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.