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 kevin.coffey@owh.com 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  sonicbids.com/sxsw 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.