calling it “the appropriate soundtrack to both an existential meltdown and a rowdy, beer-heavy night out-or maybe both at the same time. It’s in this precarious balance that PUJOL has hit a stride that shows no intention of slowing down.” Hear-hear! In fact, you can “hear” it streamed right here at Rolling Stone.

Saddle Creek has one more big release slated for this summer — the full-length debut by Icky Blossoms — set for July 17.

In other Saddle Creek Records-related news, one of the label’s first “expansion acts” — Two Gallants — has apparently flown the coop. The band announced today that it has signed a deal with ATO Records, who will release their fourth LP, The Bloom and the Blight, Sept. 4.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: The Mynabirds, Big Harp…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 1:13 pm March 26, 2012
The Mynabirds at The Waiting Room, March 23, 2012.

The Mynabirds at The Waiting Room, March 23, 2012.

by Tim McMahan,

I don’t know if that’s supposed to be a fox or a coyote or a wolf plopped upon Laura Burhenn’s lovely head. For you vegans in the audience wondering, it’s not real, though the spirit of it is (However, it would have been even more effective had it been a griz head, just like ol’ Bear Claw’s in Jeremiah Johnson). Everywhere she goes these days, Burhenn is photographed with that stuffed animal on her noggin, representing, what… rebellion? or the death of it, because nothing says futility more than the head of a dead animal balanced on your head, even if it resembles a plush toy.

Still, the crowd loves it, and when Burhenn put it on again at the end of the show, they went nuts, so I guess we all better get used to seeing it. If anything, it represents Burhenn’s new music, or her departure from the old(er) stuff from her debut. Friday night at The Waiting Room was the first time I’d heard any of it, and my impression is that she’s taken a hard right turn toward drama — even stoicism — on stage. All those months backing Conor on last year’s Bright Eyes tour pumped up the “importance” of her approach, as evidenced by her announcement about three songs into her set that her new album, Generals, is a a protest album with “a lot of anger.” She seems to have volunteered to take on the role as front piece for a movement that isn’t terribly well defined, but that she’s very serious about, and you should be too, even though a lot of what I heard Friday night sounded like love songs.

According to the press release, the forthcoming album, which arrives in June, “is both a protest record and concept album. It’s fueled by a full decade of Burhenn’s political frustration and aimed at finding a revolutionary yet pacifist way in a world where, these days, it seems warring comes quick.” The record is “filled with armies of stomps and claps, sweeping full spectrum orchestrations, and moments that range from intensely personal pleas to shout-out-loud protests with teeth.” For me, the best protest music is more subtle than that. Dylan’s best moments are met through metaphor. And some of the best ’60s political commentary is outlined in humor. Even Conor’s best political statements are draped in clever irony (“When the President Talks to God,” is an obvious example). Go too far with it, and you risk sounding too self-serious or preachy. Whether Burhenn suffers that pitfall, I’ll withhold judgement until I hear the record.

That said, such earnestness was marked as much by Burhenn’s between-song patter as the songs themselves, which you couldn’t really absorb from the stage Friday night. At one point, Burhenn congratulated the crowd for their support in getting the LGBT ordinance passed by the City Council, but added that the fight isn’t over yet, and that we’ll all be hearing more about it in the future. Yes, indeed. Despite the politics, most of the evening was dedicated to music and Burhenn’s new band. Gone are all the original members that hailed from Omaha — Johnny Kotchian, Dan McCarthy, Pearl Lovejoy Boyd, Ben Brodin and Alex McManus. I don’t know the story behind their departure, but have been told it had to do with touring availability. I can’t seem to find a listing of the new band members anywhere, but will say they all had the tact and talent of veteran support folks or session players. None of them stood out, but all were competent. This galvanizes the idea that The Mynabirds is fully a Laura Burhenn project. If so, why not just go by the name “Laura Burhenn,” especially if you intend to put your politics out front?

Look, I realize I’m asking more questions than providing a review. Musically, it all sounded fine. The new stuff  seemed less orchestrated and more poppy than the songs heard on the first album (which as a result, is a record I’ve come to appreciate even more). It’s too early to say if there will be a song on the new album as gorgeous as “Right Place” or as sing-along fun as “Numbers Don’t Lie.” Burhenn seems destined to be compared to Jenny Lewis, whose own music feels less constrained and more easy-going than Burhenn’s. But then again, Lewis isn’t a self-proclaimed writer of protest songs.

Opening band Big Harp continued on the hard(er) electric path that I briefly heard unveiled in Austin at SXSW. If you liked the simple acoustic two-step of songs like “Goodbye Crazy City,” you might be disappointed with the new blues explosion approach that recalls The Black Keys more than, say, Justin Townes Earle or Willie Nelson. Luckily, frontman/guitarist Chris Senseney has more than enough guitar and vocal prowess to pull it off and give Dan Auerbach a run for his money.

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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 © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Omahype is live, launch party tonight (Mynabirds, Bear Country, UUVVWWZ, etc.); Bill Hoover album release show Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 3:10 pm December 17, 2010

by Tim McMahan,

Just a few minutes ago, the all new went live. Go check it out. Congratulations to the cyber team at Secret Penguin, along with Laura Burhenn and Will Simons. Better yet, congratulate them in person at tonight’s “soft launch” party at Slowdown. The show also is a 7-inch release party for The Mynabirds new single, “All I Want Is Truth (for Christmas).” Joining Laura Burhenn and Co. are “members of” Bear Country, Conduits, Flowers Forever, Honeybee, Talking Mountain and UUVVWWZ. When they say “members of,” I assume they mean solo sets or a mish-mash match-up. Of course we all know what happens when we “assume.” I do know that UUVVWWZ will be playing with reduced staff, as will be Talking Mountain. Since the show is free you’ve got absolutely nothing to complain about. The fun starts at 9.

Also tonight, O’Leaver’s is hosting Rock Paper Dynamite with The Fergesons and Lightning Bug. $5, 9:30 p.m. But the show is merely a precursor to tomorrow’s big Chili Cookoff at noon at O’Leaver’s. $5 gets you a pint of beer and all the chili you can cram down your cramhole. The full details are right here. You know, I really should enter this contest as I make an amazing beanless beef brisket chili that would destroy all competition, but I’ve got enough trophies lying around the house…

Saturday night’s big event is the Bill Hoover album release show at the all new Side Door Lounge, 35th Ave. and Leavenworth St. (across the street (east) of Family Dollar). Hoover’s new record, Here We Go, is being released by The Antiquarium’s Grotto imprint. Also on the bill are McCarthy Trenching and James Maakestad. The show is free and starts at 7:30. I would suggest you get there early, as I’m told The Side Door has a somewhat limited capacity.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.