Live Review: Matt Pond PA; Outlaw Con Bandana tonight; Relax, It’s Science, Miwi La Lupa Saturday…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: — @ 1:12 pm May 8, 2015
Matt Pond PA at Reverb Lounge, May 7, 2015.

Matt Pond PA at Reverb Lounge, May 7, 2015.

by Tim McMahan,

Matt Pond PA has such a sublime voice. I mean, a really good voice, especially for the kind of indie-pop music he’s known for. The first time I saw him play was about 12 years ago at Sokol Underground, and his voice has only gotten better. So has his band. He had an amazing crew with him last night at Reverb Lounge, including a standout guitarist, cellist, drummer and bass player (Hey, that’s everybody!).

For this performance they played his 2005 album Several Arrows Later, which was/is a career standout moment for Pond. A collection of 12 songs, each a charmer in its own way, played as if he just released the album last week. Pond and his band ran through the entire record (I think) in order, hardly pausing between songs except to let one of his band mates share a corny joke or two.

Pond’s songs, whether upbeat or mellow, have a somber edge lyrically and sonically. They’re the kind of songs that bring emotions forward to catch in your throat like the memory of a long-ago breakup or a loved one you haven’t seen in years or may never see again. Sad songs mostly, but catchy and memorable. In that way, Pond’s music reminds me of stuff by Pete Yorn or Jeremy Messersmith, though Yorn’s stuff can be so dark and lonely I have hard time even listening to it. Not so with Pond’s music, which is catchy and fun even if it leaves you with a broken heart

* * *

It’s a sorta slow weekend for shows.

Tonight Outlaw Con Bandana headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s. You can’t miss with Brendan and Pearl. Also on the bill are Church of Graviton and Andrew Berkley. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Saturday night Relax, It’s Science plays at Reverb in Benson with nanaHara. $5, 9 p.m.

Over at O’Leaver’s Saturday it’s singer/songwriter Miwi La Lupa, who was Kevin Coffey’s “band of the week” in the Omaha World-Herald, presumably beating out Garth Brooks (and for good reason). Joining him at the club are Calling Cody and Jazz Brown & The Afterthought. $5, 9:30 p.m.

And that does it for the weekend. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. And if you haven’t already (or even if you have) listen to this week’s Lazy-i Podcast featuring reviews of new albums by Klemmensen, Joyner, Barnett and Waxahatchee, along with some other fun stuff. 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 © 2015 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


HN announces full Good Living Tour lineups; Once songwriting contest (and I’m on the panel); Matt Pond PA tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:01 pm May 7, 2015
Matt Pond PA

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

by Tim McMahan,

First, if you haven’t already, check out this week’s podcast. Reviews of albums from Courtney Barnett, Waxahatchee, John Klemmensen and the Party and Simon Joyner, with special guest Chris Aponick, plus a HUGE concert announcement (that we made online here yesterday and that you’re going to get sick of hearing about). Check it out.

* * *

Over the course of what seems like a month (But was only a week or so) Hear Nebraska has  announced the line-ups of its Good Living Tour — a series of concerts the org is putting together in towns west of Omaha and Lincoln. It’s kind of like musical missionary work.

Actually, that’s a very pretentious way of putting it. It’s not as if the people in small towns don’t have access to the internet, where music lives these days. You can’t point to their lack of a terrestrial radio station that plays local music on rotation because, well, Omaha doesn’t have one of those, either.

That said, it’s safe to say that someone in West Point or Valentine is out of touch with indie rock bands in Omaha and Lincoln because the vast majority of people in Omaha and Lincoln also are out of touch with these same bands. Brad Hoshaw and John Klemmensen may draw a few hundred people to their album release shows; but that leaves about 800,000 people in Omaha who still don’t know who they are.

And as I’ve said before (broken record) the next time you’re in line at Hy-Vee tap the shoulder of the person in front of you and ask if they know who Cursive or Conor Oberst is, or for that matter, what Hear Nebraska is. Let’s not kid ourselves. The organization still has a lot of work to do to get the word out in its own back yard, let alone in rural Nebraska.

Still, this is a cool project that sits at the heart of what Hear Nebraska is all about. It’s rare for the folks in these towns to see these bands perform. Check out these dates and line-ups, gas up and take a road trip:

July 17 — Imperial
The Talbott Brothers
See Through Dresses
The Bottle Tops

July 18 — Ogallala
Lloyd McCarter

July 19 — Gering/Scottsbluff
McCarthy Trenching

July 20 — Valentine
Kris Lager Band
All Young Girls Are Machine Guns

July 21 — North Platte
M34n Str33t
Brad Hoshaw
A Ferocious Jungle Cat

July 22 — Kearney
Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers
The Seen
Mike Adams and Friends

July 23 — West Point
Rock Paper Dynamite
John Klemmensen and the Party
Dustin Prinz

July 24 — Nebraska City
A Summer Better Than Yours
Kill County
The So-So Sailors

July 25 — Grand Island
Simon Joyner & The Ghosts
Icky Blossoms

More info, including times and venue locations, are available right here at

* * *

When I agreed to be the moderator of next Monday’s “pro panel” discussion sponsored by Omaha Performing Arts that’s being held at The Waiting Room (Mike Mogis, CJ Olson, Orenda Fink, Matt Whipkey, 6 p.m, free!) I didn’t know I also was volunteering to be a judge in a songwriting contest. I, uh, don’t usually like music contests, of any kind. Songwriters competing against each other, what’s the point? Is one song really better than another? In this case, yes.

The contestants were told to use the Broadway musical Once as an inspiration (the touring company version is currently performing the musical at the Orpheum). I listened to 50 entries, all posted on YouTube, along with a panel of judges. The obvious choices floated to the surface, and the top 20 songwriters who entered will be performing on stage after the panel discussion. The top two won something coveted by a lot of musicians (local and otherwise): Recording time with Mike Mogis at ARC Studio. Impressive.

So the winners were: Luke Heffron, 17, of Omaha won for “Forget Myself” in the 13-18 Age Division, and Drew Nenemen, 29, of Omaha won for “Another Love Song” in the 19-29 Age Division.

My general observations after going though this process: There are a lot of Jack Johnson / Dave Matthews / Taylor Swift fans out there (especially Jack Johnson fans). I was more impressed with the 13-18 age category entries as well as those who performed with a full band rather than sitting in their bathroom with a guitar on their lap. There’s a lot o’ young talent in this town, and you’ll get to see some of the best on Monday. It should be fun night.

* * *

Tonight, it’s the return of Matt Pond PA. Seems like ol’ Mr. Pond has been coming through Omaha every few years for the past couple decades. This time the show is part of the band’s 10 Year Anniversary tour in support of one of their most beloved albums, Several Arrows Later. Each night, not only will Pond and crew play the album in full, but also a sampling of songs from their upcoming album The State of Gold, which will be released later this year. Opening is Young Buffalo and our very own See Through Dresses. $12, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, listen to Matt Whipkey’s Underwater album on a $250,000 sound system that includes a $100,000 turntable. The free event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Sound Environment, 11021 Elm St. Whipkey says beer and wine will be provided. Bring your checkbook; you’ll want to go home with one of those turntables…

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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.


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.

* * *

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.


Lazy-i Interview: Matt Pond PA…

Category: Interviews — Tags: , — @ 11:38 am May 6, 2010

The Return of Matt Pond PA

The Brooklyln band keeps on keeping on…

by Tim McMahan

Seven years ago on a rainy Wednesday night indie band Matt Pond PA rolled into Omaha to play a show at Sokol Underground with Bitter Bitter Weeks and Lefty’s Deceiver. Five people were there to see it. And that was the last time Matt Pond PA played in Omaha, until this coming Tuesday night.

Pond thinks things will go better this time. “There couldn’t be less people there than at that other show,” he said. “We have nothing but optimism.”

He’s optimistic for good reason. Pond is on the road touring with a new band supporting a new album, The Dark Leaves, released last month by Altitude Records. The album was recorded in an isolated cabin in Bearsville, New York, a tiny town near Woodstock, with his pal Chris Hansen, who played guitar, sang and handled the engineering chores. “It was just me and him sitting there, doing and undoing the album,” Pond said.

That sense of freedom and space — and aloneness — surrounds the album’s gorgeous, flowing pop on gently rocking songs like “Brooklyn Fawn” that glow with insight and soul from a musician who has continued to refine his craft for more than 10 years over seven full-length albums, always flying just beneath the radar.

Little has changed since that ’03 concert.  “I’m probably at the same point in my career,” Pond said via cell phone while driving back from the forest into NYC. “Things are probably simpler because we have an album coming out, and there’s optimism and fear and all sorts of little things.

“The biggest change is that I’m not as tied to things as I was back then. I’m tied to my songs, but not tied to what critics say or what does or doesn’t happen. It’s a lot easier to let things go now. When you get knocked around a bunch, you stop feeling it. I love doing this, and if you love doing it, you can’t get so worked up about details and people or reviews.”

Matt Pond PA, The Dark Leaves

Pond sounded a bit surprised to still be working in the music business. “I probably didn’t think I’d still be doing this back in ’03,” he said. “There’s that pang for the supposed ‘real life’ that I’ve had since I was a kid — this idea that you’re supposed to have a job. You imagine you’ll have a stable career and some kind of family.  I never thought I’d be playing music, but it’s better than being a doctor or lawyer or a professional. Now, even though it’s not the most stable job or career, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Another reason for optimism was the reaction Pond received at this year’s South by Southwest Festival in Austin. “I swore I’d never play (SXSW) again,” he said, adding that the last time he was there was (again) back in ’03. “I did two shows — one was for 15 people; the other the soundman was too drunk to lift his head off the soundboard — so one had no sound, the other had no people.”

The only reason he did SXSW this year was because another band he plays in– the Wooden Birds — was scheduled to be there.  On the day of his performance, the venue — the Galaxy Room on Austin’s 6th St. — was packed with a few hundred people (myself among them), all of whom looked as if they were greeting a long, lost friend. Pond, who looked like a bearded Jimmy Fallon, smiled from the stage. “People were singing along,” he said. “It was fun.”

It was a nice welcome after taking a couple years off from performing. “I’m excited to do this again,” Pond said. “I love playing live. And there’s more focus now on music rather than extracurricular people in the band.”

Pond wasn’t sure who would be playing with him when he returns to Omaha, other than Hansen and most likely Leslie Sisson of The Wooden Birds, who he said are now the core of his band. “You end up being closer to these people than you are with girlfriends,” he said.

And despite The Dark Leaves only being out a month, work has already begun on the next Matt Pond PA album (The “PA” tag, by the way, is an homage to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, even though Pond hasn’t lived there since he moved to Brooklyn years ago). “We’ve recorded six songs for the next record,” he said. “(Recording is) the one part of this process that I don’t have a problem with. There will always be a good and bad part to this life, but that part is pretty pure to me.”

Matt Pond PA plays with Bobby Long, Tuesday, May 11, at Slowdown, 729 No. 14th St. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $12. For more information, visit