it's the non-Saddle Creek acts that give the comp its down-home
flavor. The CD opens with an angular scorcher by Lincoln's Her Flyaway
Manner, who records on Caulfield Records. "I wanted to start
off with an indie sound that was listenable," Kuper said, adding
that a member of the band is "an old hardcore kid and friend
Next up is Race for Titles,
a band formed in the Saddle Creek mold that's releasing its debut
full-length on Redemption next month, and currently has a split-7-inch
with Neva Dinova on Redemption. Neva
Dinova, who has opened a number of Saddle Creek shows, also contributed
to the Versus CD and recently signed with Crank! Records, who is
rereleasing their self-titled debut.
Bands Split Second, Bright
Calm Blue and Tie These Hands all were suggested by Lorenzen, who
was one of Kuper's primary sounding boards throughout the selection
process. Some of the other bands included on the comp include:
-- Horror-billy rockers
The Carsinogents: "I had heard
about them and Zac liked them. They were on the original list,"
punkers Putrescine: "Interestingly, a sister band of Sound
of Rails (also included on the comp), who sound nothing like them.
I needed a band with their abrasive sound."
-- The Eye: "I had
a relationship with someone from the band and really liked their
song -- it's poppy and indie-rock sounding."
Rounding out the comp
is Fizzle Like a Flood, the indie-pop brainchild
of Doug Kabourek; the rootsy ensemble Shelterbelt,
and Rocket FM, an oddball inclusion from a band no longer performing.
Finally, there's Musico,
a decisively non-indie-sounding pop band with definite Urge Overkill-meets-Sweet
leanings. The trio recently cut a deal with Redemption to help distribute
their last full-length, Nippon.
"Musico is into
everything," Kuper said. "They could fit into a pop or
rock compilation. They have such a dry sense of humor, people can't
understand what they do -- it's so punk rock." Kuper was so
taken by Musico that the band flew out to Los Angeles to open for
Andy Dick at his CD release party.
Maybe more noticeable
than who's on the CD are the dozens of bands that aren't, bands
that any Omaha musicgoer could argue are critical to the current
scene. Kuper says he knows there will be those who question his
selection process. "It was tough to say that one band would
be on the comp while another wouldn't," he said. "I didn't
want to offend anyone with this disc. I wanted to document a part
of what's going on and I wanted it to be distinctively indie sounding.
Some bands who could have been included just didn't fit into the
Kuper said he listened
to more than 20 hours of music from over 140 bands to select the
tracks used for the North Carolina disc.
The Scaries, who kick
off the N.C. disc, and Sorry About Dresden,
both have Omaha ties (Dresden is yet another band that records on
Saddle Creek Records). "People in those bands knew a lot of
other bands in the North Carolina scene," Kuper said. "It
can get rather incestuous." Sounding boards for the NC selection
process included Stephen Pedersen, formerly of The White Octave,
who now lives in Omaha, and former Omahan Matt Tomich, who's in
both Dresden and The Scaries.
"The North Carolina
selections had a lot more to do with my tastes then what was suggested
by other people," Kuper said. "I like how both discs came
out. The Balance Affect and The Sames are the Musicos of North Carolina.
I already knew The Ladderbacks. One Amazin' Kid came from an mp3
search, as did Fin Fang Foom."
Other NC bands on the
comp are Erie Choir, Alli with an I, Beloved, One Six Conspiracy,
Kid Icarus, Disband, Kudzu Wish, Brazillia, Cold Sides and V. Sirin.
"There were only a few bands on the Nebraska side I didn't
know about," Kuper said. "Most of the North Carolina bands
were new to me, and it was a joy finding them."
So who won the war? The
Nebraska disc seems to have more variety compared to the North Carolina
disc's consistency. While a majority of songs and bands on the Nebraska
disc will be recognizable by any jaded Cornhusker, the NC disc has
a funny way of growing on you over time just like the kudzu that
covers that fine state. The only clear winner is the indie-rock
listening public, who will be hard-pressed to not find at least
a handful of keepers among the set.
Kuper pressed 3,000 copies
of the CD that will be distributed through Lumberjack. "The
distributor thinks the CD will have a bump in sales, and then will
pick up as the series continues."
Next up: Washington Vs.
Illinois. Kuper said the Washington disc could include tracks from
Vendetta Red, Deathcab for Cutie, Juno,
Pedro the Lion, Damian Jurado, Pretty
Girls Make Graves, Intima, Yeek Yak Air Force and Automaton, while
the Illinois disc could include The Detachment Kit, Architecture,
Mt. St. Helens, Volta Do Mar, Tekluvi,
Red Hot Valentines, l'spaerow, North by Northwest, Rectangle, Absinthe
Blind, Guns of Navarone, and Life At Sea.
And after that? Kuper's
considering wars between New York, New Jersey, California and Georgia,
even whole countries such as Sweden.
"I'm flattered by
the interest level in the comp series," he said. "An RCA
executive told me it was an A&R guy's wet dream."
But the fact is, the
comps are time-consuming and Kuper is funding the project with his
own money, with Redemption's future hanging in the balance. "I
hope it, along with the other new Redemption CDs, does well, because
if it doesn't work out, it'll be the kiss of death."
Originally published in The Omaha Weekly Sept. 12, 2002.
Copyright © 2002 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.