lazyhome  •  reviews  •  hype  •  webboard  •  interviews  •  woodEe awards

Lazy-i indie rock interviews

Blog Archive table of contents



The Blog Archive -- Jan. 1, 2010 to March 18, 2010 -- Go to lazyhome for most-current entries

Lazy-i Interview: Holly Miranda; off to Austin; Chris Aponik report; RIP Alex Chilton... – March 18, 2010 – twitter icon

I was afraid that this feature story on Brooklyn singer/songwriter Holly Miranda came off a bit bitchy. It wasn't meant to sound that way, though I was a little annoyed that she chose not to answer any questions about her origins. That's her prerogative, of course, and I can't say that I blame her. I'm always amazed when musicians answer any questions that I pose to them. I'm just saying, it would have been nice to have a little more to work with for this article, but I made the best of what I had. Lemon. Lemonade. Etc. Take a look. She's opening for Steel Train at The Waiting Room next Tuesday, March 23. And her new album on XL is pretty amazing. I suggest you buy it and your tickets.

* * *

And so, I'm off to Austin for SXSW. I'll be there sometime this afternoon and Twitter updates and twitpics will follow. The first field report will be online tomorrow. I'll also be posting updates from colleague Chris Aponik, who's doing SXSW without a badge. He's been there for a couple days already. Here's Chris' first field report:

Good day shows at Beerland, Red 7, Emo's and Mohawk created conflicting choice around midday, so I just decided to stick with what I know I'll dig, instead of the mysterious unknown of buzz bands. For the first time ever, I don't have a badge so SXSW really is just a vacation for me. I have no expectations and not much desire to run around Austin all day. In fact, SXSW is starting to sprawl out too much to really run venue to venue every hour, which is what I did the first two years here.

So what did Wednesday bring? Well the continuing evolution of Lafayette, Ind.'s TV Ghost for starters. The band has improved over everything on its first album, Cold Fish, and then seems to be descending deeper into their own world of slow-burn post-punk menace. Singer Timmy Eick abuses his guitar and sings as if he's been cast in The Exorcist, while his band provides ice-cold synth and pummeling rhythms behind him. There also was good stuff from Woven Bones, who play a taut wave of rock 'n roll that could be called "shoegaze", but to my ears, really isn't. These two shows cemented my choice to stay at Beerland, which soon after reached capacity. Rather than lose my spot to go catch a band or two I stayed throughout the day, which culminated with garage rock's premiere house partiers, The Spits, and early '90s alt.rock garage band The Muffs.

From Beerland, I ventured into the wild world beyond SXSW. The first stop was Charlie's, a gay nightclub that decided to host a late-afternoon slate of shows highlighted by Harlem, and Hunx and His Punx, who wraps tales of straight-boy seduction in '60s bubblegum rock. Before Harlem played, I hightailed it to Trailer Space, an east Austin record shop that's mostly used vinyl. They also regularly host bands. Next to Trailer Space sits Eastside Pies, one of those by-the-slice pizza places that would kill in Benson. At Trailer Space, more people seemed to crowd the parking lot than were inside, which also filled up. Here I caught Alex White's rocking duo, White Mystery. She's put together an inverse White Stripes, as she's shit-hot on guitar and her male drummer hits better than 1,000 Meg Whites. She rips out torrents of midwestern garage punk with a directness and economy that seems charmingly anachronistic in an era of slop-pop amateurism.

Here's Wednesday final tally:

Great: TV Ghost, Woven Bones, White Mystery
Very Good: Wizzard Sleeve, Spits, Fresh & Onlys, Puffy Areolas
Good: Hunx and His Punx, Happy Birthday, Magic Kids, Uptown Bums
Okay: Muffs, Cruddy, YellowFever

-- Chris Aponik

* * *

I suspect that the untimely death of Alex Chilton will throw a pall over this year's SXSW festivities. Big Star was one of those bands that pushed pain into my chest whenever I listened to their records, but maybe Third/Sister Lovers was the most devastating. RIP Alex Chilton; your star burns brighter than ever.

* * *

Now, off to the show...

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Column 263: The Mynabirds, Thunder Power, Eagle Seagull, UUVVWWZ talk SXSW... – March 17, 2010 – twitter icon

This is part two of a two-part column previewing South by Southwest. If you missed part one, featuring Little Brazil, Digital Leather and It's True, it's here.

Column 263 -- Austin Bound, Pt. 2
The Mynabirds, Thunder Power, Eagle Seagull and UUVVWWZ talk SXSW.
We continue to search for answers to the question posed last week in Pt. 1 of this column: Why should bands play at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, which began March 17?
For Laura Burhenn, singer/songwriter and frontwoman for The Mynabirds, SXSW helped get her former band, Georgie James, signed to Saddle Creek Records. Before Austin, they'd already done a lot of work on their own, including touring with 4AD band Camera Obscura, playing the "other" important industry festival, CMJ, and self-releasing a couple recordings.
"We were doing pretty well for ourselves and getting some attention," Burhenn said of her former band, "but we hadn't found a home for our record. It wasn't until Saddle Creek saw us play live that they were able to say 'yes' to putting our record out. I think that's true for a lot of labels. It's one thing to make a good record, but most labels want to make sure you can do something special live and in the flesh."
Now with The Mynabirds, Burhenn finds herself in Austin again, this time working pre-promotion for the band's April 27 debut on Saddle Creek. But more importantly for Burhenn, SXSW is a chance to see old friends, get a break from the gray Omaha winter and enjoy some "killer burritos," while trying to forget how much the whole thing is going to cost. "This is one instance I'm incredibly grateful for day jobs that helped me save a little along the way over the years," she said. "Now's the time. Why not go for what you love with every ounce of time, energy, and money you have? If not now, when? And yes, really do ask yourself that very question."
Eli Mardock of Eagle Seagull was more matter-of-fact about SXSW. His band's long-awaited album, The Year of the How-To Book, finally comes out on [PIAS] Recordings this spring. For him and the band, SXSW is just another day at the office. "We're getting in and out as quickly as possible," he said. "There are loads of bands/friends I'd love to see, but it just doesn't make sense for us to hang around this year. It's all work and no play for us, I'm afraid."
Eagle Seagull's SXSW intro was in 2008. "I'm not sure it really helped our band/career much, but it was the show that finalized our first major record deal," Mardock said. "I don't think (SXSW) is important. It's beneficial for a handful of bands. But to most, it's a fairly costly undertaking without much return (in terms of money, press, exposure). We're playing it this year because there will be a lot of European press there (Our second album is dropping this month in Europe). It's a good opportunity for them to see us live. Hopefully we'll impress and gain some additional press before the release and our April tour."
The "European press" also was a draw for Thunder Power, who is headed to SXSW for the first time. "It's a very good place to network with people in the music industry," said rhythm guitarist/bassist Will Simons. "It gives us a chance to talk to booking agents, which we don't have and which could really help us out. And there's a British journalist who wants to do an interview with us. We have an EP coming out in England."
Simons said Thunder Power's American label, Slumber Party Records, helped get them invited to SXSW without having to enroll through -- a process that got them invited to last year's CMJ festival. In the end, all of the festival experiences -- including the North by 35 Festival they're playing in Denton, Texas, prior to SXSW -- help build a strong musical resume.
"SXSW seems like one of those steps that feels right for a band to take," Simons said, adding that Thunder Power's invitation to record a Daytrotter session (which has become an indie music rite of passage) probably helped them get accepted at CMJ. "Even if you don't get a feature in Rolling Stone out of this, it could make things easier in the future, like booking shows in bigger cities outside of Omaha. We're taking everything we've done so far and are taking it to the next level."
UUVVWWZ frontwoman Teal Gardner called the road to South by Southwest a "well-trodden path." Having never performed there, she said the band jumped at a chance to play the Saddle Creek Records showcase (along with five other SXSW gigs they're slated to play throughout the festival's five days).
"Having as much as possible as a band is extremely integral to all of it," Gardner said. "The benefit of being together as a band, traveling in a van and relying on each other is important to us."
And then there's the variety of bands that she'll get to check out while she's there. Though Nebraska is recognized as a regular tour stop for most bands, Gardner said a lot of important acts simply bypass the state. "It's a chance to stick my head down in the fish tank and look around," she said. "SXSW has more to do with getting some good experiences under your belt, and meeting and seeing different bands. It's a cornerstone experience to go through. I don't know what it's going to be like, but afterward, I want to have something to talk about."

Trust me, Teal, you will. And so will I. But if you don't want to wait for the report in the next issue of The Reader, track my daily SXSW updates at or follow my tweets at starting March 18.

* * *

So who are these folks seeing in Austin? Well, like Eli said above, Eagle Seagull plans to get in and get out. No fun allowed, apparently. Teal Gardner said she hopes to run into her friend Jan Lankisch, co-owner of Tomlab Records. "They put out a ton of sweet stuff like Xiu Xiu, Yacht, tUNEYARDS, sweet bands that never come through here," Teal said. "I think they're doing a showcase. Jim (Schroeder, guitarist) probably has a slick agenda as far as what he wants to see. He knows about things and gets excited. I like to go with the flow."

Will Simons said he's excited about seeing The Flaming Lips, who are playing a free show in Denton. He also mentioned Liverpool band Wave Machines, who he saw play at SXSW last year, when he attended as a correspondent for the City Weekly.

Laura Burhenn is much more detailed about her plans in Austin. "We'll be there Tuesday through Sunday -- the whole time," she said. "In my experience it's nearly impossible to see every band you want to see -- even though those bands are playing approximately 10 shows each. Try to coordinate that with the shows we're playing, the meetings we'll have -- it's a near impossibility. That said, I'm dying to catch Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at some point. I went to the Daptone Records Revue at CMJ in the fall and couldn't stick around long enough to see them. I sure did love my time with the Budos Band, but seeing Sharon Jones sure would be lovely. I'd also love to see Aloha and BRAHMS. TJ Lipple (Aloha) co-produced the Georgie James record and is a brilliant musician. Cale Parks (in both Aloha and BRAHMS) toured as Georgie James' drummer very early in our career. A sweetheart of a guy and a brilliant musician as well. I'd also really love to see Tobacco. We worked together on a remix awhile back when he was busy with Black Moth Super Rainbow; I'd love to see his live show in his new incarnation. Other than that, I'll hope to catch other friends' shows: These United States, Vandaveer, Le Loup (and on and on). And I'll start a list of missed-in-Austin shows that I absolutely can't miss when they come through Omaha next."

My coverage of SXSW won't start until tomorrow evening, as I won't be touching down in Austin until Thursday afternoon. Having done this before, I know that three days is going to be more than enough for me to handle. You'll see.

* * *

BTW, it's St. Patrick's Day, in case you forgot.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Eagle Seagull, Stay Awake tonight; Thornton's new project Students of Crime... – March 16, 2010 – twitter icon

Everyone's getting ready for SXSW, including Eagle Seagull, who will be playing a last-minute show at O'Leaver's tonight with The Stay Awake and Lincoln's Pharmacy Spirits. The show starts at 9:30 and it's free.
* * *
Consider this an early head's up: Robert Thornton (The Wagon Blasters, Now Archimedes!, Past Punchy and the Present, Culture Fire, Clayface Regular) let me in on the details about his new band, Students of Crime, which will have its world premier April 17 at O'Leaver's, playing with The Third Men. Thornton says the "students" joining him are drummer Brad Smith, who played in Fischer and Now, Archimedes!, Dan Stewart from Jimmy Skaffa on guitar and Marc Phillips (Carsinogents) on bass. Something tells me it's gonna be loud.
* * *
Tomorrow's column is Pt. 2 of the SXSW preview, featuring comments from The Mynabirds, Thunder Power, UUVVWWZ and Eagle Seagull.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Live Review: Digital Leather; DL interview; Appleseed Cast tonight... – March 15, 2010 – twitter icon

Digital Leather is about to explode. I say this after seeing the new line-up in action Friday night at a packed O'Leaver's. The five-piece played a set that tore the place apart. I credit a different approach to their sound from what I heard a few months ago at The Waiting Room -- that set took DL songs and ratcheted them into straight-up garage rock/punk, losing all of the subtleties heard on the band's albums. The result was rather formulaic, kind of boring and "samey."
That's all changed with this new line-up. Now with a second keyboard player (frontman Shawn Foree also plays keyboards), the band has pulled back the arrangements to make room, unveiling the melodies heard instead of brashly trodding upon them. The new sound is more post-punk than garage, probably more authentic to what Foree has been doing on recordings. It's certainly more balanced without taking away any of the energy, judging by how the crowd was rocking to "Styrofoam" and set closer "Studs in Love," which Foree introduced by saying "I hate this fucking song. I wish I never wrote it." With a full beard, Foree is starting to resemble an indie version of Jim Morrison circa Morrison Hotel. One things for certain, with the extra keyboard, he's now free to get more involved on stage and with the crowd -- he's a natural performer. After the last song and before leaving O'Leaver's "stage" he threw a shout-out to his new keyboard player, Annie Dilocker (ex-Sweet Pea, ex-Hubble) saying "Give it up for fucking Annie. She doesn't know what she's in for, but it's gonna involve a lot of penises."
DL already has a head start on finding wider exposure, having been managed by the late, great Jay Reatard and being signed to indie stalwart Fat Possum Records. Now comes another bout of SXSW, and then subsequent touring. This is a band that won't be ignored, and will be the next bunch of locals to break through to the other side -- if they survive their hard-living lifestyles. We'll see what condition they're later this week in Austin.
* * *

Speaking of Digital Leather, the band's SXSW interview for Spinner just went online here. Among the highlights are Foree's love confessions for The Fall, Echo and the Bunnymen and Prince, as well as a retelling of a night in Lafayette that involved the onstage use of a "marital aid." Watch out, Annie!

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room, Chris Crisci's other band, Appleseed Cast, takes the stage with Dreamed. $12, 9 p.m.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

The Hole, The Brothers, Digital Leather, The Photo Atlas tonight; The Box Elders Saturday... – March 12, 2010 – twitter icon

How about six straight hours of music tonight? It starts at The Hole down at 712 So. 16th St. (the old Diamond Bar) with a very eclectic line-up: Godshamgod, Conchance, Well Aimed Arrows (ex-Protoculture), Rainbow Party, and Perry H. Matthews. If you're a post-punk fan, you'll never find a better time to check out this new all-ages venue. No booze! $6, 7 p.m.
Who knows how long that show at The Hole will last, but figure it'll be over before 11. Next stop is The Brothers Lounge, where tonight Conchance, Her Flyaway Manner and Broken Spindles will be performing as a fund raiser for the Donut Hill Skatepark Project. $5, 9 p.m.  More info on the Donut Hill project page in Facebook.
Last stop is O'Leaver's, where Digital Leather has its SXSW send-off show with Lafayette, IN, band Boy Toys.  According to a Facebook message from DL received yesterday, this show won't start until 11, and Digital Leather won't go on until midnight. Still, O'Leaver's lists a 9 p.m. start time. Hopefully, it really is starting late. $5.
That's not all. There's a great show tonight at Slowdown Jr. tonight with Bazooka Shootout, The Rouge, The Photo Atlas and headliners Landing on the Moon. $7, 9 p.m.
Saturday night is just as busy show-wise. The big one is Box Elders, Baby Tears, The Yuppies and Well Aimed Arrows at The Waiting Room. As I mentioned yesterday, those new Box Elders 7-inches won't be available, but those Baby Tears singles probably will be (and they're worth picking up). $7, 9 p.m.
Also in Benson, singer/songwriter Brad Hoshaw is celebrating (suffering?) his 30th Birthday at The Barley St. Tavern with Landon Hedges (Little Brazil), Kyle Harvey, Matt Cox, Nick Karl, Hubble, Rock Paper Dynamite, the amazing Son of 76 & the Watchmen (from Lincoln) and, hopefully, a few tunes by Brad himself. $5, 8 p.m.
Finally, Sunday night at The Barley St. Tavern is the It's True send-off party. The event will include the playing of their unreleased album in its entirety, a screening of footage from a documentary being made about the band by John P. Campbell, and a live performance by It's True. Only 65 tickets to this event will be available, at $15 each. For more info, go to the event's Facebook page.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Box Elders' tsunami, It's True's taser; Cowboy Indian Bear, Flobots tonight... – March 11, 2010 – twitter icon

I've got some bad news for folks who were looking to pick up a copy of that Box Elders limited-release 7-inch on HoZac Records at The Waiting Room Saturday night. The band e-mailed me yesterday to say that there was a water-main break at the pressing plant. Among the damage was their record's pressing plates, which now have to be remade, so they won't have copies in hand until their April 5 Slowdown gig (opening for The Black Lips). Sometimes the waiting is the hardest part.
* * *
As part of SXSW's pre-festival coverage, Spinner posted an interview with It's True that evolved into a series of "It's True" or "It's False" questions. Among the truths are dismembered snakes, taser play and love letters to fans from the road. Check it out here.
* * *
There's a lot going on tonight in Benson. At The Barley Street Tavern Lawrence band Cowboy Indian Bear will be in the house along with Kyle Harvey and Landon Hedges (Little Brazil). Quite a line-up. $5, 9 pm.
Down the street at PS Collective it's the duo of Whipkey and Zimmerman along with All the Young Girls Are Machine Guns and Addison Wright. $5, 9 p.m.
And then there's the big Flobots show at The Waiting Room with Maxilla Blue. Who is Flobots? They're a Denver band that combines hip-hop, indie rock and humor/dread. They sort of remind me of Cake. Actually, more than sort of. $15, 9 p.m.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Column 262: Little Brazil, It's True, Digital Leather talk SXSW... – March 10, 2010 – twitter icon

This is part one of a two-part column previewing South by Southwest. Part two will feature Mynabirds, Thunder Power and UUVVWWZ, along with anyone else I can track down (Eagle Seagull, Brimstone Howl).

Column 262: Austin Bound, Pt. 1
Little Brazil, It's True, Digital Leather talk SXSW.
I used to think that South By Southwest's legendary role as facilitator of the great rock 'n' roll dream was a load of you-know-what.
Just look over the list of bands performing March 17-21 at the annual music festival in Austin (located at Most of them -- almost all of them, actually -- are already signed to a record label, have plenty of "representation" in the form of publicists and booking agents; and some are downright huge (Metallica, for example, played last year). Any thoughts of SXSW being some sort of rock 'n' roll casting call where a young band is "discovered," signed and processed, and set upon a road of excessive sex and drugs, well, that was a thing of the past, right?
Then I went last year, soaked in the showcases, and found out that there was more to SXSW than unlimited free beer, bad PA's and terrific Mexican food. There were plenty of unsigned bands (or bands signed to microscopic labels) who were grabbing the attention of indies such as our very own Saddle Creek Records, who I later discovered signed Rural Alberta Advantage and Land of Talk after seeing them play in Austin.
Still, there had to be more to it if poverty-level musicians were willing to lay out literally thousands of dollars in tip money to travel to Austin with the bravest hope of just not getting lost in the sideshow. What do they want from SXSW? That's what I asked a handful of local bands that got invited this year.
Among them, Little Brazil, who has performed officially and unofficially at SXSW for five of the past six years. This year the band's itinerary includes playing a showcase for Anodyne Records -- their label. Little Brazil guitarist Greg Edds said there's more to SXSW then trying to get signed. "Performing holds endless opportunities to expand your career in different avenues," he said, pointing to the army of publicists, music distributors, and booking agencies on hand. "Your performance might also garner the attention of one of the many company owners looking to hand out product sponsorships. Who can so no to free gear?"
Radio reps also can be in the crowd. "If they happen to enjoy your set, you've gained a push with the music audience they influence," Edds said. "In the grand scheme of things, it's an important gamble, minus the addiction."
So what's come of their past SXSW odysseys? "Only time will tell on how those performances have affected our careers," Edds said, "but we've made a nice impression with the locals as well as making new fans that attend the festival and live on different coasts."
Karl Houfek, who plays keyboards for local unsigned band It's True, said this is his first year to be invited to play in Austin. What do they think they'll gain from the experience? "We have no idea," he said. "I guess SXSW is one of those things that we look at as a benchmark of sorts, and that we're excited about doing, but we're still not convinced it really means anything. Actually, I think, for the most part, and this applies whether you're a shit band or not, if you're invited to play SXSW, you've worked hard... so I think, at the very least, it means that.
"We're not on a record label, so I guess the great hope is that maybe people we're interested in talking to (booking agents, labels, publicists) will come watch us play and express some interest in partnering with the band in some capacity. But, we also realize that the most likely scenario is that we'll just play our set, get some polite applause, and walk down the street and have a few beers with Little Brazil."
Houfek said that if their van doesn't break down on the way to Austin, the trip will cost the band over a grand for gas and lodging alone. The Reader is "sponsoring" them, so that'll help (probably). They're also playing a SXSW send-off show at The Barley Street Tavern March 14, "so we're hoping that raises a bit of scratch."
Digital Leather frontman Shawn Foree said he sold Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore a record a couple years ago at SXSW, but other than that, he has no idea how his past festival experiences have helped him. "Mostly it seems like SXSW is an opportunity to have other bands hate you because they aren't playing," he said.
Foree, whose amazing new album, Warm Brother, was released on indie label Fat Possum, isn't looking for a new home. "Really, I just hope to have fun this year, to see my friends from around the country, eat real Mexican food and play music," he said. "There are plenty of other bands who spend all their time worrying about big label attention."
Moneywise, he said bands are offered two payment options for performing: either $250 "no matter who you are," or a wristband that gets you into the clubs. "We'll take the cash," he said. "Most of the cool shows don't even require wristbands anymore."
Austin is just another stop on Digital Leather's spring tour. The band will be playing in Tulsa on St. Patrick's Day, and then will have to drive nine hours to get to Austin, get their rooms and get one hour to rest before their first gig.
It's a grind, but Foree said despite what he said before, SXSW is still an opportunity to play in front of a lot of people and get a taste of how the music business works. "It's a fickle world operated by soulless vultures."
Next week, The Mynabirds, Thunder Power and UUVVWWZ.

* * *

So who are these folks interested in seeing at the festival?
Karl Houfek: "Off the top of my head, I'd say that personally, I'm excited to see Band of Horses, Broken Social Scene, Thurston Moore, Local Natives, er..The XX, maybe?  Kyle's got a crush on Meiko, so he'll probably wander off by himself to go see her and not tell anyone...but I'm onto you, Harvey! Oh, and I recently saw that Hole is playing...I'll be very tempted to go see whether or not Courtney Love flips out on people."
Shawn Foree said he and his band are "excited to see Wizzard Sleeve. I kinda want to see Uffie, who we are playing with one night."
Greg Edds said Little Brazil will be in Austin for 48 hours. "And believe me, that is just enough time to permanently do damage to your liver and grow financially incapable of buying life’s necessities," he said. "It’s hard to plan for something like this, but it’s good to start out with a nice blue print, with 15-30 minutes between each artist to improve spur of the moment decisions. We’re looking forward to hearing; Band of Horses, the Antlers, Local Natives, Spoon, Ray Davies, Joan of Arc, Midlake, the Walkmen, Maps & Atlases, and of course supporting the many Omaha artists that were asked to play SXSW."

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Brimstone Howl to play SXSW; Ember Schrag, Midwest Dilemma tonight.... – March 9, 2010 – twitter icon

A couple people had told me off to the side that Brimstone Howl was playing at South by Southwest this year, but I wasn't able to confirm it, until now. Though the gig doesn't appear on their Myspace or Alive! Records pages, it does show up in the Sched Unofficial Guide to SXSW 2010 -- the ultimate must-have online scheduling tool for official and unofficial gigs at SXSW. According to Sched, Brimstone Howl has an official gig Thursday, March 18, at 11:30 p.m. at Jaime's, 802 Red River St. The listing also appears here on That brings to eight the number of Nebraska bands playing at this year's festival. Not bad. I'll be interviewing three of those bands -- Little Brazil, Digital Leather and It's True -- in tomorrow's column, which is part one of a two-part series previewing the festival.

* * *

Tonight at The Barley Street Tavern Lincoln singer/songwriter Ember Schrag plays with Midwest Dilemma and a couple other acts. $5, 9 p.m. Check it out.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Live Review: Fishbone/English Beat;; skatepark fundraiser Friday... – March 8, 2010 – twitter icon

I had mentioned to the guy next to me in the crowd at the Fishbone/English Beat show Friday night that it was one of the biggest crowds I've ever seen at Slowdown, and he pointed out an interesting scientific fact of physics and biology: Old people are just "bigger" than young people.
Or as someone else in the crowd put it, "Tim, tonight you're the young, skinny guy."
I knew the gig would draw an older crowd, but I wasn't prepared for the overall vibe, which felt like a mix of, say, a suburban Omaha wedding reception with a Council Bluffs casino. Lots of folks in their 40s, 50s and even a few in their 60s, but you know what? -- all of them were having a great time. They loved this music and they weren't afraid to show it (unlike too many crowds at Slowdown these days). That meant giant guys dressed like Yogi Bear dancing a grind alone back by the bar. It meant lots of older New Jersey-looking women in leather jackets and pumps rushing around with whiskey sours in their well-manicured paws. It meant a night when the line out of the Men's Room far exceeded the line out the Woman's (Maybe it's growing problem, not a going problem). You know the story.
FishboneFishbone was onstage when we got there at around 9:15. They looked older but sounded the same as I remembered from MTV in the late '80s. I've never liked Fishbone, and last Friday night's set didn't change my opinion, but I have to admit they put on a great show, and the band sounded tight, especially when they pulled out that bari-sax. The highlight was when frontman Andre jumped off the stage for a brief crowd surf -- it's been awhile since I've seen one of those. Click the thumbnail on the left to see a larger picture of Fishbone at The Slowdown, taken by photographer John Shartrand.
After a long break, the English Beat were next. Blond, trollish frontman Dave Wakeling still had that sandpaper voice (that's beginning to slide into Colin Hay territory). The band also sounded good -- that's what months of casino tours can do, along with playing the same catalog night after night for decades. I waited through five songs for "Mirror in the Bathroom" before giving up.
* * *
I ran into Jake Bellows outside The Brothers Lounge on Saturday night, where he told me his new website,, has just launched. From the site, Bellows will release new songs -- one per month. "I'm going to sell them for $1.29, and then take them down and replace them when they've been up for 30 days," he says on the website homepage. You can find this month's song by clicking on the "Music" link in the top nav. It's "Should You Ever Change Your Mind," a gorgeous track that features Jake's guitar and swaggering croon. So is the way all music will be sold in the future? Maybe.

* * *

Also, here's an early heads up for a rare show at The Brothers Lounge this coming Friday night. Conchance, Her Flyaway Manner and Broken Spindles will be performing on the Brother's "stage" as a fundraiser for the Donut Hill Skatepark Project. $5, 9 p.m. More info on the Donut Hill project page in Facebook.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Live Review: Goodnights Pizza; English Beat, The Dinks tonight; Thunder Power's new line-up unveiled Sunday... – March 5, 2010 – twitter icon

Before I get to the weekend calendar, here's a very brief review of Goodnights, the new pizza/bar in the southeast corner of the Slowdown complex. I had dinner there last Saturday night and was impressed by the service, the decor and the pizza. The restaurant looks like what you'd expect Slowdown to look like if it were a pizza place -- in other words, cool, modern, slightly minimal architecturally, with good lighting, a big central bar, plenty of booths and tables, and large flat-panel TVs throughout the room. The night we were there the panels displayed Apolo Ohno and other Olympic coverage. Goodnights' No. 1 downside: Their house music, which is horribly bad mall rock or something you'd hear in a West Omaha meat market. It almost made me lose my appetite.
But who cares about the decor? It's all about the pizza, right? Before we could order, the waiter came by with a list of $4 "specialty shots" and begged us to buy a couple. I declined, but he was persistent, and in the end... I didn't buy any shots. I asked why they were so pushy about shots, and he said it was all "part of the fun," or something like that. And shots are fun, until you realize you have no way to get home after dinner because you're blasted.
Other than a shots menu, Goodnights has a pizza menu (online at -- which only lists pizzas, no appetizers, which was fine by me (though I wouldn't mind a small dinner salad or even an order of garlic bread. Actually, maybe it isn't fine with me). Pizza is available by the slice or 14-inch and 18-inch rounds. We tried the 14-inch "barbeque brisket" pie, which features smoked brisket and pepperoni bathed in barbecue sauce with onions, cilantro and mozz cheese. The pizza arrived almost immediately -- great service, and lots of it, judging by the half-dozen or so uniformed waiters who had nothing to do (because there was only about 10 people in the restaurant -- on a Saturday night).
Goodnights pizza is thin-crust, similar to Zio's but much better because they pre-bake the crust before adding toppings, and then bake it again -- just like how I make my own homemade pizza. So unlike Zio's greasy, soggy crust, it's nice and firm and tasty. The crust was the best part of the pizza. The brisket was good, too, but everything was overpowered by the sauce, which was too sweet and too abundant -- way too much sauce for a BBQ pizza. With beer and tip, the bill was around $30 total, not bad.
So where does Goodnights fit into the Omaha Pizza Matrix? I'd rank it above Zio's and the national chain pizza joints, but below LaCasa (which is top dog on my list). It sits just slightly above Pizza Shoppe and Sam and Louie's. So, definitely worth your attention. It's better than nearby Union Pizza, which started out strong when it opened a year or so ago, but whose pizza quality has steadily declined thanks to skimpy toppings and under-cooking (at least the last few times I've ordered from there).
* * *
So why the restaurant review? Because tonight would be a good night to try Goodnights, before or after the English Beat concert at Slowdown (Goodnights is open until 1 a.m.). The show sold out weeks ago, which I guess shouldn't be a surprise considering vintage '80s bands appeal to such a large majority of Omaha music fans. I've always thought English Beat was a B-level '80s band, but still fun with hits like "Mirror in the Bathroom," "Save It for Later" and "I Confess" and I wouldn't be surprised if we get a little "Tenderness." But you already know this if you have tickets, and if you don't, you're screwed. The show starts early -- 8 p.m. I'll be getting there at around 10 to avoid openers Outlaw Nation and Fishbone -- a band I've never liked.
No tix? Head to O'Leaver's (where I'll probably end up after Slowdown) and see The Dinks (according to O'Leaver's tweets, they've changed their name to Saudi Arabia) with Perry H. Matthews, La Casa Bombas and Watching the Trainwreck. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night is looking rather sparse. Midwest Dilemma is playing down at Slowdown Jr. with Mother Culture, Anniversaire and Wrestling With Wolves. $7, 9 p.m.

The Hole is hosting punk shows both Friday and Saturday nights. Tonight features local heroes Hercules with California band Battle, Borealis, Worst of Times and the legendary Cordial Spew. Tomorrow night at The Hole (which is at 712 So. 16th St. (the old Diamond Bar)) it's An Airbag Saved My Life, Suicide Blondes, La Casa Bombas, The Prairies and Anestatic. All shows start at 7 p.m. and cost $6. No booze!

Sunday night Thunder Power has a show at O'Leaver's with Underwater Dream Machine, and Madison band Icarus Himself ($5, 9:30 p.m.). "This will be our first local show of the year and kind of our pre-SXSW warm-up," said Thunder Power's Will Simons in an email. "We have a few new songs, a revamped lineup (new drummer Jeremy Stanoshek of bands like Kite Pilot, Coast of Nebraska, Magic Kiss) and have trimmed down to a quintet from a six-piece. We are also about to release a 10-inch split-EP with the 1959 Hat Company (Toledo, OH) on Slumber Party, out March 9. It will be our third release on the label."

In addition, Simons said April 5 will see the release the band's first single "Take a Hike" in the UK and Europe, followed up by the release of an extended EP sometime this spring/summer on a label called Mono Music.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Live Review: Laura Veirs; SXSW Update: It's True, Digital Leather, Little Brazil, Eagle Seagull; Box Elders on HoZac.... – March 4, 2010 – twitter icon

I caught most of last night's Laura Veirs show at The Waiting Room. The gig started at 8 instead of 9 I guess because Veirs looked to be about eight months pregnant in her navy polka dot dress, her guitar balanced over her soon-to-be brood (see photo). When I got there at around 10, Veirs and her band, which included a violinist and two guys who traded off bass, guitar, keyboards and drums, were already at it. The reason I dropped in at all was because the songs on her Myspace page reminded me of early Suzanne Vega circa Solitude Standing, one of my all-time favorite albums, and sure enough, Veirs kept up that similitude with her voice right down to her phrasing. Where her and the band veered from the Vega course was in the three- and sometimes four-part harmony; and sometimes 5-part if you included the crowd of around 50 that was trained to add "ewws" and "ooh"s and "aaahs" to one song. Afterward, Veirs said we knocked Minneapolis from the fifth-place position in their Worldclass Crowd Participation Sing-along Competition (She was just being nice). Gorgeous stuff, right down to a cover of one of my favorite Fleetwood Mac songs, "Never Going Back Again."
* * *
Back to SXSW coverage. I know, who cares? Especially if you're not going. But I am, and I'll be covering it extensively for this site (daily blog reports, Tweets, Facebook updates) and The Reader starting March 18.
The news: It's True announced its SXSW showcases:

Friday, March 19 at BD Riley's (Official SXSW Showcase) 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 20 at Lovey's Loot (w/Thunder Power) 2 p.m.

It's True also is hosting a listening party for their new CD Sunday, March 14, at The Barley St. Tavern. Still no word on who is releasing their album. The gig also will act as a "send off" party for SXSW, so show up and buy something to get them on their way.

* * *

Digital Leather also announced its SXSW sched.

--Thursday, Mar 18, 2010 8 p.m. - Shattered Records Showcase w/ Hunx and His Punx, Wizzard Sleeve, Fucked Up +more
--Friday, Mar 19, 2010 2 p.m. - At Beerland w/ the Spits, Tokyo Electron, King Louie
--Friday, Mar 19, 2010 6 p.m. -At the Mohawk Patio w/ The Cool Kids, Uffie + more
--Saturday, Mar 20, 2010 6 p.m. -At Parade of Flesh
--Saturday, Mar 20, 2010 12:00 a.m. -At Beerland Digital Leather playing as Destruction Unit
--Sunday, Mar 21, 2010 8 p.m. -Beerland

(I'm looking hard at that Mohawk Patio gig -- one of my favorite spots last year.

* * *

Little Brazil was interviewed at as part of their official SXSW media coverage. The Q&A with guitarist Greg Edds is right here. Greg talks Austin survival tips, and includes this gem: "Now I know why fanny packs are coming back in style. You don't want a man-bag because that's still too bulky, but I might dive into the fanny this time around." Dive into the fanny? Nice, Greg.
* * *

Add Lincoln's Eagle Seagull to the list of Nebraska bands at SXSW. They're scheduled to play at The Ghost Room March 18 at 9 p.m.

So, the current list of Nebraska bands in Austin this year: It's True, Digital Leather, Thunder Power, The Mynabirds, UUVVWWZ, Little Brazil and Eagle Seagull. Are there any more?

* * *

2009 SXSW standouts Box Elders won't be in Austin for the festival this year because they're going to be on the road opening for The Black Lips. Before meeting up with the Lips, Box Elders will be headlining a few shows including March 13 at The Waiting Room with Baby Tears, Yuppies and Well-Aimed Arrows (ex-Protoculture). They'll meet up with the Lips March 17 in Charlotte, NC, and will follow them to the April 5 show at Slowdown, and close out the Lips tour April 10 at the legendary 40 Watt Club in Athens, GA. 

That's quite a coup for the trio. Another coup is their new 7-inch, which is coming out on red-hot Chicago label HoZac Records. Says the band: "HoZac dudes have been helping us out for a couple years, they've booked most of our Chicago shows. The 7" is part of their singles club. 400 went to folks that joined the club and we get 75. I think they'll go pretty quick. The Waiting Room show is gonna be the only Omaha show we'll have them.  The Antiquarium is going to carry 10 or so copies." Get 'em while they're hot.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Column 261: Waiting Through the Credits (movie music); Laura Veirs tonight... – March 3, 2010 – twitter icon

I left out Lost in Translation, whose soundtrack included songs by Air, My Bloody Valentine, Death in Vegas and a very young Phoenix. Great flick.

Column 261: Waiting Through the Credits
Some (indie) soundtracks are stinkers.
With the Oscars this Sunday night, I thought I'd write a column about indie music in movies. The problem: Most movies that use indie music aren't very good. In fact, they usually suck.
I go to a lot of movies, at least one or two a week. And I go to theaters, I don't just "Netflix it," like everyone else does these days. But sometimes I have no choice. As research for this article, I Netflixed (500) Days of Summer because a friend of mine said it had a great soundtrack filled with lots of indie songs. And she was right, it did. Great tunes by Regina Spektor, Feist, Doves, Black Lips, The Smiths, even Hall and Oates. But the movie again proved my theory -- it wasn't very good.
Part of the reason it sucked (for me, anyway) had to do with lead actress Zooey Deschanel, who I despise since she began whoring for Cotton, the Fabric of Our Lives, and after she appeared on Top Chef as a crazy I-can't-eat-anything gluten-intolerant, Dinner-at-Moosewood-thumping vegan, further emphasizing my theory that movie stars shouldn't appear on reality TV or game shows unless it's Matchgame '79. After watching the film, I got the feeling Deschanel's bitch character probably wasn't too far from her real-life persona. But I'm probably wrong, I'll never know. The movie will forever dash any goodwill she earned from Elf.
It should be a red flag whenever a movie uses indie songs. It's as if the producers are making a desperate stab at attracting a "younger demographic" or is reaching for much-needed "indie cred" -- something that cannot exist in Hollywood films, even those from so-called "independent studios." Real indie productions can't afford the publishing rights to good indie songs.
Zach Braff's Garden State for example, has a good soundtrack (The Shins, Iron and Wine, Nick Drake), but it's a horrible film. Juno, with a soundtrack that features Kimya Dawson/Moldy Peaches, Sonic Youth, Belle & Sebastian, is pretty bad (though I'm the only one in America who thought so).  
From this year, there was Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, a movie I could never bring myself to see or even Netflix after watching its embarrassing trailer featuring lovable nerd Michael Cera (of Superbad fame). The movie has songs by Vampire Weekend, Army Navy, We Are Scientists and creepy Devendra Banhart. Still, it wasn't enough to get me to see it.
From '09, Sam Mendes film Away We Go with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph used a handful of pretty songs by Alexi Murdoch along with tracks by The Stranglers and Velvet Underground. It was one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Also from last year, the insipid Adventureland (with tracks by Husker Du and Replacements), and the cloying, disappointing Where the Wild Things Are, which featured Karen O and her Yeah Yeah Yeah band mates.
Then there was Fantastic Mr. Fox, with songs by Pulp's Jarvis Cocker as well as some well-chosen tunes by Burl Ives and The Rolling Stones woven into a score by Alexandre Desplat.  What director Wes Anderson does with the fantastic Fantastic Mr. Fox is what he does with all his films -- he makes the songs an integral part of the film. The Royal Tenenbaums, one of my all-time favorites, has a soundtrack that perfectly complements its content, with songs by Elliott Smith and a lot of very un-indie bands like Nico, The Velvet Underground, The Clash, The Rolling Stones and The Ramones. From Rushmore to The Darjeeling Limited to the reinvention of Bowie in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Anderson remembers old songs that we've forgotten and reminds us how good they are.
In fact, masters like Scorsese, Lynch and Tarantino forego modern indie music for classics that emphasize the film's period and mood. For better or worse, Paul Thomas Anderson used a handful of Supertramp songs for the soundtrack to 1999 epic heartbreaker Magnolia while reintroducing Aimee Mann, someone I had forgotten about since her 'Til Tuesday years. She is now one of my favorite singer/songwriters, though I don't know if she'll ever match the work heard in that movie, which was hands-down one of the best uses of soundtrack material since Harold and Maude.
Any list like this also has to include Cameron Crowe, whose use of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" in Say Anything is iconic, along with his grunge-infused sound track to 1992's Singles. All of which was dashed by Almost Famous, a movie I loathe thanks to the painfully embarrassing use of Elton John's "Tiny Dancer." Thank you, Goldie Hawn's daughter, for ruining that song for all eternity.
Perhaps my favorite soundtrack-loving director is Jonathan Demme. His soundtracks to both Something Wild (New Order, Steve Jones, Sonny Okosun) and Married to the Mob (Q. Lazzarus, The Feelies, Brian Eno) are as cool -- or cooler -- than the films themselves. And since were going back to the '80s, I've got to mention Valley Girl, the 1983 Nicolas Cage vehicle that introduced an unsuspecting world to The Plimsouls, The Payolas, Sparks, The Psychedelic Furs and Modern English.
Which brings us back to the Oscars. In the end, the best soundtracks are in films where the music not only is part of the story line, it is the story line. Examples include 2006's Once, and from this past year, Crazy Heart, a soundtrack with songs by T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham and the late Stephen Bruton whose performance will win Jeff Bridges his first Oscar.

* * *

Tonight at The Waiting Room it's Laura Veirs with Seattle band Cataldo and Portland's The Old Believers. Veirs, who used to be on Nonesuch, released her last album, July Flame, on her own Raven Marching Band Records. Her music will appeal to fans of Suzanne Vega, Azure Ray, St. Vincent and Neko Case, among others. Very pretty stuff and well worth the $10 cover. Show starts at 9.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Another Cursive review, Little Brazil's SXSW sched... – March 2, 2010 – twitter icon

No, I'm not on hiatus. There just hasn't been anything worth blogging about. I didn't go to any shows this past weekend, and hence, don't have any live reviews to pass long… except for this one, which went online today at -- a rather depressing review of Cursive's shows last weekend at The Metro in Chicago, which concludes with this: "It was sad to see Cursive become just another 'shitty opening band' for kids who just wanted to hear some pop-punk slickness. If I weren't such a big Cursive fan, I'll bet I would love the hell out of the show." The Cursive/Alk Trio tour now heads to Michigan and Ohio and runs through April 3.
* * *

For those headed to SXSW, Little Brazil has firmed up its festival schedule:

Thursday, March 18th @ The Jackalope (404 E 6th St - Austin, TX)
"Anodyne Records & The Record Machine" Day Party (2 p.m. to 7 p.m. - FREE)
Little Brazil performs @ 4:15pm.
Friday, March 19th @ The Wave (404 E 6th St - Austin, TX)
"Official SXSW Showcase" (8 p.m. to 2 a.m. - Badge Required)
Little Brazil performs @ 10 p.m.

SXSW is just a couple weeks away, and the deluge of gig notices is starting to arrive from all the labels and promoters with bands headed to Austin. It's going to be another wild ride.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

More Cursive comments; 'indie yuppies' on NPR; Hood Internet/Flowers Forever tonight, Yuppies tomorrow... – Feb. 26, 2010 – twitter icon

Before we get to the weekend, here are a couple interesting Internet tidbits you may or may not have found on your own.

Continuing the parade of Cursive interviews, each with a bit of a downer theme, here's an interview with Ted Stevens in the University of Toronto's Among the notable comments:

(Says Stevens): "Originally, [Saddle Creek] was designed to be a communal thing that we all shared a part of. Those were naive dreams. Bright Eyes was the first band to sell lots of records, and that was when it became obvious that each musician had to work on their own thing. We needed a CEO to run major operations. It then broke off from the community aspect.

"The sense of community is still there, but the label, family, and bands are not the same as they once were. We have had to set up a new business model, instead of this utopian all-for-one mentality.

"The cynic in me believes that it’s not possible, once debt and revenue enter the picture. I started off as an enthusiastic spokesperson of what I wanted it to become, but now I am leveling off into a realistic position, mellowing."

Is it me or does Cursive seem disenchanted with Saddle Creek these days?

* * *

The Reader's news editor, Bryan Cohen, sent me a link to this item at American Public Radio's Marketplace, a business-news show on the local NPR affiliate at 5:30 p.m. weekdays. I had heard part of this report driving home from work and wasn't sure what I was hearing (and missed the end), but it's an interview with Billboard Magazine news editor David Prince, where he and host Kai Ryssdal chat about the recession and how it's reflected in pop music. Where the interview goes off the tracks is at the very end, where Kai asks about indie music. From the transcript:

RYSSDAL: What about indie music? I mean some of the folks out there just doing their own thing.
PRINCE: You know, I think of indie music in a lot of ways as the most elitist and the most ignoring the recession and the economic realities. Because if you have the opportunity to really pursue a music career in this day and age and do nothing else, then you probably have some expendable income.
RYSSDAL: Expendable income. So it's kids who have some money, basically.
PRINCE: Indie yuppies is a phrase I think of a lot when I'm reading Pitchfork.

Wow. Indie Yuppies. I guess that accurately describes most of the indie bands around here, right? Seriously, you can't blame Prince, who sounds like he's never met a touring indie band before. Even the most successful ones I've interviewed have members that hold day jobs or second jobs just to survive. Strange comment, that of course ended up getting blasted in the "comments" section of the story. Amusing.

* * *

For the first time in a while, there are no stand-out shows this weekend (except of maybe The Hood Internet, but that's not a band, is it). I blame the long, arctic winter, which seems to just go on and on and on. To be honest, we can't complain. We've done pretty well show-wise the past few months, a time which historically is slow in terms of decent touring bands. Local unsigned bands should take note that if you're working on an album next year, there are distinct advantages to a deep-winter release in that you'll have less competition from headline touring acts for your CD release show. That certainly would have been the case this weekend.

But that said, there are shows going on this weekend, including the aforementioned The Hood Internet, a couple guys who record dance-floor mashups. The duo is at The Slowdown tonight with Capgun Coup and Flowers Forever. $10, 9 p.m.

Everyone's favorite drunk house, O'Leaver's, has Gyromancer, Lightning Bug and The Power, a hot new Lincoln band (or so I'm told). $5, 9:30 p.m.

The best show of the night, however, is in Lincoln at The Bourbon Theater for a fundraiser for KRNU, 90.3 FM. On the docket is Ideal Cleaners, Pharmacy Spirits, The Machete Archive, Once a Pawn and coming off a glistening 12-inch release show at Slowdown last night (that I didn't attend because of work), Talking Mountain. $5 if your over 21, $7 if you're 19-20. Show starts at 9.

Tomorrow night The Hood Internet plays in Lincoln at The Bourbon. Meanwhile, back in Omaha, it might be a good time to check out the new Hole, formerly the Diamond Bar in downtown Omaha at 712 So. 16th St. It's hosting a benefit for Repower Nebraska featuring The Yuppies, The Prairies (members of Yuppies), Solid Gold, Peace and Space and Lawrence Kansas band Bandit Teeth (KS). $5, 7 p.m. (it'll be over by 11). Just a reminder, The Hole is a all-ages space and doesn't serve alcohol.

Also Saturday night, The Answer Team plays at The Sydney with Auternus and Masses, $5, 9 p.m.; and Ground Tyrants play at The Barley Street with Citizens Band and Chantilly Reign. $5, 9 p.m.

Like I said, quiet weekend.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Feature story: Talking Mountain, their 12-inch release show is tonight (and it's free!)... – Feb. 25, 2010 – twitter icon

Just posted, an interview with Talking Mountain. The band talks about their masks, their music and changing the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. Read the story here. Because of space limitations, I had to cut the ending -- the part about money and touring -- so here it is:

Instead of laying out multi-thousands on a recording, the band bought a '98 Dodge Ram 2500 van to replace their '94 Econoline. They're ready for the road, but only the one that leads to neighboring states.

"I have a day job, Dan goes to school and Brad is unemployed," Meyer-Cusack said. "I have a mortgage and a wife and a dog, and I need a steady way of paying those bills. I've been in bands that have gone on tours, but weekday shows are a total bust in Omaha, and that goes for everywhere else. Touring is a huge, noble thing and awesome when you do it, but unless you have a solid following, i don't know how viable it is. We're building a decent audience within our circle in the Midwest, and can come back home after the tour with money in our pockets."

That's saying a lot these days. Talking Mountain has been one of my favorites since I first saw the band a few years ago stumbling around the Slowdown stage beneath those loveable monster masks, and their 12-inch will likely be on my list of top recordings at the end of the year. Read the article, then go down to Slowdown Jr. tonight and check them out for free as part of Slowdown's free-Thursday series. Openers are the labelmates Honeybee and punkers Flesh Eating Skin Disease. Show starts at 9.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Column 260: Tim Wildsmith live review; Saddle Creek 'came and went'?; Hubble tonight... – Feb. 24, 2010 – twitter icon

Checking his website, Wildsmith has no upcoming shows scheduled. None. Odd, considering that he just released a new album. 

Column 260: A Serious Man
Live Review: Tim Wildsmith

I got a text from Whipkey at 10:30 last Friday night telling me Tim Wildsmith began his set 20 minutes ago. This was a CD release show. He was the headliner. He started at 10. I was told he wanted to play early because he had a lot of friends and family in the audience that don't like to stay out late. Fine. Not so great for the traveling band, Charn, who had come all the way from Minneapolis. Anyone who knows anything about Omaha music crowds knew what was going to happen to Charn. But we'll get to that.
So, I missed the first half-hour of Wildsmith and his band, The Lost Cause, but still got about 45 minutes' worth since he played a long set with a long encore. This was the first time I've seen these guys, and my first impression was that they're a tight, talented band that plays middle-of-the-road, mid-tempo suburban "Adult Alt" music.
There was a time when "alt" meant alternative. These days, alt is a catch-all phrase that radio programmers use for non-traditional (non-classic) rock that's approachable enough for the general public to grasp; music that has key familiarity aspects that people who casually listen to music will recognize and be comfortable hearing in their cars. It's the kind of music by bands like The Fray and Snow Patrol that winds up on television shows like Grey's Anatomy or programs on the old WB. In other words, it has the potential to be hugely popular with a large audience -- a much, much larger audience than listens to indie music.
But beyond being safe, the primary characteristic of Wildsmith's music to me was its insistence on being taken seriously. This is earnest stuff, and Wildsmith said at least a couple times from stage that "writing music is his therapy." So instead of just enjoying it, you feel like you have to acknowledge its importance, at least to Wildsmith and his fans. If you, for example, were to dislike a song like "Recovery," off his new album, you also are disliking Wildsmith as a person and whatever he went through or is going through or will go through. 
Should an artist be penalized for taking himself that seriously? No, probably not. It certainly didn't hurt a band like '90s alt-rock act Live, a band that I've loathed from the first time I've heard one of their songs, years before their placenta fell to the floor. Live always sounded like it was trying to manufacture drama for an audience that also takes itself too seriously.
Well, Wildsmith isn't Live. He's got an enormous, loving fan base made up of great people, and I know this because the first time I heard of him was from a great person who said, "You should check out Tim Wildsmith's music. He's the nicest guy in the world." Yeah, I said, but is his music any good? Her response: "He's a great guy."
That's too much analysis for only hearing 2/3rds of one performance. To be fair, I'm listening to some of the tracks on his Myspace page as I write this. It's nice. It's catchy. It's just not the kind of music that I usually listen to or write about. As Dave Sink used to say when asked his opinion about a band that he didn't care for (and toward the end of his days at The Antiquarium record store, that was most new bands), "It's not my cup of tea."
Anyway… Before leaving the stage, during his encore, Wildsmith beseeched the crowd to stick around for one of his favorite bands, Charn from Minneapolis. He said it a few times, actually, but I knew it wouldn't matter. And sure enough, by the time Charn got to its second song, the crowd of 200 or so dwindled to 20 people dancing in front of the stage while a few dozen others focused on Women's Olympic Curling being broadcast on the Waiting Room's plasma screen network. In other words, Charn got "Omaha'd" in the most classic sense of the word.

* * *

Continuing the wave of Cursive news, KC's Pitch has a nice, long feature on Cursive that just hit the Intergoogle yesterday. Tim Kasher talks about some of the reasons behind his not-so-recent move from LA to Montana. One of the more interesting quotes from the story is in this paragraph:

Omaha's tightknit music scene blew up like a mini Seattle in the early part of the last decade as bands on the Saddle Creek record label blossomed into critical darlings. "Saddle Creek: That really came and went," Kasher says. "A lot was really happening for, like, five minutes." He laughs and continues: "It seems like I came out of it pretty well. I have a tendency to dismantle the machinery if things are going too well, so working on a lower, steadier profile with more of a cultish group of music fans is a healthier place for me to live."

Came and went? I think ol' Saddle Creek is still open for business. The label even has another showcase this year at SXSW...

* * *

Tonight at O'Leaver's, it's Reagan Roeder's project, Hubble. The line-up recently changed as keyboard player Annie Dilocker no longer is in the band (she's in Digital Leather these days). Also on the bill is Winston Audio and Sam Martin (Capgun Coup) and Sean Pratt. $5, 9:30 p.m. Turn off the Curling and come on down.

BTW, I'll be updating the site early tomorrow morning with an interview with Talking Mountain. Their CD release show is tomorrow night at Slowdown Jr., and it's absolutely free.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

New Cursive single, Shout! Weekly online... – Feb. 23, 2010 – twitter icon

Cursive is releasing a new single via Saddle Creek Records March 9 called "Discovering America," which, according to their publicist, focuses on the mistreatment of the American Indian community. "Given its content, Cursive has decided to release the song as a standalone single for charity, with all profits to be donated to the American Indian College Fund," according to the statement. "The single will be available at major digital music retailers."
Speaking of Cursive, the band is in the heart of a nationwide tour with Alkaline Trio. Bassist Matt Maginn is providing updates from the road via a Facebook page titled Matt Cursive. And did anyone else see this story in the Salt Lake City Tribune where Ted Stevens commented on the "darkness" of the Mama, I'm Swollen? Here's an excerpt:

"It reflects people who are in a dark place," said Ted Stevens, Cursive's guitarist. "I'd be lying if I said I was a happy person, or that [lead singer and lyricist] Tim Kasher was in a happy place."
Some of the bad feelings are a result of fans' reactions to the band's previous album, Happy Hollow, a concept album that was more experimental than ferocious. "We alienated most of our fans with Happy Hollow," Stevens said. "People are still quick to criticize."

Has the reaction to Happy Hollow really been that bleak? Are things really that bad? I thought Cursive had a pretty solid 2009, which included an appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. Maybe not...
* * *
Looks like The Reader and The City Weekly are getting some new competition March 3. That's when Shout! Weekly hits the news stands, a new arts & entertainment newsweekly that I'm told is from the folks who brought you The City Weekly -- Jim Minge and Dan Beckman. The publication already has a Facebook and Twitter page as well as a placeholder for Can Omaha support three alt weeklies and a revitalized Go! Section of the Omaha World-Herald? Time will tell.
* * *
Tomorrow's column: Tim Wildsmith live review; and Thursday, a feature on Talking Mountain. Join us, won't you?

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Alec Ounsworth tonight... – Feb. 22, 2010 – twitter icon

Briefly, I did attend the Tim Wildsmith CD release show Friday night and I did write a live review, but I'm thinking of using it for this week's column, so stay tuned...

Tonight at The Waiting Room it's Clap Your Hands Say Yeah frontman Alec Ounsworth performing songs from his New Orleans-inspired album Mo Beauty (Anti), his self-titled Flashy Python project as well as some CYHSY favorites, according to his publicist. Opening is Mitch Gettman. $10, 9 p.m.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Tim Wildsmith tonight, Filter Kings, Well-Aimed Arrows Saturday... – Feb. 18, 2010 – twitter icon

In addition to having a large fanbase, Tim Wildsmith has a supporter in Kevin Coffey of the Omaha World-Herald. Kevin has been following Wildsmith's album project for months in the OWH, and that's not something to sniff at. As Matt Whipkey once told me (and I'm paraphrasing here): "It's nice to get a write-up in The Reader, but a write-up in the Omaha World-Herald, I mean, my family reads The World-Herald." He's right. Coffey's latest piece on Wildsmith (here) is in support of tonight's CD release show at The Waiting Room (Chris Aponik's take on Wildsmith in The Reader is here). I've never seen Wildsmith perform before, and the only music of his I've heard was online (there's two tracks linked from that OWH article). So, maybe tonight, eh? Opening is two performers I've never heard of: Levi Weaver and Charn. $8, 9 p.m.

Actually, for $5 I can see Cat Island, Cave Kids and If Only He Had the Power at The Sydney. I like that name: Cat Island. That one starts at 9 also.

Saturday night, The Filter Kings headline a show at The Waiting Room with Ground Tyrants, Brave Captain (a fIRHOSE tribute band) and Two Drag Club. $7, 9 p.m.

Also Saturday night, Well-Aimed Arrows (ex-Protoculture) is playing at O'Leaver's with One to Three for Band and Everyday/Everynight. $5, 9:30 p.m.

The Hole (formerly the Diamond Bar) has punk shows slated for both Friday and Saturday starting at 7 p.m. and costing $5. Tonight's six-band bill features Bent Left from Kansas City and Bandit Sound. Saturday night's show features Iowa's Boy Meets World and Eastern Turkish. These shows are all-ages, and there's no booze for sale, period.

Sunday night former Lemonhead Evan Dando is at The Waiting Room. Adam Hawkins (and not his full band It's True) is opening. $13, 9 p.m.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Little Black Stereo tonight... – Feb. 17, 2010 – twitter icon

I may be the only person in Omaha who hasn't heard Little Black Stereo perform live. The band is opening a free show tonight at Slowdown Jr. with All Young Girls Are Machine Guns and headliner Danielle Ate the Sandwich (from Ft. Collins). 9 p.m. Tonight. Free.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Column 259: CD Reviews "Impressions"... – Feb. 16, 2010 – twitter icon

Which of these are "must haves"? Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Shearwater, Beach House and Japanther. I like the Yeasayer CD a bit more than Vampire Weekend disc, but really, they're basically the same idea. Thanks to Webboard member JOC for the idea for the column lead; you can read the whole Midgett essay here.

Column 259: Quarterly Report
A glance at 1Q'10 releases.
Tim Midgett of seminal '90s Chicago rock band Silkworm (now, unfortunately, no longer a band) said in a frighteningly insightful essay about music criticism that critics should listen to every album five times before putting their thoughts to electronic paper. And while I generally agree with Midgett, you don't need to take five bites out of a turd to realize that you're eating a piece of shit. On the other hand, a really good album could take five times that long to really understand, and then you still may not "get it." With that in mind, the following aren't CD reviews as much as casual impressions after listening to these albums in shuffle mode for the past few weeks. The bottom line: Very few will leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Ted Leo and The Pharmacists, The Brutalist Bricks (Matador, out March 9) -- Remember the first time you heard My Aim Is True? You thought you finally found a new rock album that was cool (It was 1977, after all. Wait a minute, that was 10 years before you were born?). And then Elvis Costello began to pander to his inner poet and become all wordy and that was the end it. Well, Ted Leo picked up the ball sometime around 2001 and started running and never looked back. Yes, this is hyperbole, and no, TL sounds nothing like EC. BTW, "Bottled in Cork," and "One Polaroid a Day" already are the best songs of the year. Start counting the days until March 9.
Yeasayer, Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian) -- With its weird noises, stuttering rhythms and gaggle of production tricks, this is the Avatar of indie rock, thanks to Chris Keatings' wholesome croon that drains away any and all of the recording's subversive-ness. Playful as Vampire Weekend and more interesting (most of the time), and just as mindless (and in this economy, who wants to think anymore?).
Spoon, Transference (Merge) -- The guy in the corner of the pool furiously treading water is frontman Britt Daniel, who after six albums in 14 years is just trying to keep his poorly combed hair from getting wet. Do you really need this if you already have one of his last four albums? Probably not, but in an era when indie rock keeps getting younger and cuter, it's nice to hear something that the teenagers rocking out to MGMT (or vegging out to Animal Collective) won't understand for a few more years.
Shearwater, The Golden Archipelago (Matador) -- Sure, it's dreamy and atmospheric (as per usual) and head mewer Jonathon Meiburg still sings like he's trying to coax a camel to sleep, but there's more drama here than on any of their past albums. And when they get all heroic up in your face, like on standout "Castaways," you'll fondly recall John Denver singing "Aye Calypso!"
Sade, Soldier of Love (Epic) -- The undisputed queen of loungecore is back after an unexplained 10-year absence (Somehow, we persevered). Same midnight beats, same sultry voice, same pleasant yet forgettable melodies. Get the album before you hear these songs while pushing a shopping cart or staring at ceiling tiles at your dentist office.
F_cked Up, Couple Tracks (Matador) -- This singles comp contains selections recorded from 2002 to 2008 that border on goon rock but with indie cred thanks to its Matador pedigree. Included here only so the garage band guys and the folks down at The Hole don't think I'm a total pussy.
Los Campesinos!, Romance Is Boring (Arts & Crafts) -- You can almost see their angry, Walesian snarls through the (oh-so-carefully applied) dirt on their faces. You appreciate the new, slick production, but you can't help but want it raw and ugly in a way they could never pull off (at least not now). "Nicer" than their last one, and that's not a compliment.
Beach House, Teen Dream (Sub Pop) -- A friend of mine compared them to Al Stewart (Come on, you remember "Year of the Cat"). But for all I know, she was joking (or as drunk as everyone else at O'Leaver's that night). This is real underwater dream machine music (sorry Mr. Vovk) that's as appealing as rolling up in your favorite snuggie with your dog (or significant other) asleep on your lap, too afraid to move for fear you'll wake them up. And now you have to go to the bathroom. 
Four Tet, There Is Love In You (Domino) -- Like all "electronica," (or for that matter, like all instrumental-only albums) it can become somewhat tedious after the novelty of the first 30 seconds of each song wears off. OK, I get it. Next. Unless, of course, you're dancing with 100 people at 3 a.m. in someone's funkily-lit downtown loft. And you're drunk. Like that's going to happen at my age...
Basia Bulat, Heart Of My Own (Rough Trade) -- Imagine Tracy Chapman hugging an autoharp while fronting a fiddle-driven hayrack ride of a band emoting shades of The Green Isle by way of Toronto and you're halfway there. With the Dixie Chicks on hiatus, Bulat is the next in line. 
Japanther, Rock 'N Roll Ice Cream (Menlo Park) -- Chock full o' the cool songs that your pals will include on their next mix CDs (Do people still make mix CDs?). Sure, some of the songs sound like an amateur improv sketch, but that's half the fun.
Vampire Weekend, Contra (XL) -- The most hyped album of 2010 and it's only February, which makes you want to hate it even more. Despite that inner contempt, you can't help but smile when you hear their Graceland-ripped melodies, the blue-light keyboard bounce, the hyper-kinetic beat and the silly-love-song lyrics. Utter cuteness wins again

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Live Review: Weatherbox, Brad Hoshaw & the 7 Deadlies, The Photo Atlas (and they all play again tonight)... – Feb. 15, 2010 – twitter icon

I missed Ladyfinger at O'Leaver's Friday night. I'm told they slayed. If you don't already know, Dan Brennan is the band's new member, which means you're going to have to wait a few months to see him play in this capacity again as he'll be out on the road with Cursive through the first week of April.

I didn't miss the trifecta of bands at O'Leaver's Saturday night, however. The out-of-towners, Weatherbox opened the night with former Omahan Landon Hedges swinging a big ol' bass from his childlike shoulders, looking like he was having the time of his life, while a couple of his Little Brazil bandmates looked on with pride. Live, the Criteria/Cursive comparisons are justified, even moreso as the band didn't play any of the slower, mellow stuff off the last full-length. Instead it was a lesson in angular-indie -- a compound modifier that still doesn't mean anything, but somehow fits this category of music. Hedges remains a formidable bassist, lest we forget that he slung one way back in his Desaparecidos days; he didn't seem to mind letting someone else handle the frontman chores.

On paper, Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies were a strange fit, sandwiched between two hi-energy post-punk bands. And maybe they were, but their style provided a nice respite in the middle of all the angst. Hoshaw rolled out at least one brand new song and a couple that I didn't recognize, providing proof that there's more on the way as good -- or better -- than what we got on his debut. I even got a shout-out before their last song -- set staple "Powdernose," which is a lesson in rock dynamics, as loud as a gang fight one moment, drunk and alone the next. Hoshaw and his clan certainly broke a few hearts on that Valentine's Eve.

Finally, there was The Photo Atlas, who just played at O'Leaver's last April, when I described them as "twitch-dance-rock that reminded me of The Rapture, sort of... shiny post-punk with an ever-present dance beat beneath everything all the time," and "the kind of band that a label could turn into something huge, at least with 15-year-old girls." The description still stands, but Saturday night they had all the boys in the house climbing all over each other in some sort of man-love rock ritual, trying to get to frontman Alan Andrews and too often succeeding. Their style is as direct and in-your-face as At The Drive-in during that band's heyday -- the only thing missing are the Afros. Andrews and Co. do just fine with their current hairdos, and make up for any deficit with shear exuberance (and sweat). Their Myspace page says that they're still unsigned, which seems hard to believe, especially when they have a journalist following them around writing a book about their tour (or so I'm told).

Don't believe me? You can check out all three bands tonight at The Sydney for free. That's right, all three bands are playing a free repeat show before Landon and his crew head out for the next leg of the Weatherbox tour, which runs through the end of March. For those of us who were there Saturday, it's worth going just to see if The Sydney can pull off the same vibe that O'Leaver's had -- there's just something about the tiny bar on Saddle Creek Rd. that brings out the best in bands despite its lack of stage, no lights and an amateur-quality PA. In a town with two world-class music venues that have invested thousands (and in Slowdown's case, millions) to maintain the highest standard of live performance excellence, O'Leaver's remains my favorite place to see a live band.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Another O'Leaver's weekend: Ladyfinger tonight, Weatherbox tomorrow... – Feb. 12, 2010 – twitter icon

It would appear on the surface that O'Leaver's has the weekend cornered with two marquee shows tonight and tomorrow. Tonight at everyone's favorite drunk tank, Ladyfinger plays a set for the first time in a long time. They'll be joined by Lightning Bug. Then tomorrow night O'Leaver's conducts an experiment in overkill by booking three bands that each could fill the club on their own -- Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies, The Photo Atlas and Weatherbox, who you read about yesterday (with new member Landon Hedges of Little Brazil). Both shows are $5 and start at 9:30 and will be uncomfortably packed, so get there early.
But O'Leaver's ain't the only thing going on this weekend. Lincoln Exposed is happening tonight and tomorrow. You can check out their schedule in Facebook here. $6 per night for all three venues.
Tomorrow night The Brothers Lounge is hosting a special show called "Better Than Television," featuring Vampire Hands and Nathan Nelson of The STNNNG performing Television's Marquee Moon in its entirety. Before that, The Leisure Birds will be covering some classic Monks songs. The evening will be kicked off by a set from Well Aimed Arrows (ex-Protoculture). $5, 9 p.m.
Sunday is Valentine's Day, but it's also the day before a holiday, which means I don't have to go to work Monday. So there's a good chance that I'll be swinging by The Waiting Room for a show featuring Bear Country, Sara from Honey and Darling and headliner One for the Team. $8, 9 p.m.
Also Sunday night, Lincoln punk band Once A Pawn plays their CD release party at Duffy's with UUVVWWZ and Gooses. Reader scribe Andy Norman, now of Michigan State University, wrote about Once a Pawn in this week's issue of The Reader (online here) and name-checked me in the article where I described OAP's Catherine Balta as sounding like "a very young, angry Rebecca Gates of pioneering mid-’90s guitar-and-drum duo The Spinanes."  Kind of a useless description since no one knows who The Spinanes are. Judging by his tone, I don't think Andy agrees with me, but I stand by the description (as meaningless as it is). Once A Pawn's new disc, Mission Accomplished, is one of my favorites so far this year and is worth checking out. Someone needs to get this duo to come to Omaha. Anyway, that Duffy's show is $5, and starts at 9…

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Lazy-i Interview: Weatherbox; Korey Anderson Band, Lincoln Exposed continues tonight... – Feb. 11, 2010 – twitter icon

Just posted, an interview with Weatherbox frontman Brian Warren (read it here). Warren talks about why he prefers being in a band vs. writing and performing music by himself in the studio. He also talks about luring Little Brazil frontman Landon Hedges away to the Left Coast to join his band. Check it out. I'd tell you to buy tickets to Saturday night's Weatherbox show, but it's at O'Leaver's and there ain't no tickets for sale -- you'll have to pay your $5 at the door. This one will be crowded, as both The Photo Atlas and Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies also are playing. Get there early.
* * *
Speaking of shows, tonight The Korey Anderson Band opens a show at The Waiting Room for Caleb Hawley and Reed Waddle. Anderson had one of the best songs on this year's Christmas at Pine Ridge compilation. In fact, his voice is so high and purty on the track (which opens the collection) that I thought it was woman singing (and a hot one at that). Turns out it was just Anderson, who may or may not be hot (I've never actually met him). Anderson's band is an all-star line-up featuring Craig Balderston (bass), Wayne Brekke (percussion), Andrew Penke (guitar & keys) and Michael Campbell (guitar). 9 p.m. $7.
Also tonight, the Lincoln Exposed Festival is in full swing. Here's tonight's schedule with Z=Zoo D=Duffy's B=The Bourbon Theater

06:00 (Z) Triggertown [bluegrass/roots]
06:30 (D) Son Del Llano [salsa/latin]
07:30 (Z) Dr. John Walker [pop/rock]
08:00 (D) Ron Wax [rock/garage]
08:45 (Z) Ember Schrag . South Of Lincoln . Kill County [singer/songwriter]
09:00 (B) Josh Hill Band [rock/blues]
09:30 (D) Her Flyaway Manner [progressive/rock]
10:15 (Z) Bottlerocket [ska]
10:20 (B) Hundreds Miles [folk/rock]
11:00 (D) The Vingins [psychedelic/rock]
11:30 (Z) Tie These Hands [indie/pop]
12:00 (B) The Amalgamators [americana/rock]

Just $6 gets you into all the venues all night. The festival runs through the weekend, and the full schedule is in Facebook, here.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Column 258: Digging The Hole... – Feb. 10, 2010 – twitter icon

Yes I know I'm overselling The Hole by even mentioning The Cog Factory, and no it has nothing to do with my 2010 predictions (which so far have been uncanny). While its success or failure will depend solely on the folks running it, maybe just as important is the booking. I talked to one local garage rock musician about The Hole this weekend and he said he's waiting for a band outside of the skatepunk/hardcore genre to perform there before he checks it out. The fact is The Cog booked a diverse collection of bands including quite a few nationals that would go on to become some of the most important bands of that era. Will Black Heart be able to do the same thing? Time will tell, though a glance at their calendar indicates The Hole's initial focus is squarely on punk and little else. That said, Mr. Wright told me Saturday that he's already been approached by some of the area's non-punk musicians (including local bluesman Matt Cox) about playing at the all-ages club. If that happens, and if The Hole becomes an option for touring bands looking for a place to play an early set for an all-ages crowd (without having to deal with Omaha's archaic permission-slip restrictions), comparisons to The Cog may not be so far-fetched.

Column 258: Long Live The Hole
The all-ages club closes, then reopens.
This story of the death and rebirth of an all-ages music venue (in 24 hours) begins with me being chastised by show promoter Lucas Wright.
He'd read my annual "Predictions" column and took offense to the part where I said no young local promoter had stepped up in '09 to give One Percent Productions a run for its money. "You couldn't be more off base," Wright ranted. "I think you may be just unaware what's been going on in some circles of music in Omaha. I know I don't own my own venue and book HUGE national touring acts very often, but there's still a LOT going on in underground music that you have no idea about, Tim."
Of that, I had no doubt. Wright sent along a list of shows he'd put together under the moniker Black Heart Booking -- a long list, made up of such local high-flyers as Ladyfinger, UUVVWWZ, It's True, Simon Joyner and The Stay Awake; national bands such as The Have Nots (Boston), Theodore (St. Louis) and Dozal Brothers (Texas), and venues including Slowdown, The 49'r, The Sydney, The Barley St. and, most of all, The Hole.
I'd been hearing about The Hole, which I was told was in the basement of the Convicted Skateboards shop at 715 So. 16th St. The all-ages venue was where Wright had been focusing his attention for the past few months. So I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone -- get Wright's story and also check out this new all-ages club.
When I arrived at Convicted, Wright led me downstairs to The Hole. It was pretty much what I expected -- a drab, low-ceiling cinderblock basement with a mattress wrapped around one of the support poles. Pieces of skateboard ramp were littered along the concrete floor. But something was wrong. Where was the stage?
Wright told me that just the day before, Convicted's landlord showed up for a surprise inspection, unaware that shows were being held in the basement. And that, as they say, was that. Regardless of the landlord visit, it was only a matter of time until someone would have put a stop to it. While local police had checked out shows and let them go on, one visit from a fire marshal would have shut them down. The public entrance to The Hole was an unmarked 3-foot-high door in the side of wall. The single bathroom was a plywood stall with a toilet bolted to the floor. You get the picture.
But despite the spartan conditions, The Hole had quickly earned a reputation as a place where youth could enjoy their music and skateboard without being hassled. Yes, it was a basement, but it was their basement.
The day The Hole ended, Convicted owner Anna Diederich, who runs the shop with husband Donny (Double D), needed to find another venue for a show booked at The Hole that very night. She remembered that shortly after Convicted opened, she had met Cindy Sechser, the owner of the long-closed Diamond Bar located right across the street. Sechser had told Donny she was looking for someone to do something with the old bar.
"Donny was out of town when all this went down," Anna said, "So I called Cindy and told her what had happened." And so The Diamond became The Hole.
That Saturday afternoon a small team of teenagers was busy inside the old bar building a stage under the direction of Cordial Spew frontman Jay Bacon. The night's show was scheduled to begin in just a few hours. Power and audio cables already had been fished from the PA -- brought over from the old Hole -- to the soundboard in the back of the room. Old furniture and other dusty junk still needed to be cleared out. 
The new Hole appears to have a lot going for it. It has a similar layout as The Barley St. Tavern -- a long barroom next to a separate stage room. There's one functioning bathroom and room for a second that needs repair. The building is a stone's throw from Douglas County Corrections, which means there will be plenty of cops keeping an eye on things. There's also parking across the street in Convicted's lot (as well as on-street parking). Best of all, the club is rent-free. Money from the door is split between the landlord, Convicted, Black Heart Booking and the bands.
"Technically, The Hole is run by Donny and me, but it's more of a collective," Anna said. "We have meetings every week and agreements on the way things are run. Everyone pitches in. Donny's cousin, Leonard, is the door guy. Jay (Bacon) does sound, and either Donny or I are at every show -- we lock up and patrol."
Could The Hole become a modern-day Cog Factory? Only time will tell. "When the kids refer to The Hole or the skateboard shop, they say it's their place," Anna said. "They put their sweat into it and help out in all kinds of ways. I just like watching them enjoy themselves and have a good time."
Wright has shows booked at The Hole through July. You can check out the schedule at Most shows start at 7 p.m. and end by a parent-friendly 11 p.m. The club has strict no drinking/no drugs rules that Wright said are stringently enforced. There's also a no-pretention rule.
"The other night, we heard one kid tell another that he 'wasn't punk enough' to be there," Wright said. "We quickly put an end to that. That's not what this place is about."
So while Black Heart Booking will continue, Wright says The Hole is his labor of love. "I'm in this for the long run," he said. "I want my kids to go to shows there some day."

* * *

Tomorrow: Weatherbox

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

SXSW Update: Little Brazil, Thunder Power dates... – Feb. 9, 2010 – twitter icon

Before we get to it, I've updated yesterday's blog post at the insistence of members of It's True, so go back and read it again if you only read it before 5 p.m. yesterday (otherwise, skip it).

* * *

A couple SXSW updates…

Little Brazil will be playing the festival this year in Austin, according to LB guitarist Greg Edds. Venues and times have yet to be scheduled.

Thunder Power's official SXSW show also has yet to be scheduled, but they have three unofficial shows already slated. They're playing at The Parlor at 9:45 p.m. on Tuesday 3/16; Sonny's Vintage at 5 p.m. on Friday 3/19, and the band is teaming up with It's True for a day show at Lovey's Loot on Saturday 3/20.

So as it stands now, Omaha participants at SXSW are It's True, Digital Leather, Thunder Power, The Mynabirds, UUVVWWZ and Little Brazil.

More details as they become available.

* * *

Tomorrow: Black Heart Booking and the rise and fall of The Hole…

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Live Review: Eagle Seagull, It's True, North of Grand, The Third Men; Dr. Dog tonight... – Feb. 8, 2010 – twitter icon

It was a strange, mopey night at The Waiting Room Saturday, or maybe I was the mopey one. The crowd seemed restless for a good time and you'd figure they'd get it from Eagle Seagull, who announced from stage that their full length is finally coming out March 28 (but they didn't say who was putting it out, maybe they're doing it themselves?) Edit: A reader pointed out that I reported back in December (in this blog entry) that the record is coming out on [PIAS] Recordings.
If the band seemed a bit listless it might have something to do with not having one of their guitarists -- has there has been a personnel change that I wasn't aware of or was he just under the weather? Or maybe their rather detached performance had something to do with violinist/keyboardist Carrie Butler, who looked sullen bordering on upset throughout their entire set (Or maybe that's just her way). No matter. The music was the usual good stuff, despite the band looking bored and distracted (They say Fleetwood Mac's best album was borne out of conflict.)
The chatter in the crowd focused on It's True, who has announced that its having a CD release party for their debut full-length at TWR April 30. No one, however, knows who is releasing it, and now people are speculating that the band will release it themselves. No one understands why this band doesn't have labels nipping at its heels, be they local or national imprints. Here's a band with a solid collection of songs that seems willing to do whatever is necessary to get the music in front of a larger audience. What more could a label want? Then again, it's getting harder for bands to figure out why they need to be on a label at all, other than the bank and the marketing that goes with it (and certainly they'd like someone to pick up the tab for their recording). Distribution, which was a key advantage in the old days, is losing its value as more people quit buying CDs altogether.  
By now, the story of Eagle Seagull's multi-year constipation in releasing their material is well documented, which doesn't make it any less unfortunate. They were a rocket left on the launching pad, bogged down with too many delays until people began to wonder whether the darn thing could ever get off the ground. If nothing happens with their new record, it'll be another in a series of tragedies that seems to characterize Nebraska bands these days. No one wants to see what happened to ES happen to It's True, which is why if the band decides to put out the record themselves that it makes all the sense in the world, especially in an era where patience is often mistaken for indifference. It's True has to push forward right now, and should a label suddenly take interest in them, they can always release the album again. In the meantime, they're hitting their stride, growing with every performance, which means there's never going to be a better time to get out and share it with the rest of the world. (See photo).
Friday night was spent at O'Leaver's with The Third Men and Des Moines rock band North of Grand. My take on The Third Men: Just about any bar or venue would be better off having them perform in some sort of residency capacity, say every second Thursday or the first Friday of the month. The Third Men play good-time rock music for smart people who recognize well-played good-time rock music. There's something comfortable and familiar with their sound, which is probably due to the fact that the band grew up -- and continues to -- love good, unpretentious (and fun) rock music. It also helps that they roll out a few covers with every set. This time they unveiled a snarling version of Warren Zevon's "Poor Poor Pitful Me," along with "Next Time Round," an Elvis Costello chestnut off of 1986's Blood and Chocolate (That's right, that record came out 23 years ago).
Chatting with North of Grand's drummer Pat Curtis before their set, I was expecting a full-on punk attack, but in fact NoG has more in common with post-punk power rock than straight-up punk (and to me, that's a good thing). Despite being hard with their guitars, the band isn't afraid of hooks or cranking up white-knuckle backbeat rhythms right after a break. For whatever reason, I was reminded of post-punk acts like Bad Religion, Fugazi and Husker Du. But that's just me. With four albums under their wing -- all apparently self-released -- it's bands like this that epitomize the DIY business approach that every band will have to adopt sooner or later. Just ask It's True. (See photo of North of Grand).
* * *
Briefly, Mastodon announced its spring tour this morning, and Omaha's Sokol Hall is on the list for May 14.
* * *
Alt country band Dr. Dog returns to The Waiting Room tonight with The Growlers. $12, 9 p.m. I'm told TWR is one of their favorite venues. Since they haven't been here since Sept. 2008, they're in for a surprise.  

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Live Review: Blue Rosa, Dim Light; The Third Men, Twilight Hours tonight; It's True Saturday... – Feb. 5, 2010 – twitter icon

It was a pseudo "goth night" at The Waiting Room last night, which meant plenty of the expected costuming (heavy eyeliner (men and women), dyed-black hair, the usual). None of it got in the way, and to be honest, the style of music for the first two bands didn't really fit the vibe.

Opening band Blue Rosa's lead singer had sort of a Lilith Fair lilt to her voice, which either compliments or clashes with their post-neu-wave-ambient style depending on your expectations. It was kind of like listening to Sarah McLachlan front The Cocteau Twins with a cello accoutrement (and I could have used more of that cello in the mix). It was pleasant, but not particularly threatening. Not bad, but these guys need to turn it up. See photo.

Dim Light played as a four-piece and sounded like a leather burlesque show held in an anonymous Manhattan basement club; there's something dirty and decadent about their brazen swing that teeters so close to out of control. One fellow patron told me that he thought frontman Cooper Moon was trying to channel Nick Cave. Maybe so. I've compared him to Mark Lanegan before, and I stand by it, though last night's performance seemed more lucid and coherent than anytime I've seen them in the past. They're ready for prime time. (See photo)

Strap On Halo didn't go on until about a quarter to midnight, so I only caught a couple of their songs, which sounded like attempts at throbbing industrial meets metal played to a drum machine. Lots of lights and smoke; I guess this is where the goth came in.

* * *

Lots going on this weekend. Tonight you have Matt Wilson from Trip Shakespeare reinventing himself as The Twilight Hours at The Waiting Room. Matt Whipkey is opening. $10, 9 p.m. Me, I'll be getting my drink on at O'Leaver's where The Third Men are headlining tonight with North of Grand and At Land (ex-Fizzle Like a Flood). $5, 9:30 p.m.

Tomorrow night, It's True headlines at The Waiting Room with amazing Lawrence band Cowboy Indian Bear and Lincoln heroes Eagle Seagull. $7, 9 p.m. Meanwhile, there's a solid punk show down at The Hole, 715 So. 16th St,. headlined by Dead Town Revival and including Redo, Cordial Spew, Officially Terminated, The Upsets and The Brigandines. $5, 7 p.m.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Mynabirds, UUVVWWZ to play Saddle Creek SXSW showcase; Dim Light tonight… – Feb. 4, 2010 – twitter icon

It's only the beginning of February, but I'm already making plans for the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, which isn't until March 17. Yesterday, Jason Kulbel at Saddle Creek Records told me that his label will again host a showcase at the event. The deets:

Location: Maggie Mae's Gibson Room
Thursday, March 18

10 p.m. The Mynabirds
11 p.m. UUVVWWZ
12 a.m. Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson
1 a.m.   The Rural Alberta Advantage

SXSW has filled in the earlier part of the evening with the following Nicodemus Agency bands:

7:30 - 8:00 p.m.: Common Loon
8:15 - 8:45 p.m.: Unwed Sailor

Last year I missed the Creek showcase as I was making a concerted effort to avoid all the bands that I see on a regular basis 'round these parts -- what's the point of going to Austin if you're going to see bands that always play in Omaha? In the end, I still saw Cursive play a couple times at other day shows. Without a doubt, all of the Creek bands will be playing numerous times throughout this year's four-day foray. Seriously, can you ever get too much of The Mynabirds?
Other Omaha acts confirmed for SXSW this year include Thunder Power, Digital Leather and It's True, though I don't know where any of them will be playing. More details as I get them.
* * *
It's an evening of dark wave/goth/gloom tonight at The Waiting Room with Strap On Halo, Dim Light and Blue Rosa. $7, 9 p.m. Don't be afraid of the snow.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Column 257: You're not getting older, the Grammys are getting younger… – Feb. 3, 2010 – twitter icon

This week's column is a look back on Sunday's Grammys -- three-plus hours of my life that I'll never get back...

Column 257: Child's Play
The Grammys get younger...
Oh my, The Grammys. There was a time when they meant something to me.  But that was a long time ago, back when I was working at K Mart and sneaking (underage) into The Depot in Council Bluffs. Back when bands like The Police and Michael Jackson dominated the awards. All these years have led up to last Sunday night's Grammys, where I realized, to my chagrin, that I didn't know most of the acts that were nominated (and I bet you didn't, either).
Had I finally become what I've always dreaded becoming: An adult who doesn't like music; an old fuddy-duddy who's "out of touch"?
I contemplated this unfortunate fate as the Black Eyed Peas -- a band that does little more than bleep out meaningless five-word phrases followed by "Yeah!" on top of aerobics soundtracks -- received yet another award for best something or other for a song that we won't remember a year from now. And than it occurred to me that I haven't stopped liking music, I stopped liking popular music.
"Pop music" has always been the stuff that appeals to the great unwashed masses. But these days, those masses are comprised mostly of 15 to 19 year olds, the majority of the population that still buys new music, preferably online or at Wal Mart. It's these consumers of the mass bile that, in the next five to 10 years, no longer will listen to music at all. That pleasure will have been replaced with watching television, listening to talk radio and following sports when they're not keeping an eye on their kids.
Yeah, most people "grow out of" music, or more accurately, they grow out of the shitty kind of music that the mass media seem to embrace. They certainly lose the ability to listen to new music, forever lost in the soundtrack of their adolescent years.
I contemplated that unfortunate fate while shopping at Homer's Saturday afternoon, where I picked up new CDs by Spoon (just okay) and Los Campesinos! (amazing). A few years ago, Homer's end caps would have been filled with only the most mainstream, commercial-appealing fluff -- i.e., what's heard on the radio. These days, those end caps are stocked with CDs that you won't hear on the FM, lazily categorized as "indie music" (that Spoon album, for example, released on indie label Merge Records, was listed as Homer's No. 1 best seller).

Now out front, Homer's "indie section" used to be a few feet of shelf space in the back, dedicated to bands whose music and lyrics were more challenging, more personal, and consistently better than whatever won the top prizes at The Grammys, but that rarely sold as many CDs throughout their lifetime as a Black Eyed Peas album sells in a single day.
Anyway, my conclusion: When it comes to pop music, I haven't grown older, the music has grown younger, and dumber and more youth-oriented than it ever was when I was "their age."
There was very little no adult content at The Grammy's this year, unless you count the adult language used in the hip-hop medley. Watching the telecast was like watching The Nickelodeon Awards or some other kids' show. The fact that powder-perfect Barbie Doll Taylor Swift, whose off-pitch voice sounds like she's struggling through puberty, could be honored with the "Album of the Year" was amusing since her music could only appeal to girls in their late teens, and their parents who have to put up with it. It's kind of like giving an Oscar to a Twilight movie, while "Tetro" goes ignored.
Pop music has once again been defined as being kid's stuff. So what else is new?
But imagine this: A Grammy Awards broadcast that opens with Yo La Tengo performing alongside Beck, where Brother Ali and Atmosphere do a medley with Ludacris; where The xx and Phoenix front a huge production number with Lady Gaga and Depeche Mode, where Annie Clark sings a duet with Antony Hegarty and Kris Kristofferson, where Mastodon humbles Metallica, where Mogwai performs with the San Francisco Symphony, where Wilco shares a tune with George Strait. And where the winners' music will be remembered 10, 20, 30 years from now, let alone next year.
* * *
One local guy watching The Grammys last Sunday had some skin in the game. Arguably the area's most talented mastering engineer, Doug Van Sloun, watched as Rhonda Vincent's Destination Life, released last June on Rounder, was up for Best Bluegrass Album. Doug mastered the record, his first project to be nominated for a Grammy. Alas, the award went to comedian Steve Martin (yes, the arrow-through-the-head guy) and his album The Crow / New Songs for the Five-String Banjo, which shouldn't be a surprise since Martin performed songs off the album on just about every late-night talk show. Still. It's honor just to be nominated, right Doug?
* * *
Now for something completely different: Next week, the star city celebrates its best and brightest at Lincoln Exposed 2010. The event, which is held at Duffy's, The Bourbon Theater and The Zoo Bar, runs from Feb. 10-14 and features 60 performances from some of Lincoln's finest musicians including Charlie Burton, The Machete Archive, Darren Keen/The Show Is the Rainbow, Triggertown, Ember Schrag, Her Flywaway Manner, Mercy Rule, The Mezcal Brothers and Pharmacy Spirits. Your $6 per night gets you into all three venues. For a full schedule, search for "Lincoln Exposed 2010" in Facebook. 

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Live Review: Perry H. Matthews, Her Flyaway Manner; Grammys… – Feb. 1, 2010 – twitter icon

The Waiting Room is a whole different -- and louder -- animal when it's not packed to capacity, as evidenced by last Saturday night's show, which drew fewer than a 100 people. Walking toward the bar down Maple St. at 10:30, I could hear the noise coming from the venue as far away as Jane's. Imagine how loud it was inside -- but it was nothing earplugs couldn't control.
On stage, Perry H. Matthews tore through songs from their upcoming full-length (to be released by start-up label Doom Town Records). This is loud, propulsive noise rock that chugs along with with serious, pounding riffage. I don't remember if I've ever seen them as a five piece, with a dedicated frontman/vocalist. The guy looked the part, with a striped, sleeveless T-shirt and suspenders. Throughout the set, however, it felt like he was holding back. Though he could be heard above the band (barely), he needs to turn it loose if he's going to keep up with what's happening all around him.
There was no holding back Her Flyaway Manner, who I haven't seen in years. The trio fronted by Brendan McGinn on guitar and vocals was spot on.  Their post-hardcore sound reminded me more of Fugazi than the last time 'round -- good, brutal stuff from one of Lincoln's best. (See photo)  
A few more thoughts on TWR: They adjusted the stage camera, so that the monitors around the bar are sharper, and are now in living color. While the room does seems semi-empty with only 100 people in the audience, it still feels less empty than, say, Sokol Underground or Slowdown's big stage with a similar-sized crowd. This could be another advantage TWR has over other larger rooms -- small shows don't feel sadly unattended, though just having a crowd that gets off their asses and stands by the stage (as we did Saturday night) always helps.
* * *
If you didn't watch The Grammy's last night you didn't miss anything. I watched only because I intend to mention the telecast in this week's column. It's amazing just how far American popular music has fallen from any resemblance to adult content (unless you count the adult language used in the hip-hop medley). It was like watching The Nickelodeon Awards or some other kids' show. The fact that Taylor Swift, whose off-pitch vocals sound like she's struggling through puberty, could be honored with the "Album of the Year" among other awards, is amusing since her music could only appeal to girls in their late teens, and the parents who have to put up with it. It's kind of like giving an Oscar to a Sponge Bob movie.  During her performance with Stevie Nicks, Taylor could have used some auto-tuner action, and believe me, there was plenty to go around.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Live Review: Haiti Relief Concert; Conchance, more Haiti tonight; Her Flyaway Manner Saturday… – Jan. 29, 2010 – twitter icon

What more could you ask for than Conor Oberst singing "Lua" backed by Nate Walcott on flugelhorn? It was one of the highlights of last night's sold out Haiti Relief Concert at Slowdown. For this rendition of Bright Eyes, Oberst had Walcott on keyboards and assorted brass, Mike Mogis on guitar, Matt Maginn on bass and someone on drums who resembled a young Winona Ryder (at least from my vantage point across the room). Whoever that drummer was, she was amazing.
The crew played a couple new songs (that, or I simply didn't recognize them) that will fit nicely in the Bright Eyes oeuvre. The best of them was the encore that roared to a crashing, epic finish. When will we be hearing this new material? Something tells me it won't be until sometime during the latter part of the year.
I didn't arrive at Slowdown until around 11, when Simon Joyner was on stage with his band playing a rather low-key set. In fact, most of the evening had a distinctly low-key feel, which I guess was appropriate for a benefit for such a grim situation. Tilly and the Wall's set was less rousing than relaxed, especially since Jamie Pressnall no longer tap-tap-taps out the hits, one assumes because she's still feeling the effects of giving birth to her and husband/guitarist Derek Pressnall's first child.
That said, one band did manage to pry the roof off the joint. It's True has never played a better set, taking their sound to uncharted waters. They were the band that had the most buzz among those I chatted with in the crowd. The consensus: They just keep getting better. They knew they were on one of the biggest stages of their careers (thus far), and they took full advantage of it. Wonder who is putting out their upcoming album?
An aside: I haven't seen Oberst play "Lua" in a long time, and to his credit, he attacked it with the same intensity as he ever has, spitting out the lines almost with poetic disgust. Despite being his "hit," the woman next to me had never heard the song before, and commented on how freakin' sad it is.

There was a movie that came out sometime in the early '80s that starred Paul Simon called One Trick Pony. Simon played Jonah, a guy on the downside of his career, balancing various relationships, trying to make a comeback. Anyway, late in the film, an award show based on The Grammy's asks Jonah to appear at their ceremony and perform his famous war ballad "Soft Parachutes," which is just the type of nostalgia trip that Jonah was trying to avoid. In the end, he does the performance, walking onto an empty stage with just a guitar. It's a pretty song, a strong song, the kind of simple melody that Simon did so well and seemingly effortlessly (before Graceland). I think of that scene every time I see Oberst perform "Lua." It would be easy to say that "Lua" is Conor's "Soft Parachutes," except that after all these years, he looks like he still loves playing it, as if he knows what a jewel he has in that song.
* * *

Weekend's looking busy.
Tonight at O'Leaver's, OEA Award winner for best hip-hop, Conchance, opens a show at O'Leaver's with godshamgod and Pharmacy Spirits. 9:30, $5. 
There's another Haiti Benefit Concert tonight down at The Hole, 715 So. 16th St. The line-up is Eastern Turkish, Cordial Spew, Living Victim, Youth & Tear Gas and Straight Shot. $5, 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, down at Slowdown Jr., The Killigans have their CD release show with Parting Shot and Cave Kids. $7, 9 p.m.
Saturday night's main event is Her Flyaway Manner at The Waiting Room with Perry H. Matthews, This Life Is a Scarecrow and Bazooka Shootout. $7, 9 p.m.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Benefit for Haiti at Slowdown (sold out), Sarah Benck tonight… – Jan. 28, 2010 – twitter icon

According to Slowdown major domo Val Nelson, here's how tonight's Haiti Benefit Show is going down: The first band starts at 8:30 sharp, and to facilitate eight bands in four hours each band will play a 20-minute set. The line-up again: Tilly And The Wall, Bright Eyes, It's True, Simon Joyner, The Mynabirds, Bear Country, McCarthy Trenching and Brad Hoshaw. Val says that all money raised from ticket sales will be donated to Doctors Without Borders -- Of course, if you don't have tickets, you're out of luck as the show has been sold out for a few days.

Also happening tonight, Sarah Benck is headlining a show at O'Leaver's with Adam Robert Haug, Pennyhawks and Mumfords. $5, 9:30 p.m. The amazing Blue Scholars are playing at Lincoln's Bourbon Theater; $10, 7 p.m. And DJ Kobrakyle will be running a victory lap at The Waiting Room, celebrating his OEA award for best DJ. $5, 9 p.m.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Haiti Benefit show sold out… – Jan. 26, 2010 – twitter icon

If you didn't get your ticket to Thursday night's Haiti Benefit concert at Slowdown featuring Tilly and the Wall and Bright Eyes (among others) you're out of luck. The show is now sold out.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

OEA Winners & Sinners; Bright Eyes added to Haiti show… – Jan. 25, 2010 – twitter icon

Well, the bad news is I only got four of my OEAA predictions right. The good news is that about half of the artists I voted for won awards. As I say in the official review that will be printed in The Reader Thursday, last night's OEAAs were a nod to performers who spent most of '09 playing in local clubs rather than the hard-core touring acts trying to make a name outside of our little burg.

Gone are the days when Saddle Creek Records artists -- arguably the most successful and influential bands in the area (and playing the best music) -- dominated these awards. This year, only four Creek-related bands were even nominated, and none took home a prize, despite national and international tours for Cursive and Oberst, along with plenty of road work from the forgotten Ladyfinger. In the end, does it matter if a local band does something like play at SXSW? Apparently not to the OEAA voters.

Taking just over two hours for the entire evening's production, emcee and chief yuckmeister Ethan Stone, part of the morning team at 96.1 The Brew, joked endlessly about the fact that you could actually drink alcohol in the Mid America Center ballroom -- something unheard of at The Holland Center where the event had been held over the past three years.

A small army of wait staff delivered hot-plates of pork and potatoes to the well-groomed nominees as Stone rattled through the list of winners. Only a handful was allowed to come on stage to accept their awards Oscar-style. The rest had their crystal statues delivered to their tables, just like their pork and potatoes, where they proudly lofted their prizes overhead before the attention moved on to the next honoree.

The ceremony was quick and efficient, which was fortunate as some of the year's worst road conditions lay ahead for the trek back over the river.

The evening kicked off with performances by Hot Topic-style emo band After the Fall and what would be the night's big winner, Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies, who is down to just three "deadlies" these days. While the room lacked the sparkling acoustics of The Holland Center, it was more than adequate for an audience busy downing dinner rolls and Bud Light.

The evening's first highlight was the "Lifetime Achievement Award" bestowed to legendary promoter and entrepreneur Matt Markel. Pacific Street Blues host and former head of Homer's Records Rick Galusha, along with 89.7 The River Program Director Sophia John, recapped the highlights of Markel's career, which included running Omaha nightclub The Ranch Bowl, launching radio station 93.3 K-ROCK, and creating BJM Studio and Get-Go Records. Markel, 58, took the stage in front of a standing ovation. He thanked his wife, Dana, all the bands that had played at the Ranch Bowl over the years along with "all the workers," including those he fired. Despite having suffered a stroke in 2002, Markel looked and sounded in good health. "The stroke has been a blessing to me," he said. "It's calmed me down a lot."

Then it was back to the awards, most of which went to a cadre of bands and performers known for their appearances on Benson stages. Brad Hoshaw and his band took home the lion's share of top honors, including awards for Album of the Year for their debut LP, along with Artist of the Year and Best Singer/Songwriter/Adult/Alternative. Like a good son, Hoshaw went out of his way to thank his mother.

The night's other big winner was It's True, a band led by singer/songwriter Adam Hawkins, which picked up crystal obelisks for Best New Artist and Best Indie / Alternative.

The OEAAs ventured off the Benson reservation only a few times, most notably for the Best Rock award, which went to Goner Records artist Box Elders, and Best Hip Hop, which went to I'm Drinkin This recording artist Conchance.

One of the evening's bigger surprises was the Best DJ Award, which went to Kyle Richardson a.k.a. DJ Kobraklye, who is probably most well known for spinning tracks at Gunk nights at The Waiting Room in Benson.

So was the lack of Creek representation this year a sign of a pull-back in Saddle Creek output (the label released nationally distributed albums by four local artists in '09) or have the OEAAs' voters simply become more focused on local bands that play regularly at local clubs?

Only one winning act -- Box Elders -- has spent more than a month on the road touring in '09. The rest of the winners -- either by choice or due to the financial realities involved with touring -- spent most of last year close to home.

Here's the list of this year's winners:

Best Rock -- Box Elders
Best Hard Rock -- Paria
Best Alternative/Indie -- It’s True
Best Singer-Songwriter/Adult Alternative -- Brad Hoshaw & The Seven Deadlies
Best DJ -- Kyle Richardson a.k.a. DJ Kobraklye
Best Folk/Roots/Americana/Bluegrass -- Filter Kings
Best Soul and R&B -- Satchel Grande
Best Hip-Hop/Rap -- Conchance
Best Gospel -- Salem Baptist Voices Of Victory
Best Blues -- Matt Cox
Best Jazz/Standards/Easy Listening -- Luigi Waites
Best Ethnic/World Music -- The Turfmen
Best Cover Band -- Secret Weapon
Album Of The Year -- Brad Hoshaw & The Seven Deadlies, self titled
Best New Artist -- It’s True
Artist Of The Year -- Brad Hoshaw & The Seven Deadlies

* * *

Bright Eyes has been added to the line-up for this Thursday Haiti Benefit show at Slowdown. The already-packed line-up includes Tilly and the Wall, The Mynabirds, It's True, Simon Joyner, Bear Country and McCarthy Trenching. Tix are still available here for $15. Get them while you can.

* * *

Hey, there were a couple updates over the weekend, including a detailed review of the newly remodeled Waiting Room, so scroll down!

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Live Review: The (newly remodeled) Waiting Room; OEA's tonight… – Jan. 24, 2010 – twitter icon

Though there (probably) have been bigger crowds at The Waiting Room, there's something about the new, wall-less/ceiling-less design that makes the crowd seem bigger and, strangely from a getting-around standpoint, denser as if the room is smaller. Or maybe more people were there last night to see NOMO than I thought.

First off, the overall vibe: More modern; it feels like a completely different club. I've heard people describe it as "Austin-like," or like a venue you'd find in a different city. I didn't quite get that. It does, however, feel more cosmopolitan, and now has more in common with Slowdown than it did before the remodel. It is, hands down, a better club.

The high points: Amazing sight lines from anywhere in the room. I tried to remember how it used to be, with those walls blocking the stage when you stood by the entrance. You can now effectively watch a band from all the way back in the pinball machine area. And now the stage looks like it belongs where it is instead of being an afterthought.

The sound was very good. I think they still need to work some bugs out with the mix, which felt a bit thin, flat and un-dynamic, but overall, balanced (maybe too balanced, as I was having a tough time separating the players). It was earplug loud from everywhere, which tells me that all that sound buffering from the old lowered ceiling is obviously gone. Before the remodel, you could lean back against the bar and take out your earplugs -- that thought never crossed my mind last night.

The lighting was striking, with the new "moving lights" in full motion. They're not as impressive as Slowdown's light curtains -- probably because there are fewer moving lights, and they're still figuring out how best to use them.

New high-table seating along the north wall is a nice touch. I wasn't able to actually sit down and try them, but it looks like a good vantage point for a show. The low tables in the center of the room are pushed back even with the front of the relocated soundboard -- useless during a show with the crowd standing right in front of you blocking your view (though I would have taken a seat there last night if I could).

New plasma video monitors have been mounted throughout back bar area, all are connected to a video camera pointed at the stage, so that when you're getting a drink or playing pool, you can glance up and see what's going on up there. The mounted, motionless camera needs to be adjusted for the dim lighting. The picture was dark and grainy, like 7-11/convenience store robbery footage, the light level is too low to adequately capture color imaging. Still, it's cool, and I assume the monitors can be switched to a game during pre-show or Saturday afternoon boozing.

In the "needs improvement" category:

The room is now too dark. It looks like they have plenty of directed overhead halogen lighting, it just wasn't on or being used. It's much darker back by the bar than it used to be, which makes digging through your wallet a chore (Is that a 10 or a 20? It's a 5?!).

Though they probably haven't changed the table arrangement, it was difficult to walk across the room back by the bar. As I said before, though the room feels bigger, it seems more crowded, or at least it did last night (again, I have no idea what the actual crowd size was, though it wasn't sold out at 11 when I arrived). The soundboard in the middle also adds to the crowding effect when navigating closer to the stage.

Again, maybe it was the crowd size, but I gave up on getting a beer a couple times after waiting in the mob for (Edit: What seemed like) 15 minutes (but was probably more like five). I did get served later in the evening. The bar service was too small to support a crowd as big as last night's. Like Slowdown does for its sold-out shows, they need a second horse-trough beer station where people can just pay cash for a bottle (preferably, Rolling Rock). There is a perfect spot for this right by the entrance (where there are now tables for people to place their bottles when they go out to smoke). It took six months for Slowdown to finally get its hands around its service problems. The new Waiting Room has only been open for three days. They'll get it figured out quickly.

Actually, most of my whining won't apply to non-sold-out nights. Last night was a mob scene, and what a strange mob it was. It was unlike any other crowd I've seen at the Waiting Room -- one guy described it as being filled with "West Omaha hippies." In fact, I saw more than my share of backwards ball caps -- definitely not the usual TWR crowd. Maybe it was NOMO. Was there ever a band more suited to go on tour with Phish or WSP? The six-piece all-instrumental afro-beat band is slick, well-rehearsed (as in tight) and a lot of fun. Too bad there wasn't enough room for people to dance. As much as I liked them last night, it still didn't hold a candle to their red hot June 2006 show at O'Leaver's (reviewed here).

But all that said, with this remodel, I do believe that The Waiting Room is going to attract a new, more suburban crowd that may have ignored the venue in the past because of its "old school" feel. The new Waiting Room is as sleek and modern as any bar west of 120th St. If a new suburban crowd does begin to show up, it could mean a whole new audience for the quality bands that have been playing at TWR all along. Here's a photo from last night.

* * *

Tonight: The Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards at The Mid America Center. Show starts at 6. Look for Twitter updates (follow me here) as winners are announced.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Addendum: OEA Prediction: Artist of the Year; NOMO tonight… – Jan. 23, 2010 – twitter icon

A reader pointed out on the Webboard that I forgot to include my pick and prediction for Artist of the Year in yesterday's blog entry. Oops. The nominees are Black Squirrels, Brad Hoshaw & the Seven Deadlies, Cursive, It's True and Little Brazil. My guess is that Little Brazil will squeak by with the win, mainly because they weren't nominated in many other categories despite making the best album of their career. I voted for Cursive, who had a breakthrough year with their new album, their ongoing national (and international) tour and their appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. We'll find out Sunday night.

I didn't make it out to The Waiting Room grand re-opening last night as I'm still on the mend and the idea of standing up for more than an hour didn't seem like a good one. I'll get my introduction to the new room tonight when NOMO takes the stage with Satchel Grande. Tix are $10, show starts at 9.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

OEA Predictions; The Waiting Room's Grand Re-opening tonight… – Jan. 22, 2010 – twitter icon

This Sunday is the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs. There has been a bit of muttering about moving the event to Iowa, but you won't hear it from me. The Holland, while regal and impressive, is anything but fun. During past year's award ceremonies, most of the crowd spent the evening in the lobby drinking, because they wouldn't let us bring our booze back to ours seat for fear that you might stain one of their blonde-wood seats. No one cares about such things at the MAC Center, and the organizers have all but promoted the award show as some sort of drunkfest. Good for them. It certainly will be more laidback, if not chaotic.
Anyway, I'll be there again this year. But before I go, here's my list of who will win and who I voted for (or who should have won). As I've said before, the OEAAs are now considered by most folks in the scene as a "Benson thing," which is great for Benson but not so good for the rest of the city (and Lincoln). Oh well, onto the awards:
Singer/songwriter Alternative: I voted for Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies based on the strength of their debut album, which came out at the beginning of '09. A year later and most folks have forgotten about it, unfortunately. The winner will be It's True, because Hawkins and his crew are red hot right now, and are about to put out a new album.
Alternative/Indie: It's True will win this one as well. I'm telling you, folks, the "It Band" of the moment. I voted for Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, a local guy with national presence, and even though I didn't care for their last album, Conor and his boys clearly eclipsed anyone else locally.
Blues: Kris Lager Band seems to be the favorite here. I voted for Son of 76 & the Watchmen, a band that I discovered last year through the OEAA showcase series.
Folk/Roots/Americana/Blue Grass: Black Squirrels will win this easily. They have a large fan base and voting block. I voted for Outlaw Con Bandana, whose songwriting style is more to my liking.
Hard Rock: Very likely Emphatic will win since news of the band's deal with Atlantic Records broke during the voting period. I voted for Bloodcow.
DJ: Brent Crampton is recognized as the guru of local house/club music, and he'll win it again this year. And I voted for him.
Ethnic / World Music: It'll probably go to Rhythm Collective, whose name seems to pop up a lot these days. I voted for The Turfman, which has been one of the best ethnic (and true folk) bands in Omaha for decades.
Gospel: Either Salem Baptist or Sacred Heart choirs will win, as they should. I voted for Salem Baptist.
Hard Rock / Metal / Punk
: A poorly named category since there already is a Hard Rock category, Emphatic will feel stupid picking up two trophies for the same category. I again voted for Bloodcow, who wouldn't mind at all picking up two trophies.
Hip Hop / Rap: Could go to El Genius. I voted for Conchance, who emerged last year as one of the most creative musical acts in the area.
Jazz/Standards/Easy Listening: It's sad that anyone would include "Jazz" with "Easy Listening" in a category name. But because they did, Heidi Joy will win, thanks to her immense fan base. I voted for Luigi, Inc.
Soul and R&B: Considering that he's playing at the OEAA ceremony, it will probably be Lucas Kellison. I voted for Son of 76 & The Watchmen.
Rock: Again, a shitty category name. Is it supposed to mean "generic rock"? Regardless, I voted for Box Elders since they had the biggest growth last year. I also think they'll win as people will ignore Cursive due to their success (I know, it makes no sense).
Cover Band: The dumbest category of the OEAA's. You don't see the Grammy's handing out awards to cover bands. Regardless, Secret Weapon will win this. I voted for Zeppelin tribute band The Song Remains the Same.
Best New Artist: It's True will win and It's True got my vote.
Album of the Year: Based on their fan base and the fact that they open for just about every other band's CD release show last year, Black Squirrel's Paying for your Pleasure will win. I voted for Cursive's Mama, I'm Swollen, which was one of my favorite albums of '09.
Tickets to the OEA Awards Show are $20, or $30 with dinner, and are available via Ticketmaster or at the MAC box office. The reception starts at 4:30, the actual show starts at 6 p.m. this Sunday, Jan. 24.
* * *
As I wrote about (here), the Waiting Room will have its true Grand Reopening tonight with a free show featuring Little Brazil, Little Black Stereo, Ground Tyrants and Kyle Harvey. Show starts at 9. Prepare to be amazed.
Tomorrow night the first touring band will perform at the newly remodeled Waiting Room, and it's a doozy -- afro-beat dancemasters NOMO with Satchel Grande. $10, 9 p.m.
There's a ton of other stuff going on this weekend:
Tonight at The Barley St. Tavern, Our Fox (Jake Bellows & friends) take the stage with Ember Schrag. $5, 9 p.m.
Tomorrow night, fIREHOSE tribute band Brave Captain plays at The 49'r with Dragon Vomit. $5, 9:30 p.m.
The Life and Times are playing Saturday night at Slowdown Jr. with Techlepathy and At Land. $8, 9 p.m.
Spiders for Love are at O'Leaver's Saturday with The Sharks and The Biotomic Point. $5, 9:30 p.m.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Inside the remodeled Waiting Room (sneak peek tonight); The Mynabirds sign to Saddle Creek; Fortnight tonight… – Jan. 21, 2010 – twitter icon

Just placed online (right here), a feature story about -- and photos of -- the newly remodeled Waiting Room Lounge. Marc Leibowitz talks about what went into the refurb and why he and partner Jim Johnson did it. I can tell you with all certainty that if you've been to the Waiting Room before you're going to be impressed with what you see when they reopen tomorrow night. My only gripe: The new curtaining system effectively takes away my favorite spot to watch a show -- from off stage left. You'll no longer have access to that area, as the new curtain (which doesn't arrive for a couple months) will cover the floor from the stage all the way to the green room door. The area off of stage right also will be covered. Leibs says bands don't like people standing off the edge of the stage (or as he said, they hate to "play in the round."). The curtain will also cover all the equipment that's usually stacked off to the side. It'll also make the stage seem bigger, though it isn't. I was surprised to hear that The Waiting Room's stage is larger than Slowdown's stage, but smaller than Sokol Underground's stage -- just more evidence that I could never be a structural engineer. Anyway, read the article and check out the new Waiting Room yourself tomorrow night or Saturday when NOMO takes the stage.

Can't wait that long? One Percent just announced that it's having a "soft opening" tonight featuring It's True. The doors open at 8 pm. and It's True plays sometime after 11 p.m. And it's free (21+ only).

* * *

Saddle Creek Records announced its first new signing for 2010 yesterday. The label will be releasing on April 27 the full length debut by The Mynabirds, What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood. The Mynabirds is a new project by Laura Burhenn (ex-Georgie James) whose members also include Dan McCarthy of McCarthy Trenching.

* * *

Other shows tonight include Fortnight at Slowdown Jr., as part of their free Thursday night showcase series. Joining them are The Answer Team and John Klemmensen and the Party. Starts at 9. Also tonight, Fine Fine Automobiles (a.k.a. Landon Hedges of Little Brazil) is playing at The Barley St. Tavern with Watching the Trainwreck, The Gasams and Above the State. 9 p.m., $5.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Column 255: Jay Reatard & The Niner; It's True heads to SXSW, new full-length on the way; Beep Beep b-bye… – Jan. 20, 2010 – twitter icon

The following column was written last week. I'm feeling much better now, thanks for asking.

Column 255: The Letting Go
Jay Reatard and the 49'r
I write this at 4 a.m. coming off Percocet and poor sleep after crossing a hill of agony that was abdominal surgery last week.
Three stories burned with controversy in the haze of my midweek absence. First there was Haiti. But that was simply too big to put my feeble mind around. Then there was The Tonight Show Controversy -- Conan O'Brien being laid to rest in the path of a greedy Jay Leno. In the end, who cared? Both would wind up at 10:30 somewhere.
Then there was The 49'r Situation.
There actually were four stories that happened during my sleep. Jay Reatard died somewhere in Memphis. His death was one of the first things I tweeted about after surgery; I felt I needed to since no one was talking about it on the intergoogle. Reatard, who recorded on Matador but has roots in Memphis labels like Goner and In the Red was a fresh new hope for rock 'n' roll, a guy who embraced the simpler style of garage rock; his noisy, shambolic sound somehow made everything new again.
In his wake he pulled along a lot of people, including local folks like Box Elders and Digital Leather and Brimstone Howl and The Shanks. I thought his death was maybe a hoax -- from stories I heard about the guy, it sounded like something Reatard would do. But there is no hoaxing The New York Times, who, in his obituary, called Reatard, real name Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr., "a Force in Punk Rock," dead at age 29.
For some reason I thought Reatard's death would spur some sort of Kurt Cobain outcry in the art/music world until I remembered that no one really knew who he was. Let that be a lesson to all of you local rockers who have made a mark (of sorts) nationally. Who will talk about you after you're gone?
Certainly the people who went to -- and go to -- The 49'r don't know who Jay was. Reatard was more of a Brothers Lounge or O'Leaver's sort of guy, though I think he would have liked The 49'r, too.
The bar's demise became public early last week on Facebook via The 49'r Facebook Page (of course), where someone (no one really knows who runs those "fan pages") posted the message: "The rumors you're hearing are true. The 49'r, and surrounding property, has been bought to make way for a CVS Pharmacy. Our doors will close, permanently, next January. Please make this next year the best year the 49'r has ever had."
It was met with an immediate outcry heard low and long over the Internet. Close the Niner? It simply cannot be! It's an Omaha music landmark. Hell, it's a national landmark that has acted as a cornerstone of the Dundee neighborhood!
One fan of the Niner, musician Greg Loftis currently of Montana, Facebooked me asking if its demolition could be stopped. Like a doctor telling a parent that his child has passed, I told him that I thought there was nothing anyone could do. I added that, ironically, it was The 49'r where I had first met Loftis so, so many years ago.
"Yes it was...and yes we did. lllooonnng time ago," Loftis replied. "That is where I learned everything I know about music, learned the rules of seedy underground behavior, made almost every friend I have in Omaha (and some that were just passing through)... I loved that place. I remember the old days (before they took out the juke box and when Dana was in charge) when you could walk down the steps in the afternoon on a summer Monday (when the music kids hung out there), a beer would already be waiting, Landon would ask for a shot (he was 19) Marq would be on the desk computer researching right wing politics and Prince, Kasher would tell you about this new record, The Ugly Organ, he was working on, Bob Thornton would be drinking vodka and explaining to someone why he was smarter than them, Kyle Harvey was losing money working there because he was buying too many drinks... everybody knew everybody and if someone showed up we didn't know they got drunk for free... I once went 47 straight matches undefeated in shuffle board... it was the reason it took Greg Edds like 7 yrs to get out of college, Minturn fell off the roof into the dumpster, I fell off the roof and missed the dumpster, the tattoo shop guys would scare away any frat boys that wanted to come in... Mindy welcomed me to Omaha the first night...Christ that was amazing (get your mind out of the gutter)... I could go on for weeks... this is very sad...the place had changed but I always held out hope it would return to it's glory days... I never dreamed it would close its doors."
Now a new Facebook page has launched, titled "Save The 49'r." Something tells me that the person behind it hasn't talked to owner Mark Samuelson, who will likely see a nice payday for his property, a property that he's owned and operated and poured money into for a long time.
In the end, it's just a bar, like a thousand other bars in Omaha. It just happens to have sat at an epicenter where so much was going on around it. The Niner's glory days from a music standpoint were a long time ago. And while it still hosts bands on weekends, it's nothing like it used to be.
No, we don't need another pharmacy. There is one literally a block away from the Niner right now. But what realistically can be done to stop it? Have the building declared a "national landmark" so it can sit empty and be another blight on Dodge St.? Convince Samuelson to not sell it? Why shouldn't he?
I say, take this final year and enjoy it, remember it, then let it go. In the end, it was just a bar. It wasn't a person.

* * *

It's True has received an official invitation to the South By Southwest Festival in March. This is looking to be a strong year for Nebraska band participation in Austin. In addition, It's True announced that a split 7-inch with Lawrence band Cowboy Indian Bear is being released on Kansas City label The Record Machine. The Nebraska release shows for this vinyl-only outing are Feb. 5 at Duffy's and Feb. 6 at The Waiting Room with Cowboy Indian Bear and Eagle Seagull. That's not all -- the band also said that it secured The Waiting Room on April 30 for a release show for their debut full length. They don't mention who is putting it out, however...

* * *

Beep Beep is having its last show ever tonight at Duffy's. It seems like only yesterday (instead of more than six years ago) that I was interviewing the band for this feature story. And now... gone. Something tells me we haven't heard the last of Eric Bemberger. Playing with Beep Beep tonight is The Machete Archive and Pharmacy Spirits.

Also tonight, The Lepers are playing a set at The Barley St. Tavern. $5, 9 p.m.

* * *

And hey, did anyone else notice that Monotonix has been scheduled to play at O'Leaver's on April 19?

* * *

Tomorrow: A look inside the remodeled Waiting Room.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

And the winners are…; Tilly headlines Haiti benefit… – Jan. 19, 2010 – twitter icon

Well, we got a heckuva response to this year's drawing for a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2009 Sampler CD -- and I even made extra copies -- but everyone couldn't win. Here are the lucky folks whose names were pulled from my green-and-yellow Speed! Nebraska farmer's cap:

Emily Hiykel, Omaha
Brian Armknecht, Chicago
Jessica Errett, Omaha
Joe Kmiecik, Brookline, Mass
Kelly Murphy, Omaha
Nic Waddell, Eureka, MO
Judy Coleman, Omaha
Andrew Roger, Des Moines
Gary Rosenberg, Omaha
Bill Latham, Austin

The discs will be dropped in the mail tomorrow (probably). Thanks to everyone who entered!

* * *

If you're like me, you don’t know what to do about Haiti. The catastrophe is just too big to get my head around. In addition to the overall devastation, the earthquake shined a new and unforgiving light on the social and economic conditions that existed in Haiti long before the buildings fell.

Needless to say, there are literally hundreds of ways to give money. But yesterday, Val and the folks at Slowdown came up with another -- a benefit concert for Haiti to be held Jan. 28 (that's a week from Thursday). The lineup has been finalized and includes some of the best talent Omaha has to offer:

Tilly and the Wall
It's True
Simon Joyner
The Mynabirds (ex-Georgie James)
Bear Country
McCarthy Trenching
Brad Hoshaw

Tickets are only $15, and all proceeds go directly to Haiti relief. I suggest you get your tickets right now (right here) as this very likely will sell out.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

I'm back; Last day to enter… – Jan. 18, 2010 – twitter icon

So I'm back from my brief medical hiatus, not at full-speed but getting there. It's amazing how much stuff happens when you disconnect for even a couple days. The death of Jay Reatard disturbed me more than I thought it would. I write about it and the 49'r in this week's column (which goes online Wednesday). I keep looking online for more information about his death, but it just ain't there. Here's a story about his funeral (which was Saturday) that appeared in the Memphis Flyer, including a eulogy written by Eric Friedl of Goner Records.

* * *

Well, today's the last chance to get in on the drawing to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2009 Sampler CD. To get your name in the hat, send me an e-mail (to with your name and mailing address. It's that simple. I'll announce the winners tomorrow!

* * *

I picked the right time to be taken off my feet. It's been quiet from a show perspective the last few weeks. Something tells me that's all going to change Thursday night...

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

A brief hiatus… – Jan. 15, 2010 – twitter icon

...while I recover from surgery...

In the meantime...

Here's another reminder that you've got a week to enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2009 Sampler CD. It's my annual best-of-the-best collection, and this year includes songs by Yo La Tengo, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Box Elders, Micachu and the Shapes, Cursive, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, The xx, Digital Leather, Pete Yorn, Peaches, Ladyfinger, The Avett Brothers, Maria Taylor and more. Full track listing is here. To get your name in the hat, send me an e-mail (to with your name and mailing address. It's that simple. And considering the number of people who have entered so far, your odds of winning are pretty damn good. Deadline is Jan. 18.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Column 254: Predictions Pt. 3: The Lightning Round… – Jan. 12, 2010 – twitter icon

A final word on my music predictions as we move forward into 2010: People love them, which is yet another reason why I stretch them out over three columns. For those of you who prefer the compendium version (all three parts together in one friggin' huge article), it's online here.

Column 254: Predictions Pt. 3: The Lightning Round
Music Visions of 2010

Do we really need three weeks of music "predictions"? I'm afraid the answer is yes. I used to knock this out in one 2,500-word article, but The Reader doesn't budget space for that sort of thing anymore unless you write horoscopes, so here we are. If you're coming in late, Pt.1 was a review of my 2009 predictions. Pt. 2 was predictions based on the theme for 2010: Survival in the Time of Music Industry Cholera. And now, onto the "lightning round":

-- Consider it a raising of the white flag -- a well-known mainstream band will give away the digital download of its next album. You'll simply have to log into the band's website and voila, the files will be transferred to your computer and/or iPod. Though the download will be free, you'll still have to pay for the CD version and the limited edition vinyl (as well as the tickets to see the band on tour).

-- Despite the fact that only old people buy music these days, a new kind of record store will open this year that specializes in just that: Records. This small, boutique-style music store will boast the area's largest selection of new vinyl, but also will sell CDs and music-related merch, such as T-shirts, collectibles and other assorted music-related ephemera.

-- The success of Susan Boyle proves that it doesn't matter what you look like or how well you sing, anyone can be the next American Idol. All it takes is YouTube and a crush of publicity. With that in mind, watch as record labels scour the globe (or reality television) for the next Elderly Idol -- some unassuming, unemployed fat guy or a recently divorced housewife -- anyone with a shred of talent who appeals to aging baby-boomers who still buy CDs.

-- Three years ago, it was MySpace. Then it was Facebook and Twitter. This year, look for yet another new social media service that will eclipse both of those fossils. This one will be optimized to allow for easy, instant (and legal) distribution of online music, revolutionizing how musicians and fans access "music content" on portable devices, while also providing yet another way to tell our BFFs (and anyone else) what we had for breakfast.

-- Omaha dived into music festivals in a big way last year; with every swinging dick putting together a night of shows and calling it "an event." This year you'll see fewer "festivals" in Omaha, with one pushing ahead of the pack. The Maha Festival could finally become the event the organizers dreamed it could be, that is if they get the right line-up. Find out July 24 down at Lewis & Clark Landing.

-- Adding to the annual "Youth Concert" and the July 4th weekend county-fair freedom-rock concert, look for a third major concert event in Memorial Park this year featuring a genuine outside-the-box performer.

-- DJs Rising: Like other big cities, this year you'll begin to see DJs spinning at more and more clubs and restaurants in Omaha. Soon all of us will know at least one person who "spins" somewhere in the metro, even if it's only at Anthony's.

-- Finally, a new all-ages performance space will take hold, becoming this generation's Cog Factory.

-- Who we'll be talking about this time next year: Arcade Fire, Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Liz Phair, Tim Kasher, Of Montreal, Okkervil River, Bright Eyes, It's True, Soundgarden, Prince, Pavement, Ritual Device, Beck, MGMT, Bear Country, Modest Mouse, The Wrens and Sufjan Stevens.

-- Who we won't be talking about: Animal Collective, Susan Boyle, Monsters of Folk, Wilco, Cursive, The Faint, Emphatic, Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, Phoenix, Green Day and Vampire Weekend.

-- UK musician/dope fiend Peter Doherty (Libertines, Babyshambles, Kate Moss) will finally see his problems resolved once and for all.

-- Conor Oberst will break the hearts of thousands of his female (and a few male) fans (I know I said that last year, but it'll actually happen this time).

-- Sick of life on the West Coast and seeing no discernable advantages to living near L.A., a member of a national band we all know will move back to Omaha to be closer to his family.

-- A major national musician will come to Omaha to record his/her new album. But he won't be visiting Mogis' ARC studios; he's headed to Enamel.

-- Watch out SLAM Omaha, a new local online resource will launch in '10 that will act as the definitive arts, entertainment and music information hub, featuring news, reviews and schedules, along with another pointless online discussion forum.

-- Michael Jackson was only six years old when he debuted as a member of the Jackson Five way back in 1964. This year, watch as another 6-year-old raises the eyebrows (and hearts) of an America still mourning the passing of the King of Pop.

-- Back in the day (about 20 years ago) there were a few live music venues located in the midtown/Mutual of Omaha area. Who remembers The Chicago Bar and The Brickhouse? With the development of Midtown Crossing, look for a new live music venue to open among all those restaurants that not only will focus on dance music, but will provide a viable stage for original bands.

-- Forget about Saturday Night Live, Conan, Letterman or network television in general. No one's watching anymore. The next national breakthrough for a local band will come when one of its songs is included on the soundtrack of a major motion picture.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

The 49'r's Demise, Box Elders in Buddyhead; The Slowdown's 'Free Thursdays'… – Jan. 11, 2010 – twitter icon

The big buzz over the weekend was the announcement that The 49'r and its surrounding property has been sold and will be demolished to make way for a CVS Pharmacy, this according to The 49'r Facebook page. The page says that the bar will be open for the rest of the year, and then it's wrecking ball time.
The Niner used to be one of Omaha's primary venues for live indie music, but began ratcheting down the number of live shows back in 2005. It continues to book bands on weekends, and will throughout its final year of operation.
My favorite show at The Niner? There were quite a few. The Street Urchins back in 2004; any show by any of Mike Tulis' bands (The Sons of…, The Monroes, etc.); Gris Gris and The Terminals back in '06; all of the Bad Luck Charm shows... And all of Matt Whipkey's bands had their best shows at The 49'r. The reason: There's no real stage at The Niner, the band plays right up to the tables and that forces interaction, whether the patrons want it or not. It's going to be tough to see this one go, especially for something as unnecessary as another pharmacy...
* * *
Following up on '09, Box Elders' album Alice & Friends made Buddyhead's "Best of 2009" list. Buddyhead has been writing some of the funniest (and meanest) music commentary for a long, long time. Check out their Gossip section.
* * *
The Slowdown is trying out a new "Free Thursdays" showcase, wherein there's no cover charge for an evening's worth of live music. The series kicks off this Thursday with Our Fox and The Mynabirds. Next Thursday Fortnight plays along with The Answer Team and John Klemmensen and the Party.
* * *

Lazy-i Best of 2009 CD coverHere's another reminder that you've got a week to enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2009 Sampler CD. It's my annual best-of-the-best collection, and this year includes songs by Yo La Tengo, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Box Elders, Micachu and the Shapes, Cursive, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, The xx, Digital Leather, Pete Yorn, Peaches, Ladyfinger, The Avett Brothers, Maria Taylor and more. Full track listing is here. To get your name in the hat, send me an e-mail (to with your name and mailing address. It's that simple. And considering the number of people who have entered so far, your odds of winning are pretty damn good. Deadline is Jan. 18.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Will the real Conor Oberst please stand up?; Another O'Leaver's Weekend (Conchance tonight canceled) – Jan. 8, 2010 – twitter icon

Following up on what was reported here early this morning:

A half-dozen or so online music news sites, including NME and Spinner reported this morning that Monsters of Folk are working on new material. They're making the claim based on a Twitter account titled (that shows a profile photo of Oberst smoking a cigarette; the page has just been taken down). None of the sites apparently verified that the Twitter account actually belongs to -- or is updated by -- Conor Oberst. Just a glance at the account and what's been written on it would make anyone doubtful. Then there's the fact that the feeds that @oberstconor is following, such as the @saddlecreek aren't following @oberstconor.

So I contacted Monsters of Folk's publicist Jen Appel of Press Here Publicity and asked if @oberstconor was real. This was her response: "Not him. Also, She & Him are starting to promote Volume Two, thus M. Ward is not working on MOF things at this time."
No surprise here. Anyone who has been following Oberst over the years knows that he doesn't participate in these kinds of thing, preferring to let his music speak for itself. He rarely even does interviews anymore (I haven't interviewed him since Cassadaga came out). Twitter seems out of the question.
What is surprising is that music pubs like NME would run the information without verifying it with: 1) Oberst's or Monster's of Folk's publicists, 2) Shangi-La Records, 3) Anyone.
Twitter has taken steps to try to prevent impostors tweeting under other people's names. Their "verification" checkmark, which you can see @lancearmstrong, for example, is among those efforts.

FYI: As of lunchtime, NME took the story down, but it lives on at sites like (story here), (story here), and (story here). Ah, the Internet...
* * *

It's looking like it's going to be an O'Leaver's weekend. Tonight at everyone's favorite concrete bunker is Slumber Party artist Conchance with Terrior Bute. $5, 9:30 p.m THIS SHOW HAS BEEN CANCELED.

Then tomorrow night at O'Leaver's, Little Black Stereo takes the stage along with Matt Cox Band, Why Make Clocks and Bazooka Shootout. $5, 9:30 p.m.

Of course those shows are always dependent on weather issues. Last night's Hubble show, for example, was canceled.

This weather is, indeed, wearing thin...

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Monsters of Folk BS... – Jan. 8, 2010 – twitter icon

That Monsters of Folk article in NME (here) that's being picked up by a lot of online music sites is complete bullshit. I just confirmed with the band's publicist that is an imposter. More at lunch.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Who is Doom Town Records?; Hubble tonight... – Jan. 7 , 2010 – twitter icon

I got a bit of a surprise this morning. I checked my e-mail, then checked various websites including the Lazy-i webboard, where I found a new thread titled "Doom Town Records." The message announced the release of a 5-song EP by Baby Tears, the new band that features among its members Ethan Jones (ex-Ladyfinger). Clicking through to I discovered that this new label also will be releasing that amazing new Perry H. Matthews LP that I mentioned a few weeks ago that was recorded by Joel Petersen at Enamel. That's not all. DTR also is rereleasing a couple out-of-print singles by Church of Gravitron.
So who is Doom Town Records? A quick search on revealed that the site's domain name (i.e., url) belongs to Ethan Jones, which doesn't mean that DTR is his label, only that he purchased the label's domain name. Maybe someone from DTR will let us know the skinny?

* * *

Tonight at The Sydney, space-rockers Hubble will be playing with John Klemmensen and The Party and Agronomo. $5, 9 p.m.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Column 253: Visions of 2010, Pt. 2... – Jan. 6, 2010 – twitter icon

Before we get to Pt. 2 of the three-part "predictions" columns, a few words of wisdom: There's nothing wrong with making money. I've said it before and I'm saying it again. It needed to be said before I sent you onto the column, because there are those out there that think that "making money" is a dirty, selfish thing, especially when it comes to anything associated with art and music. It's not. There's nothing wrong with making a living. In fact, there's nothing wrong with making a lucrative living. So when I say that some bands will begin demanding to get paid to play and that venues will start raising ticket prices, the comments aren't "negative" or made out of spite. Commerce is essential for art to exist.

Bands, if you value the music you're making, then you should demand to get paid for it (unless music is merely your hobby). Venue owners, if you feel a band's music can help you make money, you have the option to pay the bands to get them to perform on your stage.

Conversely, if a band feels that its music is worthless, then by all means, play for free. Venue-owners, if you feel a band's music can not draw people into your establishment and/or make you money, then by all means, don't pay them to play on your stage (or, if you like, charge them).

But, if a venue owner is unwilling to pay a band that can draw a crowd, it's the band's perogative to refuse the gig. No one is holding a gun up to anyone's heads.

Column 253: Visions of 2010, Pt. 2
Sage music predictions of the year to come...

The biggest change of 2010 will be in how bands and musicians react to the continued demise of the music industry. Dreams of living off CD sales have become just that -- merely dreams with no bearing in reality. And that means everyone -- including the local high fliers -- have to figure out ways to better leverage their performance income.
So, Prediction No. 1: In 2010, local bands will become more insistent than ever about getting paid for gigs, and it's a long time coming. While the army of hobbyist ensembles who are "just happy to be able to perform on a stage" will continue to roll over and lick their nuts for any venue owner willing to put a microphone in front of their mouths, the real bands and performers who have invested long hours and lots of dollars on the road and in the studio no longer will be willing to "suck it up" and play for free or for next to nothing so that the clubs have something to draw people through their doors to buy their booze. With fans no longer buying their CDs, bands will have little choice but to insist on getting paid to play if they want some sort of income for hanging their asses out on stage every night.
Prediction No. 2: As a result of venues (both locally and around the country) being unwilling to knuckle down to those demands from unproven acts, the number of local bands will begin to dwindle. Many long-time stalwarts of the scene that have been struggling to break through the waves will finally realize that it just isn't worth it, and that maybe it's time to get on with the rest of their lives.
Prediction No. 3: The serious touring indie bands that can draw hundreds to their shows also are seeing their CD sales dwindle to almost nothing. As a result they will either charge venues higher guarantees or bypass towns like Omaha altogether, assuming that not enough people will show up at their gigs to make it worth their while.
Prediction No. 4: Being forced to actually pay the "good" local bands and pay higher guarantees to touring acts will put more strain on venue owners who have been trying to eke out a profit during these tough economic times. As a result, the number of live music venues will continue to dwindle all over the country, including in Omaha, where the serious options will boil down to The Slowdown and The Waiting Room.
Prediction No. 5: Despite having fewer venues, there still will be plenty of good, young, unproven touring bands looking for a place to play. This will spawn an increase in "alternative venues" like we saw in the '90s, when social halls and what were essentially practice spaces became options for one-off shows. You'll also see a rebirth of a serious house-show circuit.
Prediction No. 6: Ticket prices will continue to rise at local club shows. If the $7 ticket became the new $5 ticket three years ago, the $9-$10 ticket will become the new $7 ticket. And $20 to $25 ticket prices for the next-tier acts will become commonplace. Considering what it costs to see a movie these days, $10 is a value for a night's worth of original live music. Besides, someone has to pay those higher guarantees.
Prediction No. 7: Ultimately, there will be fewer indie shows booked in Omaha next year, but they will be better shows.
Prediction No. 8: Conversely, ticket prices for huge national touring acts at arenas like the Qwest Center will actually go down, driven both by the economy and the bands' desire to get butts in seats so they can peddle their $100 T-shirts and other assorted non-CD-related merch.
So, to summarize: there will be fewer bands overall, and all of them will be trying to get paid more to play in fewer clubs that will be booking fewer shows but with better national bands playing at a higher ticket price.
Extend that beyond the clubs and you'll see fewer record labels with fewer bands recording fewer albums. But despite that, I still think local recording studios will be just fine, even though cheap, high-quality home-studio options are more available than ever. There always will be someone willing to invest in serious recording, understanding that it's the price of admission if they want to get to the next level (whether that level exists or not).
Overall, the slow demise of the music industry will continue to impact every community in the country just as it impacts ours. But there is a wildcard that could change everything in a heartbeat.
All it takes is another Conor to break through. Because every scene needs a prophet to lead it; someone to give musicians' hope that it could happen to them, too. Well, it's been about a decade since any Omaha band has broken through the way the core Saddle Creek bands -- Bright Eyes, The Faint and Cursive -- broke through nationally, and people are beginning to give up hope that it'll ever happen again.
If in 2010 another music prophet emerges from the Omaha music scene and becomes a national focal point, everything will change, for the better. Prediction No. 9: It's going to happen. But who will it be?
Next week, the final chapter: Predictions Pt. 3 -- The Lightning Round.

* * *

No shows tonight. Again. Ah, but there's something going on tomorrow, if we're not trapped in our homes...

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Holiday catch-up; Lazy-i on Worlds of Wayne (again)... – Jan. 4, 2010 – twitter icon

Welcome back to the working week; say 'hello' to 2010. The office has been kind of empty without you. It's nice to have you back. If you haven't been to Lazy-i throughout the holiday, you've got some catching up to do. I'll make it easy for you. You can either scroll down and read all the past entries, or check out these convenient links. We've covered a lot since you've been gone, including:

-- The Year in Music 2009 (complete with various top-10 lists)
-- Visions of 2010, Pt. 1 (a recap of the 2009 predictions)
-- The Best of the Decade (that ain't over yet)

Along with various and sundry live reviews of shows that took place over the past two weeks. Catch up on your reading. We'll wait...

Lazy-i Best of 2009 CD coverWe've also been running a contest in your absence. Enter to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2009 Sampler CD. It's my annual best-of-the-best collection, and this year includes songs by Yo La Tengo, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Box Elders, Micachu and the Shapes, Cursive, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, The xx, Digital Leather, Pete Yorn, Peaches, Ladyfinger, The Avett Brothers, Maria Taylor and more. Full track listing is here. To get your name in the hat, send me an e-mail (to with your name and mailing address. It's that simple. And considering the number of people who have entered so far, your odds of winning are pretty damn good. Deadline is Jan. 18.
* * *

Yesterday (yes, just yesterday) I spent the lunch hour at the home of Wayne Brekke talking into a microphone about the year that was 2009 for the latest episode of his wonderful Worlds of Wayne podcast. Wayne's already edited the conversation and placed it online for your listening pleasure, right here. We talked about the best music and shows of '09, and even had a friendly, heated back-and-forth about songwriting rights and the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards, though neither conversation may have made it to the final edit. I'll never know because my ongoing phobia regarding hearing my own recorded voice will likely prevent me from ever listening to this specific episode. But you can, and should. Do it.

* * *

With The Waiting Room closed for renovation and bands generally not touring because of the time of year (Who wants to drive a van in sub-zero, ice-packed conditions?), there aren't many shows looming on the horizon. Something tells me it's going to be a long, cold January...

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

The Waiting Room's last show ('til Jan. 22), Filter Kings, Broken Spindles tonight; wanna buy a music venue? – Jan. 2, 2010 – twitter icon

So here's the deal with The Waiting Room, as told to me by the proprietors -- Jim Johnson and Marc Leibowitz: Right after the bar closes after tonight's show featuring Filter Kings, Broken Spindles, Black Squirrels and The Bruces, a small crew will begin clearing out the place in preparation for the venue's interior demolition, which begins tomorrow.

In essence, the ceiling throughout the entire venue will be "raised" to the same level as the ceiling in the main stage area. That means all of the existing ceiling everywhere else -- and whatever's above it (including a small room) -- will be ripped down to expose the building's true ceiling. Some of the interior walls also will be demolished, opening the sight-lines for the entire space from the bar forward. Johnson told me that the demolition will be full effect on Monday.

After everything is torn down, the new opened-ceiling room will be refinished with the necessary electrical and ventilation and everything else that needs to be done to make the room usable. Johnson told me a new drop ceiling will be installed over the entranceway area that will open up to the full room. The bar area also will see some enhancements, and the rest of the venue's walls will either be recovered or repainted. In other words, you're not going to believe what the place looks like when it's done.

Or sounds like. As part of The Waiting Room's "facelift," the stage's PA will be enhanced, with the speakers hung from the ceiling (or "flown") similar to how the PA is hung from the ceiling of The Slowdown's main-stage room. That, along with the removal of the old ceiling, will completely change the venue's acoustics.

The plan is to have the entire project completed by Jan. 22, when the bar reopens with a free, all-locals show featuring Little Brazil, Little Black Stereo, Ground Tyrants and Kyle Harvey. The following night, afro-beat rockers NOMO returns with Satchel Grande.

It's a hugely ambitious plan. So ambitious that I'm afraid they'll be wheeling Johnson out on a stretcher when it's all done. But in the end, he and Leibowitz will have the music club that they've always dreamed of. The renovation of The Waiting Room represents a substantial investment not only in the local music scene but in Benson, helping galvanize the district as the Omaha music community's "ground zero."

In the mean time, it also means slim pickin's in terms of shows throughout most of the month of January. In addition to The Waiting Room being closed, there aren't that many shows booked at The Slowdown. It's going to be a long, cold January, folks, but it'll be worth it.

* * *

Speaking of "closings," my only venture out on New Year's Eve was to The Saddle Creek Bar, where a handful of local punk bands including The Upsets (see photo) took the stage for the venue's "last waltz." Afterward, the bar closed for good. Only the drive-thru remains open as its "going out of business" sale continues. Mike Coldewey, the guy behind The Saddle Creek Bar, is moving to Chicago in a few weeks. Who knows what will happen to the building, which holds a unique place in the history of the Omaha music scene. The property is being handled by NP Dodge, and there's a listing online here that shows an asking price of $350,000, which includes the property, the 9,164 sq. ft. bar and drive-thru liquor store. Or you can buy the business without the real estate for $65,000.

I, for one, will miss the Saddle Creek Bar. Despite being vilified for his perceived role in the creation of Omaha's all-ages music ordinance -- and for his tell-it-like-it-is communication style -- I liked Mike Coldewey and wanted to see his bar succeed. The reasons were strictly personal -- a strong music venue/restaurant would have strengthened a neighborhood that has its share of crime and economic problems. And also because the bar is less than a mile from my house.

But it wasn't to be. The biggest crowd that I ever saw at the Saddle Creek Bar was when The Good Life played there back on Dec. 21, 2006. The rest of the time I rarely saw more than a handful of people in the club, as Coldewey couldn't get the bigger-drawing local bands to play there either because of his reputation or the reputation of the venue's sound system.

I still believe that the bar could be a success due to its location and its size. I've talked to a number of touring bands who said the SCB sort of reminded them of The Bottleneck in Lawrence, and I can see that. My fear is that the property will be sold, the venue will be demolished and storage units or some other abomination will be constructed there. And that will be the end of it.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Best of the Decade (that ain't over); Brimstone Howl in Magnet, For Against, Little Brazil in BTO... – Jan. 1, 2010 – twitter icon

I don't think I've seen as many "best of" lists as I have this year, most likely because it's believed to be the end of a decade (when, in fact, the decade ends next year). As someone who has actively covered indie music for the past 10 years, I've been asked to give my list of the "best albums of the decade." My response: You can see my year-by-year list of my favorite indie albums online right here at Lazy-i. In fact, here are the links to each year's year-in-review write-ups, each of which includes my top-10 list for that specific year:


So, what are my "best of the best"? Well, all "best of" lists are entirely subjective based on what role an album played in the list maker's life. For example, I've seen Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker on a few lists. I've never cared for the album or Adams -- so not only didn't it make my "favorites of the decade" list, it didn't make my favorites for the year 2000. Doesn't mean it's a bad choice for all those folks who did list it, it just means I never liked the record (and still don't). And that's all these lists are -- subjective notions made by those who happened to experience a specific song or record at a specific time in their lives -- maybe the record was the soundtrack to the year they met their wife or husband, or the year they first moved out their parents' house, whatever. What's considered an "important" album to one person is forgotten or tossed aside (or never heard) by another.

So, here's what I did. I looked over each year's list and picked an album or two that are my favorites from each. Here's what I came up with (in chron):

Deathcab for Cutie, We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes (Barsuk)
Cursive, Domestica (Saddle Creek)
The Faint, Danse Macabre (Saddle Creek)
Low, Things We Lost in the Fire (Kranky)
Interpol, Turn on the Bright Lights (Matador)
Okkervil River, Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See (Jagjaguwar)
The Arcade Fire, Funeral (Merge)
Bright Eyes, I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning (Saddle Creek)
Sufjan Stevens, Illinoise (Asthmatic Kitty)
Cat Power, The Greatest (Matador)
Wilco, Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)

You'll notice no albums were selected from 2008 or 2009, probably because those years are too close to now, and it's hard to think of anything released so recently as being particularly significant, yet. Maybe in a couple years. I also think that the past few years have been "off" in terms of indie music (and music in general), especially if you're not into art rock/snooze rock bands like Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes or Grizzly Bear, which bore me. I don't understand the critical/mass appeal of Animal Collective (though I've tried, I've tried). Also missing from my list is perennial listee Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I remember not liking the record when it came out and only rediscovered it in the past year (Now I like it). I still prefer Sky Blue Sky, however. Is your favorite band or album missing? Well then, make your own list, and post it on the webboard.

* * *

Speaking of lists, I noticed yesterday that Brimstone Howl's latest, Big Deal. What's He Done Lately, made Magnet Magazine's list of the Best of 2009: Hidden Treasures (The 10 Best Albums You Didn't Hear in 2009). Check it out here. Anyone know if Magnet is still publishing? I haven't seen a copy on the news stands in a long, long time.

What you can still find on the news stands is The Big Takeover, a magazine that's been around forever publishing tons of CD reviews every six months or so. In the latest issue, editor Jack Rabid's review of For Against's new album Never Been was the focus of his Top-40 reviews list. Among his comments: "Playing this record is to be sucked into another world, succumbing to its textural tenacity, so brimming with pocket passages of flickering luminous radiance and the coolest shade, dabbling in dissonance, light jangle, esoteric bass, hypnotic drums, and some of the most inventive guitar playing you'll hear any year." Rabid always has been one of For Against's biggest fans.

Also reviewed in the same issue (No. 65) is Little Brazil's latest, Son. Among reviewer Neal Agneta's comments: "Son evokes a certain air of exuberance and grandiosity, and while certainly not a detriment to the music within, Brazil's commercial ambitions are not to be understated." You can find copies of The Big Takeover at Barnes & Noble.

* * *

Lazy-i Best of 2009 CD coverI've gotten all of one entry so far in the drawing to win a copy of the (apparently not-so-coveted) Lazy-i Best of 2009 Sampler CD. It's my annual best-of-the-best collection, and this year includes songs by Yo La Tengo, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, Box Elders, Micachu and the Shapes, Cursive, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, The xx, Digital Leather, Pete Yorn, Peaches, Ladyfinger, The Avett Brothers, Maria Taylor and more. Full track listing is here. Just send me an e-mail (to with your name and mailing address and you'll be entered into the drawing. Deadline is Jan. 18.
* * *

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>



  lazyhome  •  reviews  •  hype  •  webboard  •  interviews  •  woodEe awards

Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.