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The Still

Just-released 5-song demo/EP Compact Disc (that's right, they splurged on the big-dollar CD technology, instead of taking the cheap tape route) on Omaha local label, Skinsuit. Maybe this isn't intended to be a demo, but with only five tracks, one has to make assumptions...

Anyway, it's a fairly professional package for what's basically a local indie release. Too bad they didn't spend a little more money on the actual recording (it's just too damn tinny, hollow, overall flat, way too quiet where it should be loud and vice versa.. you get the picture.) Too bad because these songs are  quite good in a retro '80s sorta way.   The opener title track, Countdowntogoodbye, starts like an "October"-era U2 track, with the rattle-pick guitar line. And while the melody is fun trot-dance rock, a la early Psych Furs/Modern English/Go Go's, the mix is so bad that the band never really explodes at any point (the beauty of that early stuff was the dynamics). "Misplaced" has a nice hook, but the vocals are muddy and sound lost under the jangly guitars (the drums sound like sticks hitting mud). Still (get it?), the song is a ton o' fun. Track three, "dreammachine" reminds me of an obscure band called  Easy (hey, they sound just like 'em here, but what's the point of making the comparison? No one's heard of Easy -- it was a CD I picked up as a recommendation by the guy who worked behind the counter at Pickles on 30th and Farnum 10 years ago). Ephedrine has the same early U2 guitar quality that jangles over the bass and moves along and along, while someone sings over the top.

Hey, who are these guys, anyway? A brief recap from their bio on their label's website at

The band is Mike O'Hare, drums; Joe Liebentritt, bass; and Chris Hall, guitar, with Liebentritt and Hall sharing vocals. They say their primary influences include The Replacements, The Pixies, REM, The Cure, Archers Of Loaf, and Guided By Voices, though I hear none of those bands' influences on this CD. These guys have apparently played down at Omaha's Sokol Underground, The Cog Factory and the Ranch Bowl. They don't play gigs that often, as far as I can tell (or they're not promoting their shows).

Oh yeah, almost forgot the CD's closer, a cover of the The Go-Go's super-hit "Vacation." I've played this one for a few people just to see how long it took for them to figure out what the song was -- some even went past the chorus and were clueless. I like the idea of a cover, as long as it's obscure. If it was a huge hit, like Vacation, it's more apt to get compared to the original. The problem here is that the vocals, purposely tortured, are a little too sloppy and, again, lost in the mix. I'm sure it's plenty of fun to hear this one live.

For more info on this band, check out the website above, or call Liebentritt in Omaha at 402-333-4525. He'll probably send you a copy of the CD upon request (or maybe he won't, guess it depends on who you are). I've never seen this one in the record stores, and its not listed on the label website, so pick up a phone.

UPDATE: The following response was received from the label  after the above was posted:

As far as the record store thing, The only Omaha record stores that The Still are not in, is Homers. And that is due to it being really hard to get anyone at that friggin' store to help you out. I was in there for 25 minutes the other day and didn't have one sales person even attempt to say hello or try to sell me anything. But you can pick the title up at Drastics, the Antiquarium, CD Warehouse, and Blockbuster music (all in Omaha). As far as the sound qualities of the CD, it was intentionally made with a somewhat non-existent low end. Because of their retro sounding '80 rock style, they wanted that sound. Much of the '80s music was rather tinny and lacked 3 dimensionality. So that was their aim.

The Still had previously recorded with Paul Moerke at Eclipse Studio (in Omaha) and were totally disheartened by what they got. So when they came to me for a new recording, they were very specific in the sound that they wanted. Basically, the material on Countdown to Goodbye, they were re-doing the songs that they had done a year before at Eclipse. Their early stuff really doesn't have the punchiness that you said never happened. It was pretty non-explosive. their newer stuff does have that explosive component and shows much musical growth.

As far as shows go, they (the band) really don't play all that much at the bigger clubs in town. The do play at places like the Cog Factory and several others. But, I think the main reason why they haven't been playing that much is because no place in Omaha will give newer bands a chance. They all want people that feature ex-Secret Skinners or ex-Blue Moon Ghettos. Which leaves very little room for the new bands. That's just how the food chain works, though.

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