Local Natives tonight @ Admiral; a glance at the touring indie calendar…

Category: Blog — Tags: — @ 11:05 am May 14, 2024
Local Natives at the Maha Music Festival in 2014. The band plays tonight at The Admiral Theater.

By Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Tonight, LA-based indie band Local Natives headlines at The Admiral. They’ve been around nearly 20 years recording first for FrenchKiss and now for Loma Vista Records (since 2016). Who remembers their sold-out show at The Waiting Room in 2010? Were they going to be the next Arcade Fire? Not quite, but they haven’t done bad for themselves. Uwade, just in town last June opening for Fleet Foxes at Steelhouse Omaha, opens tonight at 8 p.m. $40.

Speaking of shows, One Percent Productions just announced the return of punk band X to The Waiting Room July 7, which got me thinking about the rest of the upcoming touring indie calendar. Here’s what I got through the summer months. Who am I missing?

  • May 14 – Local Natives @ The Admiral
  • May 18 – Samuel Locke Ward @ O’Leaver’s
  • May 19 – The Chats @ The Slowdown
  • May 22 – Social Distortion @ The Astro
  • May 26 – Facet @ Reveb Lounge
  • May 27 – Eric Bachmann @ Ming Toy Gallery
  • May 27 – Flooding at Reverb Lounge
  • May 30 – Wednesday @ The Slowdown
  • June 4 – Cloud Nothings @ Reverb
  • June 5 – Dead Horses @ Reverb
  • June 9 – Lucinda Williams @ The Admiral
  • June 10 – The Mars Volta @ The Admiral
  • June 25 – French Cassettes @ The Slowdown
  • July 7 – X @ The Waiting Room
  • July 8 – The Baseball Project @ The Waiting Room
  • July 15 – Etran de L’Air @ The Waiting Room
  • July 19-20 – Grrrl Camp @ Falconwood
  • July 31 – SNÕÕPER @ Reverb
  • Aug. 3 – Orville Peck @ The Admiral
  • Aug. 7 – Cults @ The Waiting Room
  • Aug. 9-10 – Outlandia Music Festival @ Falconwood
  • Sept. 12 – Soft Kill @ The Slowdown
  • Sept. 21 – Built to Spill @ The Waiting Room
  • Oct. 1 – Jungle @ The Astro
  • Oct. 5 – Fontaines D.C. @ The Slowdown
  • Oct. 17 – Superchunk @ The Waiting Room
  • Oct. 26 – Porches @ Reverb

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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 © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Delicate Steve, Hand Painted Police Car, Ocean Black, BFF tonight; Local Natives, RAF, Uh Oh Saturday; Dolores Diaz, High Up, Sinai Vessel Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:36 pm April 7, 2017

Dolores Diaz & The Standby Club at The Waiting Room, May 21, 2016. The club reunites Sunday night at The Slowdown.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Busy weekend for shows; and it could be the first spring-feeling weekend of the year (as long as we don’t get smoked out by Kansas field burns)…

Let’s start in Benson. Tonight sees the return of Delicate Steve, this time to Reverb Lounge. The instrumental indie act has a new record out, This is Steve (2017, Anti-) and it’s pretty sweet. The dude competing to be the “hardest working rocker in Omaha” (seems like he plays every night somewhere) — David Nance — opens the show. $12, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, there’s a very special show at The Brothers Lounge tonight when both Hand Painted Police Car and Ocean Black bid adieu to primary member Jeff Harder, who is moving away forever. Opening is the double-bass explosion of Relax, It’s Science. I suspect this could be a drunken riot of an evening. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight The Morbs headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s, with House Vacations, Steve Nichols and Jacob James Wilton. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tonight at the new Milk Run, 2578 Harney St. (inside Midtown Art Supply, enter in the back!) it’s Minneapolis shoegaze act Brilliant Beast with Lord Byron, Little Ripple and Tom Bartolomei. $5, 9 p.m.

And Benson First Friday is happening tonight. It behooves me to tell you about the opening we have at our art gallery — The Little Gallery, 5901 Maple St. (in the east bay of the Masonic Temple building) — where artist Sean Jackson has created an installation wherein he’s developed weapons from common house-hold items. Yow! There’s a backstory to all of it, which you can read here. Drop in and have a beer. We’ll be there from 6 to 9 p.m.

Saturday night’s big event is Local Natives at The Slowdown, which you read about yesterday here. It’s SOLD OUT. Little Scream opens at 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, ’80s Omaha hardcore act RAF takes the stage once again, this time at O’Leaver’s. Joining them is Black Death Jet Set (Sioux City) and The Siouxer Rats. Punk it up! $5, 10 p.m.

The Blackstone Meatball is continuing its Saturday night concert series with Uh Oh and Sean Paul. 10 p.m., and FREE.

Finally, Sunday night is that big benefit for Justice For Our Neighbors-Nebraska and The Nebraska Cultural Endowment headlined by Dolores Diaz and the Standby Club, with High Up and Icky Blossoms. The 7 p.m. show is $15, plus there will be a raffle for some sweet prizes. More info here.

That’s not all. Over at the all new Milk Run North Carolina band Sinai Vessel (Tiny Engines) headlines with Household and No•Getter. $7, 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 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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Ten Questions with Local Natives (Saturday @ Slowdown SOLD OUT)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:45 pm April 6, 2017

Local Natives plays The Slowdown April 8. The show is SOLD OUT.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

When California band Local Natives played a sold out show at The Waiting Room in 2010, the buzz in the crowd that evening was that we were seeing the next Arcade Fire. In the end, they turned out to be something entirely different. The band would return to an even bigger Omaha stage when they played the 2014 edition of the Maha Music Festival. And now they’re playing a sold out Slowdown this Saturday, April 8. That’s an impressive trajectory, though seven years into their career, Arcade Fire was playing stadiums.

Still, Local Natives has nothing to complain about. Their latest album, Sunlit Youth (2016, Loma Vista), anchored by singles like the infectious “Past Lives,” carries their indie-rock sound forward in the same rhythmic, dance-inspired direction as their 2010 debut.

We caught up with the band and gave them the Ten Questions treatment. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kelcey Ayer provided the answers:

What is your favorite album?

Local Natives’s  Kelcey Ayer: One of my all-time favorite albums (can’t pick just one, that’s crazy) is Portishead’s Third.  I had always loved more somber, melancholy music, but I never had connected to a record that was so fully immersed in that sentiment before.  It was unapologetically and intensely sad.  And the tones of the instruments seemed laboriously fucked with in a way that sounded the perfect amount of “off.”  I felt like it gave me permission to be the kind of artist I wanted to be, like it was ok to go so deep into a feeling.

2. What is your least favorite song?

I worked at a pizza chain called California Pizza Kitchen in southern California, and they only played top 40, which is not totally terrible, unless you’re forced to listen to it for many many hours a week.  Whenever I’m out and about and a song comes on from that time, it always brings me back to the mid 2000s and I start immediately trying to remember an order, throw up a little in my mouth, and then realize I’m being weird in a grocery store and stop it.  There is tie for the most egregious offender of those days, and it’s between Blondie’s cover of “The Tide Is High” and KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and The Cherry Tree.”  I don’t think any song is inherently bad, it takes a lot of effort to make anything, but circumstantially for me, I really, really hate those songs.  I just hate them so much.

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

Creating something that you couldn’t create yourself, whether it’s making a song or playing that song live in a room, having people to rely on to bring a vision to reality is my favorite part of being in a band.  Second-place is touring around the world, which if you’re lucky you get to do, and fortunately we are.  I’m very grateful for that.

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

Having to compromise on a vision you believe in for the greater good.  We’re always coming up with ideas for songs, or music videos, or ways to promote the band, and nine times out of 10 they get shot down by the group, which makes it hard to stay motivated.  But that’s the way it goes in a group of creative people.

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

I love beer.  The US has been a great place for beer over the last 10 years, so to be a beer fan is very exciting right now.  There are breweries, brew-pubs, bottle shops; all sorts of beer outlets popping up everywhere right now, so it’s pretty easy to find a good beer anywhere you go these days.  I was at a bar in the middle of nowhere Kansas and they still had Lagunitas IPA on tap, it was great!

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

Los Angeles is home and will always be our favorite place to play.  We’ve spent the most time there and played almost every club when we were coming up, and it will always be the first city to have embraced us.  Austin is a close second, SXSW was a big help for us.

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

Those files are sealed because we wanna play there again and have a better show.  All I’ll say is it was somewhere in England.

8. Are you able to support yourself through your music? If so, how long did it take to get there; if not, how do you pay your bills?

This is our only job, yes.  I remember back in 2009 arguing with Taylor in Santa Barbara about upping our per-diems from $5 a day to $10, but he’s a financial stickler and was right to deny me.  We just didn’t have the money.  I would buy Subway foot-long subs and eat one half for lunch and the other for dinner.  We barely scraped by.  So when we did a publishing deal at the end of 2009 and got our first bit of money, I bought a Chipotle burrito and ate the whole thing!  Since then it’s been a thrilling roller coaster ride of getting fat and skinny now that I can afford to.

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

I’d love to act in something, or make a movie.  I’ve always been really into film and love getting taken away from reality and into a new world.  I feel like I’m a dreamer, and watching movies is like being in a dream while you’re awake.  When it’s really hitting you hard it feels like a drug.  As far as a profession I’d hate, I guess anywhere I’d have to be quiet.  I’m a loud guy.

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

I never heard of Omaha until I fell in love with my first favorite band: 311.  Super random for sure, but your first music loves always are, and I’ll always have a soft spot for them.  I felt like I was in the twilight zone the other day when Dark Days was pitted against a new 311 single for a radio station voting contest in Kansas City.  My brain almost broke to read Local Natives and 311 in the same sentence.  I wholeheartedly believe in voting, but in that case, I chose not to.

Local Natives plays with Little Scream Saturday, April 8, at The Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St. This show is SOLD OUT. Showtime is 9 p.m. For more information, go to theslowdown.com

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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 © 2017 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Local Natives (the new Arcade Fire?); Lincoln Calling weekend, Photo Atlas tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 7:19 pm October 1, 2010

Local Natives at The Waiting Room, Sept. 30, 2010.

Local Natives at The Waiting Room, Sept. 30, 2010.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Sorry about the lateness of this post, but it’s been one o’ them days… Onward.

Walking up to The Waiting Room at just before 10 last night I could see a long line stretching along the sidewalk on either side of the door. I ran into one of the club’s legendary beer slingers on the street, apparently on his night off, and we both wondered what as going on. “Must be a late start,” he said, adding that it might have something to do with a sound check because the show’s advance sales had been weak, certainly not a sell out. The beer slinger went into Jake’s to catch the end of the Okie State game and I waited in line for about five minutes as people slowly began to file in with a band making noise on stage. It turned out that it was, in fact, a sold-out show, and the first band had already finished its set. That line was merely late arrivals, like myself, just waiting to get in.

Once inside, The Love Language was getting started, and the place was absolutely packed. More packed than a usual sell out, which leads me to believe that TWR does better business on nights like these then when a show sells out well in advance. You couldn’t get anywhere near the stage, and the closest I got was the soundboard.

The Love Language was a perfect opener for Local Natives — their sound is similar, though less trippy and more pop, upbeat and catchy, but while their music was well played, nothing left a mark with me.

With a guitarist/singer who looked like a cross between John Oates and Freddy Mercury (thanks to a big, bushy black mustache and a thick head of jet back hair), the band rolled into the songs off their debut album fueled by an enthusiastic crowd that knew the words. They played an old Talking Heads song (or so they said, I didn’t recognize it) then did one that sounded like an old Arcade Fire number. And then came the hits: “Airplanes” and album opener “Wide Eyes.” The crowd (as they say) went wild.

Freddy said this was a better show than the last time they came through a year and a half ago. I would think if they keep on this trajectory, the next time through they’ll be selling out Slowdown’s big room. But are they the next Arcade Fire? I heard that more than a few times last night. The answer is probably no.

I remember when Interpol came through and played Sokol Underground on a blizzardy night Jan. 15, 2003. Turn On the Bright Lights had been released the previous August and everyone knew that it was a game-changer. Their Omaha show was a coup on a number of levels, and if you were at the show, you knew you were seeing a band that was about to explode.

The same goes for The Arcade Fire when they played at Sokol Underground back on Sept. 29, 2004. The story goes that the booking had taken place well in advance of their meteoric rise, back when they were still playing bars/clubs, before they had been discovered by the New York Times and David Bowie. Despite being hugely in demand, the band faithfully played out their dates in smaller venues, including ours in South Omaha. Everyone there that night knew they were seeing something special, something that they’d never see again in such a small space.

I never got that feeling last night watching Local Natives. Yes, it was an enthusiastic, sold out crowd; yes they played a terrific set, but I never thought that I was seeing something that would have a lasting impact on the music scene like I did with the Arcade Fire or  Interpol. But then again, they probably said the same thing about Radiohead when Pablo Honey came out (an album that I bought). You just never know…

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Tonight is probably the best night of the entire Lincoln Calling festival.

As discussed in the column, highlights include Deerpeople and a reunion of Pablo’s Triangle (Head of Femur, Broken Bells) at Duffy’s; Conduits, Cowboy Indian Bear, Masses and Poison Control Center at The Bourbon Theater; Noah’s Ark, The Power and Little Brazil at The Zoo; Thunder Power and Talking Mountain at 12th St. Pub. The Lincoln Calling website boasts day passes for sale, but doesn’t say how much or where to find them (Come on, Jeremy!). Other pricing and schedules are on the site. Lincoln Calling concludes tomorrow night, and among the highlights is the Speed! Nebraska showcase at The Zoo Bar. Check it out.

* * *

Other than LC, ain’t much going on this weekend. Tonight The Photo Atlas returns to Slowdown Jr. with Bazooka Shootout and Baby. 9 p.m., $7. And that’s all, folks.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Local Natives, El Ten Eleven, Lincoln Calling tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:53 pm September 30, 2010

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I did not go to Retribution Gospel Choir last night at The Waiting Room. And judging by a post on David Leibowitz’s Facebook wall (Dave’s the guy behind New Day Rising — the only must-hear indie-rock music show on local broadcast radio (89.7 FM every friggin’ Sunday night at 9 p.m. DO NOT MISS IT)) no one else was, either. Dave said there was only six people there. Drag. If you have to blame something, I point to the band’s name. In all honesty, I didn’t know RGC was Alan Sparhawk from Low until I looked up the band over my lunch hour yesterday while putting together the daily blog post. Had they promoted themselves as Low or Low’s Alan Sparhawk or The Alan Sparhawk Project they might have drawn considerably more than six people. But when people see Retribution Gospel Choir, well, they just assume that it’s a local gospel choir playing a weird benefit gig at TWR, and who wants to see that?


There will be a much larger crowd at The Waiting Room tonight for Local Natives. The LA band’s debut, Gorilla Manor, was released on Frenchkiss Records way back in February and received an 8.4 by Pitchfork and 80 out of 100 at albumoftheyear.org (where I’ve been finding composite ratings lately). The band and the album have that whole Vampire Weekend/Tokyo Police Club indie pop-rock sound that the kids love these days — you know what I’m talking about. I think it’s interesting that they compare themselves to CSNY and Zombies — two bands they have nothing in common with. I have heard them compared to Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, which I also think is a stretch considering the overal lethargic quality of those bands’ music. Find out for yourself tonight. Opening is Merge Records artist The Love Language and Union Line. $13, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, experimental instrumental duo El Ten Eleven (Kristian Dunn and Tim Fogarty) are playing at Slowdown Jr. with Dosh and Baths. $8, 9 p.m.

And Lincoln Calling is going strong. See the full line-up at lincolncalling.com. The highlights from my lofty perch 50 miles north of “O” Street are all at 12th St. Pub, where it’s Once a Pawn, Honeybee, Bear Country and Pharmacy Spirits are playing, while The Photo Atlas is playing at Duffy’s at 11 and Ted Stevens and the Filter Kings are at The Zoo Bar at 10 and Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies are at The Bourbon at 9. Better get yourself a wristband so you can move around.

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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 © 2010 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 270: Second Quarter Report; Live Review: Matt Pond PA…

The promotional e-mail from The Reader says that the printed column only contains 20 of the 25 micro-reviews below, which means the editors had to cut for space. I have no idea which five didn’t “make the cut.” You and I will have to pick up a paper tomorrow to find out.

Second Quarter Report

25, from best to the rest…

by Tim McMahan

You can’t go wrong with any of these, but some are better than others. Hence, they appear below in order from best to the rest.

1. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone) — Everything you’ve heard is true — as pure a throwback as you’re ever going to find — a modern-day Etta, Aretha, Gladys and Marva all rolled into one, backed by a band that James Brown would be proud to shimmy to.

2. Local Natives, Gorilla Manor (Frenchkiss) — What you expected from MGMT’s follow-up to Oracular instead of that unlistenable shitstorm that is Congratulations. Infectious, deep-rhythm indie pop.

3. Frightened Rabbit, The Winter of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat) — They continue to hone their indie-rock anthems, cutting the melodies with just enough brogue to remind you they’re Scots who grew up listening to Arab Strap. This is the one that breaks them big.

4. Zeus, Say Us (Arts & Crafts) — Power pop nirvana by way of Canada that has more in common with Big Star than the Beatles. Goes from hick struttin’ (“River by the Garden”) to filthy, organ-fueled garage grunt (“You Gotta Teller”). What more do you want?

5. Titus Andronicus, The Monitor (XL) — Forget about that new Hold Steady album, which you (*yawn*) have heard before. If it’s gritty, anthemic (more like epic) punk you’re looking for, you’ll find no better.

6. Javelin, No Mas (Luaka Bop) — Electronic dance abstractions by a couple Brooklyn boys who are smarter than us (and funnier). Keyboards, beatbox, samples and a groove — Who needs LCD? “Let’s do the monkey foot” indeed.

7. Hot Chip, One Life Stand (EMI) — They want to be the new Depeche Mode or Pet Shop Boys, but have more in common with Erasure or Röyskopp (and is feyer than any of them). At their best (the title track, “Hand Me Down Your Love”) they’ll get your ass shaking like the pros they are.

8. Holy Fuck, Latin (Young Turks/XL) — Jittery instrumental electronic dance music propelled by bass and charisma. High BPM equates to a fine aerobic workout and leaner, meaner abs.

9. The Mynabirds, What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood (Saddle Creek) — A hodge-podge of styles made popular by some very familiar female artists (Mazzy Star, Bonnie Raitt, Jenny Lewis, Chan Marshall, Maria Taylor, Orenda Fink and so on). But I’m still not quite sure I know who Laura Burhenn really sounds like. Creek’s best release since Mama, I’m Swollen.

10. Sally Seltmann, Heart That’s Pounding (Arts & Crafts) — Gorgeous and catchy, it stands among the best female-led pop rock records since Sam Phillips was around. PS: She co-wrote Feist’s iPod commercial (“1234”) — Don’t hold it against her.

11. Serena-Maneesh, S-M 2: Abyss in B Minor (4AD) — Oslo shoegaze comes close to noise, but it’s too poppy for that. Is it any coincidence that I’ve been listening to a lot of My Bloody Valentine lately? I blame this record.

12. The New Pornographers, Together (Matador) — The first album by this band that I’ve actually liked, thanks to their willingness to break out of the Belle & Sebastian mold for something more inspiring (and funky. See opening track “Moves” for evidence).

13. A Weather, Everyday Balloons (Team Love) — Laidback, moody piano/guitar folk sung underneath blankets by breathy youth in love with Simon & Garfunkel, Fleetwood Mac and Roxy Music. The best record from Conor’s label since Jenny Lewis.

14. The Whigs, In the Dark (ATO) — Heavy guitars, heavy hooks, heavy alt rock by a band that probably hangs out with The Killers or Franz Ferdinand (if they weren’t from Athens); something tells me they’ll be selling cars soon (on TV).

15. Teenage Fanclub, Shadows (Merge) — This quieter, gentler Fanclub lacks the punch of earlier, better albums, but still has all the hooks you want (and expect), though you’ll have to stay awake to hear them.

16. The Kissaway Trail, Sleep Mountain (Bella Union) — So close to Arcade Fire you’ll think you’re listening to outtakes from Funeral. So close to Arcade Fire, you’ll laugh bitterly at the vocals on “Don’t Wake Up” and the keyboard line on “Beat Your Heartbeat.” Still, it’s better than Neon Bible.

17. Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record (Arts & Crafts) — A model in extremes: “Chase Scene” is the worst song they’ve ever recorded, while “Texico Bitches” may be their catchiest. Weed out half the tracks and you’ve got a winner instead of a whiner.

18. The National, High Violet (4AD) — The question is: How much does it differ than the last National album? The answer: Not much. If you liked that one, stand by for more of the same low-voiced drama that can’t seem to get to the point.

19. High Places, High Places Vs. Mankind (Thrill Jockey) — This is the moody electronic dance-floor album that Kate Bush never made but Blondie should have. Demoted for too many tracks that could be confused for trance.

20. Quasi, American Gong (Kill Rock Stars) — It lacks the playfulness of their earlier albums (i.e., Featuring “Birds,” which came out a staggering 12 years ago and remains their masterpiece) and as such, is too heavy handed to call fun.

21. Broken Bells, self-titled (Columbia) — Don’t know why I expected more from this A-list combo (Danger Mouse and The Shins), whose middle-of-the-road blend is blander than its individual parts.

22. Delorean, Subiza (True Panther Sounds) — Dance-floor indie dream pop built on a thump-thump-thump foundation borrowed from DM circa 1988. The thumping is present on every track, and like disco, quickly goes from cute to kitsch.

23. Owen Pallett, Heartland (Domino) — Pitchfork heart throbs, I, too, fell for the hype, and while there is some epic songcraft here, he’s no Sufjan Stevens.

24. She and Him, Volume Two (Merge) — Zooey and Matt continue to create modernized, soulless Sam Cooke-era balladry merged (get it?) with TV jingle melodies. No worse than Volume One, and no better.

25. Emanuel and The Fear, Listen (Paper Garden) — More Of Montreal than Sufjan and not as good as either despite the 11-piece “orchestra.” It’s ambitious, which is what we say when we respect the effort, and not much else.

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Matt Pond PA

Matt Pond PA at Slowdown Jr., May 11, 2010

About two songs into last night’s laid-back set by Matt Pond PA at Slowdown Jr., Mr. Pond said he was struggling with his between-song patter. His reticence to chat with the crowd likely had something to do with the fact that a couple stooges stole product from his merch table the night before in Milwaukee during one of his humorous monologues, which Pond said resulted in him giving chase followed by general mayhem. There was none of that last night as the (surprisingly large) crowd of around 120 soaked in every earthy note from Pond and his band (three guitars (including his) bass and drums). While Leslie Sisson provided some barely heard backing vocals/harmonies (turn it up, Leslie), Pond’s secret weapon was Chris Hansen, who I remember also being a standout at the SXSW performance. His guitar-work was subtle and amazing, never got in the way, but added necessary depth to the music. I can see why Pond has made him an integral part of his band and his sound. All that said, this was a more restrained band than I heard in Austin in March — they seemed a bit tired, though Pond was once again in amazing voice. You could argue (as one person did) that his music is too middle-of-the-road and somewhat samey-samey, but to me, it’s the tone and style that matter. Matt Pond’s music is easy on the ears, and some nights (like last night) that’s all I want.

Opener Bobby Long played a fine solo-acoustic set that broke out of the traditional singer/songwriter mold with its intensity and intricate guitar arrangements. He said from the stage that he’s got an album coming out on ATO, so I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot from this talented Brit in the near future.