* Omaha-area radio station KTWI 93.3  FM has ditched new country and its twister format in favor of a classic country format. The station, now billed as The Wolf, offering songs by Alabama, Toby Keith and Rosanne Cash. Two weeks prior to the format flip, the station billed itself as the Jingle and played a host of country-leaning Christmas tunes. The 9,600 -watt station is owned by Clear Channel Communications.

* The end of 2011 kept me at the Slowdown, 729 N. 14th St., for three marquee local indie rock shows over the course of three days. Wednesday, Dec. 28 brought Back When‘s well-attended Champion Hologram release show on Slowdown’s big stage. Back When played a spot-on set of towering songs from their new album, smoothly moving from experimental metal to heavy indie rock and post-rock sounds. Openers Conduits and Noah’s Ark Was a Spaceship.  helped add to the crowd size. Conduits were in dream-mode for the night, unfurling their layered sound on a beautiful morphine drip pace. Noah’s Ark ripped through their set, cutting a noisy modern swath through 90s slacker rock touchstones.

* Gus & Call concluded their five night December Slowdown residency Thursday, Dec. 29, playing with Simon Joyner & the Parachutes and The Bruces. The laid-back folk night led Gus & Call to break out the acoustic guitars and a loose-limbed vibe. The multi-faceted band indulged various parts of its sonic whole during the residency, driving home how powerful the band is when all parts meet. Meanwhile, Simon Joyner’s current line-up, featuring David Nance on guitar, takes Joyner’s songs into a garage-country vein, filled with noisy guitar squalls. Alex McManus played his Bruces set, added by Stay Awake’s Steve Micek on drums for most of the set. The rock-solid drumming propelled the Bruces set.

* On Friday, Dec. 30th, Icky Blossoms hosted a night of entertainment that included the strip-teasinging Potboiler Burlesque, drag performers Dusty Bibles and Pope Trojan II and the comedy girl-rap of STDz. Icky Blossoms were the obvious highlight and all the hype about the band assuming the local indie-dance rock pedestal left open by the Faint is perfectly true. However, where the Faint went for synth-drived doom-gloom seriousness, Icky Blossoms go for wild abandon psychedelic pop fun.

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