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Lazy-i indie rock interviews

Blog Archive table of contents



The Blog Archive -- Jan. 6, 2004 to July 2004

A chat with the other lion in Pedro – June 30, 2004

Now up on this site, an interview/profile with TW Walsh, the newest and only other member of Pedro the Lion along with singer-songwriter David Bazan (read it here). When I was arranging to do this story with the publicist, I originally frowned when they told me I'd be talking to Walsh. Lazy-i and The Reader aren't exactly Rolling Stone and SPIN, hence when interview requests go out, it's not uncommon to get stuck talking to the bass player or drummer instead a band's primary singer-songwriter. So when it comes time to talk about the songs' meaning, you usually gets something like "Dude, you gotta ask ____. I have no idea what he's singing. I've never even listened to the completed CD." The rest of the interview is generally dedicated to comments about "working with the label" or the band's upcoming tour schedule. I'm not saying that bass players and drummers are stupid, they just don't usually have insight on what's going on in the music. It's not their fault that they've pulled the short straw with the press. Usually these guys are the most articulate and don't mind talking to an idiot reporter. I've done interviews with defensive, unresponsive "genius" singer-songwriters before and afterwards craved to talk to anyone else in the band, especially when the "genius" cops an I-hate-the-press attitude.

So when the publicist said, "You'll be talking to Tim Walsh," I blanched. Everyone knows that Pedro the Lion is David Bazan. I immediately shot back an e-mail saying just that, and the response was subtle. "Sure, I can set up something with David," the publicist said. "The reason you got Tim is that they decided to split up the press this time. He's the first real member of Pedro the Lion beyond David, so they wanted to share the responsibility."

It dawned on me that I'd already done "thee interview" with David Bazan years ago, where he explained just about everything you can explain about his faith, how he approaches songwriting, how he hates traditional Christian rock bands, etc. (read that one here). Really, what's changed? Certainly not the music's subject matter. Walsh, on the other hand, actually co-wrote a number of songs on the new Pedro CD and could talk about what it's like writing with a guy who has always written alone. Plus there's his viewpoint of the whole Christian rock thing that Pedro has been pegged with since way back when the band was on Tooth & Nail. It worked out, but that doesn't mean I'm dying to talk to the "tamborine guy" of the next band I'm interviewing…

Pedro the Lion plays at Sokol Underground Monday, July 5 with John Vanderslice.

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Who wants to be a rock star? The River Music Summit rehash – June 28, 2004

Let me preface this to say I was probably the wrong person to be on Saturday's panel at The River Music Summit. Just a glance at the audience pretty much indicated that the vast majority of the 300+ people in the audience were metal fans, loyal listeners of 89.7 The River and support how they operate their station. I don't listen to The River and don't agree with their decision to play mainstream commercial metal on what's supposed to be a college radio station. Regardless, the audience was made up mostly of musicians whose idea of success is moving a million units and being on MTV (or a Clear Channel radio station). Successful indie bands are lucky to sell 10,000 copies of their CDs. Really successful indie bands could sell 100,000. Almost none of them sell a million.

So anyway, here I was on this panel. To my left (according to the program) was Andrew Linde from Tinderstick promotions, a company that handles a lot of indie bands. To my right, three or so current or former radio executives, none from traditional college radio stations. At the far end of the table, Mike Fratt representing Homer's Records and MarQ Manner representing Delmar Productions. Linde and I were clearly outnumbered, but then again, I doubt the majority of this audience cared two shits about the indie music scene.

The core message -- how to promote your music to radio and press -- was more of a seminar on how to get your music on commercial radio -- i.e., how your band could be the next Korn. Sophia John, the program manager at 89.7 The River, did most of the talking. Appropriately, I said very little. At one point I had a chance to ask the crowd, "How many of you would be satisfied selling 10,000 copies of your CD?" A few dozen hands went up. Then, "How many of you would be happy selling 100,000 copies?" About half the audience raised their hands. Finally, "How many of you won't be happy until you sell a million copies." Here, more than half the hands went up.

Later I asked, "How many of you are in this business to make a million dollars?" One hand. Good. "All right then, how many of you are doing it for the money?" Some hands, not many. Then, "How many are in it for the music?" Most hands went up. I told them that if they could be satisfied selling 10,000 copies, they could make music the way they wanted to make music. But if they want to be on a major label, they're going to have to compromise to the suits, and will lose control of their music -- talk about stating the obvious, eh?

Still, I doubt this was what the organizers wanted communicated at the summit. The radio guy next to me made the point that the music business is all about greed -- he was a real Gordon Gecko type. Sophia's message was that The River was going to save the Omaha music scene and that it's the only radio outlet for local music.

There was some verbal jousting between Sophia and the panelists (me included). Her and Linde argued over debt and major label record deals. Linde said that most musicians don't realize that as soon as they sign with a major label, they're immediately in debt. Why? Because the advance money and promotional costs are really loans to the bands, that the label is acting like a bank, loaning money that they expect to recoup through CD sales. Sophia took exception to this, asking Linde to name one band that had to pay back an advance to a label after they were dropped. Linde said he knew bands that were in that exact situation, but couldn't name names. Sophia said she'd never ever heard of a failed band forced to repay a label. An apparent VH1 Behind the Music watcher in the crowd yelled, "What about the Goo Goo dolls?" Sophia yelled back, "What about the Goo Goo dolls? They're making millions of dollars for themselves and their label." Yeah, the guy said, but what if they hadn't gotten signed by Warners after they were dropped by Metal Blade?

Sophia was right, of course. It seems doubtful that a major label would call out the dogs to get advance money from a failed band, probably for the simple fact that 1) It would cost more in lawyers fees and bad PR to pursue it and 2) Because the band simply doesn't have the cash and probably never will. But wasn't Linde's point the fact that the bands are, in fact, in debt from the second they sign a deal? Sure, they may never have to pay back the money, but they know they're still responsible for it, that they ethically should do what they can to pay it back. Instead, one of the panelists pointed out how it's important for bands and musicians to set up a separate incorporated business so that the labels can't sue them for their personal money.

Sophia didn't like my admiration for Saddle Creek Records (It should be pointed out here that I asked the crowd to raise their hands if they had even heard of Saddle Creek Records. I counted maybe seven or eight hands). I mentioned Saddle Creek early in the panel as an example of a label that would be doing pretty well if a new artist sold 10,000 copies of a CD. That, despite the fact that Creek's total sales since it was formed wouldn't equal a tenth of what Eminem sold of his last CD, the label is still held in the highest esteem as a leading national indie label.

So, when someone asked about press kits, I said I threw one-sheets away -- put your info on the internet along with your press photo and include the URL on the CD case. I then made the mistake of mentioning how Saddle Creek printed a brief bio on the back of their artists' promo jewel cases. Sophia had had enough. "Saddle Creek! Is that the only label you can talk about? What about Suckapunch Records?" I replied that I didn't think Suckapunch printed their bios on the back of their discs, then went on to talk more about Creek, which was met with Sophia's shaking head… Oh well.

I'm guilty. I like Saddle Creek Records, their artists and what they've accomplished. I also think it makes sense to use them as an example as they're the second most successful local record label (Mannheim Steamroller being the most successful overall, Creek being the most successful rock label). Historically, The River hasn't been the biggest supporter of Saddle Creek. But according to their website, they now play Cursive and Azure Ray in rotation. Still, it's embarrassing that you can't hear Creek's most successful band, Bright Eyes, on the radio in the band's own hometown.

Sophia's last argument (with me, anyway) came when a couple of the execs were talking about how artists get their music played on the radio. Their point appeared to be that the name of the game these days is "pay for play." I kind of got lost here, when out of the blue, Sophia said she didn't know how reviews get published and asked if bands or labels pay to have reviews placed in the paper. No, I said, newspapers don't receive payments for running reviews. But Sophia disagreed, saying that it might not have happened in my experience, but she was certain that it happens all the time, which she said would explain a lot of the bad CD reviews that she'd read.

Sophia may be right. I can't speak for Rolling Stone or Magnet or Alternative Press. I don't know anyone who works at those pubs. They may very well be rolling in payola from CD reviews. But somehow, I doubt it.

At the end of the panel, I think the audience got what they wanted to hear. At one point, one of the radio guys said something like "I know these guys are telling you to be satisfied with selling 10,000 CDs, but I'm telling you the guys from Korn were sitting right where you are now, and they did it. You can too!"

One interesting bit of news that came out of the panel was that The River will be working with 1 Percent Productions and Sokol Underground to host a weekly new music night. Don't know when it begins, but it'll be interesting to see if the showcases feature commercial metal bands, which constitute the majority of The River's playlist, or a wider variety of Omaha acts including those that would never get airplay on The River.

Live Review: Broken Spindles – June 26, 2004

I arrived in time only to see Broken Spindles -- they went on at around 11, really early. Too early. So early that I missed both opening acts, which was evident when I walked into Sokol Underground and noticed a sweaty Darren Keen (a.k.a. The Show Is the Rainbow) behind the merch table dressed in a t-shirt covered in what appeared to be fake blood. I'm told his set went well, playing in front of an ultra-hip crowd of 220 that, for the most part, had never seen his weird, wild antics before. Keen told me afterward that he did a gag where he told the audience he'd just gotten a copy of the new Faint CD, and though he was told to keep it on the down low, he was going to play a snippet from it anyway. He then proceeded to play a track off an Ace of Base album. Afterward, he found Todd Baechle in the crowd and asked him what he thought of the gag. Unfortunately, Baechle said he missed it because he was standing in the other room during the performance. Poor Darren. His diss missed the mark again.

For tonight's performance, Broken Spindles was Joel Petersen and Eric Bemberger -- I say that as a point of clarification, because though everyone knows that Joel is the main guy behind the project, Bemberger's guitar work on stage added a whole new dimension to the performance. I already knew he was a talented guitar player from his work in Beep Beep, but it seemed even more apparent as he became ingrained in the Broken Spindles set. When he wasn't pounding on the strings in a storm of hectic staccato riffage he was wrestling with the guitar neck seemingly pulling the strings in new directions, bending knotted howls over the rhythm tracks. He tortured the damn thing, and we all heard its cries of agony. When he and Petersen harmonized their guitars during the set's more frantic moments it was a choreographed sonic exorcism.

Though I know how much Petersen enjoys putting the audio-visual experience together, I'm convinced he no longer needs the video to keep people's attention. Before, when it was just him and his rhythm/synth machines and his guitar, the video was a necessary visual crutch. Now with Petersen on vocals and assorted instruments and Bemberger slashing alongside on guitar, the video is a needless distraction. I moved up to just behind stage-left to watch them do their thing, oblivious to the video altogether because I was essentially standing behind the screen, which was propped up at the very front of the stage to allow the proper distance needed for the rear projector to be in focus.

Eventually I moved to the back to see what I'd been missing. The video seemed more cohesive than what Petersen had used last year on his tour -- live filmed images shot in California interspersed with a series of stills and assorted special effects (mostly distortions meant to visually augment the beat). One portion of the video was stills of the main character -- a well-dressed, hip-looking lad -- situated in an office, I guess representing a sort of claustrophobic society-acceptable environment in which he appeared detached or captive. One song featured the guy shaving in a mirror. Another portion showed footage of a marathon, where you could see our hero in black suit and tie making his way through the spectators. Strange and vaguely interesting, perfectly synchronized with the music, but not terribly exciting. It would be interesting to watch the whole video at home on a DVD player along with the music. Petersen and Steve Berra obviously put a lot of time into it. Too bad Saddle Creek doesn't offer a limited-edition version of Fulfilled/Complete that includes a copy of the DVD.

Petersen and Bemberger suffered a painful technical glitch about three songs from the end of their set. Their audio track, apparently recorded on CD or on a hard drive, began to skip and break up. Petersen eventually turned it off -- also effectively turning off the video. "What's up?" he asked the crowd. He waited a moment than started it up again, but the skipping continued. Finally he asked the sound guy to turn down the bass (or turn off the "bass wedge," whatever that was) because it apparently was overpowering the output. The adjustment fixed the problem and the show continued as if it never occurred. It brought back memories of early Faint shows, back when part of the fun was waiting for the evening's technical glitch to rear its ugly head. Kudos to Petersen and Bemberger for recovering so gracefully.

Live, Broken Spindles is a different animal from what you hear on the new CD. Obviously there are no strings, but beyond that, the music seems more vibrant and dance-able. Certainly more bass- and rhythm-heavy. Unfortunately, I couldn't see anyone in the audience taking advantage of the crazy beat, probably because they were too busy watching the video.

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Tonight: Broken Spindles at Sokol; Sons of The 49'r at The 49'r; Tomorrow: The River Music Summit – June 25, 2004

Tonight's big attraction is the Broken Spindles CD release show with The Show is the Rainbow and The Mariannes. Get there early. If you don't feel like venturing downtown, don't miss the final show of The Sons of the 49'r (which also happens to be their CD release show). Opening the festivities is Little Brazil and Ideal Cleaners.

For those of you attending The River Music Summit at the Mid-America Convention Center in beautiful Council Bluffs this Saturday, yours truly has been asked to take part in a panel discussion -- "Promoting & Marketing," sponsored by The Reader. It begins at 1 p.m. According to info posted by the organizers, the purpose of this panel is to help people understand how to go about marketing themselves to radio, retail, print and on the road. Panelists include Mike Rand, Paradise Artist; Phil Dunscomb, Fresh Management; Mike Fratt, Homers Record Store; Tim Sheridan, KIBZ Program Director; Matt Markel, Brian Productions; Kent Wolgamott, Lincoln Journal Star; Jon Delange, Tinderbox Promotions, and others. Find out more about the event at The River website. I'll give you a full rundown of what happened in Sunday's blog. It should be a hoot.

Check-in: Will Johnson, Vultures Await; Moron Parade, Dark Nights: Knife City; The Kingdom Flying Club, Sumatra Fox

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Kite Pilot tonight; Simon Joyner on NPR – June 24, 2004

The weekend begins tonight at O'Leaver's with Kite Pilot, In Ink Please and Snow Cuts Glass. No idea what the order is; if I figure it out by lunchtime I'll update this post. Interestingly, Son, Ambulance is slated to play at Ted & Wally's tonight with The Blakes and 72 Pin Connection. The interesting part is that half of Son, Ambulance is in Kite Pilot. Don't know how they're going to work that one out, but my guess is that it'll involve a lot of driving around.

Yesterday I was interviewed by Michael Raphael, Music Director for a new public radio program called Public Radio Weekend, a 2-hour news and culture program aired on about a half-dozen NPR stations scattered throughout the country, none of which are in Omaha. The topic was legendary local singer-songwriter Simon Joyner. Raphael was looking for details about how Joyner has impacted the Omaha scene, as well as some perspective from someone who's been watching and listening to Joyner for a long time. We also discussed Joyner's new CD on Jagjaguwar, Lost with the Lights On. No idea when this story will air, but Raphael tells me it'll be available online from their website at I'll post a link to the program when it's available. It was fun meeting Bob Coate, the general manager at KIOS here in Omaha where the interview was conducted (with Raphael calling from L.A.) KIOS, 91.5 on your FM dial, is the only radio station I listen to regularly, which in itself is a sad commentary on local radio.

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Broken Spindles feature – June 23, 2004

Just placed online a new profile of Broken Spindles, the solo project of Joel Petersen of The Faint (read it here). Joel talks about why he began singing on his albums, the lyrics, the making of the live performance's accompanying video, and his future projects. Broken Spindes is playing at Sokol Underground this Friday night with The Show is the Rainbow and The Mariannes. Rarely has there been a more theatrical ticket down at the Underground, what with Petersen's audio/visual presentation, Darren Keen's psychosexual presentation and The Mariannes' rock 'n' roll presentation. It's all good.

Check-in: Otasco, Vagrant comp, Icares, Zelienople, Rogue Wave, Bad News Bear comp, Tilly and the Wall, Tracey's Alibi

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Reviews; bits and pieces – June 22, 2004

New reviews keep trickling out, including one for At the Close of Every Day (here), a band whose name sounds like they play metal, but of course, they don't. ACOED is a real find for Low or Bedhead fans. Speaking of good stuff, I can't get enough of the new Morrissey CD ("Irish Blood, English Heart" may well be the single of the year). More reviews added daily.

There's apparently a last-minute show at O'Leaver's tonight featuring two bands that don't even come up when you Google them -- Ghost Buffalo and Callsign Cobra. They must be local, right?

Antic is the name of the new Interpol CD, slated for release in September, according to NME, whose article also included a track list.

A local music retail guru is predicting that The Faint's new CD will be the first Saddle Creek release to go "gold" -- that would mean selling 500,000 copies, which is probably more than all Creek sales for all CDs combined. I wonder if he's even heard it.

And The Happy Mondays are playing a one-off reunion gig in London this fall, according to The BBC. I recently rented 24 Hour Party People again, having first seen it a few years ago in a London theater. And lately I've been obsessed with Factory Records, not because of music necessarily, but because of the arcane numbering system they used for all their products, from records to lapel pins to buildings to cats. Check out The Factory Records Discography site which has a comprehensive list, and collect all the FAC's you can find.

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I'm back – June 21, 2004

Well, I'm back from my travels with a dozen or so CD reviews ready to post throughout the week either on the reviews page or on the matrix, depending on the review length (a couple went up today). I also just finished writing a piece on Broken Spindles, but am toying with the idea of also including the full transcript of my interview with Joel Petersen. One, the other or both will go online Wednesday morning.

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Live Review: Maritime – June 16, 2004

So where were all those Promise Ring fans last night at the Maritime show? I didn't even need to ask what the attendance was -- I counted 30 people in the room, including the show organizers and other bands. No one expected this show to be SRO, especially on a Tuesday night, but 20 paid (if that)? I'm told that Maritime has been drawing poorly for their entire tour, and the only reasons I can figure is that either 1) The Promise Ring was never really that popular, 2) People aren't making the connection that Maritime lead singer Davey Von Bohlen was the lead guy in The Promise Ring, or 3) Word is out that their debut album is lacking -- Pitchfork's review probably didn't help much.

Or maybe the problem is that people are getting tired of relatively generic indie guitar pop, and it doesn't get much more generic than this. That said, Maritime wasn't that bad last night. Von Bohlen hit a lot of clunkers and suffered some pitch problems throughout the set, but musically, it wasn't horrible. Though all were cordial from the stage, the band never really got into any of their songs. Add to that a short set (I was home by midnight) and it had to be a pretty disappointing night for the 10 or so Promise Ring fans who made it out. And what about 1 Percent? I'm told Monday night's Vue show also didn't draw well (though it did better than last night). They'll lick their wounds and wait for the Broken Spindles show a week from Friday and the Tilly and the Wall show July 3, both of which will likely be sell-outs.

Lazy-i is going on a brief hiatus and won't be updated until this Saturday, so spend some time at one of our WoodEe Award winners' sites until I get back.

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Why The Promise Ring feared Omaha; Maritime tonight – June 15, 2004

A sidebar story to the Maritime profile that didn't make it into the finished version:

Maritime frontman Davey von Bohlen talked about his bad luck when it comes to the City of Omaha. "After the Promise Ring's van accident near Omaha in 1998, we said, 'Let's make a big "X" where this happened and never go back,'" he said. "It was the source of the brain tumor."

Von Bohlen said the accident happened while the band was on tour with Hum. They were driving back to Omaha from Kearney when they got caught in a snow storm. The whole band ended up in the hospital. Guitarist Jason Gnewikow was the most seriously injured. "He got stuck in Omaha," Von Bohlen said. "I went through the windshield and smashed my head, which is why I got a tumor." A tumor that nearly cost him his life and sidelined his career for a couple years (see story).

Afterward, The Promise Ring would never be the same. So, is Von Bohlen apprehensive about returning to Omaha? Apparently this isn't the first time he's been back. The Promise Ring played at the Ranch Bowl on that band's last tour, six shows before they finally broke up in 2002. Von Bohlen has no hard feelings about our fair city.

"You gotta bury a band with all the baggage," he said. "Omaha was a part of The Promise Ring's baggage."

Tonight's Maritime show at Sokol Underground also features Latitude, Longitude and Snailhouse, and is the last big 1 Percent show until Broken Spindles June 25 (Look for a Broken Spindles interview at Lazy-i next week). I will be in attendance tonight barring any tornado-like weather, which, by the way, is forecast for this evening.

Check-in: The Album Leaf, Soltero, Irradio, Pines, Respira, X-ecutioners, Pleasant Stitch, Vero, Division Day, Burton L., Corporate MF, Avenpitch, Ming & Ping

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Kite Pilot tonight; this week – June 14, 2004

Tonight's big to-do is Kite Pilot at O'Leaver's with Unwed Sailor. If you miss it (and you shouldn't) they'll be playing at O'Leaver's again June 24 with Snow Cuts Glass and In Ink Please. What else this week? Well, you got Maritime tomorrow night at Sokol Underground and then Neva Dinova and Shelterbelt Thursday night, also at the Underground. I'm working this week on a couple new interviews and a whole lotta reviews. Stay tuned.

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Scenefest II hype; this weekend's highlights; Tilly in The Times – June 11, 2004

You gotta hand it to Tery Daly, the guy behind Lincoln website Star City Scene. No one, and I mean no one, is as successful as Tery getting his events play in the local newspapers. With Scenefest II, he repeated what he got done media-wise with Scenefest I -- preview articles in Omaha's major daily and all the local weeklies for a show that features all Lincoln-based indie bands. Tery, how do you do it? It's gotta be volume!

Anyway, Tery bugged me, too. So here's some hype for his sequel to Scenefest, three days of Lincoln bands playing at Duffy's starting tonight, where the three stand-outs are The Terminals (Dave Goldberg (ex-Carsinogents) new band), Charlie Burton (local legend) and Ideal Cleaners (former Drive By Honky people with a new single on Speed! Nebraska). Saturday's line-up, uh, I haven't heard any of them before. Sunday's show closes with Marianas, who have created a buzz in Omaha with their EP Onward + Upward. Scenefest is $6 a night or $15 for a three-day ticket. Find out more at

So what about all of us who aren't going to Lincoln this weekend? Well, the action begins tonight as The 49'r and O'Leaver's go head-to-head. At The Niner -- Son, Ambulance and Austin Britton, while down the street at O'Leaver's is The Coast of Nebraska and The Mariannes. I might try to go to both. Saturday night's highlight is Anonymous American with Sonambulants at The Ranch Bowl. While Sunday night is Vue with Black Cat Music at Sokol Underground, and, hell while I'm at it, I might as well hype Monday night's O'Leaver's show -- the amazing Kite Pilot and Unwed Sailor.

So I'm looking through my June 3 issue of The New York Times and what jumps out at me but a review of the June 1 Tilly and the Wall opening gig at The Mercury Lounge. In a long review with the headline "A Band's Odd Instrument: One Energetic Tapdancer," critic Ben Ratliff opens with a line about Conor Oberst's new record label Team Love: "His first draft picks were the cheerleaders." Clever. Ratliff goes on to describe the show, focusing mostly on Jamie Williams' tap-dancing hi-jinx and the songs' "highly romanticized" lyrics. "Like Sal Paradise, the narrator of Kerouac's 'On the Road,' they identify with those who burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles. They present poetic, breathless chronicles of friends and lovers, dizzy with the winning certainty that the songs' actors are the most important people on earth." Ratliff then goes on to point out the obvious to anyone who's been to a Tilly show: "There is a high-frequency preciousness here," he says, "partly real and partly cultivated. These songs are delayed high-school reveries; they need drawings of hearts around them to fix them in the right context."

Is Tilly going to be huge or what?

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Maritime profile; a correction – June 9, 2004

We've got company staying with us, which has been hampering the updates. Regardless, a couple things:

-- I just posted a relatively detailed profile of Maritime -- a band that consists of Davey and Dan from The Promise Ring and Eric from The Dismemberment Plan (read it here). They talk about the how the band got together, their run-in with labels (both the record and genre kind (emo)) and other fun stuff. The band is playing at Sokol June 15.

-- A correction: I erroneously said that Criteria recently played at O'Leaver's. Not the case. Their most recent gig before their most recent Omaha gig was opening for The Jealous Sound at Sokol Underground. Their next Omaha gig is July 17, again at Sokol, with Black Cross and Lords. If you haven't caught 'em, catch 'em.

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Live Review: Race for Titles, Criteria – June 6, 2004

Nice showing last night for the benefit show at Sokol Underground, around 250 according to the promoter. I only caught the last two bands -- Race for Titles and Criteria.

I haven't seen RFT in over a year. They've become almost intensely tight on stage, with a rhythm section that is marvelously solid. Bowen's stick work is not only crackingly abrasive, it's downright theatrical. There aren't too many drummers around town that twirl a stick like Bowen. RFT might be the most typically emo band on the Omaha scene. Though one guy I talked to grooved on them because they remind him of The Cure, I don't see the comparison. There's a similar minor key drone reminiscent of early Cure, but nothing nearly as tuneful. RFT is powered by the riffs and the rhythm section, not the vocal melodies, which too often sound like something that was added after the rest of the songs were written. Jamie Massey's vocals are one long, mournful moan blasted over the guitars. I recognized only a song or two off their last CD. Rumor has it that they're getting ready to enter the studio to lay down tracks for their next release. They already sound like a well-conditioned, well-rehearsed touring band.

Criteria sounded like Criteria -- which is a good thing. It seems like they play more local shows than any other band in town. They just played at O'Leaver's a week or so ago, and they've got another Sokol show July 17. It certainly seems to have helped them build a following of loyal fans. I saw more than a few people singing along during their set. Still, I'd like to see these guys get out of Omaha more often, but being a lawyer means being in the office on Mondays. If anything, these shows can only help galvanize their performance even further, though I don't think they could get any tighter than they were last winter when they played a SXSW audition at The Ranch Bowl.

As per usual, the songs performed off En Garde carried an amazing, sustained power, even after Pedersen began to lose his voice (incidentally, I wish they'd work at least one cover into their set). The band took the occasion to unleash a couple new songs, one written in 3/4 (or maybe 6/8) time; the other (and better of the two) a tasty morsel of taut syncopated riffage. Every time I see these guys, my mind wanders to how I'd shoot their music video. It would basically be a performance video, shot at Sokol Auditorium, home of polka and ballroom dancing. I'd put the guys on stage, but on the floor I'd have maybe 20 or 30 couples -- all well-schooled ballroom dancers formally dressed in ball gowns and tuxedoes -- dancing a perfectly synchronized, seriously choreographed waltz to one of their waltz-time numbers, probably "Mainline Life" or "The Slider" or the new song. Stephen, contact Dance City and get a film crew together and do this before some other band does.

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Tonight's show; sports wood; Where's that Kite Pilot story? – June 5, 2004

It's been a couple days, so some housekeeping is in order:

--First is tonight's big show featuring Criteria, Race for Titles, Little Brazil and Kyle Harvey -- $7 at the Sokol Underground door -- and it's a benefit for the Project Jason Foundation, brought to you by the good people at Someday Never. This should be a big one. Look for a review here tomorrow.

--Next, the June WoodEe Award went up a few days ago. This month's winner: They just redesigned their site. Nice. I asked them where they're from and what they're trying to do. "We're not really located out of anywhere," responded Shelley Lollirot. "We have staff in the US, Canada, even one over in the Middle East. Mission statement? Uhh.. how about world domination? (Yeah I know I'm not that funny. Sorry to disappoint you)." Beneluxe takes it in the graphics/fine arts category.

--If you picked up a copy of The Reader and couldn't find the Kite Pilot feature, that's because (due to space issues) the story won't be published until the June 23 issue, just in time to support their June 24 show at O'Leaver's with Snow Cuts Glass and In Ink Please. KP is still playing O'Leaver's June 14 with Unwed Sailor. You don't wanna miss it.

--Incidentally, Shelterbelt is at O'Leaver's tonight with Petracovich.

--I just got off the phone with Maritime's Davey von Bohlen (ex-Promise Ring, Cap'n Jazz). Look for the interview Tuesday night/Wednesday morning -- good stuff on how Omaha caused his brain tumor a couple years back (I'm not kidding).

Check-in: Acuity, Skyward; Leaving Rouge, White Houses; Pants Yell, Songs for Siblings; Maritime, Glass Floor; Ideal Cleaners, Make Your Time 7-inch; Bombardment Society/Gnome Slaughterhouse 7-inch

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Kite Pilot; the storms of early summer; the upcoming weekend – June 2, 2004

Just placed online is a nice, long (and hopefully interesting) profile of my favorite Omaha band these days -- Kite Pilot (read it here). The story tracks the band's past and future, and describes their sound. They're not playing again until June 14, so run out and buy their CD. Actually, I'm not entirely sure where you can pick up their EP… maybe at Drastic Plastic or The Antiquarium (I'm not sure that Homer's has it) or maybe inquire at their website. I'll remind you here when their show gets closer.

Gotta apologize for not updating for the past few days. It's not like I've been avoiding it. I came home from lunch yesterday and the power was out at my house… again.

In fact, last weekend's The Day After Tomorrow-style weather put a damper on my show attendance. I had intended to drop by the Bombardment Society/Gnome Slaughterhouse 7-inch release show at Sokol Underground Saturday night. I'm happy I didn't. The storm that blew through here that night at around midnight knocked out power to my house until around 10 a.m. the next morning. Nasty.

A belated review of Friday night's rock show featuring The Standard at Sokol -- not bad, considering there was only about 40 people on hand. I had never heard this band before and was moderately impressed with their set. The opening band, Envy Corp., was quite good at wearing their love of Radiohead on their collective sleeves. The lead singer had a Thom Yorke-ish voice, but instead of taking an electronic approach, the band brought a more traditional guitar-driven sound (though there were keyboards, too). Looks like that's it for 1 Percent shows until Vue takes the Sokol stage a week from Sunday (June 13). But that's not it for Sokol Underground shows. Someday Never is bringing Good with Guns and The Show is the Rainbow to Sokol Friday night, and a huge local non-Creek bill with Criteria, Race for Titles, Little Brazil and Kyle Harvey Saturday night.

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Tonight: The Sons of The 49'r, Little Brazil and Mal Madrigal – May 28, 2004

'nuff said, as Stan Lee used to say. It's at The 49'r; and if you didn't know that by the title line, you better find out more about The Sons of... here. If that doesn't trip your trigger, check out The Standard along with opener Carmine at Sokol Underground. Should be a good beginning to a long, stormy weekend.

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Speed! Nebraska gets busy; Old-school reunions (Not!), After Dark in the studio – May 27, 2004

Where was I… Oh yeah. A recent chat with Speed! Nebraska label guy and Monroes frontman (and new daddy) Gary Dean Davis revealed that the folks down at the vinyl plant have been busy-busy-busy filling their orders. Among the Speed! projects: They just released the new Ideal Cleaners 7-inch "Make Your Time;" they got the upcoming Sons of… full-length ready to roll in the next couple weeks, and future plans call for putting out a long-rumored Frontier Trust/Mercy Rule split 7-inch that contains previously unreleased material from The Trust's Speed Nebraska sessions and Mercy Rule's Flat Black Chronicles sessions.

Seems like the split release would be the perfect occasion for a couple reunion shows. In fact, word has it that Frontier Trust guitarist Bill Thornton just moved back to the Big O from Portland. Ah, but Gary says the odds are pretty remote for that sort of thing. Same goes for Mercy Rule. Drummer Ron Albertson just left Lincoln and moved back to Brooklyn where he again is working with his former Liars bandmate Pat Noeker to pull together a new band. Hopefully they'll do a better job picking band mates this time. Proof that Albertson and Noeker were the talent behind Liars is apparent to anyone who's heard the Liars' new, unlistenable CD. Someday, yes someday, the true story of that breakup will be told. Something tells me that, despite the angst it's caused, it'll end up being the best thing to happen to Ron and Pat.

Speaking of old school, I received an e-mail from ex-Mousetrap frontman Pat Buchanan saying that his new band, After Dark, is entering the studio in the beginning of June. Hopefully we'll make his way back for another gig in the near future.

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The Sons of Lazy-i – May 26, 2004

This week's "cover story" is The Sons of… and I guess because the story appears in this publication, for argument's sake they're The Sons of Lazy-i. You'll notice that there's no band photo for the feature -- that's because the band doesn't have one or at least didn't give me one. The Reader sent a photographer over the night of the interview to shoot something for the newspaper, but I don't have a copy of it -- hence the album artwork. I intend to be at The Sons of The 49'r show this Friday night to snap a few pics, which I'll add to the story. I got a lunch thing today, so look for those additional news items I mentioned in yesterday's update tomorrow.

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Overheard on Statistics, Desaparecidos – May 25, 2004

The policy here at Lazy-I is to avoid publishing rumors. Period. So when I overhear a comment at a show or see it online somewhere, I do my damdest to contact someone from the band or performer being discussed to confirm or deny the rumor. If the story proves to be hogwash, it doesn't make it online. If facts are unveiled from a credible source, you'll read about it here. For example, I didn't publish anything about Rilo Kiley leaving Saddle Creek until the story was confirmed with label chief Robb Nansel, and so on…

That said, here are a couple things overheard and confirmed:

-- A couple days ago Lazy-I reported that Statistics' recent full-length on Jade Tree has moved more than 10,000 units. Mr. Statistics himself, Denver Dalley, couldn't confirm the number, but did say that the CD sold out its first pressing of 6,000 units three months ago, just days into a 10-week tour. He said the CD "could very well" have sold 10,000 by now, but hadn't heard anything official.

-- While I had him on the Internet, I asked Denver about rumors that have been circulating that Desaparecidos may be coming back. "There has been some loose talk of trying to record some of the new Desa songs," Dalley replied, "even if we just get an EP out (We already wrote a batch of songs and I really want to get them out, because I think they are the best work we've done as a band - even if we just release it online or something, I just want to get it out). But we have to crawl before we walk. The idea is to catch Conor while he's in the studio with Bright Eyes and work in the b-room on some new Desa. I guess we shall see."

This isn't much different than what we were told prior to the Plea for Peace tour. The band never announced that it broke up, just that the recording sessions had been canceled. I, for one, never gave up hope for this band, which has the potential in the current indie-loving emo-loving music environment to be bigger than Bright Eyes. But the recent comments made in NME (and copied by Pitchfork) implied that music on Oberst's new album had varied styles and he was "currently mulling over releasing it by genre." On first read, that doesn't bode well for future Desa projects. Then again, I can't imagine Bright Eyes releasing anything as heavy as what we heard on the Desa CDs.

Since this is getting long-ish, I'll put the other "Overheard" items (ex-Liars, After Dark, etc.) online tomorrow, along with a brand-spanking new interview with The Sons of… that should actually be online later tonight.

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Last night at O'Leaver's; tonight at O'Leaver's… – May 22, 2004

Why no review of last night's Sons of O'Leaver's show? Because I'm saving the description for a feature I'm writing on the band that'll be online Tuesday. It's being put together in support of their CD release show at The 49'r next Friday, when they'll be going by the name Sons of The 49'r. I will say that it was a great, laid-back evening of music, with Landon Hedges as Fine, Fine Automobiles starting things off, followed by the true-life C&W stylings of The Country Darlings, the duo of Mike Friedman & Sara Gleason. One of the evening's highlights was when three members of Little Brazil took the stage with the Sons to add vocals to "We Need the Night," off the new CD. Another was the encore/covers of "Time of the Season" featuring Landon doing his strange running-in-place dance, and an early R.E.M. song of which I don't know the title.

O'Leaver's continues to be one of Omaha's best-kept secret secrets for music lovers, with most shows only drawing around 40 people -- very comfortable and intimate. Tonight's O'Leaver's show, however, should be altogether different, with Statistics and Little Brazil in the house. I expect it to exceed capacity, and I probably won't even try to attend. A little bird told me that so far, Statistics debut full-length has sold in excess of 10,000 copies -- I haven't confirmed that number with lead guy Denver Dalley, but considering that the CD was in the CMJ top 20 for a few weeks, it seems very likely. That number will only get higher as Denver and his band head off to Canada with Despistado for a month-long tour through June 20.

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Sons of O'Leaver's tonight; Fizzle's cover art SMiLES – May 21, 2004

Talk about a movable feast -- Tonight's Sons of O'Leaver's show also was supposed to feature The Neutrols as the opening band. But the Neutrols inexplicably broke up earlier this week. Immediately Kite Pilot was announced as the replacement band. But I found out last night that Kite Pilot can't play either -- one of the members apparently has to work. In the opening slots now -- Country Darlings (Mike Friedman & Sara Gleason), Fine Fine Automobiles and maybe some special guests.

Which brings up this Fizzle Like a Flood-related item: Fizzle's label, Earnest Jennings, announced this week that Frank Holmes, whose artwork graced the cover of the Beach Boys' SMiLE album, will be doing the art for the cover of the reissue of Golden Sands and the Grand Stand, scheduled for this fall. How did it come about? Seems Doug Kabourek (a.k.a. the Fizzler) e-mailed Holmes and sent him a copy of the CD. Holmes liked it and agreed to do it.

"He hasn't started it yet," Kabourek said. "He's finishing the art for this band called The Thrills, who are on a major but I don't know who they are." The Thrills are a Dublin-based band on Virgin whose last album, So Much for the City, caused something of a stir. Anyway, Kabourek says look for the reissue to come out Sept. 28, coincidentally the same day SMiLE is being re-released on Nonesuch Records.

The other big Fizzle-related news is that he has booked a show on June 3 at The 49'r, which just so happens to also be my birthday. He joins the likes of such great acts as Pleasure Forever and Cursive, who also have played TMac birthday gigs (though, uh, not actually because of my birthday). I was beginning to worry that I'd be stuck at home that night...

Check-in: Some by Sea, Pushing Red Buttons, The Waking Eyes, The Marcus Singletary Band

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Teitur, or what's the point of being on a major, anyway? – May 19, 2004

As advertised, here's the profile of pop singer-songwriter Teitur. He's not an indie artist, but might as well be considering no one around here has heard of him. The only connection to the indie rock world is his publicity agency -- Girlie Action, the same outfit that does media and marketing for bands including Poleposition, John Vanderslice, The Rapture, Rye Coalition, and even Omaha's own Azure Ray.

What's the advantage of being on Universal if, after your CD is released, you're still virtually unknown and unheard of in towns like Omaha that would seem to have a veracious hunger for commercial pop music? Obviously major label affiliations still don't guarantee air play (or TV exposure). His biggest audiences have been garnered opening for light-weight Dave Matthews impersonator John Mayer, gigs that he implied were a bit awkward, considering he prefers the traditional singer-songwriter guy-with-a-guitar approach over the arena spectacle that Mayer has become.

Teitur will gather no new audiences here in Omaha now that his Ranch Bowl gig has been moved to Monday night (May 24) -- Mondays typically being lousy nights for touring bands. Oh well, it just makes for a more comfortable setting for us folks who will be there.

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Live Review: My Morning Jacket – May 18, 2004

I'd never heard a note from My Morning Jacket before last night's show -- not a song, not a CD, not Jim James solo outing with Conor Oberst last winter at Joslyn. Maybe it was the press or assorted reviews, but for whatever reason I was under the impression that MMJ was some sort of alt-country band. Of course that wasn't the case at all, not even remotely. In fact, MMJ could be the redemption of FM rock radio -- a huge-sounding spectacle of a band that is the living, breathing reincarnation of all the post-hippie '70s rock bands. MMJ even looked the part, right down to their frizzy, hippy hair that covered their faces a la Charlie Manson.

Ah, but let's put aside the fact that they looked like they should have been playing "Carry On Wayward Son" and focus on their transcendentally dazzling music. Without a doubt, Jim James has one of the most gorgeous rock voices I've ever heard -- brilliantly soulful even on the upper end, enhanced by a mix that gave the hairy beast's voice more delay than Neil Diamond at the Arena. James was pitch perfect all night, cutting right through the band's huge sound that consisted of keyboards, violin, two guitars, bass and drums.

MMJ's music itself reminded me of heavy, light-hearted Allman Brothers (though James' voice blows Gregg Allman's away), maybe even Cream or Gov't Mule in the heavier moments of which there were many (again, I also expected to hear a lot of fey singer-songwriter stuff because of James' connection with the Oberst/M.Ward tour last year. Wrong again.) At one point, standing in the back of a crowded Sokol Underground (200+, surprising for a Monday night show with a $15 ticket price) I got the feeling I was watching an arena-quality rock show, even though the sound was turned down low enough so you could actually communicate with the person standing next to you.

Cousin Itt changed guitars after almost every song -- the guitar tech ran off stage, bringing him another and another and another, attaching them to his guitar strap that had a fake parrot glued to it to look like it was perched on his shoulder. At one point, James got tangled up during a swap, the wires from his ear-plug style monitor stuck in his hair/guitar strap/parrot combo.

I missed the very beginning of the set, when James apparently told the crowd that he was going to play his encore first and do his set backwards. Sure enough, after about 90 minutes of music, the band left the stage and didn't return for an encore -- a man true to his word. I really dug this band and will make an effort to hear what they sound like on CD.

Anyway, that's it for shows until Thursday, when O'Leaver's hosts Burd Early, The Strugglers, and Austin Britton. I got an e-mail from the Ranch Bowl yesterday, telling me that the Teitur show has been moved from this weekend to Monday night -- no reason given. Again, look for a Teitur interview/profile online here tonight or early tomorrow.

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I'm Back; My Morning Jacket tonight; Statistics Saturday; Rolling Rock really is indie – May 17, 2004

Well, all I can say is don't get this upper-respiratory virus that's going around. If you do, figure that you'll be stricken for at least a week, maybe more. While I'm fully functional, I'm still coughing up gunk the color and consistency of dried-out tartar sauce.

Enough about my health.

Tonight is My Morning Jacket with Andrew Bird at Sokol Underground. If this weren't on a Monday night, I'd be predicting a sell-out. But it is a Monday night. Who knows? With school out, Monday may not make a difference. It will for all of us who work in an office, tho… I'll be there if my lungs and energy level allow it.

Incidentally, the fine folks at 1 Percent Productions confirm that there will be a last-minute Statistics show at O'Leaver's this Saturday night. No word on openers yet.

An e-mail received by Lonnie Methe supports my ongoing assertion that Rolling Rock is the beer of choice for the indie rock scene. Methe was pimping this Sunday's Naturaliste CD release party for Debached Hspodar (Pink Skulls) at a private artspace located at 415 S. 12 St. (apparently behind Retro), where there also will be an art showing of works by Methe, Bryan Day, Chris Fischer and Charles Lareau. He closes the invite by saying "Refreshments and food will be provided...Rolling Rock beer will not: please go to Sokol, O'leavers, or elsewhere for your indie thirsts." Ha-ha! What have I been saying about Rolling Rock since the '90s?

I've never heard Naturaliste, though I've seen/heard Methe add "violin effects" at various Simon Joyner shows through the years. I wholeheartedly recommend attending the event (which runs from 4 to 8 p.m.) if only to see Chris Fischer's clever, disturbing art work.

Coming to the site this week, more reviews (on a daily basis on the Matrix) and an interview/profile of Universal recording artist Teitur, who's playing at The Ranch Bowl this weekend. Look for that story late Tuesday night.

Check-in: Low Skies, The Bed; D.W. Holiday, Technical Difficulties, Under the Influence...; Vehicle, The Fire Is Warmer on the Inside

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In recovery; some upcoming shows – May 13, 2004

Nothing much to say except that this cold/flu thing has kept me away from shows all week and I'm just now beginning to get back in shape to withstand the usual billowing smoke-filled environs of Sokol/O'Leaver's/49'r/Ranch, etc. That said, Saturday's Mal Madrigal / No Blood Orphan show at The 49'r is looking inviting. Then there's My Morning Jacket next Monday. SomedayNever is putting on a show Friday night at Sokol with a bunch of bands I've never heard of (except Coast of Nebraska). Lincolnites get Beep Beep and US Maple Saturday at Knickerbocker's, while Meth & Goats play O'Leaver's Sunday night (another SomedayNever production).

I keep slapping up new reviews on the Matrix and reviews page, so keep an eye peeled.

Check-in: The Stepford Five, Jon Chinn, Matthew Parmenter, Eight Days Gone, Stimulator, Summer at Shatter Creek, South Bay Bessie

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Election Day reflections with Cursive – May 11, 2004

If you haven't already noticed, the Cursive Q&A -- or more specifically, the Q&A with Matt Maginn -- went online yesterday (it's right here). Matt talks about the Plea for Peace tour, how it happened, why the band is doing it, why the cause is worthy, especially in a state as overly conservative as Nebraska where your vote seemingly is meaningless if you're a liberal. Matt thinks that, even if the odds are stacked against you, you're better off voting than not, that if nothing else, your conscience will be clear, and who knows, maybe a few more people just like you will vote too, and a few more, and a few more, and what do you know? Suddenly the votes start adding up. It has to start somewhere, right?

I've voted in every election that's been held since I was old enough to vote, knowing full well that my vote meant nothing on a presidential-election level. The majority of Nebraskans always will vote for the Republican on the ticket. It's part of the price you pay to live in Nebraska, and it's probably one of the reasons why the liberal bands here create such good music. They've grown up in an atmosphere of political futility -- and that has to have resulted in some sort of natural creative gene pool, the same gene pool that created the protest music of the '60s and '80s and created indie/college/underground music. Someone on one of the local chat boards asked if all indie music and indie bands are politically liberal. The answer, from my experience, is yes. The liberal ideology is core to what most of these bands stand for and are trying to do. It has to do with having an open mind toward art outside the status quo. It also means never being as popular as the mainstream, conservative rock bands that are catering to people who want more of the same forever. If met with the choice of being hugely popular or holding onto their convictions, I don't think the average indie band would have a hard time making the decision.

Get out there and vote.

Then go to Andrew W.K. at Sokol Underground. If I go (and it looks doubtful since I'm still recovering) look for a review here tomorrow.

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Tales of green pudding – May 10, 2004

Well, the spirit was willing but the body wasn't this weekend. I've spent the last few days flat out on my back coughing up green jello pudding and trying not to swallow to avoid twisting the knives in my throat. That means I obviously missed last night's Jealous Sound show at Sokol Underground, which I'd been looking forward to for quite a few weeks, but alas, it wasn't to be. Anyone with details, please post them on the Web board, I'm dying to hear how it went.

While I have spent the last few days sitting on my ass, I haven't been totally immobile. Check back later this afternoon for that Q&A with Cursive's Matt Maginn on the Plea for Peace tour, which rolls into Omaha this Wednesday at Sokol Auditorium. Hopefully I'll be fully recovered by then. In fact, I hope I'm well enough to see Andrew W. K. do his ADD-inspired shtick down at Sokol Underground tomorrow night or perhaps Kimya Dawson of Moldy Peaches light it up at O'Leaver's with Roarbot. Certainly I'll be fit as a fiddle for Saturday night's Mal Madrigal set at The 49'r (I had intended on interviewing Steve Bartolomei this weekend, but my SARS affliction kept me from it. It'll happen. Don't worry).

With nothing but time on my hands today, keep an eye on the Matrix and Reviews pages as I do some catch-up work.

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The Jealous Sound's brush with salvation – May 5, 2004

Just posted right here, an interview/profile of The Jealous Sound. Proudly bald front man Blair Shehan talks about the band's recent tour disaster with Christian rockers Switchfoot. It still seems incomprehensible to me that the band's friends and business associates didn't warn them about what they'd be in for opening for one of the most popular Christian bands currently touring. Strange. Shehan also talks about his band's brush with the majors and provides an interesting lesson to anyone who might be thinking of leaving their indie home for "The Big Time" (Are you listening, Rilo Kiley?). The Jealous Sound is playing Sokol Underground Sunday night with Criteria and Mr. 1986. It should make for a painful Monday morning.

Check-in: Lola Ray, Kingsbury, Marshall Tucker Band (I'm not kidding), Neurosis, Danger Mouse & Jemini, Kalpana, Meth and Goats, The Patsys, Plasmodium, The Yesterdays

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Head of Femur spy report; Bright Eyes on Kilborn; a quiet week ahead – May 3, 2004

There was just no way I was going to be able to got to Head of Femur last night at Sokol Underground. I spent too many nights in a row out drinking and needed a rest, plus there's that whole gotta-work-tomorrow-morning issue. Here's a spy report from someone who was there who seemed to enjoy it:

The Head of Femur show last night was really special, considering how I thought their last appearance was kinda tired. They played maybe 5 or 6 new things as well as songs from their CD. Their energy was very high and a bit manic, I'm assuming from the joy of knowing that Omaha was the last show of their little tour and the fact that they had new songs to play. They clearly had a great time playing and the enthusiasm spilled into the audience. Lots of big releases.

I missed Bright Calm Blue. The middle guy, Mark somebody (ed. Mallman), was one of the more bizarre things I'd seen at Sokol in a long time. It was him on a keyboard and a chick on drums that looked like a Swedish swimsuit model. They played along to backing tracks of guitars, bass and sound effects so it's clear that the chick drummer is only there for some visual counterpoint. Mark was a cross between Tenacious D and Tim Curry's character from Rocky Horror Picture Show. Lyrics from the first song: "I'm going to fuck you like an animal, I'm going to fuck you like a cannibal, I'm going to love you like a cannonball…" Mark seemed like the kind of guy that grew up surrounded by music and spent most of his life in front of a bedroom or a basement mirror, acting out show tunes from twisted soundtracks. He's also probably a big fan of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf. I'm guessing last night's turnout to be 60.

Nice. He went on to complain about the sound, said there was no midrange in the vocals, probably because the Underground's sound system blew an amp sometime last week. I'm told that repairs were made after last night's show.

Moving on... I caught the Bright Eyes performance on Kilborn Friday night. It was maybe the best TV performance Oberst has done, but then again, he's only done two that I know of. He seemed much more relaxed than when he did Letterman last year, and I like this song better (I think he performed it at The Rose show last year). I recognized Mike Mogis and I think M. Ward on stage with him. Don't know who the fourth guy was on bass.

Oberst began by calling out Bush and Schwarzenegger's "fascist agendas." Every time he makes a political statement it sounds forced and insincere to me, but at least he's saying something. Halfway through the song I thought he said, "Everyone for president," but I've read on various web boards that he actually said "Matt Ward for president." Hey, I'd vote for Ward. He couldn't do any worse than the guy currently in office.

A word about Craig Kilborn: I don't know how this guy stays on the air. Easily the worst chat-show host I've ever seen, and that includes Magic Johnson, Arsenio and the guy from Family Feud who killed himself. Kilborn is just plain smug and annoying. His "skits" are unfunny and amateurish… horrible. I was embarrassed for him while he interviewed Greg Kinnear and the guy from Jackass, both of whom looked like they were as comfortable as someone sitting in a dentist office waiting room.

Look for two new features this week -- an interview with Cursive's Matt Maginn about the Plea for Peace tour, and a profile/feature on The Jealous Sound with Blair Shehan. The Jealous Sound story goes online tomorrow night. I'll probably wait until later in the week for the Cursive Q&A.

Looks like a pretty quiet week for live shows. The only standouts are Okkervil River/Shearwater tomorrow night at Knickerbocker's in Lincoln, and Son, Ambulance and The Midgetmen Friday night at The 49'r.

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Live Review: Beauty Pill, Mariannes; Tivo alert -- Oberst on Kilborn – April 30, 2004

It's funny how the shows that don't draw well are almost always the best shows. Is it because you can walk up to the stage and right next to the band? Is it the narcissistic illusion that the band is playing just for you and a handful of like-minded friends? There were only about 50 people on hand last night to see Beauty Pill, Mariannes and Bombardment Society. Blame it on it being a weeknight or that there weren't any Creek bands on the bill. It certainly didn't have anything to do with the quality of music.

I missed Bombardment because I fell asleep at home during the Sacramento game. I caught most of The Mariannes; they just keep getting better. I swear Matt Stamp's voice is a dead ringer for "Sugar Mountain"-era Neil Young. I mentioned that to one of the promoters and he just laughed in my face. Imagine Neil fronting an edgy indie rock band and you get a sense of The Mariannes' style, though I'm sure no one would agree with that description.

Beauty Pill was as advertised -- a very musical, laid-back set by a 5-piece that seemed happy as hell to be playing to a mostly empty room. The band was at ease and comfortable on stage, playing smart indie rock with style and elegance. Leader Chad Clark stood like a mountain (6-5? 6-6?) stage-left while the demure Rachel Burke stood just off center behind a keyboard, looking like a young, strawberry-blond version of Meryl Streep. I wish more people knew about these folks, but with America's current taste in fashion music, that will probably never be.

Speaking of fashion, Bright Eyes is playing on the Craig Kilborn show tonight. Set your Tivo's to stun. I despise Kilborn, something about him just emotes snarky smugness and indifference. Among his guests is the idiot from MTV's Jackass, hence the Tivo recording, giving fortunate people such as myself the ability to forward right past the idiocy. According to the Omaha World Herald, Obest and a small band will be playing a new song called "Sing Sing Sing" from his new album, which the paper says doesn't come out until next year. I thought it was going to be a '04 release?

Will Whitmore tonight at The 49'r.

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Live Review: Tilly and the Wall, Of Montreal; Beauty Pill tonight – April 29, 2004

It was a night of novelty. Tilly and the Wall already are straddling a precariously fine-line that divides art from comedy (Hey, they got a tap dancer ferchristsake!). At least when they play their own songs there's a heartfelt charm that permeates through the act, kind of making you think, 'Well, at least these kids are trying something -- you're just watching from the sidelines.' If you're drunk enough, you might even clap along with the tap. But when they turn into an indie cover band, the irony becomes a bit too ironic and instead of bordering on novelty, they stride boldly in the land of karaoke. The 250+ on hand -- mostly cute little girls who shouldn't be out on a school night -- could care less. They came for the show, even though most are too young to get the joke. Covers included Blonde Redhead, Erasure, Minor Threat and, oh yeah, Outkast, which got the most crowd reaction, but then again, it's become a trademark of Tilly's usual live set (The crowd had actually chanted "Hey Ya! Hey Ya!"). When they did a twee acoustic rendition of "Minor Threat" someone asked what Ian MacKaye would say, and then quickly answered: He'd say it was punk. Sloppy and silly with a toothy grin. I hear they're getting huge… in NYC. Or so Conor says.

Half the crowd filed out of the place after Tilly and before Of Montreal plugged in to do their groovy '60s rock shtick. The youngsters dressed appropriately -- rainbow hippy clothes, lots of stripes, Barnes even wore an ascot. For awhile I thought they weren't going to do any of those reported skits, having played four or five songs straight through from their new CD. Was Barnes just pulling my leg? Finally, one of the guitarists donned what looked like a rubber Frankenstein monster mask and mimed to a prerecorded monologue that I missed because someone was talking to me. I caught the second skit -- a take-off of a McD's commercial selling the new "McPurge" sandwich (McPurge! Get it?!). I left after that one (I had to get up early this morning). What about their music? Like I said, groovy '60s rock shtick. I like them better than New Pornographers but not as much as The Shins. How many of these kinds of bands do we need, anyway? Kudos to them for doing it first (if you don't count the original groovy '60s rock bands).

Tonight is Beauty Pill. I foresee being able to park right in the Sokol parking lot. A shame, because I dig their stuff. Maybe Mariannes and Bombardment SOciety will help pull in some drinkers.

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Beauty Pill Q&A; Of Montreal tonight – April 28, 2004

So here's the Beauty Pill Q&A with Chad Clark (ex-Smart Went Crazy). It's rather long and I feel slightly guilty that it never got published in The Reader -- they didn't have room for another story of any length in this issue. Hence, it's a Lazy-i exclusive. In retrospect, considering the level of detail it probably makes more sense for it to be published in a music-directed web site than a general consumption weekly.

Beauty Pill is slated to play at Sokol Underground tomorrow night with The Mariannes and Bombardment Society, and it should be a great show, though I'm worried that no one will show up. Why? Because tonight is Of Montreal with Tilly and the Wall and Son, Ambulance. If this doesn't sell out, it'll come darn close. Who wants to go to two shows in a row during the week? Not me, but I probably will.

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Live Review: Emery Reel, Fromanhole; Phantom Planet tonight… – April 25, 2004

A relatively packed house last night at O'Leaver's -- a good reflection of the strength of the Omaha music scene when you consider that there were four good shows going on. I heard Kyle Harvey packed them in at The 49'r. Bloodcow was at Sokol Underground (they're at O'Leaver's tonight) and probably the most-hyped of them all -- International Noise Conspiracy and Moving Units at The Ranch Bowl. That's a lot of shows in one evening.

Anyway, O'Leaver's had Emery Reel and Fromanhole. I got there just in time for the beginning of Emery Reel's very impressive set. First thing you notice is the big-ass vibraphone sitting in front of the band. No one was playing it when I arrived; instead the focus was on two guitars, drums and a guy hidden in the back taking care of the keyboard/sound effects/synths. These St. Louis guys do carry the whole instrumental-only ambient vibe well in a Mogwai-meets-Air sort of way. For whatever reason, I was reminded of late-'80s Pat Metheny records. Songs would fade in and out as the drummer would get up from his set and tap out a counter melody on vibes, then the guitarist would set down his axe and pick up a Theremin -- it was that sort of thing. The synth effects were mostly long, looped samples with rhythm tracks underneath.

Their centerpiece was their last song -- a 10-plus minute opus built on two changing chords. It began centered on a piano line played by the guitarist/keyboardist, then switched to the second guitarist playing tonal progressions. I knew something was up when the drummer took over the vibes and placed two additional sets of mallets down on either end of the playing surface. As the song wound down, each member put down his instrument and walked up to the vibe and picked up mallets, so that by the end all four were leaning over the vibraphone, pounding out an intricate Tubular Bells-inspired thing. They got people to stand up for that one.

Fromanhole didn't get on until about a quarter after 12 and played right up until closing -- their typical set of intricate, trace-inducing angular riffage anchored atop the drummer's scatter-shot, muscular sound -- his constant time-shifts and off-kilter syncopation sounded like a string of ladyfingers going off in the bar. Fromanhole is always fun to watch because all three players intensely examine each other for visual cues to the next break. This type of music demands precision or else it would turn into a jumbled mess. Talking to bassist Doug Kiser, I think the band knows that their sound will always be a hard sell in this town, and yet they continue to manage to draw sizable crowds to their shows. Here's hoping they keep on keeping on.

Tonight's big show is Phantom Planet, Steriogram and Criteria at Sokol Underground. I foresee this being a big draw as Phantom Planet has a video on heavy rotation on MTV2 and local radio station The River has been hyping it all week. Hopefully The River is beginning to see the value in creating a relationship with Omaha's indie music scene -- if so, they'd be the first radio station to really acknowledge what the rest of the country figured out years ago. I'm not holding my breathe, though… Do not look for a review of this show tomorrow as I don't intend to attend. Maybe someone will send me a spy report or at least post a review on the webboard.

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Live Review: Scout Niblett, Mal Madrigal, overheard at the show…; tonight's choices – April 24, 2004

Scout Niblett looked like a stoned-out version of Meg Ryan in her strawberry blond wig, T-shirt and blue jeans, slouched alone on stage over an electric guitar with a bite-lip expression. Her thing is to play odd, awkward personal-journal-style songs that can go anywhere at anytime, from a whisper to a shriek, a chant to a bluesy wallow. The only time she's on an even beat is when she puts down the guitar and sits behind a drum kit, and even then her songs stumble along as if she's walking in a dark room, looking for a light switch. Unorthodox and a little strange, think of Scout as a spooky Chan Marshall with adult ADD.

The last time she came through, a year or so ago, she had her boyfriend from Swearing at Motorists in tow, helping her out on a couple songs. Not this time. It was her and her alone, except for on one song where Ryan Fox of Mal Madrigal (and The Good Life, and 1989 Chicago Cubs) played a standard drum part while Scout barked out single words on the back beat, slowly rising as if she were having aural sex with Fox.

Those unfamiliar with her albums might think they were peeking into an afternoon noodling session direct from her bedroom and that Scout was just making up the words as she wandered from one chord to another. The devotees (of which I'm not one) hear only genius, and instead of clapping, I halfway expected the 50 or so onhand to snap their fingers after songs, beatnik style.

Would Niblett's stuff work with a full backing band? Doubtful. The charm comes from seeing her alone on stage, screwing on the courage to do the next jangled, broken poetry slam. Her rhythmic path is too wobbly and uncertain for any band to navigate; her voice too unbridled to allow others to rein it in (it's clearer and with more range than any Cat Power comparisons). How she does it night after night is a mystery to me.

Opener was a four-piece version of Mal Madrigal featuring singer/songwriter Steve Bartolomei backed by Mike Saklar, Ryan Fox on drums, and Casey Scott from Desaparecidos and Drip on bass. The larger band breathed new life into Bartolomei's folky ballads, with Saklar adding subtle touches and fills without distracting from the melodies.

Saklar told me that he's working on a new project that he'll unveil on May 15 at The 49'r that includes Bartolomei, Fox and Marc Phillips of Carmine/Carsinogents. He described it as having touches of Red House Painters, Radiohead and Ravine -- now that should be interesting.

Mike Tulis of The Sons of… also passed on that their CD is nearly completed, just in time for the band's last three gigs as Kelly Maxwell prepares to blow this popsicle stand for better climes. The Sons will be The Sons of The 49'r for their CD release show the last week of May.

What's in store for tonight's entertainment? Three shows come to mind. First (and the one I'll probably show up at) is St. Louis instrumental band Emery Reel with the always entertaining Fromanhole and The Classic Model at O'Leavers. The Emery Reel song I heard online was very trippy, quiet, haunting stuff that works together guitar, drums and electronics for a Mogwai/Godspeed vibe. Imagine that at O'Leavers. Choice No. 2 is Moving Units opening for International Noise Conspiracy at The Ranch Bowl. Jim of One Percent Productions says Moving Units is a must-see, playing a Gang of Four/Beep Beep-style thing. Lastly is metal maniacs Blood Cow at Sokol Underground. The music editor at The Reader swears by these guys for putting on an over-the-top show. If I hit one of the three, look for a review tomorrow right here.

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Six degrees of Denali's break-up; Scout Niblett tonight; Simon Joyner in Magnet – April 23, 2004

So you might have already heard that Denali has called it quits. Jade Tree placed the announcement online a couple days ago and there's a longer explanation on the Denali website. This kind of thing happens al the time, but generally not when a band is about to break into "the next level." Denali was slated to play Omaha May 12 as part of the Plea for Peace tour featuring Cursive. Obviously they've fallen off that bill, only to be replaced by none other than Decahedron, the D.C. punk band that includes members of Fugazi and Frodus, and who just happened to have been on tonight's Sokol Underground bill with Scout Niblett and Mal Madrigal. Not any more, as they've probably already joined up with Cursive and Co. for tonight's Plea for Peace gig in Columbus, Ohio. I think the change will mean a short evening tonight, with festivities slated to begin at 9:30. And I can't say that I mind at all. Look for a review of the show here tomorrow.

Briefly… Simon Joyner is featured in the new issue of Magnet Magazine in an article titled"The Basement Tapes," which highlights five artists "exploring the deep, dark corners of American music." The other artists are Iron & Wine, Jolie Holland, Jason Molina and Shannon Wright. Simon talks about his new album, Lost with the Lights On, and the joys of experimentation in music. Plus there's a nice pic of the old man.

Check-in: Love This Life, A Song for All Occasions; LKN, In the Leap Year; Lucid Grey, Out of Focus

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Of Montreal – April 21, 2004

This week's cover story is a feature on Athens band Of Montreal (read it here). Leader Kevin Barnes talks about the band's unique stage show, the Elephant 6 connection (and just what exactly the "collective" is), the new CD and the nature of concept albums.

Among the stuff that didn't make it into the article is how Kevin works with his brother, David, who creates the distinctive, colorful artwork that adorns each Of Montreal album. Seems Kevin passes on rough mixes of the album as the recording progresses, which is easy enough since the two live together in Athens. "The art fits with the feeling and energy of the record," Kevin said. "This time, the album title (Satanic Panic in the Attic) inspired a lot within the illustration -- the tarot cards aspect of it and the religious aspects. If I have a vision it's a rough vision, and David takes it in a completely different direction." It's pretty intricate, dazzling stuff, and I'm curious at what the original version looks like. Should make for an interesting T-shirt. We'll find out as the band comes through Omaha a week from today, with openers Son, Ambulance and Tilly and the Wall. Incidentally, the Tilly set was originally advertised as being "all covers." Don't know if that's still the case. We'll see.

Soemthing else that didn't make the story -- Barnes' memories of Omaha. "We played Omaha on the Gay Parade tour with Lullaby for the Working Class," he said. "It was fun. We stopped at a gas station and I remember the smell of cow manure was so strong. I'm sure Omaha has more to offer than that." Don't be so sure, David…

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The Calm Before the Storm – April 20, 2004

There seems to be a natural lull right now, a calm before the storm, as winter ends and we prep for the summer onslaught. Every year around this time, things just seem to slow down, for me anyway. I blame the NBA playoffs (the Knicks are back this year, but, I fear, they are doomed). Even our friends at 1 Percent are taking a break… for a few days at least, until they begin their spring press with crazy Scout Niblett on Friday (for some reason, they overlooked on their preview page the 2nd Annual Diversity Bash with Breathless the night before), followed Sunday by Phantom Planet, then Of Montreal on Wednesday, April 28 -- in fact, look for an Of Montreal interview on Lazy-i later tonight or early tomorrow morning. That's the beginning of five straight days of shows at Sokol Underground closing with Head of Femur May 2. I don't know how Marc and Jim do it and continue to hold day jobs.

For me, the most interesting upcoming show is Beauty Pill on Thursday, April 29, with Bombardment Society and The Mariannes. I've been trying to line up an interview with the band, but keep missing connections. Two of the guys in BP used to be in the cynical and cunning Smart Went Crazy, and their new album is nothing less than wonderful. I'll keep you posted as I continue to track them down.

Check-in: Tweaker, Sophie B. Hawkins, Slow Train Soul, Redder Records Sampler

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Live review: Will Johnson – April 18, 2004

Eight O'clock is too early for any show, especially on a spring day that feels like summer. We showed up at The Ranch Bowl at about 8:10 -- ten minutes after Will Johnson began his set succinctly at 8 p.m. ("I like to be punctual," he said afterward over a tall boy). And punctual he was, for the 20 or so people standing around the Ranch Bowl. By the end of his 35-minute set, the crowd had ballooned to 30 (not including the sound guy, security and the Momma the barmaid). Four fans sat on stage right in front of Johnson as he belted out one song after another on his electric guitar, rarely stopping between numbers to receive the smattering of applause, but seeming to enjoy himself anyway as if he expected to be playing in front of an almost empty room.

I'm more convinced than ever after the solo gig that Johnson has one of the most unique and interesting voices in rock today. As unique as Eddie Vedder or Neil Young -- a voice that's instantly recognizable. It's sort of rough and scratchy but with plenty of range to yelp on the high end, and enough dynamics to sell any emotion he wants. These were lonely songs -- not the Centro-matic ravers -- and they were made even more lonely by Johnson's solitude on stage, lit by red spots, sitting in a chair dragged in from the bowling alley. In jeans, t-shirt and seed cap, he leaned over the guitar and did his thing, occasionally teetering back in this chair and kicking his feet up when he came to a particularly roaring guitar section, usually at the end of a song.

It was all very pretty and over way too soon. Afterward, we apologized for showing up late, but had figured he wouldn't actually begin until 8:15 (nobody goes on stage on time these days, except, apparently, Will Johnson). Johnson told us he never made it out to Rosenblatt Stadium, where he planned to sneak in and see the home of the College World Series. He was too tired, and took a nap that afternoon instead. The Royals were off playing a road game and he didn't think he had the energy to outrun Johnny Law. Maybe tomorrow, he said. He did have a chance to visit the Bob Feller museum in Van Meter, Iowa, the day before. His love of baseball seems boundless. He even ended his set by telling the crowd to go out and catch a game this season.

We didn't stick around for the rest of the show (except for one song by the traveling opener from L.A., On the Speakers, which sounded pretty generic).

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Will Johnson interview; Two days of Kite Pilot; Happy tax day – April 15, 2004

In case you didn't notice, an interview with Centro-matic's Will Johnson went online yesterday (read it here). Johnson talks about his solo efforts, touring, breaking into baseball parks and some other stuff. I've always loved Centro-matic, but somehow they've managed to bypass Omaha on their tours. This solo set at The Ranch Bowl Saturday night with The Sleepy Jackson is far from a Centro-matic set, but it's better than nothing. There's a ton of buzz about Jackson, and yes, they've even had their video shown on MTV's Subterranean (I'm sure this time).

On another note, Omaha is being treated to back-to-back evenings with my new favorite band, Kite Pilot. I've described them in the past as sheer, unadulterated pop with a hint of lounge and indie rock -- a four-piece driven by Erica Petersen's rich, sweet vocals (think Bjork-era Sugar Cubes), a bouncy rhythm section and keyboardist Todd Hanton's remarkable trumpet. At times three of four members are singing, making for heartfelt glee-club racket.

Tonight Kite Pilot opens for Washington D.C.'s The Casual Dots at Sokol Underground with new local band Latitude, Longitude; tomorrow Kite Pilot opens for The Sons of the 49'r at The 49'r (duh) as part of an art show featuring the work of Mike Loftis. Mike Jaworski of Hello from Waveland also is on the 49'r bill. Kite Pilot's new EP should be available at both shows -- pick one up, it's a thing of beauty.

Check-in: Sugar Deluxe, White Noise; Carrier, 5-song demo

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Live Review: Gris Gris, The Terminals – April 14, 2004

So I get this phone message on my machine telling me that The Terminals are playing tonight at O'Leaver's with a band called The Gris Gris (pronounced gree gree) who I never heard of. The Terminals is former Carsinogents frontman Dave Goldberg's new band that's just getting off the ground and has played around town only a few times. I figure it's a night of full-on rock or go down to Sokol and see the Creek show. I just saw Neva Dinova a couple weeks ago and didn't expect it to be any different, and I've seen Azure Ray about a dozen times (or so it seems). Yeah, I wanted to check out Okkervil River, but it was already getting late and I figured I already missed their set. O'Leaver's, with its cheap Rolling Rocks and laid-back vibe became more and more inviting by the minute.

I showed up just in time to see Gris Gris' last couple songs and feel like a chump. Some truly amazing shit. A zoothy keyboard, a guy with an ampted acoustic guitar, a guy sitting behind a snare drum and symbol (no bass drum) and a groovy bassist who looks like Greenwich Village beat poet. Stacked up on stage are two old amps, not just for amplification, but for some weird feedback treatment. These guys were psycho Velvets circa first album, pure garage shit with an intense drone vibe and utterly original. Everyone was transfixed -- yeah, they were that good. Turns out they're affiliated with Birdman Records (Twilight Singers, The Warlocks) and were just passing through for a quick show. Strange and amazing, the last song droned on for what seemed like 10 minutes of guitar disassemblement and feedback while that bassist kept it rolling thum thum thum-like. Someone get them back here.

Then it was The Terminals' turn. Goldberg was behind an electric piano (no organ tones tonight) while some guy from Caesar the Greaser played guitar next to a tall, dark-haired girl who also played guitar and who's apparently married to the drummer. Two guitars, keyboards and drums, no bass, all playing strange retro, heavily delayed stuff that you could twist to. Goldberg's keyboards felt like pure '60s sock-hop while the two guitars got lost in a fog of chords. Where's the reference? I couldn't put my finger on one. It's early '60s garage with a female vocalist that can wail. The guy guitarist took turns singing on a number, while Goldie stayed pat behind the piano doing his thing -- no vocals for Dave tonight. The mix was messy -- almost too messy with way too much delay bleeding everything into a noisy stew. The best song of the night was the closer, where Goldberg took a turn behind the trap set, the lady took the keyboards and the drummer took the mic up front -- more modern garage bashing verging on punk. It's a departure from Goldberg's screamy '60s horror movie scene, but just as dirty as anything the Carsinogents ever done, albeit messier. What would they sound like with a better mix? And would they even want it cleaner? Doubtful. A great night of rock that ended too early for my taste.

Great turnout for a Tuesday night at O'Leaver's, incidentally. I recognized a lot of faces I've seen at other heavy rock shows and credit Goldberg, who left the message. As a tavern-owner on hand from another bar famous for its indie/punk scene said: "Dave sure knows how to promote." He's right.

Check-in: Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova, One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels, Hudson Falcons; Bumblebeez 81, Print2.

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Another week... – April 12, 2004

It's the start of another busy music week in Omaha with Azure Ray/Okkervil River tomorrow night and Kite Pilot and Casual Dots Thursday (both shows at Sokol Underground), then Will Johnson of Centro-matic at The Ranch Bowl Saturday night (look for a Lazy-i interview with Johnson online tomorrow night). I didn't manage to make it out to one show last weekend, so I got to make up for it this week.

New reviews: Kite Eating Tree, Humble Gods

Check-in: The Good Life, Lovers Need Lawyers

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Live Review: Now It's Overhead; Two Gallants tonight @ The 49'r – April 9, 2004

Now It's Overhead sounded spot-on perfect last night as Sokol Underground in front of an eyeball guess of 250. As has been reported everywhere, the line-up for this tour didn't include Azure Ray, but a couple guys from Athens band Maserati. Fronting the four-piece, the diminutive LeMaster belted out a handful of songs from his first album and the new one, Fall Back Open, as well as a Magnetic Fields cover. He and drummer Clay Leverett came back and did a stripped-down version of "Who's Jon" as a one-song encore. It seemed like a short set, but maybe that's because the band came on at around 11 -- an early show, indeed. In fact, I thought I was getting there early at 10:30 only to catch the last couple songs by Statistics, which sounded fine though I couldn't get a real bearing on it between talking to people on the way in and getting a beer.

Okay, I know that's not much of a review, but there isn't that much to say about Now It's Overhead live. The music sounds almost spot-on to what you hear on the CD and LeMaster rarely strays from the script. Theatrical he ain't; and the crowd was the usual docile mob of neck-craning gawkers. LeMaster's between-song patter consisted mainly of thanking Statistics for being their tour mates over the past few weeks (this was the last stop on their current tour).

What's on tap tonight? Well, you got the snarly, acoustic folk of San Francisco's Two Gallants along with Coast of Nebraska at The 49'r. Based on the one song I heard from the band online, this could be a good show if they can bring it above the crowd noise.

Check-in: The Jealous Sound, Kill Them with Kindness; Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News; This Process is a Still Life; The One AM Radio, A Name Writ in Water; Rachael Yamagata, Happenstance; Midgetmen, High Life.

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Now It's Overhead, RFT, Statistics tonight; the Denver Post on the flight of Rilo Kiley – April 8, 2004

Very briefly, you got Now it's Overhead tonight at Sokol Underground along with Race for Titles and Statistics. I intend to attend, so look for a review tomorrow right here.

The Denver Post picked up the Rilo Kiley story, with background info provided by none other than members of The Faint. Read it here.

Check-in: The Hokkaido Concern, Circuits Flooded; Austin's Obsession, Independent Film

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Rilo Kiley addendum – April 7, 2004

Those looking for the Rilo Kiley announcement, scroll down -- it's the April 5 entry.

It's interesting reading the responses to the Rilo announcement, which, by the way, was the driver behind the largest one-day traffic surge at Lazy-i since we announced that Bright Eyes was going to be on the Letterman show last year. Obviously there's a ton of interest in the band (and the label).

After I posted a link to the announcement on the Saddle Creek Board, links began to pop up on web boards all over the net. Comments seem to be divided into two camps: Those who are happy that the band is taking "the next step," and those who are concerned that RK will compromise their music for the sake of being on a major. Based on Nansel's comments, the next CD is already in the can. The worst thing that could happen is if the new label decided to "sweeten" it with production gimmickry, which seems unlikely -- they must have already heard the CD, why would they bother to sign a band whose music they didn't like? Or maybe I'm being naive. I'm more concerned about the follow-up to the next CD. It would be a shame if RK took the same path as Liz Phair, who managed to destroy any credibility and talent that she earned by having her music altered by production doctors in an effort to produce "hits." The result of that experiment was the biggest selling album of her career, filled with nothing but shit (unless you like music that sounds like toothpaste commercials).

There is also a third camp, which I hadn't considered, who are afraid that RK will begin touring as an opening act on arena tours. This would be unfortunate, for me anyway. One of the reasons I follow indie music is that I prefer hearing bands in a more intimate (albeit, more run-down) setting with only a few hundred other people. A band is more apt to connect with their audience if they're close enough to touch them. It's also nice to be able to stroll to the merch table afterward and actually talk to the band. All of that goes away at arena shows. And instead of paying $5 to $8, now you could be paying $40 or more. No thanks. The last arena concert I attended was Fleetwood Mac, and I've had better, more intimate concert experiences watching bands on television.

I don't know what motivated Rilo Kiley to leave Saddle Creek, and Creek didn't say. You have to assume it was money and exposure, and who doesn't want to be a success? And what's it mean for Saddle Creek? I'm sure they're bummed to be losing one of their best-selling bands, but they can't be altogether surprised. Creek has a lot on their plate this year, not the least of which includes new CDs by The Faint, Bright Eyes and The Good Life, among others. New acts like Broken Spindles (the new CD, Fulfilled/Complete, is quantum leap above the Tiger Style debut) and Beep Beep (the debut's already in the can) show that they're pointed in the right direction, though I'd love to see them work with a hip-hop act.

You can read other web chatter about the RK move at these blogs and sites:

Rilo discussion string:
Saddle Creek -- two strings:
SLAM Omaha discussion:
The discussion:

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Rilo Kiley to leave Saddle Creek Records – April 5, 2004

Saddle Creek Records chief Robb Nansel confirmed rumors that have been swirling about Rilo Kiley. He said an EMI label will be putting out the band's next record, possibly Capitol or Virgin Records. Robb said the folks around the office are bummed about the move but, "it is their decision. We wish them the best of luck. It's just too bad we won't be involved -- it is a really good record."

Rilo Kiley was introduced to the Creek family by Tim Kasher (Cursive, The Good Life) in 2001 after he met the band at a show in San Francisco. At the time, Rilo Kiley was signed to Barsuk Record (Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf). The Saddle Creek sound wasn't a mystery to Rilo vocalist Jenny Lewis. "We had bought a copy of Bright Eyes' Fevers and Mirrors a year before, so we were already fans of the music," she said in a 2002 interview. "We decided to record our next CD at Presto! and work with Saddle Creek because of the creative freedom we knew they'd offer." The Execution of All Things was released on Saddle Creek in October 2002.

Virgin Records is the home of such powerhouse bands as The Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson and David Bowie. Capitol's recent releases include Liz Phair, Fischerspooner, Radiohead and Coldplay. There's no mention of Rilo Kiley on either label's web site.

. . .

Just a reminder in case you missed it yesterday, a new interview with Now It's Overhead's Andy LeMaster went online -- read it here.

Check-in: The Capsules, Someone for Everyone; Split Habit, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is; Goldman, Live.

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Live Review: Anonymous American; Now It's Overhead Q&A – April 4, 2004

Matt Whipkey and Co. can be proud of last night's CD release show at Sokol Underground. They did what they came to do -- put on a loud, rowdy, energetic rock and roll show. The crowd was only around 150, which I think was a surprise to Whipkey and the promoters, who had expected about 100 more. The fact that AA plays around town so often probably hampered the turnout, as well as a show going on at the same time at The 49'r, which catered to a similar audience. Regardless, Whipkey said he wasn't disappointed and he shouldn't be. Say what you will about the style of music, or have your own opinion about his stage hi-jinx, but you have to admit that the crowd was head-over-heels into it. At one point, a guy standing next to me smashed a bottle on the floor and said, "Goddamn I love this band!" then did a whoop! thing. There were a lot of people doing 'whoop-things' last night -- quite a contrast to the usual Sokol Underground 1,000-mile-stare audience that attends most shows. Unlike the fashion misfits that get caught up in the indie scene, this was a Joe Lunchbox crowd that you might find at the bowling alley or grocery store, they weren't interested in anything other than having a good time. And from what I saw, that's what they got.

I only saw one opening band (the tournament also kept me from seeing Marianas at The Ranch Bowl). Columbia, Mo. band The Doxies play relatively typical straight-up alt-country with a double-helping of twang. They seemed pretty tight playing music that isn't my cup of tea.

Enough about last night.

I just posted a Q&A with Andy LeMaster of Now It's Overhead (read it here). It covers the band's formation, Andy's relationship with Saddle Creek Records, the making of the new CD, Fall Back Open, the joys of touring and more. The band plays at Sokol Underground this Thursday with Statistics and Race for Titles.

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Live Review: Steve Bartolomei; three big shows tonight – April 3, 2004

I like what I heard. So did the 25 or so that were on hand. Bartolomei, an Omaha acoustic singer/songwriter, plays brightly colored introspective folk tunes that work because he has such a classic, crisp voice that reminds me of a combination of James Taylor and John Darnielle (Mountain Goats). Mike Saklar added some very cool touches backing on electric guitar. I'm curious to hear how his full new combo, Mal Madrigal, comes together. I caught most of opening act, Magnolia Summer. Not bad. They definitely were after that whole Jayhawks/Son Volt thing, and were tight as a tic throughout. Maybe I'm just getting tired of streamlined alt-country, because though they were obviously talented, none of their music really caught my ear. Pleasant enough, but that's about it.

There are three big honking shows tonight and I'm going to try to weigh in on two of them.

First, I want to catch Marianas as they open for Levinhurst (the guy in the original Cure line-up) tonight at The Ranch Bowl. Then I'm off to Sokol Underground to catch part of the Anonymous American CD release show. The third big show is The Monroes, Diplomats of Solid Sound and Ideal Cleaners at The 49'r. A tough choice, and on top of all that, we got the Final Four on CBS. Anyway, look for a write-up here tomorrow, along with an interview with Now It's Overhead.

Check-in: Darling; Mike Harvat.

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Tons of reviews; Steve Bartolomei and Mike Saklar tonight – April 2, 2004

There are 15 new reviews in the Reviews Matrix page. The real finds among them -- Tulsa Drone, Carte Blanche and Birds of India -- all three are unique and amazing in their own way. Check out the page for more -- look for the for the most current reviews. As you'll see when you go there, receivables is outnumbering reviews by about 4 to 1 -- it takes time to get through all of these CDs. Regardless, I'll keep plowing forward, passing on the best of the best. A few of the reviews will eventually get moved to the "Reviews" page, which has been languishing as of late.

Tonight's Steve Bartolomei show at Sokol Underground is being credited as "Mal Madrigal's Steve Bartolomei w/Mike Saklar." Those of you with history knowledge of the Omaha scene will recognize Saklar as former lead guitarist for noise-rock act Ravine and mid-'90s punk band Ritual Device. Saklar playing with a folkie like Bartolomei should be an interesting combination. According to a gig update from the Ravine mailing list, '"Mal Madrigal' (featuring Steve Bartolomei & current/former members of 1989 Chicago Cubs, Desaparecidos, The Good Life, Bright Eyes, Ravine) will make its expanded debut next month" or perhaps opening for Scout Niblett on April 23? I'm guessing the other member(s) could be Ryan Fox (Cubs, Good Life, Bright Eyes) or Matt Baum (Cubs, Desa, Bright Eyes). Opening for Mal Madrigal tonight are St. Louis bands Magnolia Summer, which is described by AMG as "a strummy Americana sound somewhere between Son Volt and the Pernice Brothers," and the gritty, Neil Youngish Julia Sets.

Someone whined on the webboard about the Dulli photo on the homepage so I changed it out with this old Head of Femur photo. I need some new pics.

Check-in: Adam Weaver, Feeling Left Out, The Academy, Blue Scholars, Soil, Sit Still, The Bruces, Sean Spada, The Eye, Terrible Days, Fight Dirty, Kottonmouth Kings

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Back to the real world; Anonymous American; pop show at Sokol Aud – March 31, 2004

Well I'm back from the frozen tundra known as Captiva Island, Florida, where I spent a week or so searching out the hottest indie music artists I could find. All's I could come up with is a guy who played kettle drum to a karaoke machine. His rendition of "Black Magic Woman" was spine-tingling. Florida is an amazing place to get away, but it's completely devoid of anything but Blues Hammer-style rock bands, Dr. Hook-style piano men and karaoke. In retrospect, that's probably a good thing. I passed over a trip to SXSW because I needed a vacation, not a three-day "see all that you can see" marathon.

But I'm back, and the first thing I've done is place an interview with Omaha band Anonymous American online (read it here). The band consists of former members of The Movies (specifically Matt Whipkey and Bobby Carrig) and The Get (Wayne Brekke and Corey Weber). If you're into Americana-style music, you'll love these guys. Their CD release show is this Saturday at Sokol Underground.

I've also got an interview with Andy LeMaster ready to post, but I'm waiting until this weekend because the Now It's Overhead show isn't until next Wednesday. I don't want you to read it and then forget to check these guys out when they're here. But if you simply can't wait for me to post it, it's supposed to be in today's issue of The Reader along with the Anonymous story.

All that time on the plane gave me a chance to write a dozen or so CD reviews, which will be posted on the Matrix later today. I'll put a reminder online when the Matrix update is completed, probably tomorrow.

Finally, the big show tonight: The Vines, Jet, The Living End and Neon at Sokol Auditorium. The only band on this bill that interests me is The Living End, but I'm sure this will either sell out or come close, since there's a lot of buzz about these bands.

God, it's good to be home (NOT!).

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On hiatus... for a week. – March 25, 2004

As yesterday's blog mentioned, Lazy-i is taking a one-week hiatus. I'll be back March 31 with a couple interviews, stories, news and reviews, you know, the usual stuff. Looks like I'll be missing some good shows while I'm gone:
-- Year Future, Kill Me Tomorrow, Rent Money Big and Church of Gravitron this Friday at Sokol Underground.
-- Also on Friday, our friends Race for Titles take the 49'r stage with Latitude Longitude.
-- Monday night Bloodcow does their thing at O'Leaver's.
-- And if you you're looking for a straight-up rock night, don't forget Grasshopper Takeover at Sokol Aud this Saturday with a whole bunch of bands.

Have a good weekend.

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Chapter four of the Grasshopper Takeover saga; Death Cab for Cutie/Kweller tonight – March 24, 2004

I just posted an interview with Grasshopper Takeover's Curt Grubb (read it here). It's really the fourth part of an ongoing series of articles on the band that began way back in 1998. If you click to the new story, you'll notice that all three earlier stories are linked off the left side of the page. For fun and if you have time to read 10,000-plus words of copy, you can start at the beginning -- written right before the band moved to Los Angeles -- and read through to the latest "chapter" of the GTO saga, which pretty much explains their return to Omaha and their new CD. Who knows. With five or six more chapters I'll have a book!

As much as I wanted to, I didn't make it to the Starlight Mints show last night mainly because I've been trying to get everything written before Lazy-i goes on a one-week hiatus. That's right -- after tomorrow's update the site won't be updated until next Wednesday, March 31, when I post a brand spanking new feature on Anonymous American, which will be followed a few days later by a Q&A with Andy LeMaster of Now It's Overhead. A whole week without Lazy-I What will you do without me?

The crush to get everything done also will prevent me from attending tonight's really big show down at Sokol Auditorium -- Death Cab for Cutie and Ben Kweller with +/-. It seems like only yesterday Death Cab was playing down in the Underground. It looks like our little boy has finally grown up. Or maybe it's all due to Kweller, who's music I've never heard before...

Check-in: Broken Spindles, Fulfilled/Complete; Wheat, Per Second...; Shoddy Workmanship, The World's Greatest Shit in the Universe; Echo Helstrom

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Because I'm often asked this question..., Starlight Mints tonight – March 23, 2004

For whatever reason, I'm constantly getting e-mails from national promotions/labels/media marketing companies, etc., asking me to point out local clubs, restaurants and music stores. Who knows why. Maybe it's a backlash to all the national attention we've been getting as part of the "booming Omaha scene." Anyway, I got another request from a largish music promotions company yesterday. After I wrote the reply, I figured I might as well post the info on the blog for others who may be after this sort of info. Most of you will disagree with my picks, but, hey, I don't care.

Here's what I wrote:

Live bars
-- Sokol Underground, 13th & Martha -- You're probably already aware of these guys, who go by 1 Percent productions. They book the place. Indie ground zero.
-- O'Leaver's, 1322 So. Saddle Creek Rd. They take most of the Sokol Underground overflow -- one of the places that bands play that can't draw 300 people. It's capacity is around 100. Aveo is there tongiht. Tilly and the Wall played there a month or so ago. My new favorite hangout. Check out their horrible website:
-- The 49'r, 49th and Dodge St. Another smallish club for indie music, w/capacity at around 150. A good live music vibe, maybe the best in town for interested crowds (not so for singer/songwriters -- Owen (of Joan of Arc fame) played there once and was drowned out by chit-chat).
-- The Ranch Bowl, 1600 S. 72nd St. Omaha's oldest still-operating venue, they book mostly hardcore and goon-rock acts, but also do the occasional indie show, for example, the Starlight Mints play there tonight. 1 Percent's arch rival.
-- Sullivan's Bar, 40th & Farnam. Small bar that occasionally hosts unannounced shows by Creek-related acts. Consafos and Son, Ambulance recently played there.
-- Mick's, 59th & Maple, a folkie singer/songwriter hangout that also does jazz.
-- The brand new Goofy Foot Lounge at 10th & Pacific. It hosted the Simon Joyner CD release show last week -- he's a local singer/songwriter icon that influenced the Saddle Creek crew.

Non-live bars
-- The Brothers Lounge
, 3812 Farnam. It's become famous as thee indie drinking hangout, thanks to having the best jukebox in town that plays a lot of local indie/punk along with '90s punk classics. Where everyone goes when there isn't a show. Owners are local legends.
-- The Homy Inn, 1510 No. Saddle Creek. A neighborhood hole-in-the-wall that attracts scenesters. Tiny. Cold Duck on tap. Peanuts in dog bowls. You get the picture.

Record stores
--The Antiquarium
, 1215 Howard St. Arguably the home of indie/punk records and CDs. Home of Dave Sink, local music impresario often credited for nurturing the scene in the '90s.
--Drastic Plastic, 1209 Howard St. Great punk/indie music store on the Old Market's main strip.
--Homer's, three Omaha locations, including one in the Old Market. Independently owned/operated local music store chain with the largest selection of music in Omaha.


I don't eat out much, but when I do, I go to:
Trini's in the Old Market, 1020 Howard St. -- best Mexican in town
The Indian Oven in the Old Market, 1010 Howard St. -- best Indian in town
LaCasa, 4432 Leavenworth St. -- best pizza in town
The Rice Bowl, 505 N. Saddle Creek. -- best Chinese in town
Trovato's, 5013 Underwood -- Italian/pizza all-around hang-out in the neighborhood

MJ Java, 1299 Farnam
13th St. Coffee Shop, 509 So. 13th St.
Mojo's, 4826 Dodge St.
Blue Line, 4924 Underwood
Caffeine Dreams, 4524 Farnam

Popular restaurants I don't eat at because I don't dig the cuisine:
The Greek Isles, 3821 Center. Greek, but I'm told it's still good.
McFoster's, 302 So. 38th St. A popular veg place.


Like I said earlier, Starlight Mints tonight at The Ranch Bowl. Their new album ain't bad, but not as good as their old one. This, along with the upcoming Will Johnson (Centro-matic) gig, are great shows that would seem to typically be booked at Sokol Underground. It'll be interesting to see how well the Mints draw. If I go (and I'm planning on it) I'll have a report tomorrow, along with part four of the ongoing saga of Grasshopper Takeover.

Check-in: Teitur, Poetry & Aeroplanes

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Tardy live review of The Kingdom Flying Club – March 22, 2004

I've been so busy watching the tournament (I had Maryland in the final, so I'm screwed) and writing profiles this weekend (in order of upcoming appearance -- Grasshopper Takeover, Anonymous American, Now It's Overhead) that I haven't had a chance to comment on The Kingdom Flying Club's set Friday night at O'Leaver's. In fact, there isn't much to say. They brought the same groovy, slacker vibe to the club that they did last January. Apparently they left Columbia, some 320 miles away, at around 6:30 that evening, arriving right before their set. Road weary? You wouldn't know it by a set that included the best songs off their amazing CD, Non-Fiction, as well as a couple covers, (AC/DC's "TNT" again, Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me") as well as a couple new songs, the best of which was called "The Doxies Went to Canada and Brought Us Back Some Hash." I smell a hit. As always, the crowd was smallish, maybe 40. I'd like to see these guys on a bigger stage with a larger PA, say at Sokol Underground (come on, Marc).

Check-in: Dope Smoothie, Beauty Pill, Kenny Edwards, Oblivion.

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The Kingdom Flying Club tonight at O'Leaver's – March 19, 2004

Tonight, The Kingdom Flying Club at O'Leaver's with a KC band called Civella and Omaha's A Cult for Riley. O'Leaver's is one of those bars with multiple TV sets that will be tuned to the tournament -- I know this because I was there last night doing an interview -- so you'll miss none of the action. Btw, I've got St. Joe's going all the way. Call me crazy.

I stopped by for a second at the Chinese Stars/Daughters last night at Sokol -- low turnout, but what did you expect from these bands? The Stars sounded pretty tight for the 2 minutes I was there to drop someone off.

And last night was "Omaha night" at South by Southwest. Criteria and Statistics both played (at different venues). I've seen no reports on their performances, but if I run across something online I'll add a link to the blog this afternoon right here.

Check-in: Of Montreal, Satanic Panic in the Attic; Michael Mcdaeth, Rusted on Through; Chronophonic, Footwork.

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Daughters tonight – March 18, 2004

Don't ask me, I never heard their stuff before. I got them mixed up with Daughter, a band that played this winter at O'Leaver's. Apparently Daughters is the read deal. Check 'em out tonight at Sokol with Chinese Stars and Omaha's own Bleeders for Treats.

St. Pat's Day reveling sucked this year. The line was too long for The Dubliner, so we went to O'Connor's expecting to hear Irish music but got Incubus instead. Horrible.

Check-in: Low-beam, The Kama Sutras, The Slats, Ojee, Curves of Sirens, Less, Seismic, At the Close of Every Day

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The Kingdom Flying Club, Happy St. Patrick's Day, Strike Anywhere at Sokol U, Roar Like a Fizzled Slat at O'Leaver's... – March 17, 2004

First off, I just posted a story/interview with The Kingdom Flying Club (read it here). These guys are good -- so good in fact that their CD, Non-Fiction, made it onto the Lazy-I top-10 for 2003 and on the Lazy-I Best of 2003 Comp a double-whammy! They'll be playing again down at O'Leaver's this Friday night.

Second off, Happy St. Patrick's Day. I usually celebrate the wearing of the green after work (though when I was younger, it was all afternoon) down at The Dubliner, Omaha's only real Irish pub. You know the scene -- beer on the floors ankle-deep, The Turfmen playing on stage (though I'm not sure they'll be down there this year, but I hope so), lines to use the bathroom and lots of Guinness while March Madness blazes on TV sets overhead. The perfect evening? Maybe, but…

Pseudo hardcore band Strike Anywhere is also playing tonight down at Sokol Underground. Their sound doesn't quite fit with the Irish theme, but I got a feeling this will be a blazing show anyway. Hopefully I'll make it down there after a pint at The Dub. If not… Our old friends Fizzle Like a Flood, The Slats and Roarbot! are doing an Irish jig tonight at O'Leaver's. Erin go Braugh!

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Lesson in download economics... – March 16, 2004

Not much going on news-wise today. Everyone's headed to Austin (but me). It snowed here yesterday. Morrissey's been talking up his new album, You Are the Quarry, Christgau weighed in with some new reviews (he dissed the new Nora Jones!) which are always interesting reading. And so on.

For the first time I spent less than $10 on a new full-length CD purchased in a record store. I dropped by Homer's this weekend and bought the new one by Yeah Yeah Yeahs's, Fever to Tell. Just $7.99 -- apparently the result of the major-label price drop announced late last year. That's pretty cheap. While I was there, I picked up Berlin's Greatest Hits (a response to the VH1 Bands Reunited series, which is a must-see), $9.99; and a copy of Get the Knack (digitally remastered), $11.99. Total cost, $29.97 not including tax. What would it have cost me to download all three on i-Tunes? $16.83 for The Knack, $10.89 for the Yeahs, and $11.88 for Berlin, for a grand total of $39.60. So I saved $9.63 buying the CDs and have all the related ephemera that comes with them. Of course, you could argue that if I was i-Tuning it I might not have bought every track (especially of The Knack CD, which included five worthless bonus tracks). Either way, they all ended up on my i-Pod.

That's all for now. Check back late tonight or early tomorrow for a new interview/feature with Columbia, Missouri's The Kingdom Flying Club.

Check-in: Starlight Mints, Brando, Single Frame, Number One Fan, Sleep Station, Jonathan Goldman.

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Live Review: The Wrens, Criteria – March 15, 2004

There was a sloppy exuberance to The Wrens' set last night. As if they were playing at a friend's house party or conducting an impromptu practice. It was their almost casual recklessness that made the set so endearing. Hell, they warned everyone about three songs in: "If you're looking for a tight band, you've come to the wrong place," said vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Kevin Whelan. "We live together and we still don't practice." But the 200 or so on hand didn't want it any other way, and the band preceded to play about 20 songs, mostly from their new CD, but also songs from Secaucus, even a quiet cover of The Faint's "Worked Up So Sexual" that I didn't recognize (someone else asked me what I thought of it about five minutes after they played it).

When they were on, mostly playing their new stuff, they were pretty solid, at times singing three-part harmony and shifting between two guitarists. Wearing a blue and yellow Michelin windbreaker and aviator glasses, Whelan was the life of the party, constantly switching between bass and keyboards and acting as the ad hoc front man -- lots of colorful stage antics, rock star guitar gestures and between-song patter about how much he loved Omaha and how the city almost single-handedly kept his band together.

A few seemingly technical problems plagued the band. At one point drummer Jerry MacDonnell broke his snare head and the soundguy had to run and help set up another while the band did what sounded like an off-the-cuff a cappella rendition of something. At times, songs wavered in and out of echo-filled pinging guitar lines, while other songs were straight-on punk send-ups. The crowd yelled requests throughout the night and the band looked eager to please. Sometimes I wondered if they were all playing the same song, and judging by the goony expressions on their faces, they did too. But it obviously was a special set, especially for Wrens fans who have been waiting a long time for the sort-of homecoming.

On the opposite end of the spectrum stylewise was Criteria, who played their usual set with razor-sharp precision (what else is new?). It was a set that I've seen four or five times now. Apparently I walked in just after they had played a new number (so I'm told) because there wasn't any song that I didn't recognize from their CD. The band is working now on new material but is taking its time presenting it to their fans' eager ears. Interestingly, there was probably around 50 to 75 more people there for Criteria than for Wrens -- blame it on the school night.

A note on the new sound system: This was the first time I've listened to Criteria without earplugs. I didn't need them, though their set was plenty loud. The new speakers at Sokol Underground have taken away a lot of the high-end harshness, resulting in a full-bodied, balanced sound that was powerful without bringing the pain.

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The LA Weekly discovers "the Omaha scene" – March 12, 2004

There's an article in this week's LA Weekly about "the Omaha scene," but really just about Saddle Creek Records (read it here). It's an interesting, if rather unstructured and wandering, read. It's also very long and includes some colorful images from a house party that took place around Cathedral. Of all the stories I've read about Creek in the nationals, this one is probably my favorite. Sounds like ol' Conor is getting ready to make NYC a permanent home, and I can't says I blame him.

Anyway, the article was brought to my attention by someone who took exception to comments credited to Matt Maginn of Cursive. As the story goes: "The Omaha press kind of jumped the bandwagon," said Maginn (in the article). "Cursive was in The New York Times before we were in the neighborhood papers - the Omaha Weekly Reader, the Omaha World-Herald."

Maybe so, but that means that the New York Times was writing about Cursive prior to January 20, 2000 (this story), which is very possible. I don't know, because I don't read the New York Times (except for the occasional online glance). There may have well been a groundswell of national interest for The Storms of Early Summer, which came out in '98, though I don't remember it. I can tell you that whatever motivated that first Cursive story had nothing to do with the Times or any other publication.

It doesn't really matter, does it? The story does get right the sense of anticipation about what's going to happen next. Creek and its cadre of bands will either go to the next level or continue on the same path they've been on for the past four years. Regardless 2004 will be the year that defines the label's future, and ultimately, the Omaha music scene, because other than that one Bleeders for Treats comment, none of the nationals have even tried to find out if any other bands exist in Omaha.

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Rock Four spy report; Don Cab/Bombardment/Mariannes tonight – March 11, 2004

I hadn't read much anywhere about that Rockfour show at the Ranch Bowl Tuesday night, when I got a report from one of the Lazy-i "spies" who was at the show. How he put it: "This was akin to watching a witch doctor attempting to blow life into the mouth of a decaying corpse." I figured it would have been a sell-out: These guys are huge on the East Cost and have a video on MTV2, just like the Yeahs who drew 1,250 last week. The spy said there was only about 100 there at what was promoted as the band's "US CD Release show" for their new one Nationwide. I've only seen their video, never heard any of their records. "They're rock classicists who combine their love of melodic and poppy mid-60s British rock (Move, Hollies, Who, Zombies) with Beatles-esque vocal harmonies and stir it up with a welcome dose of energetic stage antics," wrote my spy. "The singer, Eli Lulai, often climbed up into the rafters above the stage and performed some kind of aerial ballet while the drummer pounded his kit like Keith Moon Jr. Undaunted by the crowd's physical distance from the stage, Lulai repeatedly encouraged everyone to move closer to the band." The Ranch Bowl can seem downright cavernous when there's only 100 people there. I wonder how this one would have worked at The 49'r.

Tonight is Don Caballero, The Bombardment Society and The Mariannes as Sokol Underground. I think this is DC's first gig in Omaha, and Bombardment and Mariannes are always amazing. $9 -- come on! -- that's only a buck more than a movie!

I have a little downtime over the next few days so I'm gonna focus on CD reviews. Everything that's listed as on the i-pod in the matrix has been listened to repeatedly. I just need to get my thoughts down.

Check-in: various artists, Bring You to Your Knees: A Tribute to Guns & Roses.

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Reminiscing with The Wrens – March 10, 2004

Just posted a nice little story/interview with The Wrens (read it here), in support of their March 14 show at Sokol Underground with Criteria and Bottom of the Hudson. Our hero, Charles Bissell/Mexico spins a tale of a band approaching the brink and pulling back just in time to record their best album ever.

So here's the story I tell everyone when I talk about my interview with Bissell. The day before, I was working on the Patrick Buchanan/Mousetrap/After Dark story (incidentally, Mousetrap and The Wrens were on the same label back in the day, Grass Records). I was doing research by reading a cover story I wrote for the August 1994 issue of The Note, a regional music magazine published out of Lawrence in which I was the Omaha correspondent. I'm glancing through the old pages and find the newspaper's performance listings, and there listed under "Omaha" for Aug. 10 is "Babe the Blue Ox, Wrens, Big Drill Cars (sic), Visual -- Capitol". I began the interview with Bissell by reading the listing to him, and he chuckled and said that the Capitol gig was the band's very first ever. Why Omaha?

"No reason," Bissell said, "except that we had been bugging our booking agent at the time to get us on the Babe the Blue Ox tour. He finally relented and threw us on the last few weeks of the tour. He said 'If you want to do it, drive out to Omaha and play the rest of the way back.'"

Bissell said his perception of Omaha hasn't changed much since that date at the ol' Cap. "It was funny, because it was our first city and things went especially well," he said. "You know how Omaha is such a hotbed now? Even back then everyone was so tight and playing in each other's bands. They were friendly and welcoming."

Sitting in the crowd at the Cap that night, Bissell said, was Saddle Creek's Robb Nansel, Conor Oberst and Todd Baechle. But it wasn't until The Wrens came back and played a show at The Cog Factory that Bissell and his band struck up a friendship with the future Omaha superstars that would live to this day (In fact, it was the Creek that set up the March 14 Sokol show). Bissell fondly remembers those Cog shows. "In most cities we played for 10 or 20 people," he said. "When we played the Cog there was always at least 100. It was amazing."

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Live Review: The Everyothers, Tiny Lund at O'Leavers – March 9, 2004

Let me explain something.

I got up yesterday morning at a quarter to five so I could write a feature on The Wrens before I went to work -- a feature that you'll be reading tomorrow right here at this very site (It covers everything from The Wrens first-ever show at the late-great Capitol Bar, their near break-up gig with The Faint, and what it took to make their remarkable new album that was named Magnet's album of the year for 2003). Needless to say, I was planning on going to bed early last night, but got an e-mail from the folks in Tiny Lund saying they were doing a last-minute show at O'Leavers with a Brooklyn band called The Everyothers. They said it'd be an early show and that I'd be in bed by 11.

Well, it was a quarter after 12 when I got home, and the reason I was still up was The Everyothers. Me and about 14 others (none of whom was there specifically to see the band) saw what will probably turn out to be one of the better shows I'll see this year by a band that's virtually unknown, or so I thought. In fact, last night's gig was a pass-through as the band heads to Chicago for a show at the Double Door on their way to a gig at the Lava Lounge as part of the South By Southwest Festival in Austin (they played at Duffy's last night, probably again to 15 people).

I never quote other reviews when I write about bands, but CMJ got it right when they said The Everyothers are "What you might hope Bowie would sound like today." Their style is pure Spiders from Mars-era David Bowie meets T. Rex meets early Cheap Trick, straight from the garage and sung by a guy who's voice is a dead-ringer for Stephen Trask. A simple four-piece (two guitars, a bass and drums), they did it up old school, and when the bass player leaned in for harmonies, I knew I made the right choice in losing some sleep. Great, great stuff.

What goes through the mind of a band playing away from home for virtually no pay for 15 people that they'll never see again? You think they'd be stand-offish or want to just get back in the van and get to Chicago, but in fact, they seemed genuinely grateful to be at O'Leavers doing their thing for a small but appreciative crowd. They even played a two-song encore that included a cover of The Who's "Substitute."

I got the feeling halfway through their set that I was seeing something special, one of those unannounced shows you always hear about from a band that was just passing through before anyone knew who they were. The type of band where, one day while lying in bed watching Letterman, I can turn to my girlfriend and say "That's that band I saw at O'Leavers with 14 people." Check out their tour schedule (here) and catch them when they come through your town.

Tiny Lund put on a very heavy, almost hardcore-flavored set of angular, syncopated indie rock. The three-piece is anchored by a vocalist who, when he pushes his range, sounds like a gravelly-throated Graham Parker (though their music in no way resembles Parker's stuff). The first half of their set suffered from a case of the same-ies, but they turned it around for the last three songs that included some nice breaks, more varied vocals and some interesting change-ups. Here's a band that would benefit from stepping back, taking a look at their repertoire and focusing on five really different, varied songs. If you have three songs in your set that sound almost identical, get rid of two of them.

Needless to say, chances are very, very good that I won't be attending tonight's Rock 4 show at The Ranch Bowl, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't go. Something tells me there will be more than 15 people there.

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Live Review: After Dark, the Lepers at The 49'r – March 7, 2004

I guess you could call it a triumphant return for Patrick Buchanan, formerly of Mousetrap now of After Dark. The band played to a mostly packed house at The 49'r made up of local band people, scenesters, neighborhood regulars, a few gray-haired guys and well-dressed chicks.

Buchanan looked all grown up since last time I saw him. People around me said he was a spitting image of Mark Walhberg straight from Blood Pollution/Steel Dragon in the movie "Rock Star," with shoulder-length, jet-black hair and the classic Buchanan sneer. He was wearing the traditional black-on-black, as was his second guitarist, Keith Styles (who looked like a young, slicked-back version of "Big" from Sex and the City). It looked like it was going to be a gloomy, gothy night.

But it wasn't. The band was remarkable. I didn't notice any Sinatra crooning, but Buchanan did sing instead of scream, in a style that perfectly complimented the bluesy, smoky, dark, guitar-fueled rock. It was heavy and loud, very noir-ish at times, gritty and glistening blood-red. This is murder movie music of the David Lynch variety. Not what I expected at all. Styles ripped and sang lead on one song while Buchanan tore apart his guitar from the back of the stage. Drummer Mick Romeo's kit was stripped down -- a snare, a bass and a side drum, along with a few cymbals. Very straight-forward and effective. Keyboardist Jamie Ayukawa's organ/synth added texture and mood, but was merely an accouterment to the guitar orgy.

The set included three covers, including the opener, "Nightclubbing" by The Stooges, a Screamin' Jay Hawkins number and something by Sisters of Mercy. You get the picture. The rest fit into the same grisly, slow-blues rock vein, fueled by aural, crying duel guitars and the straight 4 flat-thack of the kick-snare. There was nothing punk about it, but it didn't matter because it was just as aggressively subversive as anything Buchanan played with Mousetrap, just a different kind of subversive. For a "first show ever," there were no on stage screw-ups or confusion -- they were extremely tight, as if they'd been playing this stuff all of their lives. This could be the band that breaks through to a larger audience for Buchanan should he record and hit the road with it as I'm sure he will.

Opening the evening was The Lepers playing a considerably more laid-back set than I've heard in the past, dominated by almost tribal drumming and quiet, picked angular guitar structures. Interesting, but this band really flies when they turn it and burn it -- i.e., play loud. There were times during the quiet passages where the audience din was as loud as what was coming from the stage.

Tonight, Chromatics, Gnome Slaughterhouse, and Church Of Gravitron at O'Leavers. There's some info on this show on the webboard. Wish I could go if only to see how Gnome draws in a 21+ venue.

Check-in: Pedro the Lion, Achilles Heel; Jade Tree Records compilation, Location Is Everything Vol. 2; Furnace St., Headmusic; Twilight Promenade, The New Being Human.

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Live Review: Beep Beep, SSION, Yeah Yeah Yeahs; After Dark tonight – March 6, 2004

It was quite a scene last night. I can't imagine it ever being held down at the Underground, where you can barely breathe when the numbers exceed 300. The final count was somewhere near 1,250 (not a sellout) according to the promoter, and it seemed packed for an upstairs show. Long beer lines and the inimitable wait to use the can -- despite its capacity difference, Sokol Auditorium bathrooms are the same size as the Underground's, which can make peeing a hit-and-miss proposition if you don't want to miss any of the show.

It was already crowded by the time Beep Beep started at around 9:15 or so. The angular four-piece reminds me of Gang of Four or The Fall, while others I talked to compared them to early XTC, Devo and Braniac. They've got a gritty New Wavish post-punk sound and looked very comfortable on the big stage. Chris Hughes' voice dabbles somewhere between Robert Smith and Johnny Rotten, screeing high-pitched yelps on stripped-down jangular riffage that can turn any direction in a split second, almost bouncing with its tight rhythm section. I thought the volume was turned down for their set, and I wanted to hear it louder in a room that demands it. This band will be a startling diversion for Saddle Creek fans who expect more traditional song fare -- Beep Beep, especially lyrically, comes from an altogether different place than the other Creek outfits -- a disturbing, kinky place blue-lit in fluorescent light.

After seeing SSION, I can see why the Yeahs wanted Tilly and the Wall to originally open their set. Like Tilly, SSION borders on novelty, but takes their stage show to a whole nuther, campy level. The trio of lip-synching vocalists was dressed in outlandish animal costumers -- two women dressed as a chicken and a lion (I think) and a guy in a cow costume. No instruments -- it's all prerecorded material while a sequenced movie was projected over their heads. Choreography included the lion girl giving birth to a large upholstered snake, which led into their next song, "Ride the Snake Until it Shakes" -- get it! The music was actually pretty good, very Hedwig-esque but not as well-written. Thankfully they played a short set -- smart because the novelty can only go so far before it becomes stupid. I thought it was fun. I'm sure the KC-based band will be a huge hit in Brooklyn, where the gloomy arty crowd deifies anything campy as genius.

There was nothing campy about the Yeahs' set. The band played for over an hour and did a three-song encore. I went knowing virtually nothing about them except for their recent MTV2 video, and left a fan, so much so that I'll probably pick up a copy of their CD today. For some reason the trio gets thrown into the same bucket at The White Stripes when there's virtually nothing similar about the two except that they both lack bass players. Guitarist Nick Zinner doesn't need one. He and drummer Brian Chase fill the sound out just fine on their own, while Karen O. provides that snarling Chrissie Hyndes-meets-Wendy O. Williams snarl to songs that owe as much to Pussy Galore and The Cramps as early Cure. Zinner uses a series of prerecorded guitar parts (loops? samples?) and the occasional keyboard to make the sound even fuller. Karen O. wore a skin-tight flesh-colored dress with a slung-over modified utility belt thing that held cassette tapes that she nonchalantly unspooled throughout the set, screaming and bashing her microphone around while circus-clown-like roadies ran behind her, picking up mike stands and mopping up sprayed water. A great set, highlighted by Zinner's throaty guitar.

Tonight: After Dark featuring Pat Buchanan of Mousetrap at The 49'r, along with The Lepers. Again, it'll be interesting to see who shows up for this sort-of homecoming.

Check-in: Loretta, The Translation; Devil with Cheese; Hound; The Bloody Hollies, Fire at Will.

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Tonight: Beep Beep w/Yeah Yeah Yeahs and SSION at Sokol Upstairs! – March 5, 2004

I guess the headline should read 'Yeah Yeah Yeahs and SSION with Beep Beep at Sokol Auditorium' (tickets still available, as of this writing), but while I like the new Y3s vid on MTV2, I'm really going just to see the opener, Beep Beep, whose CD, as everyone knows, is slated for release by Saddle Creek Records (though the release date appears on none of Creek's recent release schedules). Get there early, it'll definitely be worth it. Seeing as the show sold out downstairs, this one should be a madhouse.

Speaking of Y3s, I can now tell my stupid Nick Zinner story...

So we're watching Bright Eyes at The Rose Theater last December and among the usual entourage of Conor Oberst's support players there's this weird little elfin guy who immediately earns the moniker Edward Sissorhands. Who is this mysterious alien with his jet-black fright wig and ghostly white complexion who makes Oberst look like Merle Haggard in comparison? I see his name in the program, but never make the connection. So time passes, and I'm watching the Grammy Awards' red carpet ceremony hosted by the inimitable Joan Rivers, and who do I spy off in the corner of the screen but Edward Sissorhands. I'm thinking to myself "Is Bright Eyes at the Grammy's?" I keep searching the background goings-on while Joan interviews the guy from Creed, but I don't see him again, and think that maybe I was seeing things.

It wasn't until weeks later that the mystery was solved when I'm looking at a huge picture of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs in a rock magazine, and there's Edward Sissorhands, a.k.a. Nick Zinner standing next to Karen O. Mystery solved. I never got a chance to do an interview with the Y3s, so I never got to ask about the Zinner/Oberst connection. You can guess how well I know this band by that story -- having only seen their video, this will be the first time that I've ever really heard Y3s (welcome to Omaha, where we have no radio stations worth squatting on). Ironic, considering I have two hand-made Yeah Yeah Yeahs tour posters made for their tour with The Liars back when The Liars were good. Ah, E-bay take me away.

Look for a show review tomorrow.

Check-in: Halloween, Alaska, s/t; Rainer Maria , Anyone in Love with You (Already Knows);Oil, The Vanity Press; Andy Logan, Last Dance on the Wild Frontier.

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After Dark after Mousetrap; a eulogy for The Carsinogents – March 3, 2004

First off, this morning I posted a new story about After Dark, a band that features Patrick Buchanan, formerly of Omaha '90s punk band Mousetrap (read it here). After Dark is playing at The 49'r Saturday night, and the occasion was an opportunity to interview Buchanan on what happened after Mousetrap moved to Chicago in 1996, why the band broke up, what other bands he's been in and what After Dark is all about. Buchanan has come through town with bands before, and I've always found out about it two weeks afterward. It'll be interesting to actually hear what he's been up to.

As you probably already know from other various web sites, The Carsinogents have officially called it quits. I received an e-mail yesterday from one of the band members confirming the rumor. Seems the members have a number of other projects going on, not the least of which is Goldberg's Street Urchins, and Handsome Marc's new band Carmine. The announcement comes a few weeks after the band received word that they had not been chosen to play at SXSW -- who knows if that played in role in the decision to split up.

I've always been a big fan of the Carsinogents. I first wrote about the band back in April 2001, and it was almost exactly a year ago (March 5, 2003 to be precise) that The Reader published a cover story I wrote about the band upon the release of what will end up being their swan song LP, the exceptional Ole! Throughout the years, Carsinogents has always been on top of the list as one of the best live bands in area, mixing extreme theatrics with red hot punk-a-billy music.

Which brings up one of the most frustrating aspects of The Carsinogents. No matter when they opened for a touring band (the most well-known being And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead) they blew the place away, and netted gushing praise from the touring bands themselves. I know that if they ever could've gotten on the road on a regular basis, they would developed a national following. Other than a few dates with Cursive last summer, the road work never happened, which is a shame.

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Mouse huntin' – March 2, 2004

Been busy-busy-busy writing a profile on Patrick Buchanan, former leader of Omaha punk band Mousetrap and now member of After Dark, a band that'll be playing at The 49'r this Saturday night w/The Lepers. The story goes online later tonight and will be in tomorrow's issue of The Reader. It's historical... sort of, and will be of interest to Mousetrap fans who wonder what happened after the band moved to Chicago in '96. Also look for a retro Mousetrap article from a 1994 issue of The Note, also going online this week as we stroll down memory lane.

Check-in: Cex, Maryland Mansions; Strike Anywhere, Exit English;The Fire Science, s/t; Fivehead, Guests of the Nation.

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Live Review: BCB / HFM; Yeah Yeah Yeahs upstairs? Oh yeah. – Feb. 28, 2004

So, the unveiling of the Sokol's new sound system is now complete, and I must say, there was a preponderance of bass...

But before I get to that and the usual show recap, I was greeted at the Underground's cash register with a pen-written sign that said, "Yeah Yeah Yeahs tickets on sale again." No, a bunch of pissed off rockers did not turn in their tickets. Seems that the Mexican dance band booked for the Sokol Auditorium the same night cancelled, allowing 1 Percent to offer the Yeah(s)-cubed show upstairs. So come and get 'em. I'm actually more excited about seeing the opening act, Beep Beep -- Saddle Creek Records most-recently signed band.

Anyway, back to the review. I missed Gnome Slaughterhouse and was told that the audience to see them was about twice the size of the 75 or so standing in front of Bright Calm Blue when I walked in. This was a wholly different-sounding band then the last time I saw them (Yes, my blog was wrong the other day and I have seen them before, as a reader quickly pointed it out on the Webboard). I do like these guys because they never lose sight of the pop in their punk. Two guitars blazing with the bassist and drummer screaming the lyrics, I wish the vocals had been more clear. In fact, the entire mix sounded bass-heavy all night. The sound guy told me that he still needs to "tweak the crossovers" on the new system. So did the new speakers sound better? They certainly sounded louder, and the obvious distortion on the vocals (emitted from the old left amp) was gone. I'd like to hear how the system sounds with a more laid-back band, which is exactly what BCB isn't -- instead, they provided a full-out post-punk assault driven by the guitars, but highlighted by one of the better drummers in scene today.

Then along came Her Flyaway Manner -- how good is that band name, eh? In last night's case, better than the band itself. The trio was dominated by the bass, and while the guitarist ripped it up, the music itself was uninteresting and somewhat tuneless. To be fair, these guys aren't exactly trying to get the crowd to do a sing-along. Their percussive-heavy arrangements were all about pounding a syncopated chop down your throat. The vocals seemed like an afterthought or something screamed over the rest of the pounding. There was one song that had a sequence that the lead singer called "the breakdown" and featured just him, the bass and held-back drums -- no guitar, and it was very cool. But only moments later, the chaos re-entered the mix and the subtleness of the moment was lost.

A side note: I tried to contact Gnome Slaughterhouse prior to this show for an interview and couldn't get a number. I took the opportunity last night to talk to the band, so expect a profile on them in support of their split 7-inch release show with Bombardment Society, coming up sometime in the next few months. The band will also be playing a couple gigs in the coming weeks -- one at O'Leavers and another at The Ranch Bowl.

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Her Blue, Gnomish, Manner – Feb. 27, 2004

Tonight's show: Her Flyaway Manner, Bright Calm Blue and Gnome Slaughterhouse at Sokol Underground. Get there early to see the elusive, hot-buzz Gnome, who I'm told is the darling of The Antiquarium -- a tradition that goes back a long ways. The Antiquarium used to be the ultimate touchpoint for quality, original punk, and obviously still holds a place in the scene today. As always, check back tomorrow for a live review.

Check-in: Paul Yates; Deadwood.

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Live Review: Neva Dinova, Dolorean – Feb. 26, 2004


It was a smallish crowd last night for Neva Dinova, about 150-ish, surprising since they haven't played in Omaha for a long time. It was a chance to unveil a slew of new material, and that's just what they did. My impression after the set: Neva Dinova plays Midwestern hippy campfire tunes sung as if under the influence. Each song is almost lethargically slow and downbeat but written in a bright-blue key accentuated by Jake Bellows' slightly slurred tenor that rises and falls throughout. I'm not sure why they have three guitarists. Most songs would have stood on their own with just Bellows and his guitar, his bassist and Roger Lewis on drums. But on the occasion when they took full advantage of the other two guitarists the songs took on a glistening roar, pushing them beyond the simple campfire lovesong. Lewis told me before the set that every song they would play last night would be a new one, including some stuff off the Neva/Bright Eyes split slated for release in mid-April on Crank! It seems like that EP has been on hold forever. Overall, the music was stronger than the songs on their debut full-length, and the lyrics seemed more clever and personal. But the set's side-effects were like taking a double-shot of valium with a cold washcloth on your forehead, even with Bellows' between-song drunk-guy stories (though I never saw him take a drink). It was the sort of set that you felt like stumbling home afterward.

Neva played last. I missed the opener, and Dolorean played second, which was probably a smart move considering everyone I talked to came to see Neva. Dolorean, a three-piece that included a guy who switched between pedal-steel and bass, a drummer, and singer/guitarist Al James, sang dusty folk songs that sounded like they were written for Springsteen's Nebraska album and rarely changed pace from one another. James has a good voice, but there wasn't much distance between songs.

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Bright Calm Blue; Dolorean / Neva Dinova tonight – Feb. 25, 2004

Just added what is essentially a last-minute interview with Lincoln band Bright Calm Blue (read it here). The interview happened Sunday night -- the article's deadline was Monday morning. But it turned out okay. I've been listening to their 6-song EP since it was released last fall, but never seen them live. I get a sense from talking to BCB's Dustin Wilbourn that there's a stronger community of musicians in Lincoln that we have in Omaha, covering a broader array of musical styles. Are there musical factions in Omaha? Just look around. I'm sure there are similar factions in Lincoln that I don't see because I don't live there. What is apparent is the unfortunate boundary that divides Omaha and Lincoln bands. Seems like in the '90s the two cities were more closely aligned and bands played in each other's city more often. We need to get back to that. These days the only common denominator is Presto! Studios, which has become thee place to cut your CD (unless you've built your own home-studio). Bassline and a couple other studios are beginning to eek into Presto's business, however. Something tells Presto! is not too worried about it.

Tonight's big show is Dolorean with Neva Dinova and Steve Bartolomei at Sokol Underground. I can't say that I've heard Dolorean before. The Portland Mercury called them "as personal as Cat Power and as textured as Portastic." We'll see. It'll be interesting to see what Neva Dinova's been up to since the last time I saw them, which seems like was a year ago. They haven't been touring, but Jake Bellows has been on the road as a solo guy for the past few months. Maybe we'll get a glimpse at some of the songs off the upcoming Bright Eyes/Neva Dinova split EP, which is supposed to be released on Crank! in April. If I go, there will be a review here tomorrow.

Check-in: Lisboa, Either Origami.

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Oberst's gusher; Statistics at No. 16 – Feb. 24, 2004

So I've now heard from just about everyone who went to last week's Conor Oberst/Jim James/M. Ward show at Joslyn that it will go down as the "show of the year." Not on my list, because I wasn't there. But it looks like the trio is scoring big wherever they're headed, based on this Chicago Sun-Times piece that ran yesterday, saying Oberst's "style is polarizing, but his talent is unquestionable." Nice. Well, at least I have The Rose performance to remember.

Everyone I talked to over the weekend at various shows were shocked and surprised when I told them that Statistics' Leave Your Name CD logged in at No. 20 on the CMJ charts. They'll be even more surprised when they see it's at No. 16 this week, according to this online version of the chart. How high can it go? Incidentally, Statistics is now listed as the headliner for the March 10 show at Sin-e in NYC with Now It's Overhead.

What else? Check back later tonight (or early tomorrow) for a Lazy-i feature with Lincoln band Bright Calm Blue.

Check-in: Joseph Patrick Moore's Drum & Bass Society.

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Live Review: Kyle Harvey, Carmine, Anonymous American – Feb. 22, 2004

I showed up after Kyle Harvey had already started. And he was supposed to be the headliner. It's his CD release show, after all. Guess that doesn't mean you can't play second (which means, yes, I missed the Austin Britton thing altogether, but heard it was remarkable). Harvey was backed by three other folks -- another guitarist, a stand-up bass and Landon Hedges on a drum kit. Like I said, if the 240 who were there expected the standup singer/songwriter bit, they were in for a surprise. Harvey uncorked a rock band and dredged up the sound to make the songs on his new EP feel even grittier, and (shall I say it?) angry. Not so much lonesome as bitter, and better for it. It was a different experience than what you'll hear on the CD -- loud and full of the low-end grind that he is destined to enliven. That's a fancy way of saying it was good. As good as the similar slow-grind national stuff that I've seen at Sokol before, maybe better. Harvey needs to keep ahold of these guys and make a full-length with them. And then hit the road for six months like he wants to. I guarantee it would work.

Something else I've said before -- Carmine is straight-up, punked-up '80s college underground, loud and fast and loud. If you like the early SST stuff, you're gonna love these guys. They temper their tunes with more modern melodies, which is to say they have a taste for pop. It's fun stuff played by four guys who look like they're genuinely having a good time up there. They need to record. Now.

Last but not least was Anonymous American. I keed Mr. Whipkey when he asks what his new full-length sounds like. I tell him it reminds me of The Eagles. Of course that's bullshit, and even moreso watching them on stage. They have a name for their style of music: Americana, a hybrid of country and rock. Look up the word on AMG and you'll find bands listed like The Jayhawks, The Pontiac Brothers, Whiskeytown and John Hiatt. Add the obvious Bruce Springsteen nuances along with a healthy dose of Let It Bleed-era Stones and a touch of Gram Parsons and you'll start to get the picture. The kind of band that you might find on Lost Highway. I call it classic American bar rock music (honky-tonk if they only had a keyboard) played for pure yee-haw enjoyment of the masses. More rock than country, there's nothing pretentious about their delivery. Whipkey's new ensemble is even less country-esque since he got rid of the pedal steel, though there's still plenty of twang to go around, not the least of which is in Whipkey's braying vocals and Cory Webber's guitar solos that remind me of Joe Walsh (oops, there's that Eagles thing again). Whipkey's live presentation is sheer bravado (perhaps a bit forced), kicking and whooping and feeling comfortable prancing off stage to get closer to an audience that's slightly afraid that they might get hit by a his flinging guitar. He wants you to know he's having fun, or at least make you think he is. They're one of the most polished and most well-recieved live bands going these days, and that's saying a lot.

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Live Review: Shelter Belt, Fizzle Like a Flood; Kyle Harvey tonight – Feb. 21, 2004

I think the entire city of Norfolk was out at the Shelter Belt show last night. The promoter says 160 -- way over his expectations, and a little more than I expected. At one time Shelter Belt had eight people on stage, all playing something (and on top of that, there was a soundtrack of sorts playing beneath it all). Soundguy said it was a first for the Underground, channelwise that is. That said, their set was pretty good. Lead singer Jesse Otto stood up front like a true bandleader, glancing back at the rest of the band between vocal phrases. Shelter Belt has a style that isn't quite indie, it's more mainstream in a lot of ways, and the crowd (which included as many people that were older than me as younger than me) seemed to dig it. With that many people on stage, there were bound to be some problems, and there were -- with the sound, with a few of the instruments, but mostly with the overall balance. It was understandable since the band probably has never played a stage quite like Sokol's before. There were times when, despite the number of people playing, I could only really hear Otto and his guitar or keyboards. The drummer played one of those high-tech electronic sets, which was cool to look at but seemed to lack true white-knuckle noise quality. Overall, the band seemed somewhat timid. I'd like to see all these guys play half drunk and pushing for every inch of their lives rather than the laid-back vibe that was coming off the stage last night. The set's highlight was their rendition of the title track off their new CD, a bosso sort of thing that had the most bounce and life to it. Give these guys a few more live gigs and we'll see what they can really do.

After they finished, most of the audience left, leaving Fizzle Like a Flood -- the headliner -- to play in front of about 30 people. Sad, but lead fizzler Doug Kabourek didn't seem to mind. Backed up by guitarist/novelist Travis Sing and bassist Bobby Carrig, Kabourek played what arguably was one of his most polished sets, again supported by his low-tech '90s-era CD player adding backing tracks from his last couple albums. Special moment: Kabourek playing a solo rendition of a new love song dedicated to his favorite DVD remote controller, which was accidentally destroyed during a sticky-drink mishap. Dying kittens, Conor Oberst, remote controls -- Kabourek writes songs about what's closest to his heart, and delivers every time.

Can tonight's Kyle Harvey CD release show top it? I discovered yesterday that Harvey is actually playing second on the line-up. Opening will be an ensemble headed by Little Brazil's Austin Britton and including members of Son, Ambulance. Then comes Harvey, who will be backed by a small band that includes Landon Hedges on drums. Next is punk-rock band Carmine in what would seem like an ill-fit on a bill that features mostly singer songwriters. It should shake things up. Closing the evening is Anonymous American featuring Matt Whipkey formerly of The Movies, who just completed a new full-length slated for release in April, so be prepared for a sneak-peak. Look for a review here tomorrow.

Check-in: Emotional Rec Club, Paradigm9, The Chinese Stars, Now it's Overhead, Year Future.

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Shelter Belt CD tonight at Sokol Underground – Feb. 20, 2004

Here are some comments written in support of tonight's Shelter Belt CD release show, in which I intend to attend. This was written for and printed in The Reader. I also plan on doing a full interview with the band sometime in the near future:

It can get kinda crowded when Shelter Belt hits the stage.

The band, whose name was influenced by the rural Nebraska towns in which it was formed, boasts seven full-time members playing everything from traditional guitars, keyboards, bass and drums to cello, violin, accordion and assortment of brass instruments. Formed in February 1997 by a bunch of Norfolk, Nebraska, teenagers, the band has gone through a number of personnel changes before sticking to its current line-up led by lead vocalist and songwriter Jesse Otto, the mastermind with an uncanny knack for creating memorable pop hooks.

On the band's first full-length, 2000's Nothing Makes Me Sad Ever, the ensemble managed to create 65 minutes of rock songs and ballads with influences as modern as Pinetop Seven and as throwback as Elton John, Buckingham/Nicks and Todd Rundgren. The CD was released with virtually no fanfare and, hence, went almost completely unnoticed by the local music scene.

Shelter Belt has no plans of making the same mistake twice with their just-completed full-length follow-up, Rain Home, whose CD-release party is being held tonight at Sokol Underground. Although musically in the same vein as their earlier work, Rain Home is a more ambitious, more polished project. Recorded from August 2002 to July 2003 at the band's own Beltcave Studios, the music's typical formula is a combination of styles that range from pure prairie to jazz to bossa nova to good ol' rock, all wrapped around Otto's pleading, high-end vocals reminiscent of Kenny Loggins. It's the songs' subtle arrangements that make Shelter Belt special, seamlessly sneaking in an incidental brass or stringed instrument amidst the crack drum and keyboards.

While the band's outward posture screams indie (Their CD is, in fact, self-released), the smooth, sophisticated quality of their pop would be right at home on your favorite adult contemporary FM station -- a prospect that would probably make them cringe, but is impossible to ignore.

Look for a show review tomorrow.

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Who made it to SXSW? – Feb. 19, 2004

They (the faceless decision-makers at SXSW) posted the list of bands that have been accepted at this year's festival. The list is here. We already knew about Statistics and Criteria, but we didn't know about, well… actually no one else from Nebraska appears to have been accepted. Very disappointing. At the very least, I had expected The Carsinogents or The Show Is the Rainbow to be on the list. What's this say about Omaha's burgeoning music scene outside of the Saddle Creek bands (which, as far as I know, didn't apply for SXSW)? It says nothing, because after just a cursory glance at the list, it appears that most of the acts playing already have been signed to a label (Statistics, for example, is playing a Jade Tree showcase. Criteria is on Initial Records with even bigger things looming). I thought the idea of SXSW was to give unsigned bands a stage to display their wares to the hungry industry folks. Apparently not anymore. With CMJ essentially being a label showcase (as it's always been) there doesn't seem to be a festival designed to give unknown bands "a big break." Maybe we should start one right here in ol' Omaha?

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Kyle Harvey; who remembers Mousetrap? – Feb. 18, 2004

Just-posted, a profile/interview with singer/songwriter Kyle Harvey (read it here) written in support of his CD release show this Saturday night at Sokol Underground. Harvey's one of those ever-present fixtures of the local scene who's been flying under the radar for the past few years. He just broke out of the Omaha cocoon in the past few months with a tour that saw him visit Lawrence, Okie City, Memphis, New Orleans, Louisville and St. Louis as he drove through the Bible Belt with his guitar in tow. His new CD is quite a departure from his usual acoustic singer-songwriter fare. Should be an interesting show.

Speaking of upcoming shows, since the gig has been confirmed I'll let you in on what influential '90s fixture of the Omaha music scene is returning to town for a one-nighter. It's Pat Buchanan, the guitarist/vocalist of defunct Omaha punk band mousetrap. Now living in Chicago, Buchanan and his new band, After Dark, is slated to play a gig at The 49'r March 6 with The Lepers. Just about every local band I've interviewed over the past few years has name-checked mousetrap as an influence and/or inspiration, and hardly a week goes by when I don't hear someone talking about one of their seminal punk CDs. To commemorate Buchanan's return, I'm trying to tie down an interview with him to find out what happened after mousetrap, and where he's headed these days. I'm also going to post a cover story I wrote about the band for the long-defunct Lawrence music magazine, The Note, back in the mid-'90s. Look for it in the coming days…

Check-in: Polysics, Neu; Lostprophets, Start Something; Chromelodeon, In the Year 20XX...

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Live Review of Denali (sort of), Volcano I'm Still Excited!! tonight – Feb. 17, 2004

I never got around to the Denali review yesterday morning, maybe because I take President's Day so seriously -- me and the dogs hold a small pageant in the front yard and then spend the day burning incense and praying for "our leaders."

Actually, I was too busy writing a feature on Kyle Harvey that goes online tonight, as well as writing a preview for this Friday's Shelter Belt CD release show. As for Denali, they didn't exactly knock my socks off. They sounded fine and Maura Davis was impressive, but their songs don't exactly burn a hole in my memory. Maura reminds me of that really hot girl you knew in high school who hung around the "wrong crowd" but was nice to everyone and ultimately dated some guy who graduated a couple years earlier, making any chances of you ever dating her virtually impossible. Her vocal range is rather remarkable, and it's obvious that she's had professional training because there's no way she could belt out those songs like that night after night without it. As for the songs themselves, they were a tad too indie-generic and lacked variety. In other words, boring.

I arrived too late for Call In Call Out, and Pinebender didn't play. A different band opened instead that sounded like a straight-up rock band, with a vocalist who sang all nasal like a young Bob Dylan. I liked them, though I never found out who they were. I'd guess about 120 people were there, not bad for a Sunday night.

Ironically, I was going to write a feature last week on Volcano I Still Excited!! but got talked into doing the Denali feature instead. Side by side, the Volcano CD is much more entertaining. They've got a real cool keyboard-driven rock thing going, kind of like Mates of State without the female vocals and Mates' grating compositions. More pop, more fun.

In the end, though, tonight's Volcano show at O'Leavers doesn't need any more publicity, because in case you didn't know, Tilly and the Wall are the opening act. This could be a real crush scene, but the jury's out as to how well Tilly will draw a 21+ crowd. I think it'll be nuts, and if O'Leavers is going to continue booking popular acts, the folks there may want to consider selling tickets to help control the capacity problem. I heard the recent Tim Kasher/Simon Joyner show was tight, to say the least. As much as I love Tilly, I'll probably be a no-show, figuring I won't be able to get in the door past 10:30.

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Live Review: Kite Pilot at O'Leavers – Feb. 15, 2004

I'm getting in this stupid habit of going to shows and leaving thinking I've just seen the next big thing, which, like I said, is stupid. I've recently done it with Criteria, The Show is the Rainbow, Little Brazil, The Sons of… and now here I am doing it again. (Let me point out that, though I may sound stupid, I've been right with those past four predictions -- all four could be the next big thing from Omaha. In fact, I found out last night that The Sons of… is about to enter the studio. So is Little Brazil, again. And Criteria is, well, let me put it this way, they'll be the first of the four that you'll be hearing on the radio. And Darren Keen is only a heartbeat away from the presidency).

I don't know what I was thinking (or hearing) when I caught the tail end of Kite Pilot's set at Sokol Underground last month. Their sound is anything but droning. It's sheer, unadulterated pop with a hint of lounge and indie rock. Not easy to classify and I mean that in the best sense of the phrase -- a four-piece driven by Erica Petersen's rich, sweet vocals (if you squint, you can imagine her singing Sugar Cubes covers), a bouncy rhythm section (A lot of the tunes are centered on Austin Britton's bass lines, especially the more loungy, bossa pieces), and then there's keyboardist Todd Hanton's remarkable trumpet that reminded me of Pinetop Seven's finer moments. At the songs' nexus, Petersen and Britton are joined with drummer Corey Broman on vocals, and the three make a heartfelt glee-club racket. During softer moments, it's just Peterson and Britton singing harmonies that are straight-up sweet, especially when Hanton is tooting the horn.

I'm gushing now. I don't care. I love this band, and so did the 60 or so people at O'Leavers last night. I think they're smart and sweet and have an amazing sense of melody and hooks. I picked up a copy of the 5-song EP and whole-heartedly recommend that you do the same. I'll do a full review of the CD later, but just go out and find a copy. You'll be glad you did. I got a feeling that these guys could be the next big thing.

Tonight is Denali at Sokol Underground. I have a feeling it'll be a big show for a Sunday night, even though tomorrow is a holiday that no one gets off (except me and the mailman). There's a buzz about this show, with Pinebender and Call In Call Out opening. Look for a full review tomorrow morning.

Check-in: io, Where the Engines Lay.

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Remembering Preston Love; Kite Pilot at O'Leavers – Feb. 13, 2004

First and foremost, an acknowledgment of the passing of an Omaha music legend, Preston Love.

When I wrote this, I originally typed "legendary jazzman," but whenever I talked to Preston, he always mentioned how much he hated the term "jazz" -- said it was misused and wasn't really a term of endearment. His musical history goes well beyond any single genre or style, anyway. Love was the penultimate musician's musician -- he played what he loved and he loved to play.

The last time I saw him perform was at one of his weekend gigs at the old Destiny lounge, located upstairs to what is now O'Connor's Pub in the Old Market. It was an intimate room and a special night, with Preston standing tall in front of his tight combo, belting out warm classics and spending a few moments between songs to pass on memories of days gone by. Portia, his daughter, was there that night, and his wife, and a lot of friends, and I felt lucky to be there, too.

Last time I talked to him was in November for a story I put together for this site and The Reader about his CD retrospective that's just been released (read it here). Preston sounded like his usual self over the phone, but I knew things couldn't be good if he didn't want to meet face-to-face. Still, he continued to have that fire in his belly when it came to talking about music. He liked to speak his mind and didn't give a hoot about the controversy that followed. His honesty alienated some people who didn't agree with his point of view no matter how right it was.

Gary Foster, a close friend of Preston and a member of his combo, put it best: People in this community won't realize what a jewel they had amongst them until he's gone. Well, he's gone now, and those of us who had a chance to meet him and see him perform are luckier for it. Rest well, Preston. I know somewhere you're playing that horn again.

. . .

So what are you doing on Valentine's Day? What better way to celebrate than to take your honey to the Kite Pilot CD release show at O'Leavers? Formed in April 2003, Kite Pilot is led by singer/songwriter Erica Petersen (The Protoculture, Son, Ambulance) and includes bassist/guitarist Austin Britton (Little Brazil), drummer Corey Broman (This Just In, Son, Ambulance, Little Brazil) and Todd Hanton on keyboards and trumpet. The snippet I caught when they opened for Swell Jan. 24 was very powerful, very ambient stuff. I've heard that the night's opening act is either Son, Ambulance or Joe Knapp doing a solo thing. I hope it's Son, Ambulance, which you think would be relatively easy to pull off, considering Broman and Petersen are in S,A. Also on the card is Bella Luna, who I know nothing about. See you there.

Check-in: The Talk, It's Like Magic in Reverse; Model One, Days and Counting.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Pazz and Jop, Mick's – Feb. 12, 2004

Some random thoughts as we approach a romantic Valentine's Day weekend of fun and surprises:

-- The Village Voice's Pazz and Jop Awards were posted online yesterday (you can read them here). The big winners were OutKast and The White Stripes. I have to admit that I'm still at a loss as to all the adoration for The White Stripes. While it's impressive that a drum-and-guitar duo have garnered this much attention, for some reason, their music just doesn't appeal to me. I'm obviously missing something. Jack White's voice reminds me of Brian Connolly of Sweet (Who remembers "Ballroom Blitz"? Apparently not AMG, where I couldn't find a listing for the band). And although I loved Sweet, I can't say the same thing for The White Stripes. Incidentally, Cursive clocked in on the list at No. 148, right after the Lost in Translation soundtrack and before Blood Brothers. Don't leave the Village Voice site until you've had a chance to read the Robert Christgau essay. Christgau, btw, is the official patron saint of Lazy-i.

-- I had a chance to check out Mick's, the new acoustic showcase located smack-dab in the middle of Benson. It is as advertised -- a beautiful lounge with great sound and a laid-back, darkly-lit atmosphere. There was a jazz trio lighting up the place last night and it was packed by the time I left (around 10:30). Will this turn into another successful live venue? Only time will tell. They now have a website with an updated calendar. Now all they need is a more-visible sign on the front of the building. Good thing I knew that it was located where the old Musette Bar used to be.

Check-in: Spanish for 100, Newborn Driving. Look for a major Matrix update this weekend.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Denali; Criteria's SXSW Venue – Feb. 11, 2004

Just posted an interview/feature with Denali, specifically with lead singer/songwriter Maura Davis (read it here). The interview originally was supposed to be with guitarist Cam DiNunzio, but at the last minute I ended up talking to Maura I guess because Cam had to drive the van. The swap of course changed the whole direction of the interview, but it still worked out. Davis talks about the band's new line-up, the events leading up to the change, and their debut only last week at Brooklyn's NorthSix. Denali is slated to play at Sokol Underground this coming Sunday night with openers Pinebender and Call In Call Out -- it's a school night for most of us, but not for me because I have the next day -- President's Day -- off work. And no, I'm not a mailman.

A follow-up to yesterday's SXSW item: Criteria's Stephen Pedersen e-mailed to say his band will be playing Thursday, March 18, at Rockstars with The Sounds and Paris TX -- a very hot bill. I was thinking of heading down to the conference for a few days myself, but that ship appears to have already left the dock. We'll see.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Odds and ends: SXSW; this month's WoodEe – Feb. 10, 2004

Some dangling modifiers that need to be modified...

You probably already read in The Reader who "won" the recommendation of the SXSW "Road to Austin" showcase competition at The Ranch Bowl, but not all the bands' names were published. Here's what you know: Criteria was on top of the list, and in fact, has already been accepted to play at the festival (though I still don't know at which venue). Pop rock band Lovetap and neu-jazz combo The Jazzholes also received recommendations. Both bands played on a night when neither I nor the Reader's music editor were judging. You do the math, because I still can't figure it out. A fourth band was listed in The Reader's letter of recommendation: Fromanhole. I guess The Reader didn't list them because there was only three prizes awarded beyond the recommendations. At any rate, they got the thumbs-up, though there's still no word on if they or the other two bands have been accepted. I do know that some of the "no thanks" letters went out last week, because Doug from Fizzle Like a Flood e-mailed me to say he hadn't been accepted. The SXSW people supposedly make their official announcement next week. Stay tuned.

The February WoodEe Award goes to old standby e-zine Nude as the News. These guys have been around for a long time, and it seems strange that I haven't already given them an award...

There's an interesting show that's happening in early March that heralds back to the '90s-era of Omaha punk. I'll let you in on it shortly, but I'm trying to keep a lid on it until I can wrangle an interview. Let's just say the lead guy was in a band that has influenced a huge number of local bands.

Check back late tonight or early tomorrow for the Denali interview and some other stuff.

Check-in: Rasputina, Frustration Plantation; The Hiss, Panic Movement; The Wrens, The Meadowlands.

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The Grammy's and the poor, long-suffering record industry – Feb. 9, 2004

I ended up not going to any shows this weekend. I guess I'm resting up for what looks to be a busy couple months, beginning with Denali (whom I interviewed this weekend, look for the story tomorrow night) and Volcano I'm Still Excited (look for a CD review tomorrow or Wednesday).

What to say about The Grammy's? The most interesting part again this year was the keynote address by the head of the RIAA (or whoever the guy in the suit was) whining about piracy and telling people to go to and find out more. Ironically, there on the homepage, is a link to the new Napster (their "site of the month"). I remember The Grammy's a couple years ago, when the RIAA did a fire-and-brimstone during the height of the Napster controversy about how fans were "stealing" from the artists. It was the beginning of what would become the RIAA's backward approach to the whole issue of downloading music, as if they had just discovered the technology the night before. Anyone with a pair of headphones saw digital issues on the horizon three or four years earlier. Not the RIAA, though. As a result, they ended up playing the bad guy instead of coming up with an innovative solution. It isn't the answer, but at least Steve Jobs made a stab at it with iTunes. That's better than a handful of lawsuits that are doing nothing but pissing off the kids they want to cater to -- the ones who, now more than ever, see illegal downloading as an act of rebellion... or necessity, considering that CD prices continue to hover at the same levels they were at 10 years ago (Whatever happened with that Universal music deal that was supposed to chop prices?).

Poor, poor music industry. It's tough to feel sorry for the artists when Little Kim shows up on the red carpet literally draped in diamonds and Joan Rivers is asking rappers how they plan to get past metal detectors with 50-pound gold chains slung over their necks.

Musically, the highlights were Prince's "Purple Rain" (the rest of his opening medley sucked) and OutKast closing the show backed by a drum corp. Very cool. Say what you will about the Grammy's, but I can't avoid 'em, even if I don't know most of the artists winning awards.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Centro-matic, Hannah Marcus, The Monroes – Feb. 6, 2004

Just added a couple new reviews, including a look at the just-released EP by Centro-matic, and the latest by Hannah Marcus. Check 'em out. Tonight's "big show" is The Monroes at The 49'r with The Silvermen from KC and the Sons of the 49r. It'll be cold outside but hot in the ol' Niner... More stuff will go online over the weekend, so keep checking back.

Check-in: The Tuesday Suits, Buckra, David Aaron, Owsley Sunshine, Vinyl Collide, Transfer Interrupted

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Cursive in front of the camera; Criteria at SXSW; Tilly in the Times – Feb. 4, 2004

Saddle Creek Records confirms that Cursive will be busy this week filming a video for "The Recluse," a song from their last album, The Ugly Organ. It's probably being done in support of a soon-to-be-released European single of the song. The fine folks at Malone & Co. are producing/directing/shooting the video. Mike Malone goes way back in the Omaha music scene, having photographed a number of local bands from the mid-'90s golden age, including Mercy Rule, Sideshow, Digital Sex, Mousetrap, Secret Skin and Ritual Device, to name a few. The video shoot will be taking place over the next few days at The Dubliner, Joy Club and Joslyn Castle.

Stephen Pedersen of Criteria wrote to confirm that his band has been formally asked to perform at this year's South by Southwest Festival. No word on the venue yet. Pedersen was one of four bands recommended by The Reader for the festival. No word on if the other three made it..

Tilly and the Wall's rendition of OutKast's "Hey Ya!" caught the attention of Kelefa Sanneh, the New York Times biggest Omaha booster. In this article (you might need to register to read it) Sanneh says: "But the definitive indie-rock 'Hey Ya!' has to be the clap-along version by Tilly and the Wall, an emerging band from Omaha that has a tap-dancer instead of a drummer; it's the only one that might make André 3000 jealous." Just another small step in Tilly's plan for world domination.

Check-in: 1090 Club / The Forecast split EP.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

O'Leaver's again; another SXSW band recommendation – Feb. 3, 2004

This is becoming a habit. Yet another marquee show at O'Leaver's. This time it's an acoustic performance by Tim Kasher (Cursive, The Good Life, duh) with Simon Joyner and The Wind-Up Birds. As I mentioned on ye olde webboard, this will be a true test for O'Leaver's limitations. The show should draw beyond the room capacity (I'm told around 75) and bar capacity -- what good is going to a show if it takes 15 minutes to get a beer? The fact that the show was only announced two days ago, and that the ambient temperature outside right now is -2 could have an impact on the draw, but I doubt it. That means that either it'll be cramped inside or, if O'Leaver's enforces its capacity limits, the people who arrive after 9:30 could be cooling their heels (and legs and faces and fannies) outside in Ice Station Zebra.

The cold effectively kept me away from last night's show. It'll probably do the same tonight. But if I go, or if someone sends me a spy report, I'll let you know how it went here tomorrow.

I am now told there will be four bands -- not three -- recommended to SXSW by The Reader. The fourth band was among my picks, so that makes two I selected and two that were selected by someone(s) else. I'll post the list early tomorrow morning -- I don't want to scoop The Reader, which is supposed to hit the streets tomorrow, too.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

The snow continues; Kudzu Wish at O'Leaver's – Feb. 2, 2004

It seems only appropriate that Kudzu Wish, the Greensboro, N.C. band slated to play at O'Leaver's tonight, has a song on its new album called "Are We Not Snow?"

I have to assume that this show will still go on, even though we got another 10 inches last night and my back is on fire from having just shoveled... again. This winter thing sucks. Because of the shoveling, I'm running late this morning, with only time to say this about the Kudzu: Reverse Hurricane, just released on Ernest Jenning Record Co. (the same NYC folks that brought you the new Fizzle Like a Flood CD), is marvelous in the mathy, jangly Cursive vein, but with more of a pop sensibility and vocals that remind me at times (scarily) of Dexter Holland of The Offspring. I will be there if I have any energy and/or enough back left to attend. Also on the bill is Peoria, IL's The Forecast and Omaha's own Tiny Lund.

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Fizzle sizzles, Criteria rocks, and what's the deal with the Ranch Bowl's sound? – Jan. 31, 2004

So Fizzle didn't fizzle and we all looked on in awe upon Criteria before braving the cold to go home.

All 200 of us, more than I expected considering it was -1 outside. I showed up at around 10:45 -- early for me -- and Fizzle already was into their set. Seems the opening band, Roarbot!, canceled for personal reasons and Clubs of Branches had performed what I was told was a remarkably short set, for them at least. So Fizzle went on early.

There was a night-and-day difference between last night and their Ranch Bowl appearance a couple weeks ago. The Bowl debacle has been well-documented, so there was some trepidation that last night could become a replay of technical ineptitude. But the sound guy was ready for them and their "CD" set-up. And apparently the band had had a chance to do a soundcheck. As a result, for a band that hates playing live shows and considers itself a studio project, Fizzle sounded remarkably like a rock band. Travis Sing rocked on electric guitar (this time it was plenty loud) and Bobby Carrig's bass was audible but not deafening (he told me after the show that he had played a new, untested bass at The Bowl). Head Fizzler Doug Kabourek never looked or sounded more prepared or professional, though he did throw in some of his standard apologies after he finished his songs. Doug, you're supposed to say "Thank you," not "Sorry."

So good was Fizzle that a couple people came up to me during the set and said "After what you wrote, I didn't expect them to sound this good." So they finally reach this point and now they don't have any other shows planned. Despite what the Omaha World Herald implied in their article, the band is not planning to tour, which is a shame.

Criteria stormed on stage at around 11:30 and did what they were expected to do -- rip the roof off the place. They proved once again that they are the best non-Creek band in the area. Strike that: They're as good or better than most of the Creek bands, too. It's obvious that they need more material -- their set is too short, and it's something that the band also is aware of. What can I say about the new song they played (which they also had played at The Bowl show a couple weeks ago)? It fits perfectly into their usual oeuvre -- i.e., it rocked. It's among their best, with sweeping guitar chords that push it above their other stuff. Bassist A.J. Mogis shares the vocals with Stephen Pedersen (as he does on a couple other numbers). Mogis was in much better voice last night than last time.

That said, it wasn't the best Criteria performance I've seen, and I don't exactly know why. It just seemed to lack energy. Even Pedersen, trying to make between-song banter, said he was off last night. It's probably because I'm comparing it to that Ranch Bowl show, which was clearly the best set I've ever heard from them, and brings up an interesting irony about that venue.

The Bowl's sound system is completely unpredictable, even from band-to-band on a single night, and that SXSW showcase underscored it. On that night two weeks ago, the sound was all over the place. The opening band, Someday Mission, seemed too bass-heavy. That was followed by the worst Fizzle performance in the history of mankind, partially due to the poor sound. Just when you thought it could only get worse, Fromanhole -- a band I've seen at least four other times -- gets the most-balanced, complete sound they have ever had. They sounded amazing; otherworldly good. I remember turning to my fellow judge and asking if I was dreaming. Did the sound just go from hell to heaven? Impeccable, remarkable sound and a sterling performance. Then along comes Miles on End and they sound like crap -- way too much bottom-end. Finally, Criteria, and I thought I was in an arena -- huge, ear-bleedingly loud but full-bodied. Perfect. It was like being at a real rock concert, the best sound experience since Interpol last year. Like listening and watching a space shuttle launch from outside Cape Canaveral. It has spoiled me. Criteria only sounds better as they get louder. Pure power. I look forward to the time, after they get signed by a major, when they'll be able to afford the biggest, most elaborate arena-style sound system. Then I'll be able to just lean back and soak in it.

Only one show of note tonight -- Anonymous American at O'Leaver's. Since the show is not listed anywhere, it'll be interesting to see how many show up. O'Leaver's is an oasis when there's only 50 people inside.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Will Fizzle fizzle? – Jan. 30, 2004

Tonight's big show: Fizzle Like a Flood w/Criteria, Clubs of Branches and Roarbot! at Sokol Underground. Will it be huge? It certainly got the press, including a cover spot on this week's Go! supplement of The Omaha World-Herald. A reminder: Although it's Fizzle's CD release show, Criteria will actually be playing last. Get there early to check out Roarbot!, who I've been told is quite good. I haven't seen them and won't get there in time to see them tonight, either.

I have seen who will get the nod from The Reader as the "winners" of the "Road to Austin" showcase, but I can't tell ya. It'll be in next Wednesday's issue. I'll give you a hint, though: Only one of the bands that I voted for made the cut, so you can't blame me. As Mr. Pilate said, I wash my hands of the whole bloody affair.

Clicking around the Saddle Creek site, I noticed that Statistics has scored another major coup -- Denver Dalley and company will be on board for the spring leg of the Now It's Overhead tour, which should be a consistent sellout, especially with the Michael Stipe hype behind the album. How many people will show up thinking Stipe will make a guest appearance? You'd be surprised.

Check-in: DropZines, Between Sheets and Walls; Revelation Theory, 6-song demo.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

It's cold.... – Jan. 29, 2004

That's all I have to say. I didn't brave it to Rilo Tilly last night. Anyone who did, feel free to post your observations on the webboard.

I'll likely have the results of The Reader's Road to Austin showcase tonight... we're still waiting for the judges' tally.

The Reviews Matrix has been updated with a few small reviews. Checked-in: Tulsa Drone, No Wake; Jackpot, F+, Echobrain, Glean; Grayson Wray, Picasso's Dream.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Fizzle Like a Flood; Rilo vs. Tilly tonight; speaking of Saddle Creek... – Jan. 28, 2004

Just posted, an invigorating, confessional interview with Fizzle Like a Flood (read it here), where mastermind Doug Kabourek explains what went wrong when he performed the other night at The Reader's "Road to Austin" SXSW showcase at The Ranch Bowl. Fizzle Like a Flood will be reliving that nightmare this Friday night at their CD release show at Sokol Underground. Opening will be Roarbot, Clubs of Branches and Criteria, who just returned from playing a gig at Brooklyn's Northsix. Or maybe I should say Fizzle will be opening, as Kabourek was able to convince Criteria to play last for fear that the crowd would leave after their set. Wise decision, Doug. Not that Fizzle isn't worth seeing, but Omaha crowds are somewhat fickle and have been known to up and leave after "their band" has finished its set. Despite Fizzle's immense fanbase, Criteria will likely be the biggest draw of the evening.

Tonight's big show is Rilo Kiley and Tilly and the Wall at Sokol Underground. Jason from Saddle Creek tells me that Rilo and Co. will be playing quite a few new songs from their upcoming album (half the set will be old stuff, half new). As of Jan. 14, the new Rilo CD had been recorded, but only partially mixed. They hope to finish the mixing in the week or so that they'll be spending in Nebraska after tonight's show. The CD originally was slated for release in April, but will now likely hit the racks in May or June.

Tilly and the Wall have been on the road with Neva Dinova's Jake Bellows, and recently announced on their website that their new CD will be released in mid- to late-spring. Strangely, still no mention on their site of Team Love Records, the label will be releasing the CD.

With temperatures expected to reach a high of 2 today, it's unlikely that I'll be attending tonight's festivities, but you never know.

Speaking of strange, a new message appeared on the Saddle Creek news page that has me perplexed. The statement says that a handful of larger radio stations have been playing songs by Bright Eyes, Cursive and The Faint. It then goes on to say: "In what some people are referring to as a 'paradigm shift' (there is a nonsense industry term for you) in commercial radio, some very large stations have begun to play records like this without monetary contributions from the labels--a practice we have not and will not participate in."

I've read this a few times and still don't know what they mean. As it is written, it literally implies that Saddle Creek pays monetary contributions to some very large stations to get their records played. Did they mean to say that they won't pay large contributions to large radio stations? Or were they just making a funny?

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

It snowed here; that Swell show; the January WoodEe Award... – Jan. 27, 2004

It's not as if the city stopped in its tracks, frozen. But this is the most one-day snow we've had in 10 years or something. My back hurts from shoveling.

Because of all the weather, I never got a chance to comment on Saturday night's Swell show at Sokol Underground. It was underwhelming, to say the least. Maybe the longest shortest set I've ever seen -- the band only played for around 45 minutes (that is, if you subtract the 10-minute intro music. Intro music (stuff they play before the band takes the stage, usually lounge or orchestration) is so '90s, which is probably why I love it, but theirs seemed exceedingly long). I think I know what Swell was after -- a sort of low-down groove -- they never quite achieved it, probably because their songs seemed to lack melodies you could follow, or wanted to. Very low energy, and I'm not sure they were too pleased to only be playing for around 40 people (the audience had peaked at around 75 earlier in the evening).

Though I only saw the last couple songs, Kite Pilot was the most striking thing of the evening and I can't wait to see them again, though they rarely play. Very driving stuff, very moving. Everyone I talked to was impressed with their set. We need more, please. I was also impressed with Fine Fine Automobiles. Landon Hedges played the first couple songs solo acoustic, then four others joined him on stage, including an upright bass and a couple guys from Little Brazil, along with LB's former violinist. The backing instrumentation added depth to song-structures that are starkly different than anything Hedges does with LB. But with all but one of the LB's members in FFA (no Dan Maxwell, who I'm told is snowboarding somewhere), why not just incorporate those songs into the LB song list? Probably because FFA songs are quieter and acoustically driven vs. LB's driving rock. It would provide a nice contrast, tho...

Just in time for the end of the month, the January WoodEe Award goes to the fine folks at Do Something Pretty Fanzine.

Look for a new profile of Fizzle Like a Flood online later tonight.

Matrix check-in: Chrome Yellow Co., Red Light Runners; Kudzu Wish, Reverse Hurricane.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Swell, Kite Pilot, FFA tonight, parking head's up... – Jan. 24, 2004

Tonight is a special night of music and love at Sokol Underground featuring the West Coast band Swell (read about 'em here), Fine Fine Automobiles and Kite Pilot.

Todd Hanton of Kite Pilot e-mailed to fill me in on his band. They formed in April 2003 and are led by singer/songwriter Erica Petersen (The Protoculture, Son, Ambulance) and includes bassist/guitarist Austin Britton (Little Brazil and solo performer, who will be opening for Kyle Harvey's CD release Show Feb. 21), drummer Corey Broman (This Just In, Son, Ambulance, Little Brazil) and Hanton on keyboards and trumpet. In addition, Hanton says FFA will be more than just a Landon Hedges solo outing. It'll be a 5-piece ensemble, including Broman and Britton. Should be an interesting show, as long as we don't get an ice storm or something after midnight.

A warning about parking tonight -- Seems the annual Aquarian Festival is going on at the same time at Sokol Auditorium -- 25 lousy bands and volleyball. Parking will be an utter bitch, so be prepared to walk.

Matrix check-in: I've added a bunch of CDs to the Reviews Matrix. Received yesterday: Carte Blanche -- Summer's End EP; Break the Silence -- Near Life Experience; Shearwater -- Winged Love.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

And the winners are... – Jan. 23, 2004

A highly scientific method was used to select the five winners of this year's Lazy-i Best of 2003 Compilation CD. Numbers were written on torn pieces of paper, then placed in an NCAA Final Four baseball cap. Each number corresponded with an entry based on received-order. Blind-folded, five slips of paper were drawn from the hat. Without further ado, this year's winners are:

Adam Sherrerd, Omaha
Josh Dutton, Decatur, AL
Emily Bainton, Henniker, NH
Jason Flatowicz, Lincoln
Katy Palacios, Los Alamitos, CA

Your copies of the CD will be dropped in the mail tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who entered.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Contest closed; The Street Urchins at The 49'r – Jan. 23, 2004

Thanks to everyone who entered the drawing to win a copy of the Lazy-i Best of 2003 Compilation CD. I'll publish the winners' names later today. I'm still trying to figure out how many copies I"ll be giving away (looks like around four or five). Check back for that.

The hot show of the evening is The Street Urchins w/ Duran Duran Duran at The 49'r. The Street Urchins is a trash rock trio that includes drummer Dave Goldberg a.k.a. Dina Decibel a.k.a. Dave Electro of The Carsinogents. I'm told they have a lot in common with The Misfits and that their stage antics are quite theatrical. Expect green spit. Should not be missed.

<Got comments? Post 'em here.>

Last chance to enter the Lazy-i Best of 2003 Compilation CD Giveaway! - Reviews matrix (first cut)... – Jan. 22, 2004

Today is the last day (I extended the deadline one day because I forgot to remind you yesterday) to enter to win a copy of the coveted Lazy-i Best of 2003 Compilation CD. All you have to do is e-mail me ( with your name and mailing address and you'll be entered in the drawing. Tracks include songs by Crooked Fingers, The Jayhawks, Consonant, Okkervil River, The Postal Service, Criteria, The Shins, Sun Kil Moon, Death in Vegas, The Rapture, Yo La Tengo, Guster, Enon, Twilight Singers and more. Details and track order, are right here.

Your odds of winning are pretty good, as only about 50 people have entered the drawing. What the hell? Give it a shot!

Building on yesterday's item, here's the first shot at the new Reviews Matrix. I'll also be mentioning "receivables" at the end of blog entries on the day they're received. Let me know what you think.

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Swell interviewed; the new Reviews matrix explained – Jan. 21, 2004

This week's feature interview is with West Coast indie band Swell, who's performing at Sokol Underground Saturday night in support of their recently released full-length on Beggars Banquet Records (read it here). I had never heard of this band prior to this story, but interestingly, I had received a number of e-mails from Swell fans asking if I would do a profile on the band, testament (I suppose) to their underground fan base. Part of it could be that the band's touring bassist, Doran Bastin, is a former Lincoln resident and has kept in touch with a number of bands from the star city. While we chatted about his past exploits, he brought up Ivanshose, an obscure project he did with a couple of the guys who will be playing on the Swell tour. I remember reviewing an Ivanshose record about 10 years ago for Lawrence, Kansas, music newspaper The Note. Small world.

What's this new CD review system I've been writing about? I'm setting up a new page that will essentially be a way for bands and labels to keep up with the review process, from CD arrival/check-in to I-pod transfer, to initial reaction, to full review, to review publication in The Reader -- sorta like tracking a FedEx package. Because of the volume of CDs received at Lazy-i, not all get reviewed, but all get listened to and carefully considered. This will be a way to at least get some feedback and reaction on those recordings that don't make the cut of getting the full review treatment. I should have this new review "matrix" page done tonight, linked off this blog (whenever there's new arrivals or additions) and off the Reviews page.

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Live Review: The Road to Austin, Day 2– Jan. 20, 2004

People have made fun of me in the past because I wear earplugs at shows. They call me pussy, "old man," etc. But last night, during Criteria's set at The Ranch Bowl, this "pussy" was listening comfortably while half the crowd was bent over in pain, covering their ears. In nearby bodies of water, fish floated to the surface, belly-up. It was LOUD.

Criteria closed out Day 2 of The Reader's "Road to Austin" showcase. Again, as a judge, I cannot divulge the results of last night's tourney -- that would be improper. I will say that a front-runner emerged from the pack. We'll leave it at that. And though more people were on hand than on Sunday night -- maybe 50 to 75 total -- it was still not a very large crowd, but what are you gonna do? It's a Monday night. People like me have to work in the morning. And there were caucuses being held. What about democracy, people? It was an eventful evening for a number of reasons, which I won't go into until after the "competition" is over Tuesday night. Tonight's line-up: Icares, Tiny Lund, The What Ifs, Vago, Lovetap. As the song goes, one of these bands is not like the other. It will be interesting to see how a gritty garage band like Tiny Lund is received among this covey of more commercially targeted pop bands. Meanwhile, I'm told another local performer -- this one from Lincoln -- has all but been asked to perform at SXSW, though it's not 100 percent confirmed. Every year there's at least a couple Nebraska acts at the festival. This year could be record, with Statistics already playing at a Jade Tree showcase, the unnamed Lincoln band, and hopefully at least a couple acts from this Ranch Bowl showcase series.

Come back late tonight (or early tomorrow) for a feature/interview with Swell, and details on a new CD review system.

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Live Review: The Road to Austin – Jan. 19, 2004

Briefly, last night I took part in The Reader's "Road to Austin" SXSW showcase at the Ranch Bowl, where bands slug it out for a "recommendation" to be invited to perform at the Austin festival. On stage were Somacircle, Copper Wish, Lower Case i and Trippin' Default. And because I'm involved in the judging process, I can't tell you how well any of them did. Wouldn't be prudent. Let's just say I heard a lot of metal and variations of metal. The judges are supposed to take into account things like the band's live performance, their history and/or influence on the scene, how well they represent their genre, etc. I was surprised at the turnout for a Sunday night (maybe 50?), and I suspect there will be a bigger crowd tonight as the performers include Criteria (who are looking at the showcase as a warm-up for an upcoming NYC show), Fizzle Like a Flood (who is probably seeing it as a warm-up for his upcoming CD release show), Fromanhole, Someday Mission and Miles on End -- a strange line-up that's heavy on indie-style bands. Last night apparently was metal night. Tuesday I guess is more-commercial night (though Tiny Lund is bunched in there) and Wednesday is a mix-and-match night. I'm not sure how the final recommendation process will work, but will pass on the info after the showcases are completed.

I'll be adding a new feature to the "Reviews" section of the site tonight -- a check-in process to track what CDs were received, which are on my i-Pod, and which are getting reviewed, so that bands can track the process. It's an effort to be more organized about reviews in '04. We'll see how it works.

And don't forget: Enter to win a copy of the coveted Lazy-i Best of 2003 Compilation CD. All you have to do is e-mail me ( with your name and mailing address and you'll be entered in the drawing. Tracks include songs by Crooked Fingers, The Jayhawks, Consonant, Okkervil River, The Postal Service, Criteria, The Shins, Sun Kil Moon, Death in Vegas, The Rapture, Yo La Tengo, Guster, Enon, Twilight Singers and more. Details and track order, are right here.

Enter today! Deadline's January 21.

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Live Review: Kingdom Flying Club at O'Leavers; The Road to SXSW – Jan. 18, 2004

Part of what I heard about O'Leavers is true. It is a small place -- some would say downright tiny. But I wouldn't say it's cramped. It's actually cozy in sort of a Homy Inn sort of way. Also like The Homy, O'Leavers is decorated with tons of shit on its walls -- in this case, hundreds of album covers that span a few decades, as well as rock posters, including a prominent image of David Bowie in full Ziggy mode. With a bar on one end, the band plays directly across the room in a step-up seating area, standing right in front of a nonfunctioning fireplace. It's like someone's funky, 1970s "music room" or a college guy's basement apartment, and I suppose that's where it gets its charm.

I have heard people complain that it's too small for live music. It wasn't last night, but that's because the bill consisted of under-the-radar acts. I can't imagine a Saddle Creek band or one of the large West Omaha bands playing an announced show there. The room looks like it could comfortably hold maybe 75 people. Last night's crowd looked to be around 50, and there was plenty of room to walk around, get a drink, even sit down. The sound system this night was provided by Matt Whipkey of Anonymous American fame, two small overhead amps and whatever gear the band brought with it. As a result, it wasn't deafening -- I didn't need to wear earplugs and could talk to people without screaming during the sets.

I walked in hearing the strains of a band fronted by the guy who used to be known as Stop At Line. His new band consists of him on electric guitar and a drummer playing sorta screamo punk a la Desaparecidos. It's not bad, but it needs a bass and some variety in the songwriting -- every song sounded the same.

The headliner was Columbia, Missouri's Kingdom Flying Club. You already know how much I like this band if you read my Year in Review (their album, Non-Fiction, made my year-end top-10 faves list and a selection from it is included on my 2003 Best of Comp (which you can still enter to win a copy of... see details). Now after seeing them live, I'm convinced that they could be the next Weezer -- a bold statement, I know, but they've got that whole pop-rock thing down to a science. Live, they sound like a cross between Weezer and Ned's Atomic Dustbin or any other band you can think of that played that sort-of alt style circa 1993. Their stage presence is pure slacker -- the thin, pasty keyboardist/vocalist looks like he's about pass out at any moment, while the other vocalists/guitarist looks like he just walked out of the quad at Everyplace University. They were sloppy at times, not exactly tight, but their approach almost seemed intentional. I think these guys know that it's their songs that are going to get them noticed, and despite their liaise faire attitude; they won over the crowd playing mostly songs off Non-fiction, though there were a couple I didn't recognize. They closed with a cover of AC/DC's "T-N-T" which was respectfully messy and fun.

My take on O'Leavers is that it's a delightfully and purposely unpolished gem of a club that will continue to have an impact on Omaha's music scene. Now if they'd only get a website so that we could find out who's playing there next.

Tonight is the first night of The Reader's Road to SXSW music showcase at The Ranch Bowl. Slated to play (in this order) are Somacircle, A Copper Wish, lower case i, and Trippin' Default. The Ranch Bowl tells me that each band will get around 30 minutes of stage time. The door is $3 for 21+ and $5 for under 21s (I'm assuming the scale is to make up for the lack of beer sales). There are four nights of this "competition," with the winners receivingThe Reader's official recommendation for the bands to appear at SXSW, which of course, means nothing, though I'm told that every year at least one of The Reader's recommendations wins an invite. If I go, you'll get a rundown on what happened right here tomorrow.

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Live Review: The Sons of The 49'r – Jan. 17, 2004

The Sons of The 49'r (or wherever they're called the night you see them -- last month they were The Sons of O'Leavers) has the perfect band name. It's not only a tribute to the bar they're in on a specific night, it's a tribute to all the bar bands that have come before it, that they've been exposed to and enjoyed. It's a fitting name because The Sons of... is, itself, a perfect bar band -- they carry that undeniable vibe that accents a night of drinking in a tavern with your friends and/or enemies. It's a comfortable sound that's a hybrid of indie rock and rural twang, accented even more this night with Cory Weber playing pedal steel for a few numbers. They're not overpowering and they're not trying to be, they're content to play their songs easy and relaxed. Kelly Maxwell's vocals cross somewhere between Tom Petty and the guy who used to sing lead in The Feelies (another great bar band), slightly nasal, down low but out there, sized to fit like a glove.

I have seen Hong Jyn before, and while their influence deserves a place Omaha's music history, I never much got into their music -- it didn't have melodies that stuck. This stuff, on the other hand, sticks. It's driven by vocal which rest atop the simple dual guitar lines. Tulis is solid as always on bass. I don't know the name of the older guy on second guitar and vocals, but he's got a great voice and a stance and style that demands respect from all those young whippersnappers. Have these guys ever recorded anything? I'd love to hear their music in my car.

I didn't get to The 49'r until about 11:10, which means I missed The Neutrols, the band that I expected would be playing second. Instead, I caught Des Moines' Left Is West, a straight-forward indie rock band, also with a dual-guitar attack, that shared Big Star overtones with more modern barroom indie. I liked 'em.

I've written a lot of stuff in the past about The 49'r being a great room for bands but a tough room for an audience because of its small size. Fact is, if you can get there early and get a table (or in my case, a barstool off by the shuffleboard), you're in for a good time. The PA, however, is starting to sound a bit frayed. At times the vocals were lost in a squall of static, as if the left overhead monitor was blown. And now that Sokol Underground has installed a couple functioning smoke eaters, the Niner is officially the smokiest bar in town. It's downright hazy.

We'll see just how much size matters when I venture to O'Leavers for the first time tonight to see The Kingdom Flying Club. I've heard it's tiny, I've heard it's comfortable, I've heard that it's like watching a show in someone's basement, which ain't entirely a bad thing.

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Yikes, lotsa shows tonight, then tomorrow, then Sunday... – Jan. 16, 2004

The problem with the Omaha music scene is that you can't be in three places at one time. With all the shows going on simultaneously this weekend, maybe the national pundits should be comparing Omaha to Austin instead of Seattle. Three shows jump to mind tonight alone. First, The Sons of the 49'r, The Neutrols and Left is West will be tearing it up at The 49'r. I was told by the guys in Little Brazil that The Sons of... which features Mike Tulis (The Monroes), Mike Loftus (Hong Jyn Corp, Sixty Watt Saloon, Shovelhead), Kelly Maxwell (Hong Jyn Corp, Shovelhead) and Matt Rutledge (The Great Dismal, Compost) is the best live band going these days.

Meanwhile, down at O'Leavers, Kansas City's The Stella Link will be ripping the roof off the sucka. The band, which features members of Season to Risk, was slated to play at Sokol Underground a few weeks ago, but the show got cancelled due to bad weather. Opening for is NYC's The Forms and Omaha's own Coast of Nebraska.

Finally, there's a strong show going on downtown at The Darkroom Gallery, 11th & Jackson. The Quinn Sikora Trio features Quinn Sikora and Brad Dintspier, formerly of the folk rock act Echo Farm. That'll be followed by a set by former Echo Farm lead singer Rebecca Rotert and her band. This one starts at 8.

There's two more shows tomorrow night. The top pick is The Kingdom Flying Club down at O'Leavers. Their most recent CD, Non-Fiction, released on Emergency Umbrella Records, made my list of 10 favorite CDs from 2003, while the track "Artists are Boring" can be found on the Lazy-i Best of 2003 Compilation CD (don't forget, you can still enter to win a copy of the comp, just e-mail me ( with your name and mailing address). At the same time, Sokol Underground will be hosting the Same Old Crap CD release show -- expect lots of snotty punk-pop kids at that one.

Sunday night will see yet another good show at O'Leavers -- NYC's Daughter will be playing. I'll miss that one, though, because I'll be at The Ranch Bowl for The Reader's "Road to SXSW" showcase -- more on that later.

Which show will I go to tonight? Come back tomorrow and find out.

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Enter the Lazy-i Best of 2003 Compilation CD Giveaway! -- More Beep Beep debut details... – Jan. 14, 2004

That's right, enter to win a copy of the coveted Lazy-i Best of 2003 Compilation CD. All you have to do is e-mail me ( with your name and mailing address and you'll be entered in the drawing. Tracks include songs by Crooked Fingers, The Jayhawks, Consonant, Okkervil River, The Postal Service, Criteria, The Shins, Sun Kil Moon, Death in Vegas, The Rapture, Yo La Tengo, Guster, Enon, Twilight Singers and more. Details and track order, are right here.

Enter today! Deadline's January 21.

A followup on yesterday's Beep Beep announcement -- guitarist/vocalist Eric Bemberger e-mailed to say the CD is slated for released on Saddle Creek Records in late summer/early fall, followed by a tour in mid- to late-September. The CD, recorded at world-famous Presto! Studios, is being mastered mixed by Andy LeMaster of Now It's Overhead fame. Bemberger said there's no title yet, but that the name will be influenced by artist John Bankston, whose art he fell in love with during a trip to San Francisco last fall. "Our dream is to have his art represent our record and use the image title for our record title," Bemberger wrote. "Virtually all of the Bankston titles I've been exposed to are very appropriate: Rainbow Bull Fairy, Pink Sunset, A New Cowboy. He is familiar with the label and has immediately shown interest in working with us, but has yet to hear the record." Beep Beep have lined up a tentative Sokol Underground date in early March.

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Saddle Creek to release Beep Beep debut – Jan. 13, 2004

Robb Nansel, head honcho at Saddle Creek Records, confirmed that his label will release the debut from Omaha art rock band Beep Beep. The band's story was told last summer in a Lazy-i feature written in support of a gig at Duffy's (read it here). They've since played in Omaha a couple more times, including a sizzling Sept. 3 Sokol Underground show that featured The Faint's Joel Petersen on bass. Joel hinted at a Broken Spindles gig a month or so later that he was contributing to the Beep Beep recording sessions, which are now in the can. I'm still not sure if Petersen is an actual member of Beep Beep, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Beep Beep is a perfect add for Saddle Creek, which has nothing else like it on its roster. Their style hearkens back to a seminal period in Omaha punk history while breaking new sonic ground with its lewd, arty approach. I'll post more details on the release -- and hopefully a street date -- when they become available.

Oh yeah, and check back tonight (or early tomorrow) for the details on the Lazy-i compilation CD giveaway. I'm working on it...

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Team Love Records goes public, sort of – Jan. 12, 2004

So… Team Love Records. I guess it's time to write about it since their web site is already up and running ( Team Love is the label that will be releasing the debut full length by Tilly and the Wall, and is supposedly the brainchild of Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst. I had heard the web site was up last week, but couldn't get anyone to tell me the address. Then I ran into a member of a Saddle Creek band at a show last weekend, who gave me some good-hearted shit about my Predictions story, saying I must have an inside source at Creek. He not only told me the label's web address and name (which he described as "awful"), he also said those involved were eager to get some publicity about it. Strange, considering there's no mention of Team Love on the Tilly and the Wall web site.

I heard from another source that the label is actually a partnership between Oberst and one of his New York City comrades, who will help manage it. There's not much at the site, which was designed by Jadon Ulrich, the designer of Saddle Creek's website. Other than the Tilly release date (a rather obscure spring 2004), the most interesting part of the homepage is the in-your-face statement that they'll be giving away their music via the website as downloadable files on the day the CDs are released. This is nothing new, but I think placing the statement on the home page sends a message. "We want you to spend all the time you need before deciding whether or not to spend your dosh," the homepage says. What is dosh?

Check back late tonight for info on the Lazy-i best of 2003 compilation giveaway.

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Live Review: Little Brazil, Statistics – Jan. 10, 2004

Big show -- around 300. I got there late, as per usual, just in time to hear Little Brazil. Great, as always. If these guys really tour like they want to, this is one of the bands to watch in '04. They have everything -- great songs, great sound, they're interesting to watch thrash around stage. Young, eager. What's the hold-up, you record labels? You've got the next ___ sitting right under your nose. I'm told by the merch person that they sold 30 or 40 of the unlabeled, homemade CDRs. Not bad.

Then came the headliner, Statistics. Backing Denver Dalley was Ryan Fox and Matt Baum of '89 Chicago Cubs. Someone made an interesting point before they went on -- the band has a tendency to not play loud enough. Consider their style -- droning, Cure-y, synth, delayed feedback stuff, pure '90s, dense. It has to be loud to work, and it was last night. Yeah, I can say that it was the best set I've heard them perform, but that doesn't mean much considering I've only heard them one other time, with a different line-up.

The topic of conversation afterward was the Denver's vocals. He's getting better, but he hasn't lost that unsuredness, that hesitancy that I heard the first time they played last summer. Is it because he's not singing into the microphone properly? Is it lack of focus? Is he nervous? I think he needs to undergo scream therapy (and I'm not joking). Denver is a quiet guy in real life, and it carries over on stage. How do you acquire that presence to project with the assuredness needed to convey the emotions of the songs? Certainly his studio vocals are strong, and someone even commented that, because of his live vocals, Statistics is destined to be only a studio project. I don't know if that's true. Certainly the band sounded tight and he did an ok job blending the technology with the traditional instruments. But it's the vocals that are gonna make or break this band. He needs to work with a coach, it's that simple. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact, most great vocalists have done their share of training sessions with vocal coaches throughout their careers.

Contrast Denver's vocals with Landon's and you'll hear what I'm talking about. On the surface, Landon would seem to have less to work with -- his voice is high and adolescent, yet he makes the most out of it because belting out a song just comes naturally.

Congratulations to Someday Never on what was probably their biggest show. They certainly had the media focus. It'll be interesting to see how Mariannes/Monroes/Bombardment Society draw tonight.

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Statistics CD Release show – Jan. 9, 2004

Tonight's the first big "indie" comfab of the year -- The Statistics CD release show at Sokol Underground. Traditionally, these types of celebrations are the beginning of a big push by the band and the label to get the music heard, but looking at the Jade Tree website, this is the only show Statistics has booked for the near future. There doesn't appear to be any tour scheduled, which is unfortunate, especially when you consider the CD just got a 3-star review in the "Also Released" section of the Jan. 22 issue of Rolling Stone. Stone critic Christian Hoard said the CD was "lacking in tunes but full of dreamy, seductive melancholia," whatever that means. I also just posted a review of the CD (right here) where I compare it to Dalley's debut EP, saying it's "more of the same, only better, more confident, and more thought-out," which it is. Dalley's songwriting continues to improve. It'll be interesting to see if that's also the case with his live show. I've only seen him perform once -- back in June at a gig that included Criteria and Tilly and the Wall. Denver appeared uncertain and hesitant on vocals, which, I guess, was to be expected considering it was one of Statistics' first stage appearances. Six months and a tour later, we'll see if Dalley has galvanized his stage presence. Also on tonight's fight card are Mr. 1986, The Coast of Nebraska and Little Brazil. Look for a live review here tomorrow.

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Little Brazil featured; I predict controversy – Jan. 8, 2004

Just placed online, an interview and profile of Omaha indie band Little Brazil (read it here). I now hear among the online chatter that they will likely be offering their 5-song demo for sale at Friday night's Sokol Underground show, opening for Statistics -- it's worth picking up. Of the rock bands banging around Omaha without a home, Little Brazil is the most enjoyable, and the most marketable (though they'd hate having that description placed on their name). The band is just now sending the homemade 16-track recording to the labels, and as the story states, they'd love to be on Merge. What it doesn't say is they'd also be happy on a smaller label, like Rue Royale or Mt. Fuji. Someone is bound to snap them up.

I've already received some feedback on the predictions story -- a couple people wrote telling me that the Saddle Creek predictions already have happened. Not true. While there have been rumors that Desaparecidos have broken up, neither Saddle Creek Records nor band members themselves are willing to let it go. When pressed, a Creek representative would not confirm the band's demise, merely saying that "the statement on the website says it all" or something like that. I also asked a member of the band to confirm the rumor. While he indicated the band's future looked bleak, he said they aren't willing to officially hang it up, hoping that a certain member will have a change of heart. I hope they're right.

As for prediction No. 5, there have been rumors circulating for months that a high-profile Saddle Creek artist is launching a new label -- and that the first artist already has been signed -- but nothing has been officially announced... yet. Will the creation of a competing label cause tensions in the Creek family? Only the Swami knows, though I've been told that the new label has the full support of -- and has even been given assistance from -- Saddle Creek Records. We'll see. One thing's for certain, the first band on the new label has scored a major coup that will result in instant widespread publicity and consideration. Good for them, they deserve it.

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Shots in the Dark? – Jan. 6, 2004

For those of you who have been waiting with baited breath, the 2004 music predictions piece has just been posted (right here). For whatever reason, this story is always a site favorite. I got a raft of shit last year when I didn't write one for Lazy-i (mainly because The Weekly didn't want to print one. This one will run in The Reader in the next couple days). I've made up for it this year with 20 breathtaking, astonishing, fantastic visions of the future for you and your children to ponder. The "in-the-know" readers will recognize some of these and will nod their heads wisely and think "hmm... I guess the word is out." On the other hand, some of these premonitions are shots in the dark. You'll have to figure out which is which, but hey, isn't that half the fun?

The Little Brazil feature will probably be posted tomorrow night, along with a review of the new Statistics long player. So do come back. I just know you will.

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Welcome back; Cursive in the studio – Jan. 6, 2004

For those of you, like me, who return to work for the first time since the holidays, welcome back. And though there haven't been any updates in the last few days, that doesn't mean we haven't been busy at Lazy-i Central. Look for the annual "predictions" article to go online tomorrow night, followed a day or so later by a feature/interview with Omaha punk band Little Brazil, written in support of their opening gig at the Jan. 9 Statistics CD release show. That'll be followed by a feature/interview with West Coast indie band Swell in the coming week. And to top it off, watch for the year-end CD review round-up as we close out 2003 with a bang. We'll also be launching the annual Lazy-I Best of 2003 compilation giveaway as soon as I get the artwork figured out (The CDs are already burned and lying in a pile on my office floor).

A tiny bit of Saddle Creek news to pass on... Seems I wasn't having delusions when I saw Cursive's Matt Maginn having a beer at The Ranch Bowl during the Poison Control Center set a few weeks ago. At the time, Cursive had been recording out at the Ranch Bowl's Artery Recording Studios (formerly known as BJM Studios) with Mike Brannan and Dan Brennan. Robb Nansel says the band was working on B-sides for a European release of the single "The Recluse" off the band's Ugly Organ LP. I assume Presto! was booked, or maybe the band just wanted to try something different. Either way, unless you're in Europe or know someone at the label, you're not likely to hear these recordings any time soon.

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Go to Blog Archive for June 2003 - Dec. 28 2003




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