Friday, February 26, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Hood Internet and more

Anyone else going to the Hood Internet tonight? I'll be there. Show starts at 9 p.m. and Flowers Forever and Capgun Coup open up. Check out my Q&A with DJs STV SLV and ABX.

Saturday is also the Ranch Bowl Reunion at the Waiting Room featuring three bands that I haven't seen since I was at the Ranch Bowl. I wonder if the Waiting Room will smell like the Ranch Bowl on Saturday. That would make the experience truly complete. Check out Pomeroy, Clever and Slang 5 at 9 p.m. $12 tickets.
Instrumentalist, post-rock band the Answer Team plays the Sydney on Saturday. Someone on Twitter told me they're best band in Omaha. I can't vouch for that statement because I haven't seen them, but at least one guy thinks they're amazing. 9 p.m. $5 cover.
Photo: The Hood Internet performs at Lollapalooza in Chicago last summer.

Headlines! Aerosmith, Little Brazil and more

Wow, so I had such a busy Wednesday that I completely missed doing headlines. My bad.

Here's a double dose... I tried to include every bit of music news that has happened all week. It's a lot of stuff. Enjoy.

Anvil played at the Olympics in Vancouver.

• Local band Little Brazil announced their second SXSW showcase.

Aerosmith isn't breaking up. Or finding a new singer. Or following any of those other rumors. They made a video.

Dan Deacon and his band faked something about a dead cat on Judge Judy.

Neko Case had some kind of animated short or cartoon on Adult Swim last week.

• The subject of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" has been speculated upon for a loooooong time. She finally reveals who it was about. Sort of.

• Thom Yorke of Radiohead revealed his new band's name, is touring and somebody recorded three of the songs and put them on YouTube.

• Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper talks about the band's new album. I loved their last album and the EP.

Completely unrelated to music: John Krasinski (Jim from "The Office") wants to be Captain America. That would be terrible. Just about anyone else in the world would be better.

Pavement is getting ready for those reunion shows and Spin was lucky enough to hang out in their rehearsal space.

Miles B. A. Robinson, who made my favorite album of last year, did a video interview.

Beyonce says she "killed" her alter ego "Sasha Fierce" and doesn't need her any more. I think she needs to get over herself.

• Stephen Merritt of Magnetic Fields was once in a band called Zinnia. And you can now download those songs.

Prince has a new track, "Cause and Effect."

Beck, Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, Grizzly Bear and a bunch of others are doing a Haiti benefit album.

• In the ongoing saga of Abbey Road Studios, the place was declared historic, so it can't be torn down or majorly altered.

Vampire Weekend guitarist Rostam Batmanglij talks about how his homosexuality affects his music.

• There's a new LCD Soundsystem record coming out. I've liked them for awhile, but I just started getting into them again because a friend and I were playing guitar and we covered one of their songs in his basement. Good stuff.

Yeasayer talks about their new album. They're coming to Omaha in April.

• There's a new track streaming from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

The Hold Steady is putting out a new record. I've been having a Hold Steady kind of week and listening to them a lot.

• Spin does a little "where are they now?" thing with folks from Elastica, Against Me!, White Zombie and others.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's all about energy

At last night's B.B. King/Buddy Guy concert, I met Neal Duffy. For those who don't know him, Neal works as Tilly & the Wall's sound engineer/tour manager and also does some photography.

The guys we watched on stage come from a different era of performing. They have large backup bands that have their own names. They're played on and off stage. They tell stories in between songs. Guy is in his 70s and King in his 80s and their band members are all veteran performers and each one of them has as much, if not more energy, than ever. It's incredible.

After the show, Neal turned to me and said, "If local bands had half the energy that these guys have, it would be amazing."

I couldn't agree with him more. This isn't to say that local bands aren't energetic, but the level of passion that these two bluesmen showed for their music is incredible.

One thing that could be taken away is their emphasis on performance, which is a different thing from their musicianship, vocal ability or their songs. It's the ability to put on a show, to keep people engaged. That's everything from your songs to stage banter and guitar tricks to dance moves.

A lot of people would say that the songs should speak for themselves, and I agree. But it never hurts to put on a good show. That is, to be entertaining and engaging.

The Ticker: Cursive, Rush, Shout! Weekly, Gordon Lightfoot

Man, lots of stuff going on today.

First off, Cursive is releasing a new single on March 9 through Saddle Creek called "Discovering America." Cool thing is, it's about the mistreatment of American Indians and it benefits the American Indian College Fund.

Check out the song when it debuts (I'm guessing on iTunes, and the Creek's online store) and help some kids go to college.

Cursive is currently on the road with Alkaline Trio and you can follow their progress through Matt Maginn's Facebook page, aptly named Matt Cursive.

* * *

A blogger who never really "got" Canadian rock band Rush decided to listen to all of their albums in one weekend to try to figure out the band.

The results are insightful and funny and his conclusions are great.

An excerpt:

Their fourth album, 2112, comes along out of left field. All of the momentum Rush was beginning to pick up in their songwriting was flushed down the drain by this severely over-hyped record (at the conclusion of which I actually slammed my fist down on my desk and decided to go take a walk for a bit—it was that disappointing).

Whether or not it's a band you've never heard or maybe it's your favorite, that would be one great experiment: Get every album from band or artist and listen to them back to back. You'd definitely learn something.

* * *

People have been buzzing about what happened to the City Weekly, which apparently has missed several issues. Now it's back, I guess.

Well, I found out over the weekend (from Tim McMahan and others) the folks who ran that publication, including former World-Herald scribe Jim Minge, moved on to create a new weekly: Shout! Weekly.

I think it will be interesting to see how this plays out and, especially, how it's going to be different from the multiple similar publications that are already in the market.

* * *

My friend Andy Norman, who used to be managing editor at The Reader when I used to work there, has an interesting piece on the "death" of Gordon Lightfoot, which turned out to be a hoax.

It's good stuff about social media and false death reports. Read it here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Live Review: Tim Wildsmith

I went and checked out Tim Wildsmith's set on Friday night at the Waiting Room. (Sorry this post is so late. Busy weekend.) I've seen him a couple times before, but this was the first time I got to see him play his new songs.

The translation of album to stage was quite good as far as the music was concerned. Wildsmith's voice is even more emotive in person than on his record making the delivery of his vulnerable and personal lyrics really hit home.

In fact, I've always thought that Wildsmith's voice has the emotiveness of Conor Oberst's voice, except that Wildsmith can actually sing. Have you ever seen Oberst spit out the lyrics to "Lua?" Yeah, like that. I can't help but make the comparison every single time. I think I may be onto something because my girlfriend said the same thing before I could even tell her what I thought.

He's also a pretty good frontman. A few screwups (like playing piano in the wrong key) were mostly first-time-playing-these-songs jitters, but they could have turned off those in the crowd that were infrequent concertgoers. But before that happened, Wildsmith was able to laugh it off with a few jokes.

I have to throw this in, too: Wildsmith & Co. did a wonderful, haunting version of "Eleanor Rigby" that I hope remains a part of their live set. It was phenomenal.

I hope Wildsmith is able to get out and tour. He's a talented songwriter, musician and performer and I really hope he can spread the word to those outside of Omaha.

As for the other bands, Levi Weaver and Charn, I wasn't amazed by either of them. Weaver did some cool stuff with delay pedals and stuff, but it wasn't groundbreaking. Charn was pretty unremarkable (not bad, necessarily), so we left during their set.

* * *

"Bones" by Tim Wildsmith & The Lost Cause

"One Not Two" by Tim Wildsmith & The Lost Cause

Headlines! 311, Brad Hoshaw and more

It's Monday. And you know what that means, right? Oh yeah... music headlines.

Feast on music news!

311 is going to live webcast their 311 Day performance (March 11... 3-11... get it?) from Las Vegas. The marathon show typically lasts around 5 hours.

• Apparently, EMI isn't going to sell Abbey Road Studios after all.

Brad Hoshaw played in-studio over the weekend for The Daily Grind. Check it out.

• The Lollapalooza lineup was leaked (again). Looks like Green Day, Lady Gaga and Soundgarden. Also looks like I might be going back.

Paramore has a new video. If you didn't know, they're coming to town in May.

Coldplay is talking about a new album.

Lil Wayne opened up a Twitter acount. Allow me a moment to contain my excitement...

• I've never seen it, but apparently Of Montreal's live show is crazy crazy. A documentary is going to, uh, document it.

• You gotta check out this piece on mixtapes and how the cassette culture has evolved.

• Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 talks about how he prepares for the road.

The New Pornographers have a new song out. Does Neko Case ever sleep?

• Local station, 89.7 The River, announced the lineup for their annual Rockfest: Godsmack, Rob Zombie, Papa Roach, Hellyeah, Skillet, Halestorm. I have no idea who those last three are. And didn't I see Papa Roach at Rockfest about nine years ago? Pretty sure I did. Details at The River's site.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Tim Wildsmith and more

Lots of stuff going on this weekend, as usual.

Tonight at the Waiting Room is local singer-songwriter Tim Wildsmith. He's releasing a new album called "Little Armor." Check out my write-up and two songs here.

Tim McMahan of Lazy-i fame wrote about The Hole last week. (While I'm on the subject, thanks to Tim for giving me a shout-out on his own blog today.) I've been hearing a lot about the venue lately and his piece was very interesting on how they ran into some crap and had to move it. I need to get over there sometime soon. I definitely like some punk rock. Check out Convicted Skate Shop's MySpace (they own the venue) for details.

There's another Haiti benefit in Lincoln this weekend. Kris Lager Band, The Mezcal Brothers, Strawberry Burns, Son of '76 & the Watchmen and South of Lincoln perform tonight at the Bourbon Theatre. $5 donation suggested.

Headlines! Back three times a week

For you folks, I like providing a list of headlines for you and summing up the most important and interesting music news so you don't have to go trolling Pitchfork, SPIN, Twitter and everything else in the world. I already do it as a part of my job and I can save you some time.

I'll be posting headlines every Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week to give you a complete picture of all of the stuff going on. If you have a news tip or something you see that's interesting, drop me an e-mail (

Anyway, here's today's headlines!

• They were talking about tearing down Abbey Road studios. But Anthony Lloyd Webber is stepping in to save it.

Pearl Jam is going to play Saturday Night Live. My brother, a huuuuuuge PJ fan, will be very excited.

The Gaslight Anthem is talking about their new album. It's called "American Slang" and it will be out in June.

Broken Social Scene dropped their album art today and offered a free download.

Vampire Weekend released a new video. Who's in it? Jake Gyllenhaal, Joe Jonas, Lil Jon and RZA.

Billboard released their photos of the year. Some of them are great photos. Others are bad shots of cool moments.

Lil Wayne got eight root canals. At once. Ouch.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Hi folks! I haven't been posting much lately, mostly because I'm rethinking the way that I do this blog.

Basically, I get caught up a lot in doing interviews and writing stories and other things for the newspaper so much that I neglect things on this blog. Example: I used to do music headlines and news from around the country every day, then every few days and now not at all.

Very soon, I'm going to start posting a lot more stuff in this space. I have ideas for all kinds of features and discussions that I want to have on this blog. I'm looking at everything from reviews and previews to lists and mailbag columns to posting mp3s and reader-submitted items.

What I need from you is help in the form of suggestions and ideas. What do you want to see here? What could you use more of? What could you care less about? What do you want to talk about?

Post in the comments here, e-mail me at or give me a call at 402-444-1557.

Thanks everyone!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Even more breakup songs

We didn't have room for all of the breakup songs that I wanted to put in Sunday's roundup of the best breakup songs. Also, some of my choices were deemed "too modern," so we tried to get as diverse of a group of songs in the paper as possible.

The rest ended up here, on my blog. To those of you who have not visited before, welcome to Rock Candy. (Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Leave a comment here or e-mail me at

Anyway, here is the rest of the list:

“Take It Easy (Love Nothing)” by Bright Eyes

Another Conor Oberst one, this time from the kinda electronic “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn” album. The song starts with with an, ahem, encounter with a woman and then ends with him getting dumped in a note left at the bedside. The experience makes him “do as I please and lie through my teeth” to women he meets in the future. Who hasn’t been there?
Favorite line: “Someone might get hurt, but it won’t be me/I should probably feel cheap but I just feel free/and a little bit empty”

“Black” by Pearl Jam

You didn’t know this was a breakup song, did you? This Pearl Jam classic from the band’s first album follows around a character who realizes that everything in the world isn’t so sweet now that his lady is gone.
Favorite line: “I know you’ll be a sun in somebody else’s sky, but why, why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine?”

“Half Your Age” by Kid Rock

The self-proclaimed American Bad Ass has also been dumped. This is his anthem (presumably directed at ex-wife Pam Anderson) about meeting a more attractive, younger woman who does his laundry and loves his mama. What more could you ask for?
Favorite line: “She’s half your age and twice as hot”

“Fighter” by Christina Aguilera

Man, this woman hits all kinds of notes while speeding through lyrics words faster than Eminem. This tune is more of a “thank you” than a “get lost,” assuring the lost love that he made her better, faster, stronger, and a fighter.
Favorite line: “‘Cause if it wasn’t for all of your torture/I wouldn’t know how to be this way now, and never back down/So I wanna say thank you”

“Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake

Oh, JT. You may be a good dresser, a fantastic singer and one funny dude (see any of his SNL appearances for proof), but you've been hurt, too. After she dumped you and came running back, you told her to cry you a river. You're right, she has nothing to complain about because it was her choice. Deal with it, lady.
Favorite line: "You told me you loved me/Why did you leave me, all alone/Now you tell me you need me"

“Picture To Burn” by Taylor Swift

Wow. Taylor be angry. This song is all about the fighting after a couple breaks up. Oh, and there's that whole thing about lighting his picture on fire.
Favorite line: "So go and tell your friends/That I’m obsessive and crazy./That’s fine./I’ll tell mine you’re gay."

“Dammit” by Blink-182

The narrator in this fine '90s pop-punk tune seems to be at peace with the fact that the girl is gone, but he's ruminating on all the things that will be different now. And then the realization: "I guess this is growing up."
Favorite line: "I'll smile/and you'll wave/we'll pretend/it's okay/The charade/it won't last/when he's gone/I won't come back"

“Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” by Mötley Crüe

You don't know whether this song starts out sweet or bitter, but one thing's for certain: he's done with the girl. The refrain (and the song's title) certainly solidifies that sentiment.
Favorite line: "I don't want you to stay"

“Heartless” by Kanye West

After everything you've been through, how can you be so mean to someone you love so much? It's a question for the ages and it looks like one that Kanye has asked himself too.
Favorite line: "I decided we wasn't goin' speak so/Why we up 3 a.m. on the phone?"

“Gives You Hell” by the All-American Rejects

Some of the great breakup songs are the "look how good I'm doing now" ones. Sounds like this one is about a pretty specific girl. I bet she feels all kinds of hell now.
Favorite line: "Truth be told I miss you./ Truth be told I'm lying."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Bright Eyes songs

It's not a huge secret around town that Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis are recording at their ARC Studio right now.

As reported by yours truly, Bright Eyes is supposed to release an album around the end of this year and it will be the last under the name Bright Eyes.

Anyway, some new Bright Eyes material is available for pre-sale now from Saddle Creek's online store. "One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels" is a collaboration between Bright Eyes and Neva Dinova. It's basically a reissue of a 2004 EP of the same name with four brand new songs, two written by Oberst and two written by Neva Dinova.

The CD/LP will be in stores on March 23, but Saddle Creek will ship it out March 9 if you order it early.

Price is a mere 11 bucks.

At the Haiti benefit recently at Slowdown, Bright Eyes did an amazing rendition of "Lua" along with a few new songs (at least, ones that I've never heard before). Not sure if it's the songs here or songs that will be on the forthcoming album.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nebraska Pop Festival dates announced

The Nebraska Pop Festival has announced dates for this fall, running a full five days from Sept. 15 to 19.

Three Benson venues will be hosting the festival, including The Sydney (one night), P.S. Collective (two nights) and Barley Street Tavern (two nights).

Admission will be $5 per night and the fest plans to host 25 to 30 bands over the five nights.

They're boasting that bands will come from all over the world, with a lot of Midwestern and Lincoln/Omaha groups thrown in there too.

The whole thing is a benefit for UNO MAV Radio, and bands won't be getting paid for their performances.

I'm all about the fest and all about the radio station making itself some money, but not paying bands always worries me. I think bands should be getting paid for their performances, even if it makes ticket costs go up for a benefit like this.

Now, this is a benefit and anyone that believes in the cause is more than welcome to give up their time for free. But the two things that worry me are these: Young bands will think that they need to give away their stage time for more exposure when they should be getting paid AND with good artists around town expecting to be paid, it can hurt the lineup at festivals like this.

I say pay the bands. At least the headliners for each night. You'll get bigger names locally and regionally, ticket prices will only go up a little bit.

One fraternity at Creighton does an annual benefit for the ALS and they usually raise more than $10,000 each year. How do they do it? They book big bands at Sokol (Blue October and Eric Hutchinson are past groups). They pay these groups, tickets are $25 to $30 and they make a killing. Just a thought.

Anyway, no lineup has been announced (and the press release said it won't be until July), but it makes me wonder who they'll get if they won't be able to pay anyone.

Get more info on the five-night concert at their MySpace. You can listen to the radio station through their website (you're looking for the poorly-placed "Listen Here" link at the top of the site).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Magnetic Fields reissue

I'm pretty excited about the release I got in my mailbox today. The Magnetic Fields is releasing its "69 Love Songs" as a 10" vinyl box set. MP3 download card is included.

I got into the Magnetic Fields after, sadly, hearing a "Book of Love" cover done by Peter Gabriel awhile back. I thought the lyrics were cool, so I looked up the song and, to my delight, found out it wasn't by Peter Gabriel after all. (Nothing against the "In Your Eyes" singer, I just have a hard time admitting that I like Peter Gabriel in public. I guess now everyone knows...)

Anyway, I'm pumped to get ahold of this box set, even though the price is a little lofty.

There is an interesting story behind the writing and recording of "69 Love Songs," and I'll let the press release tell it: "The story has it that Stephin Merritt came up with the idea for 69 Love Songs while sitting in an elegant midtown Manhattan gay piano bar. He originally planned for it to be a live musical revue, performed with a rotating cast of singers in the plush hotel bars and cabarets of New York City."

The box set retails for $89.98. You can pre-order it now from Merge Records' online store.

Listen to the re-mastered version of "Book of Love:"

Monday, February 1, 2010

Grammy Award predictions: How did I do?

First off, thanks to the folks who joined in on our live chat during the ceremony last night. If you'd like to, you can replay the entire thing. The chat itself probably goes pretty fast.

Before we get to my predictions, let's take a look at the ceremony. Nearly four hours was waaaaay too long. Everyone didn't need two or three songs for each performance and some performances were flat out unnecessary. I could have done without Lady Antebellum, Maxwell, Zac Brown Band and Bon Jovi. They were all fine performances, but there were just too many of them. And you could easily have cut most of them in half. (I'm looking at you, Taylor Swift.)

Also, during the Oscars you get actors and directors and other movie people as presenters. At the Grammys, you get whoever is currently promoting an album, book, TV show, film or just about anything else. I love me some Kristen Bell, but there's no reason to see her present a music award.

As for my predictions, I didn't do great but I wasn't terrible. I was an even 50/50 scoring 12 out of 24 of the categories that I predicted. If you want to look at the list, check out the main list and the secondary one.

I actually did much better in the minor categories compared with the main ones. I should have bet bigger on Beyonce (she took home six trophies, a record for a female artist) and Kings of Leon. I basically thought that KoL were way too much like an indie band to beat out Green Day or the Black Eyed Peas.

It seems like the old, white voters in the Recording Academy went for many more younger, newer artists this year. Phoenix, Eminem, Kings of Leon and Lady Gaga all went home with trophies and they're all the kids of groups that the academy tends to ignore. Good work all.

An e-mail I received this morning boasted that independent artists won an astonishing 43 awards last night (take a look at my story about how few indies win Grammys).

Well, that's pretty much bull. They don't specify that they're counting all 109 categories, which includes genres such as New Age, Latin and Gospel. Those genres are made up almost entirely of small, independent labels.

While an indie is an indie, those aren't the independent labels that are on everyone's mind. For the record, 33 awards were given to major label artists and only 9 to independent artists in the pop categories (pop, rock, country, R&B, rap).

Those nine awards given to indies include four awards taken home by Taylor Swift, who is only an independent artist in name. She's signed to Big Machine Records, an independent, but she's distributed by the big boys at Universal. And when you're selling more than 5 million copies of one record, you're no longer considered an "independent artist."

So, let's call it 37 to 5.

Those five independent artists are Bela Fleck, Booker T, Jeff Beck, Phoenix and Steve Wariner (winner of a country instrumental Grammy).

So, did indie artists really do well this year? Not at all. In fact, it's about the same as in past years.