The post-Thanksgiving blues; Elvis Costello headed to Lincoln; new Sam Martin Dec. 9, RSC finds…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:51 pm December 1, 2014

by Tim McMahan,

It looks to be monumentally quiet gig-wise this week. In fact, there’s virtually nothing on my radar the entire week. Post-holiday doldrums? I guess.

The only notable gig news came in a press release stating that Elvis Costello is booked for the Rococo in Lincoln March 3. Tix on sale Thursday at noon starting at $47.

Speaking of Lincoln gigs, Cursive announced it’s added a show at Vega in Lincoln March 22, the day after their gig at The Waiting Room.

Going through the ol’ in-box…

Capgun Coup frontman Sam Martin, last seen doped out in Nik Fackler’s film Sick Birds Die Easy, has a new album out a week from Tuesday, Dec. 9, on Omaha’s own Make Believe Recordings called A Notion in an Ocean. The record features a slew of guests, including Greg Elsasser, Sean Pratt, Noah Kohl, Dereck Higgins, Jesse Mckelvey and Todd Fink. Check out the video for the first single, “Bye Bye,” below.

How’d you do at Record Store Day Friday? I was surprised to find a lot of inventory still available at Homer’s and Drastic Plastic when I dropped in on both stores that afternoon. My only official RSD purchase was the American Hustle soundtrack. Other than that, I bought a copy of Joy Division’s Preston 28 February 1980 live album, out on Drastic Plastic Records (massive 200 gram vinyl), and scored used copies of Peter Gabriel’s debut album and Harry Nilsson’s The Point at Almost Music. Not bad…

BTW, those Guardians of the Galaxy cassettes are now going for more than $50 on ebay. More evidence that cassettes are back?

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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.


Record Store Day recap; Ralph Remmert Benefit (Orenda Fink, Simon Joyner, Dan McCarthy) tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:43 pm April 21, 2014
The Lupines playing at Almost Music's  Record Store Day show April 19, 2014.

The Lupines play at Almost Music’s Record Store Day show April 19, 2014.

by Tim McMahan,

Well, I didn’t have much of a Record Store Day. In fact, I only bought two recordings — one record and one CD — and neither was an RSD offerings. That’s what happens when you get started late.

While I tip my hat to Homer’s for catering to the early morning line waiters with free food and entertainment, there’s no way I was going to wait in line for hours to be allowed to feed at the vinyl trough. I salute the hard-core vinyl collector. I wish I could be one, but I just don’t have the cash or the patience. As such, there was no way I was going to be able to snag a copy of that Devo Live at Max’s KC album that I so coveted. I looked on eBay later that night and found them starting at around $60 (or at least that was the latest bid).

Instead, I rode my bike to Almost Music at around 1 to catch The Lupines performing outside on the sidewalk. The shop only had three RSD products left in stock (including a PUJOL single). Judging by the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd intensely digging through the bins, I don’t think anyone cared. Almost Music proprietor Brad Smith went online later that day to say it was the best day the store has had since it opened.

The set-up for the live music was quaint, with people standing around the sidewalk, a few seated up front and by the grill. The small PA sounded surprisingly good belting out Lupines raw, hook-filled garage rock. It was fun watching cars drive by on Maple Street jolted awake by the noise and then staring at the small crowd of around 40.

If their neighbors don’t mind, maybe Almost Music could host live bands on the sidewalk more often, maybe even once a month in the summer. It’s a good way to get people to come in and check out their always rotating stock of used vinyl.

I didn’t get down to Homer’s until well past 5 p.m. The place was still packed and there was still plenty of RSD vinyl in stock — bins-ful — but nothing left that I was looking for. Instead, Homer’s clerk Chris Aponick pushed a copy of Courtney Barnett’s new CD The Double EP: A Sea to Split Pea into my hand and said I wasn’t leaving without it. I also found a very clean copy of The Doors’ Strange Days album in the used bin, which I assumed was a reissue. No one knew for sure. It’s probably my favorite Doors album (which isn’t saying much), and I didn’t have it so, what the heck?

Chris was right about the Barnett CD. This young Aussie is sort of a cross between Liz Phair and Foxygen, an intrepid slacker/stoner 20-something loaded with clever lines, something tells me she’s about to explode. Get in on it before everyone else does. You won’t regret it.

While downtown, I ran into Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt who was pleased with how the day went down, but said he still had a lot of RSD stock to sell. He said among the hottest releases this year was a glow-in-the-dark 30th Anniversary reissue of Ray Parker Jr.’s Ghostbusters theme (which is now starting at $50 on eBay).

As with anything popular, there’s been a bunch of online articles critical of what RSD has become, saying it’s hurt small labels, that it’s become a scavenger hunt for professional eBay vendors who will turn around and sell whatever they waited in line for to the highest online bidder. Maybe so. I don’t buy the small label whining about how the majors are pushing them out of line with the limited number of vinyl manufacturers, pushing back their release dates. Too bad. Do a better job managing your business. The person who’s buying vinyl from Warners or Sony is a potential customer for your artist’s vinyl. You’ve chosen the vinyl model for your business. Make it work.

As for those greedy eBay bastards, yeah, they’re no different than ticket scalpers, but there’s nothing you can do about them, other than what the record shops have already done — limit sales quantities to individuals and make sure their own clerks aren’t in on the hustle. This kind of problem comes with anything that is collectable and in scarce number. If you’re a collector, you’re used to it. For the rest of us lazy a-holes, there’s eBay.

I personally love RSD. It’s a holiday that celebrates art and commerce and (for the most part) the little guy record shop who’s just trying to get by. I know that having it more than once a year (and on Black Friday) might water down the “specialness” of the event, but I could see this working on a monthly or at least quarterly basis. It’s a lot of work for everyone involved, but the payback is worth it.

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There’s a special benefit show going on tonight at The Waiting Room that demands your attention.

I don’t know who Ralph Remmert is but I do know he has a lot of talented friends. They’re coming to his aid as he continues his fight against cystic fibrosis — a fight that includes an upcoming double-lung transplant. To help cover costs not covered by health insurance, Ralph’s friends are hosting tonight’s concert at TWR.

The line-up is star-studded and includes Orenda Fink, Dan McCarthy, Simon Joyner, Phil Schaffart, Greg Elsasser and Matt Whipkey. They’re calling it an “intimate songwriters’ circle.”

You can read more about Ralph here, check out his website here and read event details here. $15, 8 p.m. Go!

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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.


Death Cab, Aimee Mann headline Maha Music Festival; Record Store Day, Tokyo Police Club, Kweller Saturday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 11:19 am April 18, 2014

maha2014by Tim McMahan,

Ah, Maha…

The line-up for this year’s Maha Music Festival (for those of you who were out of town or away from their computers over the past 18 hours) was announced last night at O’Leaver’s. I told you there was going to be some surprises.

The headliner is Death Cab for Cutie. They’ve been touring through Omaha for more than a decade, since they were a little band on Barsuk Records playing to small crowds at Sokol Underground. Now they’re a festival act. One could argue they peaked with 2003’s Transatlanticism record. Their last album, 2011’s Codes and Keys, was nominated for a Grammy, but I’m only listening to it for the first time this morning (It’s pretty good, btw). Their last time through Omaha was in, what April 2009 for a gig at The Holland Center?

No, Death Cab would not have been my choice for a headliner. Their stand-and-play live shows are in direct contrast to last year’s Maha headliner in every way imaginable. Whereas Flaming Lips are known for their amazing stage shows (and last year’s was indeed spectacular), I’ve never cared for their music (Yes, that includes Yoshimi and Soft Bulletin, which I recently pulled out and still can’t get into). To me, Wayne Coyne has effectively compensated for boring music with eye-popping staging. On the other hand, Death Cab’s live performances can be mind-numbingly boring, but their music is sublime (to me anyway).

Summarized: I’d rather see a Lips show but listen to Death Cab music. Who knows, maybe Death Cab will come up with something interesting for Maha’s stage.

The Head and the Heart is a good genre match for Deathcab. The band sold out The Waiting Room back in October 2011. The review is here, wherein I described the performance this way: “The six-piece band was joined by a chorus of a few hundred who sang along to almost every song, sounding like a warm ocean lapping gently on the shores of the band’s acoustic folk. I haven’t heard so much singing since Dashboard Confessional circa 2003, only these songs weren’t cheesy heartbreak anthems sung by children. Instead the crowd was mostly in their mid-20s, with more women mixed in than I’m used to seeing at typical indie rock shows. Credit the nature of their music, which is more soothing than rousing, though it had its moments of exultation.”

H&tH’s latest record, 2013’s Let’s Be Still, is indeed quiet and…soothing.

Last time I saw Local Natives was at a sold out Waiting Room show in September 2010 (that review here). Like Head and the Heart, they’re a “vibe band” that plays vibe music rather than songs — perfect for a pretty summer night under the stars. Their latest, 2013’s Hummingbird, sounds a lot like the last Head and the Heart record.

Then comes what — for me — is Maha’s headliner. The Both.

The Both is Aimee Mann and Ted Leo. Mann is one of my all-time favorite artists. My love of her music began with the soundtrack to 1999’s Magnolia, a movie that had a profound effect on me as much for her music as the story on the screen. After seeing that film I ran out and bought the soundtrack (though 2000’s Bachelor No. 2 contains the best songs from that record), and Mann’s earlier albums, ’95’s I’m with Stupid and her debut, ’93’s Whatever.

It’s hard to separate Mann from the producer of those albums, the genius that is Jon Brion. She went on to release a number of consistently good records with a different producer, but only occasionally reached the heights of her earlier work (but they’re still worth seeking out).

Mann is a perfect match for Ted Leo (of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists), a performer I’ve wanted to see booked here for many years. Leo’s 2010 album The Brutalist Bricks (Matador) was one of my favorites from that year. Seems like the last time I saw Leo was back in November 2003 at Sokol Underground, though he’s been through Omaha since then (including (I think) in 2008 with Against Me?). Talk about your high-energy performers.

I haven’t heard anything from The Both except their Tiny Desktop concert. Their debut album came out Tuesday on Mann’s SuperEgo Records. Check out the first single, “Milwaukee” via this soundcloud link.

While the other three acts alone will make for a successful Maha this year, The Both is the act that will make it special, for me anyway.

The rest of the line up is a mixed bag of bands that includes a few I’d never heard of or listened to before, like indie hip-hop act Doomtree and St. Joe punk band Radkey. The Envy Corps has played in Omaha a number of times. Twinsmith is the latest signing by Saddle Creek Records and Matt Whipkey is a local legend. M34N STR33T is another up-and-coming hip-hop act that’s played around a lot, but who I haven’t caught on stage.

I’m told there could be more bands named to this year’s Maha Music Festival, but by itself this an impressive line-up. Tickets to the Aug. 16 show (once again at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village) are on sale now for $50. VIP tix are still available. More info at the Maha website.

Maha 2014 Lineup from Maha Music Festival on Vimeo.

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It was interesting watching the reaction to the Maha announcement on Social Media last night. For every three people on Facebook or Twitter that applauded the line-up, there was one that went out of his/her way to complain.

Not surprisingly, the people who bitch most about the Maha lineup have never been to a Maha Festival and will never go to a Maha Festival. Their idea of a perfect festival line-up either: 1) involves bands that no longer exist/have been dead and/or retired for decades; or 2) involves bands that would take Lollapalooza money ($500k+) to book, or 3) involves bands so small and obscure they wouldn’t sell out Slowdown Jr. let alone The Waiting Room, or 4) are “genre” bands that don’t fit into the Maha theme, such as Country acts, goth-metal-goon bands, or straight-up pop acts. These folks also seem to require that every band on the line-up be one of their favorites.

Maha’s focus has always been indie/CMJ-style rock, the kind of music Omaha and Nebraska used to be nationally known for. The people bitching the most about Maha are people who hate that kind of music. Why waste time/energy bitching when you knew this was the kind of line-up Maha has booked in the past and always will book? If you prefer goon rock, go to one of the many goon rock outdoor concert/festivals that 89.7 The River hosts every year. If you like black-leather garage rock, go to Gonerfest — the Mecca of garage rock festivals (It’s on my punch list). If you like C&W headliners, check out the CenturyLink or Pinnacle arena schedules. If you can’t get over the fact that “your music” from your era is “so much better than today’s music,” then save up your money and travel to wherever “your bands” are playing reunion shows.

One guy online, who recently moved to Los Angeles and now regularly bashes Omaha whenever he can, commented that he sees “better bands in LA on a given weeknight that you’re getting at Maha.” My response: I have no doubt that’s true. The mistake you made was not moving to LA years ago. While we’re sad that you moved away and miss you, it pains me more to know that you wasted so many years of your life in Omaha instead of being where you CLEARLY belong. And btw, we already knew you weren’t going to Maha to begin with.

I hate when people move away. But more than that, I hate hearing them continue to bitch about Omaha after they’ve left. We get it. You hate Omaha. That’s why you moved away. All you’re doing when you bitch about Nebraska from your new homes in Denver or Portland or Austin or NYC or California is making yourself look like an asshole.

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Holy shit this is a long blog post. Let’s get to the weekend.

Tonight at The Waiting Room Satchel Grande is having a CD release show. I didn’t even know they were working on a new album. Opening is Buck Bowen (with Jazz Trio). $7, 9 p.m. This will be a big show.

Down at Slowdown Jr. Barsuk Records artist Say Hi headlines with Melbourne duo Big Scary. $12, 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, at fabulous O’Leaver’s, The Brigadiers headline with The Sons of O’Leaver’s and the return of New Lungs (DMax and Co., welcome back). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow is, of course, Record Store Day. I covered it in detail Wednesday (here). The highlight will be the Almost Music Day Party, which starts at 11:30 and runs ’til 7:30. The line-up is here (and it says there will be food and drink). It’s free. Go. And don’t forget to go to Homer’s, Saddle Creek Shop and Drastic Plastic and buy plenty of vinyl.

Saturday night former Saddle Creek band Tokyo Police Club headlines at The Slowdown with Geographer and Said the Whale. $15, 9 p.m.

Finally, 2010 Maha Festival performer Ben Kweller headlines at The Waiting Room Saturday night with See Through Dresses. $15, 9 p.m.

Did I miss anything? 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.



Getting ready for Record Store Day; The Faint chart at No. 146; Mates of State, the Entrance Band tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:47 pm April 16, 2014

rsd2014by Tim McMahan,

It’s never too early to begin talking about Record Store Day (RSD), coming up this Saturday.

Homer’s Music is catering to the hard-core collector who will be waiting in line to snatch up what arguably will be the largest selection of RSD inventory in the area. Homer’s goes all out, as the line that will be forming in front of their Old Market store in the wee hours of the morning will attest.

To help keep the early morning line-sitters comfortable, Homer’s is handing out donuts along with entertainment in the form of live performances by Brad Hoshaw and Matt Whipkey, who will be selling their own limited-edition RSD 7-inch split single (I’ve got it; it’s good). In addition, Michael’s in the Market will be selling breakfast burritos. Heck, Homer’s has even rented a porta-potty so you won’t have to cross your legs. Promos include free RSD T-shirts for those spending more than $150, and Micheal’s gift certificates for those spending over $50 (while supplies last).

Homer’s will open at 10 a.m. Saturday. So will Saddle Creek Shop, Drastic Plastic and Almost Music.

You’ve probably heard this before: The best thing about South By Southwest is the day parties. You show up at a location — maybe it’s a park, maybe it’s a record store — and you spend the whole day there just listening to bands. It’s usually very chill. Best of all, it’s free — you don’t even need a badge to get in.

You’ll get a taste of what SXSW day parties are like when Almost Music hosts its own day party this Saturday for Record Store Day. The free event, which runs 11:30 to 7:30, will feature one of the best line-ups of local talent I’ve seen at any event. Check it out:

Nathan Ma (Places We Slept) 11:30-12:00
Anna McClellan (Howard) 12:15-12:45
The Lupines 1:00-1:30
The Subtropics (Noah Sterba, Megan Siebe, Zach LaGrou) 1:45-2:15
Uriah (formerly Ben Love) 2:30-3:00
L. Eugene Methe (Rake Kash) 3:15-3:45
Simon Joyner & the Ghosts 4:00-4:30
Orenda Fink (Azure Ray) 4:45-5:15
Luke Polipnik Trio 5:30-6:00
The Churls (feat Joe Knapp of Son, Ambulance) 6:15-6:45
Mike Schlesinger (Gus and Call) 7:00-7:30

The only thing missing is a beer tent, but you can always walk up the street to Krug Park or Infusion to get your brew on — both open at noon.

The irony is that Almost Music will be hosting the best special event for RSD, but likely will have the thinnest selection of RSD merch. My suggestion: Get to Homer’s and the other shops at 10, then head over to Almost Music for an afternoon of fantastic music… and bargains.

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Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt tells me that first week CD sales of The Faint’s new album, Doom Abuse (SQE Records), cracked the Billboard Top 200 at No. 146, with sales of 2,226 units. The album’s deluxe limited edition vinyl, released two weeks earlier, racked up 293 units, for a grand total of 2,519 units to date. Impressive…

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Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s the return (to Omaha) of Mates of State. Whenever I mention this show, someone says “They’re still around?” MoS have been coming through Omaha for more than a decade, and they’re still going strong. They toured last summer with The Postal Service, even though they haven’t released a new record since Mountaintops (2011, Barsuk).

Tonight’s show is being promoted as part of their “Acoustic Piano / Drums / Voices / Strings / Horns Tour.” Opening is Blue Bird. $16, 8 p.m.

Tonight also is the latest installment of Record Club at the Shop @ Saddle Creek. The featured record: The Entrance Band’s 2013 release, Face The Sun (Beyond Beyond Is Beyond). Record Club is a chance for folks to get together and listen to an album in its entirety, then discuss it afterward. Fun! The needle drops at 7 p.m. More info here.

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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.