High Up calls it quits (and goodbye Finks); Saddle Creek makes Paste list; new Jason Steady…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:45 pm January 7, 2019

High Up at The Slowdown, Nov. 28, 2015. The band announced this weekend that it’s breaking up.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Happy Monday. Here are a few news items from the past week…

Yesterday, High Up announced via Facebook that it’s calling it quits. From the post:

“Between beautiful and healthy new additions to Matt and Josh’s families and new journeys to other parts of the country for Orenda, Todd and Christine, we felt it was best to move on and move up, and we wish the same happiness and positive change to you and yours.”

The Finks moving from Omaha is a major blow to the local music scene. All three Finks were among the city’s most talented musicians, and will be greatly missed. Obviously, it could be a long time (if ever) until we see another Closeness concert in this city.

We likely wouldn’t have seen much of Todd next year anyway. The Faint will be busy with the release of Egowerk March 15 on Saddle Creek Records. No announcement has been made concerning a national tour, but you have to believe one is in the making. And Azure Ray just announced a couple January dates in San Francisco and Brooklyn. Could more be on the way?

High Up was one of Omaha’s biggest hopes for breaking through to a larger audience after the release of their debut full-length You Are Here on Team Love Records in early 2018. But after some initial touring, things went quiet for the band. Here’s hoping frontwoman Christine Fink finds a new gig in Savannah — it’d be a shame to never hear those golden pipes again.

* * *

Saddle Creek Records got a nice tip o’ the hat from Paste Magazine last week when it made their list of the 10 best record labels of 2018.

Saddle Creek, the Nebraska label that started as a college class project in 1993, now boasts one of the most focused rosters in indie rock,” said the article, which also lists such stalwart labels as Sub Pop, Merge and Secretly Canadian among the best.

Matador Records topped the list at No. 1, and See Through Dresses’ label, Tiny Engines, was named Boutique Label of the Year. See the full list here.

* * *

Finally, last Thursday Jason Steady (Talking Mountain, Wolf Dealer) released a new video for the track “Deep Lucy.”

Cosmic midwestern music! I’ll be touring again in May with my buddy Chris (Slushy/Lemons/Nobunny/Cowboys/etc.) and this song is part of a forthcoming release,” he said.

Check it below:

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Lazy-i Best of 2018

It’s the final day to ask for a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2018 Comp CD. The collection includes my favorite indie tunes I’ve come across throughout last year as part of my tireless work as a music critic for Lazy-i. Tracks include songs by J Masic, Sextile, Father John Misty, Campdogzz, Those Far Out Arrows, Boygenius, Your Smith, Nik Freitaz, Ron Gallo, Adrianne Lenker and lots more. The full track listing is here, or listen on Spotify.

To enter to win a copy of the CD either: 1) Send an email with your mailing address to tim.mcmahan@gmail.com, or 2) Let me know you want one via Facebook comments, or 3) Retweet a Lazy-i tweet (If you use social media and win, I’ll reach out later for your mailing address). Hurry, contest deadline is tonight at midnight.

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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 © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Vinyl drove Homer’s sales increases in 2016; Closeness new EP on Graveface 2/24…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , , — @ 1:40 pm January 12, 2017

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Homer’s General Manager Mike Fratt sent out his annual sales letter to the media a few days ago, and it’s good news: Homer’s business was up 4.5 percent in 2016.

“Vinyl drove the increase, though lifestyle helped,” Fratt said, referencing so-called lifestyle products — i.e., non-recorded products (i.e., trinkets).

Vinyl sales boomed by a robust 18 percent, and new vinyl sales overtook new CD sales in gross dollars. That’s because vinyl costs about $25 per unit, while CDs cost on average around $11.  In fact, CD sales slumped 2 percent last year at Homer’s partially due to retail price declines, Fratt said. Overall CD unit sales were basically flat, off by only 110 units.

“But unit sales in new CDs were were well over two times that of new vinyl,” Fratt said.

Despite that impressive 4.5 percent year-over-year business increase, Fratt says Homer’s has no plans for expansion in 2017. “Running one great store matters more than a handful of average stores,” he said.

Fratt also had some thoughts on my “vision of 2017” that said vinyl sales will plateau in 2017 nationally. He said that peak won’t be reached until 2019 or 2020.

“While the increase (in vinyl sales) is not as great as the last couple years, it’s still significant,” Fratt said. “Add the fact that boomers are now digging out their turntables and playing records again. It’s really quite stunning how wide the demographic is buying vinyl now. So lots of gas still in the tank on vinyl.”

And, Fratt added, Homer’s sold 150 8-track tapes in 2016. Somehow I can’t see that medium making a return.

Top vinyl sellers for Homer’s in 2016: Twenty One Pilots: Vessel and Blurryface; David Bowie, Blackstar; Adele, 25; Radiohead, Moon Shaped Pool; and Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago.

Top CD sellers for Homer’s: Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface; Rolling Stones, Blue & Lonesome; Melanie Martinez, Cry Baby; Chris Stapleton, Traveller; Kevin Gates, Islah; and David Bowie, Blackstar.

* * *

Todd and Orenda Fink as seen in negativeland…

Closeness, the dreamy electronic duo of Orenda and Todd Fink, will release their debut EP, Personality Therapy, Feb. 24 on Graveface Records. The Savannah label counts Xiu, Xiu, Whirr, Dosh, The Appleseed Cast and Black Moth Super Rainbow among its roster.

Check out the first single below. BTW, the Finks will be performing at SXSW this year….

* * *

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Decemberists, Nas headline 80/35; those busy Finks (Closeness, Cho-Cho & Dasheen)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:49 pm April 6, 2016

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 12.41.16 PM

80 / 35 Festival

The folks behind Des Moines’ 80/35 this morning released the lineup for their July 8-9 music festival.  The Friday night headliner is hip-hop legacy artist Nas; Saturday night’s headliner is Decemberists, who played in Omaha last year.

The 2016 festival also features electronic jam band Lotus, recently reunited Canadian indie rockers Wolf Parade and Atlanta punk rockers Black Lips. Eclectic San Francisco pop group Thao & The Get Down Stay Down; Minneapolis queen of pop and hip-hop Lizzo; Jeff Austin Band, featuring the former Yonder Mountain String Band leader; and the poetic storyteller of The Hold Steady, Craig Finn, round out top of the bill.”


Read the whole list here. More names to be added in May. One assumes this bodes well for the Maha Music Festival. Hopefully Team Maha got all the good bands first. We’ll find out soon.

* * *

The Finks — Orenda & Todd — recently announced a couple new projects which you may or may not be aware of.

Cho-Cho & Dasheen is a collaboration between The Finks, Jake Bellows, Morgan Nagler and a number of local musicians the band met while recording in Jamaica. The band’s first release is a 7” titled Cool Pool Reggae, due out on Record Store Day, April 16, limited to 500 copies. Is this a real project or a vacation project — i.e., will we ever see Cho-Cho & Dasheen perform live?

A project we’ll definitely see perform live is Closeness, described as “moody electronic songs written, performed and produced by Todd and Orenda Fink.” The duo’s first live performance is April 30 at O’Leaver’s with Thick Paint and Spaced_Bar.

Busy, busy, busy. I assume Todd also will be playing with Digital Leather tomorrow night when the band opens for Har Mar Superstar at The Waiting Room.

OK, so what’s going on with The Faint?

* * *

One show worth mentioning: Brad Hoshaw is doing three hours of acoustic music tonight at the Harney Street Tavern. The performance starts at 9 and is free. Will Brad be rolling out a cover of “The Fightin’ Side of Me” in honor of the legend?

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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


The Faint’s Todd Fink on their return, their new music, and their new attitude (and Digital Leather); Scaphe, Goon Saloon tonight…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , — @ 12:54 pm June 12, 2014
The Faint play at Sokol Auditorium tomorrow night and The Waiting Room Saturday night.

The Faint play at Sokol Auditorium tomorrow night and The Waiting Room Saturday night.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This week’s issue of The Reader features my cover story/interview with Todd Fink of The Faint. The interview was actually conducted months ago, before the band went out on tour, but as Todd said, not much happens on tour, so the data is still current.

Topics include their hiatus, their return, SQE, Saddle Creek, as well as Todd’s roll in Digital Leather and how that experience impacted the songs he wrote with The Faint. You can read the article in the paper or online right here. Go read it!

As of this writing, $20 tickets are still available for both Friday night’s Faint concert at Sokol Auditorium and Saturday night’s show at The Waiting Room. Tix info at onepercentproductions.com.

* * *

The Brothers Lounge has a show tonight with Minneapolis double-bass band Scaphe. Powerslop and Garoted also are on the bill. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, Greenstreet Cycles is hosting its all-city party at its new temporary digs at 2452 Harney St. (making way for the CWS). Goon Saloon performs. Fun starts at 7:30. More info here.

And speaking of cycling, read Pt. 2 of my series on Omaha B-cycle and what it will take to make Omaha a bike-commuting-friendly city. Ben Turner of B-cycle is interviewed. It’s in this week’s issue of The Reader and online right 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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


First Listen: The Faint returns (in fine form) with Doom Abuse; John Klemmensen / food bank benefit tonight…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 1:04 pm March 26, 2014

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

The Faint, Doom Abuse (2014, SQE) is out April 8.

The Faint, Doom Abuse (2014, SQE) is out April 8.

The Faint’s promo company, Big Hassle, is distributing the band’s new album, Doom Abuse, to various and sundry journalists, including yours truly. It’s good. In fact, it’s Blank-Wave-Arcade good.

“Evil Voices” was the record’s first wait-what-the-f***-is-this? moment. It has my vote for first single, though I guess “Help in the Head” has that honor as it’s being premiered on NPR right now (here) with the laser-site-paranoia video for the song up at Pitchfork (here).

“Loss of Head” was another a-ha moment; it sounds like a radio track. As straight-forward as The Faint has ever been.

Another song that raised an eyebrow was album-closer “Damage Control,” which takes the song “B12” by Shawn Foree project Mere Mortals and adds different lyrics and synth textures. There is no mistaking that amazing synth hook at the front end. Foree, who fronts Digital Leather, said he co-wrote “Damage Control” with Faint frontman Todd Fink, who also plays synths in Digital Leather. Needless to say, it’s another highlight in an album filled with them.

As a whole, the record is more immediate than any previous Faint record — and by that I mean there is a no-nonsense, straight-forward approach to each track. I read the band got in and got out quickly on this one — no fucking around, no over-thinking — and it sounds like it. You’ll find out for yourself when the album is released April 8 on SQE Records, though I have no doubt it’ll leak in its entirety before then on NPR or Huffington or some other mega-website (Hey, why not leak it on Lazy-i and give my core 300 readers a head start?).

BTW, once this record gets around, that June 13 Faint show at Sokol Auditorium will sell out. You may want to beat the stampede and buy your tickets now.

* * *

After a rather dull 2013 this has been a very solid first quarter of new music. For those of you wondering where the quarterly wrap-up is, I’m working on it now. Album reviews are easily the hardest thing to write — harder than interviews, features or live reviews. Stay tuned.

* * *

There’s a benefit going on tonight at The Pizza Shoppe in Benson for Food Bank for the Heartland. Featured performer is John Klemmensen and The Party. The music starts at 6 p.m. and there’s no cover, though 10 percent of your food purchases will go to cover the food bank’s administration costs. More info here.  Go ahead, eat pizza.

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


The Faint’s new album Doom Abuse out April 8 on SQE; Cursive plays an old oldie (but a goodie)…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 1:48 pm February 25, 2014
The Faint, circa now.

The Faint, circa now.

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I read it early this morning on Faintbook: The Faint have a new album coming out. Titled Doom Abuse, the new record hits the streets April 8 on SQE Music, home to CSS, Johnathan Rice, Desert Noises, among others.

According to the SQE website: “In the spring of 2013, The Faint existed again. Anxious to make new music the band recorded a 4-song white label 12” they referred to as ‘Preversions.’ That music, primal and punk rock in its approach, became the unplanned blueprint for Doom Abuse.  The band booked time with longtime collaborator Mike Mogis to mix the album before even really having songs written.

The entire album took three months to make, according to SQE. “Since much of Fasciinatiion was made sitting behind computers, the musicians wanted to embrace a live sensibility and collective rawness. A lot of the record was created live in the room, with first takes and first ideas taking precedent.”

Read the whole SQE write-up here.  Fans can pre-order the record right now on iTunes for $7.99 and can immediately buy and download the first single, “Help in the Head.” Needless to say, a tour will follow.

I guess we kind of knew this was coming all the way back in 2011 when this article came out (followed by this article). Everything seemed to be in place for the band to continue on without Joel Peteresen, and thankfully it has. So can The Faint pick up where they left off six years ago? And what about Digital Leather, Todd Fink’s other band, which is scheduled to perform at SXSW in a few weeks (at at O’Leaver’s this Friday night)? And finally, is there a place in The Faint’s future for Saddle Creek Records, the band’s original label? It seems unlikely, but you never know…

* * *

Speaking of old-time Saddle Creek acts, Cursive just released a new live performance video of Ugly Organ staple “A Gentleman Caller,” via LoveDrunk. The video was shot around the same time as the December trio of live shows at The Waiting Room. Take a look:

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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 © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Notes: RS premieres new Kasher track; Finks’ Hell for Breakfast; New Maria Taylor; the week ahead, No Blood Orphan Friday, Love Language Sunday…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:22 pm August 28, 2013

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Rolling Stone yesterday premiered “Truly Freaking Out,” a track from Tim Kasher’s upcoming Saddle Creek release Adult Film (due Oct. 8). You should check it out.

I like this new Kasher album more than his Monogamy/Bigamy solo records. It seems more thought out and complete, more than a refacing of Good Life or Cursive tunes. Kasher’s thrown in a lot of interesting sonic twists. Like RS said, “Truly Freaking Out” is buoyed by “bloopy bass barrels… and fuzzy, escalating synths…” It’s strangely retro. And the keyboards on “The Willing Cuckold” and “Life and Limbo” also shift the usual Kasher melodies to new places. In fact, the keyboards throughout the record are the difference-maker between this and other Kasher-fronted projects.

Lyrically, pretty dark. Kasher — a self-proclaimed atheist — appears to be coming to grips with his mortality, as well as his loved ones’ impending end. Listen too close and you’re in for a bummer of a ride. Regardless, Adult Film is the most satisfying record Kasher has produced since Help Wanted Nights.

* *

Todd and Orenda Fink have launched a “lifestyle blog” called Hell for Breakfast. Yes, it contains music (the duo perform as Low Angle Eyes), but it also has other cool stuff like art and video and various writings. The latest posted recording is of the duo covering Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties” during last week’s Saddle Creek Shop / Omaha Public Library event. Go to the website to hear and see more…

* * *

Speaking of members of Azure Ray…

Maria Taylor, Something About Knowing (Saddle Creek, 2013)

Maria Taylor, Something About Knowing (Saddle Creek, 2013)

Maria Taylor announced last week that Saddle Creek will be releasing her next solo album Oct. 29, titled Something About Knowing. The record was influenced by “the life-changing joy and newfound responsibility of being a first-time parent.” Maria said she recorded it during her son’s naps and its brimming with “bliss and contentment.” Should be quite a contrast to Kasher’s record, eh? Ol‘ Mike Mogis was apparently behind the knobs on this one, and Andy LeMaster (Hey, whatever happened to Now It’s Overhead?) mixed two songs.

* * *

Since I’ll be out the rest of the week, here are the highlights from the music calendar for the balance of the week and weekend.

Tonight (Aug. 28) Lincoln punk band Tie These Hands headlines a show at Slowdown Jr. with Eli Mardock and Saltwater Sanctuary. $5, 9 p.m.

Also tonight (Aug. 28) Columbus Ohio band Emily and the Complexes play at The Sydney with Saturn Moth. It’s probably $5 and probably starts around 10.

Thursday (Aug. 29) Under Water Dream Machine plays at The Barley Street with Love Technicians and Portland act There Is No Mountain. $5, 9 p.m. While I’m thinking about it, there’s only 12 days left in the Bret Vovk/Nick Carl Kickstarter campaign, and they’re still a few hundred dollars from their target. Help these brothers out

No Blood Orphan, Top Shelf/Lost Tricks (Ant, 2013)

No Blood Orphan, Top Shelf/Lost Tricks (Ant, 2013)

Friday night (Aug. 30) it’s the return of No Blood Orphan to O’Leaver’s. Consider it a reunion show, with all five classic No Blood Orphan members (Bartolomei, Cox, Esterbrooks, Phillips, Saklar) returning for one special performance. In fact, Mike Saklar emailed to say that in addition to No Blood Orphan, there will be “mini-sets” by: Stephen Bartolomei (Mayday, McCarthy Trenching); Chris Machmuller (So So Sailors, Ladyfinger); McCarthy Trenching (So So Sailors, Mal Madrigal); Lincoln Dickison (Chromafrost); Cricket Kirk/Custom Catacombs (Dirty Fluorescents) and more. Available at the show will be a new clear vinyl 7″ and a dual-EP CD titled Top Shelf and Lost Tricks. This one will be special $5, 9:30 p.m.

Sunday night (Sept. 1) there’s a pretty sweet show going on at O’Leaver’s — Merge Records band The Love Language headlines a show with Pony Wars and No, I’m the Pilot. It’s listed as a 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $7 and are actually being presold right here. A ticketed, early show at O’Leaver’s? Will wonders never cease… You’ve got Monday off, so there’s no excuses for missing this one.

* * *

Have a happy Labor Day. Say goodbye to summer…

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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 © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 341: More Questions (and Answers) with The Faint; Deleted Scenes tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:40 pm September 15, 2011

The Faint press photo

Column 341: More Questions (and Answers) with The Faint

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

This week continues last week’s interview with Todd Fink and Jacob Thiele of The Faint, who, along Clark Baechle, also make up Depressed Buttons. DP had its world premier at House of Loom last Friday night.

I figured while I had Fink and Thiele on the line, I might as well ask a few questions that have been burning in the back of my mind for a long time. Questions like:

Why did it take so long — sometimes between three to four years — for The Faint to put out a record? Will writing music for Depressed Buttons be faster than writing music for The Faint? 

“Yes,” Fink said, “but anything would be faster, absolutely anything. Writing a symphony would be faster.”

The story goes that The Faint has always been run like a democracy — nothing gets done without unanimous consent from every band member, which also includes guitarist Dapose and former bassist Joel Petersen. And as we all know by watching our own government, democracy can bring progress to a grinding halt.

“We could bang out a song quickly,” Thiele said, “but then a couple months later, we would decide that we should probably do a version with a different bass line, and then do a whole new version.”

“The fact that we were too democratic was a problem,” Fink said. “There were too many people who were full of themselves. If there was a bully in the band, it was probably me. Making records is tough if you want them to be any good. Having a record done is always so awesome, but it started to become more work than it was worth. It got harder each time, and less fun.”

Fink, who wrote The Faint’s lyrics, also said coming up with the words could be tough, especially since he has a rather random thought pattern. “It’s kind of hard for me to write songs that make linear sense,” he said. “I don’t think the words themselves are hard if you have something to say, but I don’t like to write when I don’t have anything on my mind.”

So why not simply tour with old material? Are you afraid you’d be milking your past success?

“When you go on tour and don’t have a new record, you lose momentum,” Fink said. “Your name is not out there as much, and you’re not in people’s consciousness. It’s inevitable that you’re attendance will go down. And that could be fine, but that is milking it, and eventually you end up with no more milk.”

Still, Fink and Thiele said you’re more likely to see The Faint on stage before you hear a new Faint album. “We love playing shows,” Thiele said. “At this point, we’re putting our efforts into Depressed Buttons. But I’m guessing someday something will come up and someone will want (The Faint) to play a show.”

“It’ll probably be a festival tour,” Fink added. “It’s a big deal for us to get to the point where our show is ready to go. There’s a lot more involved than anyone understands. If we’re going to do a show, were going to do a tour; it would be a huge cost time-wise to do just one show.”

In fact, Fink said The Faint may never make another album. “It seems more likely that we’d just play shows and record a couple songs, because albums… I don’t know about albums,” he said. “It would be cool if you could put them out on vinyl, but otherwise I don’t know why everyone has to put out a collection. We knew when we made the last CD that it would be our last CD, even though we weren’t planning on breaking up.”

If recording is now going to take a back seat to performing, then what about Enamel, the 100-year-old brick building renovated as a state-of-the-art recording studio in downtown Omaha, owned and operated by The Faint?

Thiele said Enamel was always former member Joel Petersen’s idea. “It was sort of his project, his idea to spend our money on it,” Thiele said. “He was recording and mixing bands there for awhile. But he didn’t want to stick around and do it.” Petersen, as mentioned last week, has moved to Los Angeles.

Thiele said the band now uses Enamel for personal projects, including Depressed Buttons, and also rents the space to other bands — a process that resulted in one band’s engineer blowing up some of their sound equipment. Fink said once the studio is back up and running, bookings will resume “and maybe (we’ll) get someone in there that takes it on full-time. We’ll use it when it’s not being used.”

Finally, whatever happened to Goo, the off-the-hook dance party series that launched at The Slowdown shortly after the club opened in 2007?

Fink said Goo parties were hugely successful, that is until Slowdown decided to make the parties 21-and-over. “We thought that room would be too big to do without (the under-21 crowd),” Fink said. “That’s where the energy is — the kids that show up early and start dancing. We were worried that it would become a crappy party, so we only do Goo for holidays and special events, which has been awesome. We’ve decided not to do anymore at Slowdown for now, and are going to try restarting it at Loom on Oct. 28 for Halloween.”

The Halloween connection makes sense, since costumes have always been a part of Goo, whose DJs also included Derek Pressnall (Tilly and the Wall, Icky Blossoms) and Nate Smith. “The difference between Depressed Buttons and Goo is that Goo is kind of a dress-up party centered around themes,” Fink said. “We play classic stuff, some ridiculous things, some indie remixes, some hip-hop, even some commercial-type stuff. Goo is the gateway to actual electronic dance music.”

“For Goo, we’ll play whatever it takes to make a great moment, even it’s the theme song from Team America or MC Hammer,” Thiele said. “We kind of live to see who can play the craziest shit sometimes.”

“Depressed Buttons is more of an artistic expression,” Fink said. “We listen to hundreds of thousands of electronic producers and come up with the best things on the planet (according to us) and share that vision and sound.”

* * *

And though this is getting rather long in the tooth, there’s still more with The Faint that I couldn’t get to in this column or Pt. 1:

What do you think of the Loom concept?

Fink: I think Loom is great. I think Brent (Crampton, one of the founders of Loom) really is good for Omaha, bringing people together, creating awareness for art and music, cultural diversity issues, I think it’s cool that he has a hub at House of Loom to host all this kind of stuff. We’ll see how it is as a dance club. I’ve really only been dancing there once so far. It’s kind of weird to me because it’s a bar, but I think we can turn it into more of a club feel.

With The Faint on hiatus, how do you guys make a living?

Fink: I married a successful musician (Orenda Fink, whose projects have included numerous solo records, O+S, Art in Manila and, of course, Azure Ray), so I’m kind of really lucky in that way. We’re doing fine, but at the same time, we’re living in a house that I bought from a friend 12 years ago and really don’t have much mortgage to pay.

We make a pretty decent living going around DJing; it pays well. It’s on par with what we made with The Faint, which was not much. We never made much money because we bought that building, and then the studio.

So Todd, how did  you end up back in Omaha after moving so many times?

Fink: The last place I lived was Athens, Georgia. I like it there, and it’s no secret that it’s great. We looked at houses there, but all the good places in town are expensive. You don’t get much at all. A tiny house (in Athens) costs twice what it costs here. And we’ve bought enough houses to where we’re really picky. We really want the location to be right and we want the house to be right. It’s prohibitively expensive to get everything you want in Athens. Orenda wanted to move back, and the master plan was to live in this house and never worry about money, and we could leave during the winter and enjoy the summers here.

That’s it for now. If you missed Pt. one of the interview, check it out here. To find out more about Loom, check out their website.

* * *

Tonight at O’Leaver’s, it’s the return of Deleted Scenes. Their latest album, Young People’s Church of the Air, was released Sept. 6 on Sockets Records and already has garnered a 7.8 rating at Pitchfork (right here). The band describes itself as “something like the Dismemberment Plan playing under water.” With their dreamcore arrangements and heavy use of delay throughout the recording, I’m more apt to compare their sound to Beach House. Check out their latest video (produced by Love Drunk) and decide for yourself. Also on the bill is Betsy Wells and The Benningtons. $5, 9:30 p.m.

* * *

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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


You don’t have to dance if you don’t want to (The Faint’s Todd Fink on the politics of dancing)…

Category: Blog,Interviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:50 pm September 13, 2011

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

I received some lively feedback (mostly on my Facebook page) from yesterday’s blog entry regarding House of Loom and Depressed Buttons, which made me want to share the following from last week’s interview with Todd Fink and Jacob Thiele that didn’t make it into the column due to space constraints.

I asked Todd and Jacob if people need to dance to enjoy Depressed Buttons’ music. Todd provided this rather profound response that cuts at the heart of people’s apprehension to dance in public:

“I just acquired a small couch or loveseat for the studio of my home where I just lie and listen to music. I have an awesome sound system in here with a sub woofer so you can make it sound just like a club. I’ll just lie on that thing and play dance music as loud as I can, louder than playing rock music — you can’t listen to rock music that loud because it just turns into noise.

“So no, you don’t have to move your body at all, but it’s physically cathartic, and it’s a good exercise for your ego to dance, even if you think you’re terrible, because you’re saying, ‘I don’t care. I’m getting to know my body enough to know I don’t care what anybody thinks about how I look.’ That’s a hard place to get to. We’re not conditioned to do that automatically. I’m proud of hippies when they dance — they’ve gotten above worrying about their dance moves. It feels good to connect with the rhythm of sound to the larger movements of your body instead of just the inner workings of your brain. I listen to dance music all the time, but I don’t dance all the time.”

There’s a ton more from this interview — including why it took The Faint so long to write and record songs (and the roll of band democracy), lyric writing and future Faint recording projects, what’s happening with Enamel recording studio, and the difference between Goo and Depressed Buttons. It’s all in this week’s column, which goes online (and in print) Thursday.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Column 340: Todd Fink on the future of The Faint and the rise of Depressed Buttons; Bon Iver tonight…

Category: Blog,Column,Interviews — Tags: , , , , , — @ 12:33 pm September 8, 2011
Depressed Buttons, from left, Jacob Thiele, Todd Fink, Clark Baechle.

Depressed Buttons, from left, Jacob Thiele, Todd Fink and Clark Baechle.

Column 340: He Disappeared: The Rise of Depressed Buttons

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

It’s not possible to talk about the debut of Depressed Buttons at hot new dance club House of Loom on Sept. 9 without first talking about the apparent demise of The Faint.

Three members of The Faint — frontman Todd Fink, keyboardist Jacob Thiele and drummer Clark Baechle — make-up Depressed Buttons. So before we talked about the new project, Fink and Thiele set the record straight on The Faint, who haven’t released an album since 2008’s Fasciinatiion or performed live since their appearance at the 2010 MAHA Music Festival. Is the band kaput?

“I would say that it’s not happening,” Fink said last week via a phone call that included Thiele. “It could happen again, but it’s not happening and there are no plans for it to happen at this point. Joel moved to California, and I guess he quit.”

Joel is The Faint’s bass player, Joel Petersen. “He doesn’t want to do the band,” Thiele said. “He really kind of lost interest a while ago. He doesn’t really want us to do the band without him because he wouldn’t like the music we’d make. This way he’s not embarrassed by The Faint’s music.”

“He quit the band and assumes the band was over when he quit,” Fink added. “But we’re not just characters in his life. We all have invested the same amount of energy into the band, and felt like we could do it. His quitting is just that, and if we did do some more shows, we would consider checking with him to see if he wanted to do it, but assume he would not.”

Fink said the remaining members of the band talked about doing a Faint tour next year in conjunction with a possible rerelease of Danse Macabre, The Faint’s career-defining album, released 10 years ago this past Aug. 21. The record sold 147,000 copies, making it the band’s all-time bestseller and among the best selling Saddle Creek Records releases. A new live show would be center on Danse Macabre “and maybe Blank-Wave Arcade,” Fink said. “I’d like to see those two remastered. I think they could be improved a lot.”

If Petersen declined an invitation, Fink said, “We could do it with four of us. There’s plenty of people in the band, or we could find someone else, too. I’d rather just do it with the four of us.” The band is rounded out by guitarist Dapose.

As for Petersen, Fink said his quitting was the right thing to do if he didn’t want to be in the band. “I don’t have any hard feelings about it,” Fink said. “People are just complicated.”

Through Fink, Petersen said he didn’t want to comment for this article. There’s more to The Faint story and everything surrounding it, which will appear in next week’s column.

Fink said Depressed Buttons grew out of Faint after parties DJ’d by Fink, Thiele and Baechle. “One thing led to another and we ended up doing that a lot,” Fink said. “We found ourselves wanting music that we couldn’t find, and thinking we should just make our own tracks, what we want to play.”

The trio soon began taking more bookings outside of the after parties. Fink said Petersen, who doesn’t like DJs, didn’t want the events to be listed as “The Faint DJs.”

“So we thought of a new name, Depressed Buttons, to kind of make fun of electronic music,” Fink said.

Last December, Depressed Buttons released its first EP, QWERTY, on Mad Decent, an L.A.-based label owned by Thomas Wesley Pentz, a.k.a. Diplo, the Grammy-nominated producer of “Paper Planes,” by M.I.A. “We plan to keep releasing our originals through them,” Fink said.

Depressed Buttons also has remixed such acts as Of Montreal, Boy 8-Bit, Boys Noize, Shinichi Osawa, Teenage Bad Girl, Herr Styler, CSS, LOL Boys, Para One, Reset!, Felix Cartal, Tony Senghore, Tommie Sunshine, O+S, Autoerotic, Beataucue and Crookers.

The trio’s DJ stints have included NYC’s Webster Hall, Moscow’s Solyanka Club, shows in Vienna, Nottingham, Berlin, and a headlining gig in front of thousands at the mammoth Avalon Hollywood.

Fink said Depressed Buttons wasn’t made for Faint fans. “The point of it is different,” he said. “The Faint was songs. You could dance to them if you like the song. Depressed Buttons may have words, may have lyrics, does have samples, but think of it as instrumental music. If there are voices, they are used as other instruments.”

As for the upcoming Loom performance, which is part of a monthly residency at the club, “This is a dance party with club music,” Fink said. “There’s no performance aspect to it unless you like watching people tweak knobs and faders and press buttons. The point is to have fun and to dance and to expose Omaha to the type of things that are happening in the world in the electronic club scene. It’s some futuristic stuff; it’s not really for Faint fans, but we are people from The Faint.”

“Depressed Buttons is forward thinking, it’s one second ahead of the rest of the club scene,” Thiele added. “It’s sort of about the science of music. There’s a lot of new music being made that couldn’t have been made until now because the technology didn’t exist. If you’re in the right mindset, in the right club with the right vibe and sound system, it can be a really enlightening experience. I think some people prefer not to dance, but to close their eyes. It’s avant-garde.”

“You can’t go too crazy,” Fink responded, laughing. “It’s still dance music.”

Depressed Buttons performs Sept. 9 at House of Loom, 1012 So. 10th Street. The 21+ show starts at 10 p.m., cover is $5. For more information, go to houseofloom.com.

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Bon Iver, whose self-titled album (4AD/Jagjaguwar) received a whopping 9.5 by Pitchfork, and which now sits at No. 14 on the CMJ Radio 200 list, plays tonight at Stir Concert Cove. Tickets are still available at $35 a pop. Opening is Canadian alt-country singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards (MapleMusic). Show starts at 8 p.m.

Also tonight, Ft. Worth dreamcore band Burning Hotels returns to Omaha, this time at O’Leaver’s. The four-piece opened for Thunder Power and Mynabirds a year ago last May at TWR (read the review here). Wonder if they’ll have room for those fluorescent light fixtures… With Rock Paper Dynamite (headlining) and The Big Deep. 9:30, 5 p.m.

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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 © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.