Filling in some blanks as we head into two weeks’ of MAHA Music Festival coverage …
I mentioned being in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado, last week enjoying some well-deserved R ‘n’ R (that’s rest and relaxation, not rock ‘n’ roll). Because of that personal holiday, I missed this year’s Speed! Nebraska Soapbox Riot — the third annual race held at Seymour Smith Park. We’re talking grown men rolling down steep tarmac hills in homemade racecars. It doesn’t get any more “American” than that.
Returning from The Rockies — still a little bummed about missing the derby — I discovered stuffed inside my mailbox a copy of Speed! Soapbox Riot 300, the companion compilation 10-inch record that commemorated derby day. In addition to being a sort-of competitors’ guide to the event, the record represents the hottest young acts on the Speed! Nebraska label, an entity now in its 15th year of operation.
Side One — a.k.a. “Heat 1 – Rally Champs” — launches with Riot organizer and label executive Gary Dean Davis’ tractor-punk revivalists Wagon Blasters doing “Here Comes Scat Pack,” a chomp-chomp rock tune with a dusty, cascading guitar line and GDD screaming the reframe “Accelerate, accelerate, four-on-the-floor!” That’s followed by The Really Rottens (Charlie Johnson and Benny Kushner from the Mezcal Bros.), The Filter Kings (fronted by guitarist Josh Dunwoody), and Domestica (The 2011 version, featuring Heidi Ore, Jon Taylor and new drummer Todd Johnson).
Side Two — a.k.a. “Heat 2 – All Americans” — features the newest addition to the Speed! Nebraska family, Students of Crime (Wagon Blasters’ Robert Thornton’s other band), followed by The Third Men (label executive Mike Tulis and Co. covering Big Star classic “Back of a Car”) and Lincoln power-punk trio Ideal Cleaners gassing up a hot-rod titled “The Ghost of Rat Tail.”
We’re talking seven of the finest country punk songs coming to you at 33-and-a-third RPMs, tucked into a screen-printed sleeve and limited to just 300 copies — a must-have for any music fan or soapbox derby enthusiast. If you missed the race, you can get a copy for a mere $10 at The Antiquarium record store in the Old Market.
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Another event I missed while in the Rockies was last week’s grand opening of the new Saddle Creek Shop at 721 No. 14th St. in the heart of the Slowdown complex. In addition to selling more Saddle Creek merch than anyone can imagine (a literal warehouse full), the shop carries a variety of new vinyl releases. I’d love to tell you more about their selection except the storefront is only open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays — when we who can afford new vinyl are at work. Looks like I’ll get my first gander at the shop Aug. 11 when Tim Kasher does an in-store celebrating the release of his new EP Bigamy: More Songs From The Monogamy Sessions. The EP’s official release is Aug. 16, but The Shop will have CDs and vinyl on hand at the event.
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The most influential indie-music TV show of the past 20 years returned to the cable airwaves last Saturday night. Yes, I’m talking about 120 Minutes now on MTV2. The program runs at midnight on the last Saturday of every month (actually, it’s the Sunday morning after the last Saturday, but who’s counting?).
As if the show never went off the air, there was ol’ cueball-headed VJ Matt Pinfield interviewing Dave Grohl, P.J. Harvey and Danger Mouse, while cuing up videos from new acts like Cults and Givers along with chestnuts by Pearl Jam and Radiohead. The best way to watch 120 hasn’t changed since it launched in 1986 — record it so you can skip the commercials. The difference now is that you’ll be recording with a DVR rather than a VHS tape deck — some things do change. Fast forwarding cuts 120 Minutes to about 45 minutes of content, especially if you’re skipping lame videos by the likes of Mumford and Sons.
Just like the old days, I “discovered” a couple new bands by watching the inaugural return episode — North Wales act The Joy Formidable, and Worcester, MA, band Dom. But instead of running out and buying those bands’ latest CDs the next day, I added them to my Spotify playlist and listened to them before I went to bed. Like I said, some things do change …
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In addition to electrifying an audience at last Thursday night’s MAHA/Hear Nebraska showcase at The Slowdown, Digital Leather let it be known via Puerto Rican blog Mala Vida, Buena Musica, that they just signed a deal with Absolutely Kosher Records, the Berkley-based label that’s home to such acts as Goblin Cock, The Wrens, Pinback, The Mountain Goats and Xiu Xiu. Very impressive.
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Finally, The Benningtons’ frontman Tony Bonacci just finished directing and shooting a short film called “Telephone” that you can view right now on Vimeo. Written by Sam Martin and Jesse Mckelvey of Capgun Coup (who also contribute a song to the soundtrack), the nearly 10-minute short tells the story of what happens when a young blond firecracker (played by Emma Penrose) goes on an accidental date with a creepy old dude (Scott Dombeck channeling Steve Buscemi but without Buscemi’s charm). Snarky dialogue and screaming ensue.
The short was edited by none other than Academy Award winning film editor and Omaha native Mike Hill (Apollo 13, Night Shift). How did Bonacci get Hill to work on his project? “I’m friends with him,” Bonacci said. “He really loves the film, actually. He’s a hilarious guy.”
Lazy-i is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on the Omaha music scene. Check out Tim’s daily music news updates at his website, lazy-i.com, or email him at email@example.com.