Phoebe/Conor perform for NIVA; Mal Blum gets the Saddle Creek Document treatment; new Beauty Pill…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:49 pm October 20, 2020
Mal Blum gets the Saddle Creek Document treatment…

Did you tune in last week for SOSFest? I didn’t, either. But most of the performances are now online if you still want to watch. Among them is Phoebe Bridgers at the Troubadour in Hollywood, with special guests Conor Oberst and Christian Lee Hutson. It’s pretty good, but dang, her music is some serious bummage. See below.

Make sure you make a donation toward NIVA’s Emergency Relief Fund, which benefits “independent venues in peril.”

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Mal Blum was among the acts scheduled to play at The Reverb Lounge before COVID-19 blew everything up. It was through researching that show that I discovered Pity Boy, the band’s 2019 Don Giovanni release, which I fell in love with. It’s punk but it’s poppy enough to sing along to, clever, smart with great guitars. It would have been on my 2019 list if I’d known about it in 2019.

Today Saddle Creek Records announced that Mal Blum will be featured as the 14th installment of their Document Series. The 7-inch “Nobody Waits” b/w “San Cristóbal,” will be released Nov. 20 and you can preorder it (and hear the A-side) today.

The tracks were the last thing the band recorded before the COVID-19 lock down. Check it below and keep your fingers crossed that One Percent reschedules Mal Blum at Reverb when the pandemic is finally under control…

BTW, Mal Blum is doing a Crowdcast tonight at 7 p.m. CT. Register here.

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D.C. punk band Beauty Pill dropped a video for new song “Instant Night” today, a song “released out of urgency to inspire people to vote in the November election.”

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Saddle Creek signs Quarter-Life Crisis (Ryan Hemsworth); RIP Eddie Van Halen…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:45 pm October 7, 2020

Saddle Creek Records remains very active in These Days of COVID. Today the label announced it’s releasing the self-titled debut EP by Quarter-Life Crisis, a new project from Ryan Hemsworth featuring collabs with Creek label-mates Frances Quinlan (Hop Along) and Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) as well as Charlie Martin (Hovvdy), Claud, and Yohuna.

It sounds like sort of an Alan Parsons Project-type deal, with Hemsworth handling production and instruments while the collaborators write the lyrics and sing. From Nova Scotia, Hemsworth won a Juno Award in the electronic album category for 2014’s Guilt Trips (Last Gang Records), and has produced tracks for Mitski and Tory Lanez, among others.

The EP drops Dec. 4 (preorder now), but the single “Postcards from Spain” featuring Quinlan, was released today. Check it below.

With that new Tomberlin EP, Projections, ready to drop Nov. 13, this will count as the 12th release so far this year for Saddle Creek.

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As everyone knows by now, yesterday Eddie Van Halen passed away after a long battle with lung cancer. Dudes of a certain age (I don’t know many female fans) grew up on Van Halen, scribbling their logo on the cover of their notebooks or scratching it into school desktops (along with Zoso and the Pink Floyd prism).

Van Halen music was ubiquitous with partying and having a good time. It always put me in a good mood no matter what mood I was in, and still does. I’ll be cracking open a cold one tonight for you, Eddie, while listening to the Van Halen mix tape I made back in ’84. Now what are we gonna do with all these brown M&Ms? Rest in Powerchords…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily (if there’s news) 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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Random Notes: Saddle Creek keeps busy (new Land of Talk, Young Jesus, Document 12); new Uh Oh video…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:24 pm July 20, 2020
Young Jesus at O’Leaver’s, Oct. 28, 2018. The band has a new album coming out on Saddle Creek Aug. 14.

The COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t seem to be slowing down Saddle Creek Records. My inbox is filling with news of new releases from our hometown record label despite the inability for bands to tour.

Top of the list is the new one by Canadian rockers Land of Talk, Indistinct Conversations, which drops July 31 (It was originally slated for release in May). This is the fourth album for the trio fronted by Elizabeth Powell, coming 12 years after their 2008 Saddle Creek debut, Some Are Lakes.

Last week the band released the fifth single from the album, a video for the song, “Now You Want to Live in the Light.” Check it, and preorder the album here.

Perhaps the label’s most way-out-there project, Young Jesus, announced Welcome to Conceptual Beach will drop Aug. 14 on Saddle Creek.

From the hype sheet: “This is Conceptual Beach, a place John Rossiter, vocalist/guitarist of Los Angeles-based Young Jesus, describes as his long-time mental refuge, where he imagines himself living—like a medieval, stigmata-wrought hermit—all his needs for okay-ness finally met. But for the first time, he’s opening up and inviting others to join him there.”

The first single, “Root and Crown,” is a gorgeous track that hopefully points toward where the band is headed on this album. Check it and order pre-order the album here.

Finally, the next installment in Saddle Creek’s Document singles series is the label’s first foray into drone metal.

The band, Divide And Dissolve, is “a heavy two-piece utilizing drums, guitar, saxophone & live efx music designed to decolonize & dismantle white supremacy,” according to their Facebook page. The duo from Kulin Nation (Melbourne) is “Takiaya Reed (Black & Tsalagi [Cherokee]) and Sylvie Nehill (Māori),” according to the one-sheet.

“RVR” b/w “8VA” drops Aug. 7. Check out the A-side below and pre-order here.

What else does Saddle Creek have up its sleeve for 2020?


And who else has been keeping busy?

Well, today local indie band Uh Oh released yet another video off their 2019 album Stay Close, this one for the song “True Blue.” Check it out below and download the album from their bandcamp page.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bandcamp Friday again and here’s where you should spend your money; masked #BFF tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:07 pm July 3, 2020
The brand-spankin’ new SPEED! Nebraska T-shirt available at their Bandcamp page.

Once again, Bandcamp is waiving its fees today on all sales to help artists trying to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. So today your purchases at Bandcamp mean even more to your favorite bands. Saddle Creek Records and a lot of other labels are also passing along digital revenue to their artists.

Here some other great Bandcamp pages to check out and buy-buy-buy stuff:

SPEED! Nebraska — Home to recordings by the likes of Wagon Blasters, Mercy Rule, Frontier Trust and The Mezcal Brothers, among others, as well as a ton of super-cool merch like the brand new SPEED Nebraska T-shirt shown above.

Max Trax Records — Home to Little Brazil, Leafblower, Pro-Magnum and a ton more, as well as more sweet, sweet merch. Omaha’s third biggest label? Probably not, but pretty cool.

15 Passenger — Home to Cursive, Criteria and campdogzz as well as the wee lad Tim Kasher. Lots o’ digital and vinyl and cool merch, because you need something cool to wear to O’Leaver’s.

Simon Joyner — Simon always has special deals on Bandcamp Fridays. This time it’s a CD of Hotel Lives Demos from 1999-2000, limited to 100 copies, and a CD of an unreleased 6-song EP collaboration with The Bruces called A Pleasure Then, from 2003, limited to 75 copies. Tons more.

Dereck Higgins — The Omaha legend has a mountain of music available, including his just-released 4-song EP STRENGTH.

Digital Leather — Shawn Foree is nothing less than a diabolical genius if not a musical one, and you can’t go wrong by buying any of his releases.

Flight School — Did I use the word “genius”? It’s a word I reserve only for the truly gifted, like Einstein, Picasso and Flight School. Don’t get lost down this rabbit hole of a website without spending some money.

Matt Whipkey — I think it’s safe to say Matt not only is talented but also prolific, based on this page. Tons of music reaching back to his days with The Movies and Anonymous American all the way to his latest project, the incendiary Unexplained Death.

David Nance — Including David Nance Group, a ton here from his ground-breaking Peaced and Slightly Pulverized to his take on Beatles for Sale. Weird fun!

I’m sure I missed someone/something. If I missed your Bandcamp page, put it in the comments section…

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Tonight is what I’m guessing to be the first Benson First Friday during these Days of COVID. A number of Benson galleries are giving it a try using capacity limits, mask requirements and basically no food and drink inside the galleries.

Among those participating is The Little Gallery, 5901 Maple Street (the east bay below the Masonic Lodge building), which tonight is hosting the opening of Silent Spring, a group show featuring new work created under quarantine by Joe Addison, Alex Jochim, Caitlin Little and Trudy Swanson. The opening runs from 6 to 9 p.m. If you go, you might find this masked man sitting outside somewhere.

That’s it for the weekend. Hard to believe it’s July and we still don’t have live rock music, but that’s just the way it goes. Keep wearing a mask when you go in public and we may get live music back on our stages sooner!

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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Indie music’s Libera Awards tonight (will Saddle Creek take home the prize?); Dereck Higgins live stream…

Category: Blog,Column — Tags: , , , — @ 12:50 pm June 18, 2020
Dereck Higgins performs a live streamed concert tonight at Low End.

Who doesn’t like an awards show, especially one focused on music?

No, I’m not talking about The Grammy’s, I’m talkin’ ’bout the Libera Awards, brought to you by the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), the trade group for the indie music industry.

For the first time, the awards show is going to be streamed live for free, tonight starting at 5:30 p.m.

It’s sort of like the Grammy’s for indie rock. For example, the bands nominated for Album of the Year: FKA Twigs, Angel Olsen, Brittany Howard, Orville Peck and Big Thief. Big Thief, formerly on our very own Saddle Creek Records (now on 4AD), also is nominated for Best Alternative Rock album, and will be performing live at the ceremony.

Once again this year, Saddle Creek Records has been nominated for the Label of the Year (Medium) award, alongside 4AD, ATO, Sacred Bones and Drag City. Will the Creek take home the coveted Libera? You’ll have to tune in to find out. Register for free here.

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Also tonight, Omaha legend Dereck Higgins is performing a virtual concert streamed live from The Bemis Center’s Low End performance space.

For his performance, he will play a variety of his electronic compositions with live accompaniment as well as improvise several ambient pieces created on the spot,” Bemis writes. The stream begins via Facebook and Twitch (twitch.com/bemiscenter) starting at 8 p.m.

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Finally, this month’s Over the Edge column in The Reader is all about the fashion of face masks, and includes an interview with Fashion Institute Midwest’s Denise Ervin. Who would have thought Billie Eilish and Gucci could be so precog as to know face masks would become fashion staples months before the pandemic? Read the column here.


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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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New Big Nope (Nate Van Fleet); Saddle Creek on Apple’s COVID fund; Creek’s ‘Month of the Album’ offer…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:33 pm April 13, 2020

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Happy Monday. How about a slice of pop candy to brighten up your home offices (or whatever)…

Last week See Through Dresses’ drummer Nate Van Fleet released another two-song EP from his band Big Nope. Recorded by Nate and STD bandmate Mathew Carroll last fall, listen for the Benson shout-out in A-side “Kid I” and enjoy the party slacker vibe of flip-side “Throwaways.” Both tracks are here. So when are we going to see Big Nope on stage? Hey, when are we going to see anyone again on stage?

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Last week Pitchfork published an article about Apple Music’s $50 million COVID-19 fund and what it means for indie labels. Apple’s program offers interest-free loans against future royalties to indie labels and distributors that earn more than $10,000 through Apple Music per quarter and have a deal with Apple.

While it seems like a generous officer, the details can get rather complicated as to who qualifies. And let’s face it, this isn’t a grant, it’s a loan, so while Apple may be waiving interest on that $50 mil, we’re talking about a company with $207 billion in free cash on hand.

Among those quoted in the Pitchfork article is Saddle Creek label exec Robb Nansel, who said he doesn’t plan on taking advantage of Apple’s generosity.

I’m interested to see what the terms are. It’s not like they’re just giving you free money.” Nansel is quoted as saying in the article. “They have a lot of cash and if they can help some people out that can be cash-strapped, it seems like it could be a good thing.”

That said, the last thing struggling labels need right now is to get further in debt.

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Speaking of Saddle Creek Records, the label has declared April the “Month of the Album” and is offering a 15 percent discount on its entire catalog with the offer code: SUPPORT. It makes it as good a time as any to finally pick up a copy of that Beep Beep album you’ve always wanted… Find out more.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Saddle Creek goes to SXSW; the Good Life hits the road; PUP, Screaming Females tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:50 pm March 4, 2020

Saddle Creek Records returns to South By Southwest.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Man, I miss going to South by Southwest in Austin. I attended the music festival for four or five years in a row back in the last decade. I haven’t been to SXSW since 2015. Look, if you can hit only one music festival, this is the one (CMJ was the other one, but that went belly up years ago).

SXSW is a great place to hear new bands, and Saddle Creek Records has always taken advantage of that fact, having seen a number of acts there over the years that would eventually join their roster. This year Saddle Creek is hosting a showcase at SXSW in partnership with Polyvinyl Records and Double Double Whammy.

Performing Saddle Creek bands are Frances Quinlan (of Hop Along fame), Tomberlin, Land of Talk (new album on the way), Disq (new album out this Friday) and Ada Lea. Joining them at Cheer Up Charlie’s for this official SXSW showcase March 18 are Yumi Zouma, Great Grandpa, Anna Burch, Long Beard, Squirrel Flower, Sean Henry and McKinley Dixon.

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The Good Life announced today that they’re launching a summer tour in honor of the 16th’s anniversary of the release of Album of the Year. The band will hit the road in June, and the tour includes a stop at The Waiting Room July 3!

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That big PUP show I told you about is tonight at The Waiting Room. Joining the band is Screaming Females and The Drew Thomson Foundation. $23, 8 p.m. Should be a corker.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Bright Eyes signs to Dead Oceans, to tour in 2020; new Meth Head Steamroller…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:47 pm January 21, 2020

Bright Eyes in the recording studio.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Bright Eyes eye chart clue from Instagram.

The clues were right in front of your eyes. Yesterday followers of the Bright Eyes Instagram site were treated to photos of cryptic concert posters that all but claimed a new record and tour.

Then this morning NME reported Bright Eyes will release a new album on Dead Oceans sometime in 2020. The End of the Road Festival in Larmer Tree Gardens in Dorset, England, Sept. 3-6 will be just one stop on a world tour that likely will take Conor Oberst, Nate Walcott and Mike Mogis everywhere (but not to Omaha, not yet anyway).

A video of the trio in the studio with a chamber orchestra was posted on the Dead Oceans twitter feed. This from the Dead Oceans press release:

And while 2020 is a year of milestones for the band, it’s also the year Bright Eyes returns, newly signed to indie label Dead Oceans. Amidst the current overwhelming uncertainty and upheaval of global and personal worlds, Oberst, Mogis, and Walcott reunited under the moniker as both an escape from, and a confrontation of, trying times. Getting the band back together felt right, and necessary, and the friendship at the core of the band has been a longtime pillar of Bright Eyes’ output. For Bright Eyes, this long-awaited re-emergence feels like coming home.”

Kind of, but if they were coming home, they would be coming back to Saddle Creek Records.

No one really thought that Bright Eyes was a dead entity. The collective is just another Oberst incarnation; it just happens to be his best incarnation. There’s a story there somewhere about why two of the crown jewels — Bright Eyes and Cursive — parted ways with the label they helped build. It can’t be money issues — could they really make that much more going to a different label (or creating their own)? Not likely; not these days.

While Oberst’s other recording projects were released on other labels, Bright Eyes was — and will always be — considered a Saddle Creek entity, no matter what Dead Oceans says or does. Saddle Creek was where the magic happened. The fact that Bright Eyes didn’t return to that label is the only sad note in this good news story.

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Maybe just as important as that Bright Eyes news is that Meth Head Steamroller — a project by the mysterious Benny Leather and mad king renaissance producer Ian Aeillo — dropped a new EP in Bandcamp. Enjoy!

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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Disq drops first track from upcoming Saddle Creek LP debut, Collector…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 1:29 pm January 8, 2020

Disq circa 2020.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Madison, Wisconsin indie rockers Disq are releasing their debut full-length Collector, March 6 on Saddle Creek Records.

This isn’t a huge surprise considering the band’s “Document-series” single “Communication” b/w “Parallel” was released by Saddle Creek last January and caught fire with the indie kids (It was one of my favorite tracks of 2019 as well).

From the Bandcamp page: “Produced by Rob Schnapf, Collector is a set of songs largely pulled from each of the five members’ demo piles over the years. They’re organic representations of each moment in time, gathered together to tell a mixtape-story of growing up in 21st century America.

Rob Schnapf has quite a track record. He co-produced Elliott Smith’s Either/Or, XO, Figure 8 and From a Basement on the Hill albums, and as a co-founder of Bong Load Records helped discover Beck and record his Mellow Gold album. Schnapf also is credited with producing albums by Guided by Voices, Tokyo Police Club, Dr. Dog, FIDLAR and Dilly Dally, among others.

I’ve seen Disq live a couple times and this first track is indicative of their stage style, which is slacker-fied heavy indie a la Pavement spliced with Weezer but with more refined compositions reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub. In an era of slick, vibe-fueled Yacht-rock-style indie (Tame Impala comes to mind) Disq gives me hope for a more rocking future.

You can pre-order vinly, CD and those goofy cassettes right here from the Saddle Creek store.

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

 

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The record distribution mess: Saddle Creek, 4AD and others leave ADA for Redeye Distribution…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — @ 1:45 pm January 7, 2020

Redeye is now the distributor for Saddle Creek Records.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

A couple weeks ago I read a rather lengthy and alarming story in Pitchfork where they talked about a company called Direct Shot and how it’s screwing up the distribution channels for record labels. It’s a long read, but it basically details how Direct Shot has dropped the ball getting vinyl and other orders to outlets.

Among the largest labels impacted by Direct Shot is Warner Music Group, who switched distributors to Direct Shot last April.

This switch also extended to the indie labels that work with Warner’s Alternative Distribution Alliance (ADA), which has Sub Pop, 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade, XL, Domino, and Saddle Creek listed as partners on its website. “ said the article.

Well, that switch really messed up a lot of labels’ ability to fulfill orders because of Direct Shot’s struggles with getting their part of the job — the distribution part — done efficiently.

I emailed Saddle Creek Records’ head honcho Robb Nansel at the time and asked if Saddle Creek was being impacted by the Direct Shot fiasco.

“It has impacted everyone, yes,” Nansel said, always a man of few words.

Welp, yesterday Saddle Creek was among a handful of indie labels that announced they have left ADA. The labels include 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade, Young Turks, Domino and XL. Their new distributor: North Carolina’s Redeye Distribution.

Over the years, I remember Redeye being a tiny player in the indie distribution game. Way back in March 2006 Mt. Fuji Records (the label operated by former Omahan Mike Jaworski and that included among its foster Little Brazil) signed a deal with Redeye, who at the time was working with the likes of  Yep Rock, Gern Blandsten, Flameshovel, Parasol and GSL.

Redeye was one of the small distro houses that made it possible for the little guys to get their records in stores across the country. So it’s kind of cool to see them playing a role in trying to fix the enormous distribution problems facing the music industry.

From the MusicBusiness Worldwide article about the deal:

Redeye feels like the right place for us to be,” said Saddle Creek’s Robb Nansel. “With a staff that is clearly made up of music fans and creators, we are excited to be a part of the independent community at Redeye and we look forward to growing together in the future.

No doubt the Direct Shot distribution headache has impacted record stores as well, including our very own Homer’s. Just ask Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt.

“It’s been one of the biggest challenges we have faced in my 40 years at music retail,” Fratt said. “With the move of a half dozen major indies to Redeye, they become a major player going forward.”

The move to Redeye may solve Saddle Creek’s and those other indies’ distro problems, but when it comes to the industry as a whole, there’s still a whole lot of work that needs to be done…

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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 © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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