Thursday, December 30, 2010

Column: Some resolutions are easier to keep than others

You may not remember, but near the close of 2009, I wrote a list of music-related resolutions. They weren’t necessarily for me, but some suggestions for readers who wanted to do some cool musical stuff.

Well, I also tried to follow them, though I accomplished some better than others.

Here, I give you the basic rundown of the list along with how I did with each resolution.

Go to a music festival.
Success. I went to several, including big guns South By Southwest and Lollapalooza as well as smaller local fests Maha Music Festival and the Concert For Equality.

Hang out after the show and try to meet/get autograph from/take picture with/join the afterparty of your favorite musician. Last year, I met Ben Nichols from Lucero, Ben Kweller and I ate lunch next to Marcus Mumford from Mumford & Sons. I did not attend any afterparties, though.

Make it a goal to go to 1/2/10 show(s) a week/fortnight/month. I didn’t exactly have a goal in mind for myself, but I never go to enough shows. This one will definitely be on next year’s list.

Finally sit down and listen to the Clash’s entire catalog.
I didn’t do it with the Clash, but I did make my way through all of Tom Petty’s albums in chronological order for a story previewing Petty’s show at Qwest Center Omaha in June.

Pick up an instrument (and put down Guitar Hero) and learn a few songs. This year, I started taking guitar lessons again.

Start a band. Nope, didn’t do this one, but I did jam a little with other folks.

Road trip to see a band that is skipping your town.
I went to see the Hold Steady in Lincoln, though they had already played Omaha. I guess I did go to SXSW and Lolla and saw a whole lot of people who didn’t come to Omaha.

Try something new (in the realm of music genres, that is). Honestly, I listen to just about everything here at work, so I think I covered this one.

Listen to an album. With this, I meant that you should really listen to a whole album, not just play stuff on your iPod while you work out. Again, my work duties covered this one.

Read a book about music. Among others, I read “I Slept With Joey Ramone” by Joey’s brother, Mickey Leigh; “Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock and How It Changed a Generation” by Pete Fornatale, a fascinating book about the festival in the words of people who were there; and “The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage” by Roxana Shirazi, a feminist author who has quite a few racy tales involving her exploits with rock stars you’ve probably heard of (and some you haven’t).

Send a fan letter. Do e-mails to band publicists count? If no, then I missed this one.

Experience “The Dark Side of the Rainbow” — sync up Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” with “The Wizard of Oz.” I did this in high school, but not so much in the last decade.

Stay tuned for next week’s column, where I’ll pose some new resolutions for myself (and you) to try out.

* * *

You can read this column in the GO magazine in paper's today and also on

Also in this week's GO is a story on Cowboy Mouth, who plays Saturday at the Waiting Room.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hear Nebraska launch parties

Looks like everyone's getting a music/entertainment site. If you've been paying attention, you've seen the new efforts from the fine folks at Omahype and Hear Nebraska. They've both got some great stuff, so keep them on your radar.

Anyway, Hear Nebraska is a not-for-profit effort by Andy Norman, a former Reader editor (my old editor, in fact) and a pretty swell dude. The organization is trying to highlight Nebraska music - Lincoln and Omaha and elsewhere - and is doing a great job so far.

Check out the two official launch parties:

Saturday, Feb. 4 at The Sydney in Benson, Omaha: Little Brazil, Mercy Rule, Ideal Cleaners

Sunday, Feb. 6 at Duffy's in Lincoln: Conduits, Kill County, Down with the Ship, Manny Coon

Both gigs are at 9 p.m. and cost $5 at their respective venues. A portion of the proceeds from each will benefit Hear Nebraska.

[UPDATE:'s Andy Norman informs me that the Omaha launch party date has been changed to Friday, Feb. 4. On Feb. 5, there was a similar show at Slowdown and no one wants to compete, so they changed the date to the 4th.]

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Concerts of 2010: Were you there?

 Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds performs at the Maha Music Festival. (Photo by Chris Machian/The World-Herald)
In a given year, I see at least a couple hundred bands perform. I’ve never counted (maybe I should), but I know it’s a lot. Some shows I see for my job and others I hit up just for fun.

It’s hard to pick the very best, but I whittled down the list from 2010 into something a little more manageable: Eight.

I'd love to know your favorite shows of 2010. Post them in the comments.

Shows are listed in the order they happened.

South by Southwest in Austin, Texas – March 17-21

One of the largest music festivals in the world, where I made tons of discoveries and saw lots of bands that never came to Omaha. Favorites were Frightened Rabbit, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Free Energy and Titus Andronicus.

Maha Music Festival at Lewis & Clark Landing, Omaha – July 24

Maha delighted with a  lineup that included Superchunk, Spoon, Ben Kweller and The Faint, a solid indie-leaning fest. We were graced with great weather and some fantastic performances, which put the fest solidly on the map in its second year.

Concert for Equality in downtown Benson, Omaha – July 31

While the day was about protesting an immigration law (remember that?), for me, the music was the highlight. Cursive put on a powerful performance, Bright Eyes played some of my favorites and a reunited Desaparecidos would have blown the roof off the joint if it weren’t an outdoor show.

Rush at Qwest Center Omaha – Aug. 25

I never really understood those people who rave about Rush until I saw this show (and sat next to Rush fans who would make raving lunatics look like sane people). Wonderful musicians, fun show.

Lollapalooza at Grant Park in Chicago – Aug. 6-8

Who played at this show? Seemed like everybody. The three-day festival had some of my favorite groups (Green Day, Soundgarden) as well as some new discoveries (Jukebox the Ghost, Mumford & Sons). I had a great time, even if I did want to saw off my own feet after standing and walking for three days straight.

The Pixies at the Orpheum Theater, Omaha – Sept. 16

I never had the pleasure of seeing the Pixies the first time around. One of modern rock’s seminal bands, the group decided to play the entire album “Doolittle” in Omaha. I was impressed.

Roger Waters performs “The Wall” at Qwest Center Omaha – Oct. 26

You see footage of some legendary concerts but realize that they’ll never happen again. Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” was one of those events. But former Floyd bassist/singer/songwriter Roger Waters decided to bring it back and bring it to Omaha. It was everything I wanted it to be, but even cooler because it was happening in front of me. I’ve never seen a more epic, theatrical music performance.

Jeff Daniels at the Holland Performing Arts Center, Omaha – Nov. 4

The “Dumb & Dumber” guy is more than just a few laughs. He’s a songwriter, too, and a brilliant one. He mixed funny tunes with heartfelt ones, and his everyman nature made you feel like you were watching a buddy fool around with a guitar in your living room. I’ll be first in line for tickets the next time he comes back.

Monday, December 27, 2010

More new tunes from Bright Eyes: "One For You, One For Me" and "A Machine Spiritual (In The People's Key)"

"The People's Key"
[ UPDATE: At the request of Saddle Creek Records, the two songs have been taken down. Apparently, the songs weren't authorized by the band. I am assured, however, that new tunes will be available soon. ]

Apparently, Bright Eyes has been pushing its upcoming record, "The People's Key," pretty hard. Interviews are popping up and the band showed up on KRUU FM in Iowa to talk about the new record.

The first single, "Shell Games," was revealed last week and now the group has dropped two new tracks: "One For You, One For Me" and "A Machine Spiritual (In The People's Key)."

Everything I've heard from the band's new release (so far) sounds a whole lot different from the past sounds of the band, focusing more on synths and guitar than country-esque crooning and acoustic melody.

"The People’s Key" will drop Feb. 15th via Saddle Creek Records, but you can pre-order the album now (with all kinds of limited-edition goodies)

Top Albums of 2010: The 25 very best

Just glance at the top of my desk and you’ll see how much music is released in any given year.

Hundreds of CDs are piled in one corner, while a couple hundred more are in boxes on the floor. Even more are in some file cabinets.

But they’re not all great. Many aren’t even very good.

No matter what the year, some recordings stand out above all else. They’re the ones that make you dance, make you go to a show or make you feel something.

Here it is, the best albums from 2010:

10. Superchunk, "Majesty Shredding"

Since Superchunk put out the record “Here’s to Shutting Up” nearly 10 years ago, I was afraid that the group was taking its album title seriously. But this year’s news that the band was touring (through Omaha, no less) with a new record was good indeed. And this album from one of the rockingest of indie rock groups shows that they haven’t lost the touch. From the feedback on the first note of “Digging for Something” to Mac McCaughan’s high and catchy croon, to the chorus of “Everything at Once” (which didn’t leave my head for days), I hope the next album (and tour) doesn’t take another nine years.

9. The Hold Steady, “Heaven Is Whenever”

With “Heaven Is Whenever,” The Hold Steady delivered 10 more dude rock anthems perfect for listening to while swilling a couple cheap beers and jumping up and down in a sweaty crowd. This time, the power-chord rock group reflects on getting a little older: what it was like to live in the cool part of town (“the parts with all the bars and restaurants”), dating a younger chick (“You’re a beautiful girl and you’re a pretty good waitress”) and trying to get people to understand your rock ‘n’ roll problems (“Some writer’s by the fridge, said he didn’t make the gig.”)

8. It’s True, “It’s True”

It’s True was the band that everyone in Omaha was talking about, making it one of the year’s local success stories. Local shows were well-attended and the group got some buzz at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. It also dropped an album in April. Then, after being named one of the main stage acts at the Maha Music Festival, the group decided that gig would be its last. Still, the noise-rock group left a lasting impression with its self-titled, self-released album. The combo of ‘50s-pop doo-wop harmonies and Adam Hawkins’ ethereal voice singing “Don’t ask me if I still get lonely” on “Take This One From Me” gets me every time.

7. Kanye West, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

Where did this record come from? Fresh off of the mediocre album “808s & Heartbreaks,” as well as his well-publicized interruption at the MTV Video Music Awards, West made a record better than we thought he ever could. Good rhymes, great beats and some catchy hooks keep this very surprising album spinning in my CD player over and over.

6. Ben Folds and Nick Hornby, “Lonely Avenue”

Who knew Hornby (author of “High Fidelity”) was a songwriter, too? And a dang fine one at that. Folds, a talented musician and producer, took Hornby’s words and added music and voice to them. The result is a roller-coaster ride of classic pop music. Sad stuff in “Picture Window” (Hope … has no place in days like these”) is followed with semi-serious yet funny lyrics in “Levi Johnston’s Blues” (“I say mother-in-law, no, we ain’t getting married.”) Another unexpected triumph.

5. Tim Wildsmith, “Little Armor”

Tim Wildsmith proved that a guy whose name starts with C and rhymes with Honor Noberst isn’t the only talented songwriter in town. Wildsmith put his full songwriting talent – and his musical chops along with his band’s — into creating this record. The love he puts into these rock songs comes out in every tune. The songs are moving whether they’re performed by a full band or just by Wildsmith himself, and that’s good’s songwriting.

4. Titus Andronicus, “The Monitor”

With every song on this album, Titus Andronicus goes for epic. It’s like every loud, sweeping song you’ve ever heard crammed into one record. Oh, and it’s about the Civil War. They must be feeding something weird to the kids in Glen Rock, N.J., because I have no idea how these guys funneled that much energy into this album – and their live shows – and managed to stay standing.

3. Mumford & Sons, “Sigh No More”

When Marcus Mumford sings “It was not your fault but mine/I really (messed) it up this time” in the song “Little Lion Man,” you really feel for him. Because you’ve been there. And Mumford’s lyrical writing and the band’s acoustic, bluegrassy leanings really put the oomph in the songs. They’re at once toe-tapping and heartbreaking.

2. The Mynabirds, “What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood”

When Laura Burhenn set out to make a new album, she said she wanted to do something that was like Neil Young making a soul record. She accomplished at least that much, but also left the studio with quite an amazing recording. I’ve seen the Mynabirds live more times than I’ve seen any other band this year, a testament to the Burhenn’s voice, the band’s talent and the strength of these songs.

1. Frightened Rabbit, “The Winter of Mixed Drinks”

If you’re curious what it’s like to be an insecure, questioning, loving male in the 21st century, you should talk to Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchinson. “The Winter of Mixed Drinks,” a season we’ve probably all lived through, is the band’s third effort and its best. The Scottish group’s album has the drive of a Coldplay record and the lyrical nuance of someone like Conor Oberst, who entertains you while still making you understand exactly what he’s trying to convey. When Hutchinson gets to “Nothing Like You,” a tune sang toward a former lover, you know just what he means (even if you’ve never lived it yourself) when he sings “She was not the cure for cancer/and all my questions still asked for answers/There is nothing like someone new/This girl, she was nothing like you.”


Those weren’t the only good albums released in 2010. The following 15 are those that were great, but didn’t quite fit in the top 10. They’re listed here in alphabetical order.

»Band of Horses, “Infinite Arms”

»The Black Keys, “Brothers”

»Blitzen Trapper, “Destroyer of the Void”

»Cee Lo Green, “The Lady Killer”

»Eminem, “Recovery”

»Everybody Was in the French Resistance...Now!, “Fixin’ the Charts, Vol. 1”

»Free Energy, “Stuck on Nothing”

»Girl Talk, “All Day”

»Jenny and Johnny, “I’m Having Fun Now”

»New Pornographers, “Together”

»Satchel Grande, “Dial M For Mustache”

»Sleigh Bells, “Treats”

»Spoon, “Transference”

»Tim Kasher, “The Game of Monogamy”

»Yeasayer, “Odd Blood”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Music: "Shell Games" from Bright Eyes' "The People's Key"

I'm actually off this week, but I have to share this news: Bright Eyes dropped its first new song from The People's Key."

Stream the song here:

It's a driving tune and a little more rock than I would have expected from the band, but that's kinda what Conor Oberst said last week about the record. It's not really the country/folk stuff, but filled with guitar and keyboards.

I like it.

And if they keep up this kind of quality, I think this record will do well.

If you give Saddle Creek Records your e-mail address, you can download the song using the widget below.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Photos: Holiday Throwdown at Slowdown

Photo by Chris Machian/The World-Herald
Check out a big ol' slideshow from last night's Holiday Throwdown at Slowdown by the OWH's one-and-only Chris Machian.

Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds got some friends together on Friday night at Slowdown for a little bit of an indie holiday party.

With the stage all decorated in Christmas lights, a tree and a little Santa Claus, the place was downright festive.

Then things kicked off with Rob Walters reading William S. Burroughs' "A Junky's Christmas" while Burhenn played keys in the background. So, you found out what kind of night it would be pretty quickly.

It was kind of an informal setup. Bands (or individuals from those bands) rotated on and off stage with three-or-four-song sets. All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, Honeybee, Bear Counduits (a combo of Bear Country and Conduits), Flowers Forever, the Mynabirds and others were all in and out.

The finale included just about everyone onstage.

My favorite set was that of Jason Meyer-Cusack, of Talking Mountain fame. He sang a few acoustic renditions of his cute-pop Christmas songs and then finished with "The Abominable Abdominal Snowman." The song - about a friend/snowman who just wants to work out - led into a version of the Cuterthans' "My Brother Likes Math," a tune I've always liked but haven't heard in years.

The place was packed in, too. By about 11, there wasn't a lot of room to move.

It was a fun night. I'd love to see it replicated, and not just for Christmas. No reason not to have a little informal sort of showcase night like that every once in awhile.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Red Sky Music Festival: Get ready for some summer fun

So, I'm assuming that you've heard the big news: the Red Sky Music Festival is happening.

If you don't know, read the news. It's enlightening.

The folks at the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority (that's MECA to you) are planning the six-day shindig for July 19 to 24 this year.

Two stages will feature "revival bands" and local groups during the day, they say, followed by some big-name, top-level artist inside TD Ameritrade Park at night.

It's a big festival and it has pushed around the Maha Music Festival, who was planning to use the same weekend and is now looking for another date to hold their indie fest on the riverfront, and for good reason.

I think it's going to be cool to have a big fest like this. But I also think it's going to be cool to have Maha, too.

I hope Maha persists. And I hope they knock it out of the park this year. They have the potential to be a competitor with and an alternative to Red Sky.

A few years ago, you'd think, "Man, it would be cool to have a music festival in Omaha." Now, we have two.

Maha's going to have to work hard to not get drowned out by all the noise created by MECA's festival. But if the festival distinguishes itself by offering a solid lineup and a good location, then it will be fine.

I mean, personally I'd rather see a few nights of Spoon, Sharon Jones, My Morning Jacket, the Flaming Lips and Phoenix than Jimmy Buffett, Justin Bieber and Tim McGraw, but that's me.

But, I have to be honest and say that this is a Good Thing for everyone. It gets more people to north downtown, it gets some exposure for local bands (hopefully they have a good way of picking them) and it gets people to more shows.

Frankly, it's probably good for Maha in the end anyway by getting people around here used to festival shows and used to north downtown.

Anyway, stay tuned for Red Sky lineup info and ticket prices.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bright Eyes announces tour, but no dates in Nebraska

Excited for the first big Bright Eyes tour in more than three years? Me too, except it's not coming to Nebraska.

At least, the announced dates (13 in all) to support "The People's Key" don't include any dates near to home for the Neb.-based band.

Oh well. I'm guessing these aren't the only dates they'll be playing. Also, I'm confident that Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst doesn't really see Omaha as his core audience any more. They're not exactly a local band any longer.

Anyway, here's the dates, including another show at Radio City Music Hall after the first one sold out.

3/2     The Fillmore Miami Beach    Miami, FL
3/3     House of Blues                        Lake Buena Vista, FL
3/4     Tabernacle                                         Atlanta, GA
3/5     Thomas Wolf Auditorium      Asheville, NC
3/6     The National                           Richmond, VA
3/8     Radio City Music Hall            New York, NY
3/9     Radio City Music Hall            (SOLD OUT!)
3/10   House Of Blues                       Boston, MA
3/11    State Theatre                          Portland, ME
3/13    Sound Academy                     Toronto, ON
3/14    Royal Oak                              Royal Oak, MI
3/15    Vic Theatre                             Chicago, IL
3/17    Ryman Auditorium               Nashville, TN

* * *

Update: Apparently Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds will be in the band. Aside from Mike Mogis, Conor Oberst and Nate Walcott (who's been slumming around with Broken Bells of late), I have no idea who else will be up there.

A safe bet for drums would be Clark Baechle from The Faint, who did drums on the record and played with Bright Eyes at the Concert For Equality.

Tim McMahan mentioned it earlier and I was thinking the same thing: This little jaunt ends right at the start of South By Southwest. Bright Eyes' triumphant return to the Austin scene? Seems likely.

Haven't talked to the Saddle Creek folks about South By quite yet, but I assume they'll be having a showcase once again and you best bet that Bright Eyes will be a part of it.

It would be a great opportunity to shed some light on the label's lesser-known, but very talented groups.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Listen to me sound like I know what I'm talking about (sorta)

Sorry about the "no post" yesterday. I have something for you today instead.

I was asked to be on "The Weekly Grind" radio show on Saturday. Since it's broadcast early on Saturday mornings, I don't know how many of you could actually listen live.

Anway, you can download it now.

I talked about my job at the OWH, this here blog, Jeff Daniels and the like.

Check it out.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Release: Rural Alberta Advantage putting out "Departing"

Saddle Creek Records is on a roll.

Today, they dropped the news that Rural Alberta Advantage will release "Departing" on March 1.

I really enjoyed the band's first album, "Hometowns," which was re-released by Saddle Creek in 2008. Pitchfork actually gave it an 8/10, which is one of the highest ratings I've ever seen given to an SC release.

"In a way, it's more personal stories about Alberta," frontman Nils Edenloff told "Songs like 'The Breakup' -- it's referencing a lot of places in Fort McMurray and a lot of memories I have, and that moment when winter shifts to spring and the ice breaks. And 'Good Night,' every line in that is about Fort McMurray."

"Departing" tracklist:

1. Two Lovers
2. The Breakup
3. Under the Knife
4. Muscle Relaxants
5. North Star

6. Stamp
7. Tornado '87
8. Barnes' Yard
9. Coldest Days
10. Good Night

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stream new Low Anthem song, "Ghost Woman Blues" (mixed by Mike Mogis)

The Low Anthem
Shortly before I did a big profile on Mike Mogis and his ARC studio (check that out here) back in May, indie rock group the Low Anthem told Paste that their new record would be mixed by Mogis.

Why? Apparently, Bright Eyes' "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" blew away the band.

"It knocked my socks off,” Low Anthem frontman Ben Knox Miller told Paste.

When I encountered Mogis in the studio on a spring afternoon for our interview, I caught a tiny bit of the new album. Apparently, he had just gotten the record and had begun mixing it that morning.

I really liked the Low Anthem's last record, "Oh My God, Charlie Darwin," so I've been interested to hear what they've come up with.

Today, we get to hear the fruits of the band's labors. The track "Ghost Woman Blues" - a slow, contemplative, eerie tune - sees the light of day.

You can stream it right here:

I really like the track. If the rest of the album, "Smart Flesh," is as good as this, we'll have a damn good record on our hands. The album will drop Feb. 22 on Nonesuch.

You can download "Ghost Woman Blues" after the jump.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Grammy noms are out, I'm not impressed

Fresh on the heals of Paste's best of the year list are today's Grammy nominations, the official "best music" awards.

Seems like everyone was nominated, at least according to all the e-mails I've been getting today.

We'll get to the actual categories in a minute, but the most interesting tidbit to me is that of 542 total nominations in 109 categories, 273 went to artists on independent labels.

1) 542 nominations?! Holy cannoli... That's, um, a lot. If I put out a record next year, maybe I'll be nominated for a Grammy.

2) 273 for indies? That's more than half. Granted, the guys nominated for contemporary jazz album or best instrumental soloist performance (without orchestra) aren't putting records out on Sony. But that's still a lot.

Let's take a look at the big categories, shall we?

Record of the Year (This one goes to the performer and/or producer of the best song.)
"Nothin' On You" by B.o.B. feat. Bruno Mars
"Love The Way You Lie" by Eminem feat. Rihanna
"Fuck You" by Cee Lo Green
"Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
"Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum

Um, could we think of a more mainstream list? I think it's cool that "Fuck You" is on there, but nearly every one of those artists had a better song on the album they released. Ugh. Moving on...

Album of the Year (Goes to the artist and/or producer of the best album.)
"The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire
"Recovery" by Eminem
"Need You Now" by Lady Antebellum
"The Fame Monster" by Lady Gaga
"Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry

I give props to Arcade Fire for scoring a huge nomination by one of the little guys. Awesome. Superb work. And congrats to Merge Records, too. But Katy Perry did not put out one of the five best albums of the year, let alone one in the top 25. Gross.

Song of the Year (Goes to the best songwriter, which is not necessarily the performer)
"Beg Steal or Borrow" by Ray LaMontagne
"Fuck You" by Cee-Lo Green, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars
"The House That Built Me" by Tom Douglas, Allen Shamblin (performed by Miranda Lambert)
"Love The Way You Lie" by Alexander Grant, Holly Hafferman, Marshall Mathers (Eminem & Rihanna)
"Need You Now" by Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott (Lady Antebellum)

Again, not feeling it here. Move on? Good idea.

Best New Artist
Justin Bieber
Florence & the Machine
Mumford & Sons
Esperanza Spalding

Bieber? Oh, come on. Drake I understand, but Florence & the Machine is only on there because of the MTV awards show they performed on. Mumford & Sons is a damn fine pick and a very surprising one to me, at that. I hope they win, but they won't. Who in the hell is Esperanza Spalding??? If she wins, I'll eat a raw egg. Then I'll upload the video here. Promise.

Best Rock Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocals
"Ready to Start" by Arcade Fire
"I Put A Spell On You" by Jeff Beck, Joss Stone
"Tighten Up" by the Black Keys
"Radioactive" by Kings of Leon
"Resistance" by Muse

I'm surprised by the amount of good stuff in this category, which is why I included it. It's actually a good mix of expected and unexpected for me. Kings of Leon feel like they're in here because of their last album, not their current one, but the inclusion of Muse, Black Keys and Arcade Fire is pretty stellar.

Best Alternative Music Album
"The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire
"Infinite Arms" by Band of Horses
"Brothers" by the Black Keys
"Broken Bells" by Broken Bells
"Contra" by Vampire Weekend

This is generally the category I care about most since it usually highlights an indie-ish band. Phoenix won last year. Arcade Fire is going to win this time around. I don't really doubt that considering they were nominated for best album. These are all good choices, though certainly not my top five. But it's a pretty good representation, I think.

So, that's the big ones (in my opinion). Close to the date, I'll list about 20 of the pop/rock/rap categories and list who I think should win and who I think actually will win. I went about 50/50 in my choices last year.

Overall, I think it's pretty lackluster, but that's usually my opinion of the Grammys in general. The awards almost never go to who deserves them and neither do the nominations. Where's the nom for Sleigh Bells or Blitzen Trapper? They both put out better records than Katy Perry.

Oh well. Just 73 days until the awards are given out. I'll bitch about it more then.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Albums of the Year: Lists are starting to drop

It's that time of year... Year-end lists are beginning to drop.

Today, it's Paste Magazine's that is making the rounds. Check it out.

I think it's pretty good and highlights a lot of my favorite albums, though not exactly in the order that I would list them in. I liked the No. 1, but it wouldn't even make my top 25.

But that's just me.

What were your favorite albums that were released this year?

I have a large list that I have to whittle down as well as a couple albums that I still need to get to. But I really want to know: What are your favorites? What would be on your list?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bright Eyes album finally has a release date, album title

Conor Oberst sits in Slowdown's back stage area. (Photo by Alyssa Schukar/The World-Herald)
Finally, we have some information. Bright Eyes will release "The People's Key" on Feb. 15 through Saddle Creek Records, according to a press release.

It was rumored for a fall release, but then spring. And, as reported, it's supposed to be the last Bright Eyes album EVER, but I'm not sure if that will end up being the case.

The album title apparently comes from track six. I dunno if Conor Oberst is making some political or social statement or simply referring to the Key of C or the Key of G major, which have both been referred to as "The People's Key."

They've been recording the 10-song album at ARC in Omaha with Bright Eyes bandmember Mike Mogis producing. Mogis and Andy Lemaster did the engineering and a usual cast of Saddle Creek and Team Love-related folks appeared on the record including Lemaster, Matt Maginn, Laura Burhenn, Clark Baechle, Shane Aspegren and others.

The release calls the record "artfully arranged and filled with the engaging and mesmeric songwriting for which Oberst is renowned."

I'm interested to finally hear some new Bright Eyes songs, though I expected more than 10 songs after three years. Granted, Oberst used up a lot of his songwriting on solo releases and the Monsters of Folk.

Nonetheless, I'm excited. Not to mention that February just got busy for me.

No big tour announced yet, but two shows are on the schedule - one in NYC on March 9 and another in London on June 23.

"The People's Key" tracklist:
1. Firewall
2. Shell Games
3. Jejune Stars
4. Approximate Sunlight
5. Haile Selassie
6. A Machine Spiritual (In the People's Key)
7. Triple Spiral
8. Beginner's Mind
9. Ladder Song
10. One For You, One For Me

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tim Kasher is swimming in new waters

Tim Kasher, frontman for Cursive and the Good Life, has gone solo with a new album, “The Game of Monogamy.” He’s appearing at the Waiting Room Lounge Friday night.

“This is me starting at page one again.”

That’s how Tim Kasher explains his new music and where he’s at in life.

An indie-sized success as the frontman of Cursive and the Good Life, Kasher’s branching into a solo career. He’s moved back to Omaha. He’s no longer married (though that’s been the case for a while).

His new album, “The Game of Monogamy,” is an analysis of said game — its highs and its lows. And it veers into a new musical path for Kasher.

It has some orchestral arrangements and is much less guitar-driven than his other bands. It’s truly a new effort, not just his name on songs that could have been a new Cursive album.

Kasher is 36. It’s not quite time for a midlife crisis, and that’s not what he’s having, he says. But he is looking at love, marriage and relationships in a new way, and he plans to ride out this solo thing as long as he can.

While he got ready for a show in Salt Lake City, we had a long chat on the phone. Here’s what he had to say about love, marriage and music.

Kevin Coffey: This isn’t the first time you’ve written songs about love and marriage.

Tim Kasher: No, it’s not. But I think it’s one of the primary issues for any of our personal wish fulfillments. It’s like a career and love. I think it’s fairly normal for it to be addressed. I think I find it more interesting to deconstruct it than to do love songs, which I don’t have a tendency to write.

I try to avoid bringing up the topic every time. I’ll set it down for a couple years and then I’ll bring it back when there’s something else for me to say about it.

Read more >>>

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Live Review: The Hold Steady in Lincoln

Last night, we hopped in the car around 8 p.m. in Omaha, picked up Matt Whipkey and a friend in Lincoln around 9 p.m. and made it to the Bourbon Theatre shortly afterward.

We were there to see the Hold Steady. They've become a favorite band of mine and Whipkey's a big fan, too. When we got there, a Chicago-based group called Company of Thieves was onstage.

Their lead singer was spastic and wild, but had some soul in her voice. She was easily the best part of the band, which was a bit too loud at times and a little too soft at others.

The Hold Steady dropped on the stage like a ton of bricks. With very little fanfare beyond the "taking the stage" music, they blasted into "Sweet Part of the City" and then "You Can Make Him Like You."

The band's first time in Lincoln, they didn't stop to do or say anything through the first several songs.

Frontman Craig Finn is easily my favorite part of seeing the band. The crowd wasn't giving him a lot of energy (don't know if it was the people or how unnecessarily large that room is), but he had a near-permanent smile on his face while he bounced around and did his half-singing/half-talking thing into the mic.

A lot of Finn's between-song banter is well-rehearsed, but to me, it's still enjoyable.

"Alright Lincoln. Back in my slothful teenage years, my dad gave me some advice. He was trying to get me off the couch and stop smoking so much weed. It was a motivational thing and he said, 'Craig, guys go for looks. Girls go for status.'"

Next up was - big surprise - "Girls Like Status."

Anyway, it continued that way the rest of the night. The set leaned heavier toward the newish, including all the best stuff from "Heaven Is Whenever" and "Stay Positive."

A couple of sodas through the show, Whipkey and I ran into each other outside of the bathroom and talked about how much we liked the set.

Somewhere in all the philosophical positing about why they're good, he called them "dude rock."

Spot on assessment.

It's something about the band that makes we want to throw back a couple more PBRs than I should, throw my fists up in the air and holler all the words I know (and some I don't) back at the band.

Not a lot of groups do that to me any more. But the Hold Steady still does. Every time.

Maybe it's Finn's boyish enthusiasm despite the lackluster response from the crowd or the fact that he's nearly 40 and still rocking it. Maybe it's all the lyrics about drinking and having a good time. Maybe it's that I can sympathize with some of the band's rock 'n roll problems.

Who knows?

But there is something about being a dude that just makes me like the Hold Steady. And I'm alright with that.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Live Review: First Girl Talk show since his new release; download his new album for free

As always at Sokol, it was a damn cold night outside, but a steaming hot one inside.

The reason this time? Girl Talk. The mash-up artist extraordinaire (or whatever you want to call him) threw out the beats for about an hour.

It was a UNO-sponsored thing, so there were a lot of college students. But the general public was also allowed to buy tickets, too.

Girl Talk (real name Gregg Gillis) does what he does better than anyone else. I've seen Hood Internet and the other groups who do the same thing and, while they're fun and good, they're no Girl Talk.

He drops beats, melodies and vocal samples together (without stopping) with ease. Everyone dances. The stage is flooded with people. Gillis jumps around like a crazy man. So does a guy in a monkey mascot costume.Confetti fills the air. Balloons flying around. Toilet paper everywhere.

Pretty impressive for a nerdy-looking white dude who used to be a biomedical engineer.

While my girlfriend, Ashlee, and I had a blast dancing the night away, it wasn't quite the same as Girl Talk's Slowdown performance a little over a year ago. At Sokol, the big (sold-out) crowd pressed to the stage and smashed us into the people around us. At Slowdown awhile ago, everyone had their space to dance around and go nuts freely.

Plus Slowdown just gives off the feeling of a dance club. Sokol Auditorium, which may technically be a polka dance hall, isn't really the same atmosphere.

Still, it was a blast. He's got a host of tour dates coming up next year, including Chicago on March 4, Minneapolis on March 8 and Denver on March 11. Those are the closest to Omaha.

This is an odd note, but there was no booze that night. The bar at Sokol was cleaned out, which I found odd. I never found out if it was a Sokol thing or a request of the UNO folks who booked the show, but it would have been a good show to knock back a few sodas and let loose.

Pretty sure that a lot of the gathered audience didn't let the absence of booze for purchase stop them because there were quite a few whose sway was due more to liquor and the music.

* * *

While you can, head over to Girl Talk's label website, Illegal Art, to download his latest LP, "All Day," for free.

[Update: I've been having trouble downloading the tracks, probably because of the traffic on Illegal Art's site. It was supposed to be a one-day-only thing, but it's still up at the site. Anyway, good luck. It's probably going to take you a few tries.]

Also, you can read my 2009 interview/story with Gillis.

[Update 2: I used one of the mirrors listed on the download site and it worked fine. Think that's the best solution.]

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Column: Driver picks the music, and other road rules

Everyone has rules on a road trip.

But when your road trip lasts for weeks or even months, the rules become more specific. Add in the pressure of performing every night, and it becomes time to lay down the law.

Touring bands have to live with the same few people (and all their stuff) for weeks. There have to be rules, or everyone will kill one another.

Over the weekend, a list called “How to Tour in a Band or Whatever” circulated the web. (Read it here.) The author? Thor Harris.

Harris, who looks like his namesake, knows the road well as a percussionist for Shearwater and having toured with Bill Callahan, Devendra Banhart and numerous others.

His list is funny. And good.

Among the rules he listed:

»Remember the sound man’s name. He will do a better job.
»Driver picks the music.
»Fast food is poison.
»The guest list is for friends, family and people you want to fuck ... Everyone else can pay. They have day jobs.

The rest of the (expletive-filled) list is right-on, which is why it made the rounds.

But it’s short. There are only 21 rules, so I consulted with several local folks who have been known to hit the road from time to time.

Only a few chimed in, but here’s what they had to add:

From Anniversaire:
»Bring your own listening material!
»Don’t do a cover of the band you’re opening for.

From Little Brazil:
»Chinese food is never a good idea.
»There is no room for Deli Express sandwiches on the food pyramid.
»Febreeze. (See above.)
»Do purchase granddaddy’s road sodas for long treks through the backcountry (i.e. beer for driving through the western half of Montana).
»Toilet paper: When nature calls and bathroom attendants are on strike, it’s up to you to provide for the family.

From Tim Wildsmith:
»Some bodily functions are unavoidable. But please, roll down your window.

* * *

Got more??? Tour rules is going to become a standing feature on this blog. I'll be asking about them from local folks and touring musicians whenever I can and adding them to a page on the blog.

If you're in a band, drop a line to with any rules you have.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Kasher has come back; Daytrotter session

Years ago, Tim Kasher decided he wanted to release a solo album. But rather than do the egotistical thing and slap his own name on it, he called it The Good Life.

"I didn't have the confidence or not sure it was appropriate," he told me today. "There's a lot to consider when you're using your own name. 'It's under my own name and I'm playing with these stellar musicians and how are they being represented?' It's easier to go under a band moniker. And fortunately, The Good Life actually became a band."

A decade later, Kasher released a proper solo record. "The Game of Monogamy" was recorded, mixed and mastered earlier this year and released in October through Saddle Creek.

The record, if you couldn't tell from the title, has a lot to do with love and relationships, but with Kasher's own slant on it.

"I think it find it mroe interesting to deconstruct (love) than to do love songs, which I don't have a tendency to write," Kasher said.

Currently on tour, Kasher lands in Omaha on Nov. 19 at the Waiting Room, a day after playing the Bourbon Theatre in Lincoln.

Look for my full interview with Kasher closer to those shows.

* * *

For now, you can check out three songs from the record and a cover of David Bowie's "Soul Love" over at Daytrotter.

I must say, they're sounding pretty great.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

SXSW bands announced, none from Omaha

Yeah, you read that headline right. South By Southwest bands were announced today, and after a quick search, none are from Omaha (or Lincoln).

But fret not. The vast majority of the announced groups are from bands from abroad (whose deadline for consideration is earlier) or groups from Cali or New York.

The final deadline for bands to be considered is this Friday, Nov. 5. So, if you're a group and you want to play Austin in March, sign up soon.

There were several Omaha/Lincoln groups last year. I'm not sure how much exposure each received, but I heard good things from lots of passersby who had never seen (or heard of) these groups before. I thought they all performed admirably.

Anyway, if you're an interested band/artist, head to and register. There's a $40 fee.

Good luck.

* * *

You're probably aware that today is election day. I don't have a long, impassioned speech. Just this:

Do your duty. Go vote.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Column: Guitar games are coming around

I'm a guitar player.

Not a great one, mind you, but I dabble. I can string some chords together and I can play quite a few songs.

Anyway, playing guitar is one reason I've never been able to get into the “Guitar Hero” or “Rock Band” video games.

I'm not jumping on the games, it's just hard for me to play because it's not much like playing a guitar at all. Playing chords isn't exactly right. Sometimes the “notes” in the game don't match up with the actual notes on the game

Whatever. It's still fun to play “Rock Band” with friends from time to time. But now (finally) the games are starting to turn the gameplay experience into something a little more real. And I'm all for that.


The skinny on Azure Ray

Maybe you’ve heard the name or one of the songs. Either way, here’s a quick course on Azure Ray.

Who is Azure Ray?

The dreamy pop duo is made up of Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor, two singer-songwriters who have had success as Azure Ray as well as with solo projects. Signed to Saddle Creek, they’re back together after a several-year hiatus.

How’d they get back together?

“I was visiting her in California. Todd (Fink, frontman of the Faint and Orenda’s husband) and I were selling our house in Omaha and we weren’t really sure where to go next,” Fink said while on tour in Louisiana. “Maria was trying to talk us into moving to L.A. Todd said, ‘We’ll move if you guys make another record.’ I was like, ‘OK.’ Then Todd was like, ‘Oh, no. We really have to move to L.A. now.’”

Read more >>>

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review: Waters does well with 'The Wall'

"The Wall" is something to behold.

It’s like the king of concert tours. Since it was performed by Pink Floyd only a handful of times in its original form (and because it was so over-the-top even then), it has attained legendary status.

But instead of rehashing the same old thing, Roger Waters took it to the next level on Tuesday at Qwest Center Omaha.

Dancing puppets. Flying planes. Pyro. Animations. A flying pig. Video.

Oh, and there was that giant white wall, built up between the audience and the band, brick by cardboard brick.

Read more >>>

Associated Press photo

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

David Gilmour and Roger Waters reuniting in Omaha? Seems likely.

Roger Waters hinted at a reunion with former Pink Floyd bandmate David Gilmour for one date on his "The Wall" tour.

Looks like that date is in Omaha.

The (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune's Chris Riemenschneider was kind enough to send me this story, which basically says that Waters was spotted dining with Gilmour last night in Minneapolis.

A recent issue of Rolling Stone with Waters on the cover made reference to the one-off reunion of the formerly bickering bandmates. Omaha was mentioned in an off-hand manner, but it looks like it might happen tonight at the Qwest Center.

Update: Rolling Stone and others are reporting that Gilmour was not, in fact, in Minnesota. Seems like it was a case of mistaken identity in Minnesota last night. Floyd reps are denying it, etc. Still, I'll keep my eye out at tonight's show.

Update 2: No Gilmour. Still a fan-freaking-tastic show. But Gilmour was nowhere to be seen. Waters' band actually uses two guys to replace him (one on guitar and one singing), but it works.

Update 3: In case you're looking for it, here's my review of the show.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Shed a tear for the 49'r

I'm being told that the 49'r will be no more as of next week.

And tonight's show will be its very last. At least, that's what I've heard. Bad Luck Charm is playing the show tonight.

Frankly, I've heard it before (actually reported on it at least once and it didn't happen). But this time it seems a bit more credible. This time, the info came from bands that were asked to play the last show.

Anyway, if you're going to miss the place, get there tonight. It will be the last time the location hosts live music until CVS hosts some "neighborhood concert" in the parking lot featuring some terrible cover band.

Avi Buffalo is quite unsure of its musical future

For today's Rock Candy, Jordan Minnick was kind enough to do a Q&A with Avi Buffalo, who plays Slowdown on Saturday with Mother Culture. Get your tickets for the front room show for $8 at or at the venue.

* * *


Not every high school rock band can say that they nabbed a record deal after graduating.

Avi Buffalo is one exception. They signed with Sub Pop (home to Blitzen Trapper, The Shins and No Age, to name a few) after members graduated in Long Beach, Calif., in 2009.

The group started as singer-songwriter Avi Zahner-Isenberg’s on-the-side solo work, and he used Avi Buffalo as his musical alias. He played his music in cafes and houses and posted tracks like “What’s In It For” on MySpace thinking no one would pick up on it.

But Sub Pop did. And now the band is on somewhat of a whirlwind while its members put off college and home life for a concert tour. Its current headlining tour will come  to Omaha on Saturday at the Slowdown.

While was on the road, we caught up with Zahner-Isenberg to talk the tour, recording and what’s next for the young singer-songwriter.

Q. Your age seemed to be one of the most focused-on parts of the band when first arriving on the music buzz radar. Were there times when you wanted to just tell people to lay off?

A. Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, imagine being an 18 or 19-year-old, and you know, you’re just making music, you didn’t expect anything to happen with it and all of a sudden people are asking you about your lyrics or your music and what it means, or telling you that they like that you said, "your lips are like tiny pieces of bacon," and you’re just kind of like, you know, “Whatever, it’s just a song,” kinda thing

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Column: Oberst has role in new novel

Published a few months ago, “Freedom” is a book a lot of people are talking about.

The author, Jonathan Franzen, was called the Great American Novelist by Time Magazine.
“Freedom” came to my attention because of a sort of cameo by a famous Omahan.

In the novel, Richard Katz is an indie rock musician who, late in his career, starts being cited as a major influence by Jeff Tweedy and Michael Stipe, among others.

The fictional Katz's fictional bands — Walnut Surprise and the Traumatics — start seeing an increase in popularity even though he's starting to age.

Anyway, Katz and his college roommate, Walter Berglund, head to D.C. to see an indie rock band.
Who's on stage? Bright Eyes.

Read more >>>

Photo by Chris Machian/The World-Herald

Of Montreal brings quirky show to Omaha

Oh, Of Montreal.

If you can’t tell by the photo above, the indie pop band can come off as a little strange.

The band itself is made up of frontman and songwriter Kevin Barnes and a few others. But with all of the other performers they bring onstage, the band’s live show includes almost 20 people.

After touring Europe, and before setting out on a tour that includes a Friday stop in Omaha, we called Barnes at his home in Athens, Ga., to ask some questions about the show and the band’s new album, “False Priest.”

Read more >>>

Friday, October 15, 2010

Column: Maha plans begin for 2011

After a sun-soaked day of watching Superchunk and Spoon and all those other bands, we went home and slept in.

Tre Brashear and others organizing the second Maha Music Festival woke up the next morning to clean up.

And while you moved on to other shows, Brashear and his buddies started worrying about next year.

Right now — about nine months from the third annual Maha — Brashear and other Maha organizers are trying to lock down sponsors.

Read more >>>

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ra Ra Riot returns to the road

The last couple of years were spent on the road.

This year has been spent waiting.

And now that Ra Ra Riot’s new album, “The Orchard,” is out, the band can hit the road again.

The New York indie pop band has opened in Nebraska for several groups — including Death Cab for Cutie and Tokyo Police Club.

The band has become comfortable out on the road. Bassist Mathieu Santos said that after recording was completed for the record, the band members kind of sat around itching to perform.

 Read more >>>

Contest: Win a signed copy of Jenny and Johnny's "I'm Having Fun Now"

The fine folks at Warner Bros. are teaming up with me to give you some more cool swag!

This time, it's a signed copy of "I'm Having Fun Now," the new album from indie music duo Jenny and Johnny, whom I interviewed back in September.

It's sitting here on my desk and carries the signatures of both Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice. And it can be all yours!

One winner will get a signed copy of the CD. A second winner will get a brand new copy of the album.

Head here to register!

And good luck.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Out sick; Need your help

I missed Lincoln Calling. I missed Local Natives. I missed Little Brazil's "comeback." I missed Cursive. I missed Land of Talk. Lately, I've missed a ton of stuff.

Basically, I've been sick for about a month, which has required multiple doctor's visits, blah blah blah. You don't need to know the details. Anyway, you probably haven't seen me around lately. And I haven't seen the inside of a rock club since August.

I also haven't seen the inside of a gym in more than a month. Barely being able to breathe isn't exactly conducive to working out, you know?

I was readying myself for the gym this morning and realized I hate all of my old "working out" playlists. They're old, uninspiring.

So, I'm making some new ones. But it's been tough. You gotta follow the rules for a good playlist, but on a workout playlist it also has to be music that pushes you through that last rep or drives you through another mile.

That's where I'm stuck.

I have the following on my list so far:
"Slack Motherfucker" by Superchunk
"Slight Figure of Speech" by the Avett Brothers
"Tell Em" by Sleigh Bells
"Percussion Gun" by White Rabbits
"The Seeker" by The Who
"You're the Best Around" by Joe Esposito (yes, the song from the montage scene in "The Karate Kid")
"Cyanide" by Metallica
"Burial" by Miike Snow

But they aren't final choices by any means. I need more. I need better.

So, what do you think? What would you suggest for the perfect workout playlist? What's on your list? What's the best workout song ever? (Aside from "Gonna Fly Now" from Rocky, that is.)

Let's talk in the comments.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Video: Kasher's "Cold Love"

Tim Kasher, the man behind Cursive, has a new video for his solo project.

The video for "Cold Love" debuted at AOL's Spinner today. Kasher's debut solo record will be out on Saddle Creek on Oct. 5 (that's next Tuesday, kids).


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Land of Talk, Little Brazil and more.

Hey people. It's been Land of Talk central here at the blog lately. I'll bring it up one last time now: Read the story and my interview with the band's Lizzie Powell. Then go see them tonight at Slowdown.

Also this weekend at Slowdown is Little Brazil. Tomorrow night, the boys are back onstage again after a sort of (but not really) hiatus while Landon Hedges lived in California. He's back, so I assume you'll see a lot more of the band. I'm also hoping to hear a few new tunes when they play, as I'm told Hedges has been writing his brains out lately. Friday at 9 p.m. with the So-So Sailors and Honey & Darling. $6 at the door.

On Saturday, I'd go check out David Dondero. If you wonder where Conor Oberst gets it, you've found him. The singing, the cadence, the lyricism... it's all there. With Darren Hanlon at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Waiting Room. $8 in advance or $10 day of.

* * *

This really has nothing to do with weekend shows, but if you're going to South By Southwest in March (yes, that's 6 months from now), your best (and cheapest) bet to buy a badge lasts through Friday. Head to their website to check it out.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Land of Talk speaks about Saddle Creek

I spoke to Lizzie Powell from Land of Talk last week and she had some good stories to tell, one of them about Saddle Creek Records.

See, Powell lost her voice in the middle of touring and had to cancel several dates. One of those shows was in Omaha, where she headed anyway to see the folks at Saddle Creek.

I'll let her tell the rest:

"When I did lose my voice, it was before the Omaha show. They invited me to the office and I was so worried that they were going to be so upset and we were going to have a big meeting about I don't know what.

"They brought out a giant cake with the artwork of 'Some Are Lakes,' but it said 'Some Are Cakes,' and they brought me a get well card.

"They're pretty rad as individualls. And their roster is incredible. They're beautiful as people, and they have wicked senses of humor, which is great to me."

You can catch Land of Talk on Thursday at Slowdown with Suuns and Conduits. Tickets are $10 at

And don't forget to register to win two tickets to Thursday's show! I'll be drawing for them tomorrow.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Contest: Win a pair of Land of Talk tickets

On Friday, I had a great conversation with Lizzie Powell, the leader of Canadian indie rock group Land of Talk. The band happens to be playing Slowdown on Thursday and just released "Cloak and Cipher" on Saddle Creek.

The fine folks at Saddle Creek provided me with two tickets for the show, which you can win by entering yet another Rock Candy Contest.

Head here and enter your information. We'll draw a winner Wednesday afternoon for the tickets. Also look for my interview with Lizzie on Thursday in the paper's GO magazine as well as on

Land of Talk plays Thursday at 9 p.m. at Slowdown with Suuns and Conduits. Tickets (if you don't win the contest pair) are $10 at the venue or

Land of talk downloads and videos after the jump.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tough choice: Pixies or Titus Andronicus/Free Energy?

There are two big shows going on tonight: massively influential rock group The Pixies AND massively buzzed-about Titus Andronicus and Free Energy.

The Pixies are The Pixies. The indie rock you listen to (as well as Nirvana and just about everyone else) was influenced, formed and pushed by The Pixies. 7:30 p.m. show at the Orpheum. $35 to $56.

Titus and Free Energy, on the other hand, are relatively new. I saw them both at South By Southwest this year and they were two of my absolute favorite groups. Both were raucous and wild and I'd love to see them both again. 9 p.m. show at the Waiting Room. $10.

Unfortunately, I can't do both shows. Still haven't mastered that "two places at once" thing.

Who are you going to see tonight?

Let's chat in the comments.

* * *

A couple weeks ago, I talked to Pixies drummer David Lovering. Cool dude, especially considering he had the roughest time of all when the band was broken up. And he's a magician, which is also cool, but in a really nerdy way.

Anyway, check out the interview.

* * *

A couple other shows are also happening tonight, just in case the two bands mentioned above don't float your boat:

There's a songwriters' night going down at Slowdown featuring David Paulsen, Jason Hinze, Nicolas Peterson, Tim Wildsmith and Nathan K. 8 p.m. show, no cover.

The Nebraska Pop Festival is going down at the Barley Street Tavern tonight. Featured bands are You Don't Know Me Normandie Wilson, Paper City, Dexter Poindexter, Electric Needle Room and Pezzettino. 8 p.m. show. $5.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Live Chat: MTV's Video Music Awards

Join myself and Rainbow Rowell to watch MTV's Video Music Awards and chat about it.

The show (and the chat) start at 8 p.m. (central) tonight.

Friday, September 10, 2010

VMAs coming Sunday, let's chat about it

So, MTV has decided to air their annual celebrity spectacle/awards show. The Video Music Awards air Sunday night at 8 p.m. central.

Rainbow Rowell and myself will be watching it and hosting a live chat on and right here on my blog.

Please join us to talk about the show, the awards, the ridiculous crap going on and make fun of whatever it is that Lady Gaga is wearing. If anything, it should be entertaining.

Nominees and categories are after the jump.

See you then.

Huey Lewis and Whipkey Three reviewed; Roundup of the weekend ahead

Apologies for the absence. I've been in and out of the office all week due to sickness. First, I had the flu, but now that's developed into a wicked cough and cold. Gotta love this weather, right?

Anyway, I caught the Whipkey Three and Huey Lewis & the News last night. Matt Whipkey was playing as Matt Whipkey for awhile and then Whipkey-Zimmerman and now the Whipkey Three (which does not include Sarah Benck, as it once did).

Anyway, they had a really short set last night, but it was good stuff. They played a few new tunes that fit Whipkey's Americana Springsteen meets Craig Finn fun-times bar rock, but with much cooler shirts. I put Whipkey's album, "Instant Heart," on my best of 2009 list, so I'm looking forward to his next effort. He seems to have the songs (and now the band) in place to do so.

Huey Lewis was delightful. An admission: I'm a total nerd for the man and I loved every minute of it last night. The show started off with some soul covers from the band's upcoming album of Stax Records covers. Then they did some B-sides, two a capella tunes and finished off with the hits.

Lewis looks like he could be your buddy's dad - just a regular guy having a good time. Except he can sing and has a really good band.

I can tell you I totally geeked out when they played "I Want A New Drug" and "Power of Love." Little disappointed to not hear "Back In Time" or "If This Is It."

But the night was a total guilty pleasure delight.

* * *

Good shows coming up this weekend:

Brad Hoshaw and the Seven Deadlies play tonight at the Stir Live And Loud. 9 p.m./$5 at the door.

• Also tonight is apparently The Hole's last show (in it's current location). Tim McMahan has the story.

Satchel Grande funks out the Waiting Room tonight. 9 p.m./$7 at the door.

• Saturday is Jenny and Johnny at the Waiting Room. Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) and Jonathan Rice (singer/songwriter) put out a good album recently, called "I'm Having Fun Now." They talked to me about it as well as recording in Omaha and old stories about Lincoln.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fall Music Preview: Concerts coming and albums dropping from now 'til November

Summer is usually the big-time for concert tours as well as album releases. People are looking to have a good time and spend some money.

But don't sell the fall short as a music season, especially this year.

In today's paper, I wrote about upcoming shows and records that I recommend. But online, I went ahead and added streaming music.

Everyone's coming to town, from Gaslight Anthem on Saturday to The Pixies in a few weeks and Ra Ra Riot and Roger Waters in October.

As for albums ahead, Interpol drops next week, Weezer a week after that, Tim Kasher in October and Brian Eno in November. Plus tons of others.

Anyway, check out the concert preview and album preview.

Then tell me: What are you excited for? Let's have a chat here in the comments.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tonight: Crooning for Kat

If I were you, I'd get to tonight's benefit at the Waiting Room Lounge.

Kat Smith of the Black Squirrels needs your help to pay for her medical bills. For only 10 bucks, you can see the Filter Kings, the Bruces, McCarthy Trenching, Outlaw Con Bandana, Adam Hawkins of It's True, Kyle Harvey and Whipkey-Zimmerman-Sing.

Frankly, those are some of the best names in local music. Even if it wasn't a good cause (and it certainly is), that's a helluva deal to see all these bands.

Have fun, folks.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Frightened Rabbit cover the National's "Fake Empire"

A few months ago, Frightened Rabbit's full set was filmed by Revision3, an "Internet television" channel. During the set, the band did a cool, quick cover of the National's "Fake Empire."

FR frontman Scott Hutchinson is known to sneak in lyrics from other artists from time to time, especially bits from the Hold Steady.

Video's below. Skip ahead to the 47:44 mark to see "Fake Empire."

Lincoln Calling lineup annouced

Now that the Lincoln bands have invaded Omaha, it's time for us to send our own forces west to the Star City.

It's time for Lincoln Calling.

But that ain't it. There's a lot of national talent on this list, which is a first as far as I remember. Sea Wolf, Those Darlins, the Hood Internet, Team Bayside High and Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers are just a few of the names I see popping out from the lineup.

Add local names including Little Brazil, Brad Hoshaw, the SPEED! roster, Bear Country, Capgun Coup and a host of others and you have a party.

Honestly, I'm impressed. Good work, folks.

The official lineup was sent out today, so get ready. Tickets for the weekend are $30 today. Tomorrow, they go up to $40.

Head over to Lincoln Calling to get all the details, get tickets and listen to music from the artists.

Lineup after the jump!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Headlines! Bright Eyes, Kanye, Folgers Coffee and more

I'm back in the office again after a three-day weekend off. Tonight, I'm going to review Counting Crows, but here's some headlines for you.


Bright Eyes is now on Facebook. Why now? Probably because the band has an album coming out and they want to start building buzz about the group via social networking. I bet you'll see a Twitter soon, too. And eventually some songs.

[Update: The Bright Eyes Facebook page has been taken down. Also removed was the tweet from Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band announcing the page. That means a) it could have been a fake or b) they just weren't ready to go all out on FB yet. I'm going with option "b." It looked too professional to be fake, unlike that fake Conor Oberst twitter from awhile back.]

Kanye West is planning on releasing a free song every weekend until Christmas. It's unclear whether or not it will be new music and West said it could be stuff from other artists, too.

• There's a new EP out from Sufjan Stevens. You can listen to it for free and buy a copy for only $5.

• Out tomorrow, the new Land of Talk disc from Saddle Creek is streaming all week at Spinner. It's called "Cloak and Cipher."

Holy Fuck is having a new tour. It hits Lincoln on Oct. 21.

• On Nov. 2, Brian Eno is dropping a new album. It's name? "Small Craft On A Milk Sea," whatever the hell that means.

• Check out Conan O'Brien's spoken word track with Jack White.

• Spin offers up a list of 25 fall albums that matter most.

Weezer fans that have been bitching since the blue album and "Pinkerton" about how their new stuff isn't as good as their old stuff can no rejoice. Why? The band is planning a "Blue Album/'Pinkerton'" tour.

• Speaking of Weezer, Spinner asked people to submit their own album covers for "Hurley." They're pretty funny.

• At one point, Johnny Cash recorded a version of Folgers Coffee's "the best part of waking up" jingle. You can now download it as a ringtone, if that's your thing.

• I have absolutely no idea how or why it happened, but Bob Saget took some time to interview Ben Folds.

• Apparently, U2 has a few albums worth of material ready to go.