This has been a wacky year music-wise, thanks to COVID-19. As you know, beginning in March, bands have been sidelined as clubs closed and tours were cancelled. No Maha, no South by Southwest, no nothing.
As a result, bands were left to either hold onto their recordings until this whole pandemic thing blew over (whenever that would be) or take a damn-the-torpedoes approach and release their music anyway with virtually no way to promote it other than social media and word of mouth.
Next month we’re publishing the usual year-in-review issue of The Reader (as well as predictions for 2021). With the focus being COVID-COVID-COVID, no doubt we’ll forget to mention all the fine music released during the fog of the pandemic.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of all the local releases I’ve heard in 2020 up through the end of November. All are worth checking out and purchasing. I’m including links to every release’s Bandcamp page, where you can listen and purchase the music. These 40 releases do not comprise a complete list (just ask the bands that weren’t mentioned), but it’s a start.
Jack McLaughlin, “Madyssen Is So Quick to Sin” b/w “Rained all Summer Long” — Released Jan. 23, the A-side features guests Conor Oberst and Shawn Foree.
Criteria, Years (2020, 15 Passenger) — The band’s first album since 2005’s When We Break (Saddle Creek), it absolutely rocks.
InDreama, “Poison House” — Four minutes of bouncy psych-rock candy from Nik Fackler and Co.
Relax, It’s Science, Now It’s Your Problem (2020, self-release) — The debut album by the double-bass-attack punkers.
Death Cow, Pioneer (2020, self-release) — The songs’ harmony vocals and power-chord riffs are pure ’90s FM rock territory.
Magū, Renovate (2020, self-release) — A refined psych-rock experience that borders on prog rock.
Twinsmith, “Dreamer” — Second single on their new label, Silver Street.
Win/Win, Home (2020, self-release) – 4-song EP of sing-along indie.
Joan App, “Beautiful Machines” — Joe Knapp (Son, Ambulance) returns with a one-off that left us wanting more.
Simon Joyner, Some Only Let the Jukebox Hear Them Weep (2020, Grapefruit) — A 2014 live set recorded in Phoenix, just one of many releases from Joyner in 2020.
The Sunks, “Dear Judy” – First song from a never-released album.
Supermoon, Half Country (2020, Majestic Litter) — (Former) Omahan Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova) and Morgan Nagler of Whispertown. Gorgeous.
Big Nope, Back to You (2020, self-release) — See Through Dresses’ drummer Nate Van Fleet steps out on this rocking 3-song EP.
Nathan Ma, “Blue Bird”— One of my favorite tracks of the year, produced by David Nance.
Mike Schlesinger, Live at The Sydney (2020, self-release) — A bright spot streamed live during spring’s COVID misery.
Pagan Athletes, Live at the DN (2020, self-release) – A sonic acid trip from the Wolf Brothers, Griffin and Nathan.
Eddy Mink, Open Container Heart Surgery (2020, self-release) — Pedal-steel fueled indie rock sung with grit, heart and soul by Kerry Eddy.
Jack Hotel, A Town Called Hesitation (2020, Sower Records) — Acoustic C&W by way of Lincoln, NE.
Dereck Higgins, DHX (2020, self-release) – One of six 2020 releases of electronic club music by the Omaha legend.
Digital Leather, New Wave Gold (2020, No Coast) — The 24th full-length album released by Digital Leather (Shawn Foree) over 20 years, and one of his best.
Benny Leather, Temporary Insanity (2020, FDH Records) — Electro-punk debut LP features Modern Love’s Chandra Moskowitz (yes, the world famous chef!) and Thick Paint’s Sarah Bohling.
DÉSIR, Solar (2020, self-release) — Layered, dense ambient electronic songs from Omaha.
Uh Oh, Joe and Mari Sing the Hits (2020, self-release) — Includes covers of songs by Alex G, Waxahatchee, Better Oblivion Community Center and Joe Frusciante.
The World, The World (unreleased tracks – 1990) (2020, self-release) — Long-lost vault tracks featuring members of Digital Sex (Stephen Sheehan) and Mousetrap.
Las Cruxes, “Para Mi” b/w “Solo Tu” (2020, Afonico/Sony) — Spanish-language punk. Chévere!
Bright Eyes, Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was (2020, Dead Ocean) — This first new Bright Eyes recording since 2011 will be remembered as a pandemic event.
No Thanks, Submerger (2020, Black Site Records) – Debut on KC label Black Site by self-proclaimed Omaha “goth punks.” Essential.
Koso, “The Potential of Getting Violent” — Protest song of pure rage over the James Scurlock homicide pulls no punches.
McCarthy Trenching, Perfect Game (2020, self-release) — The 10-song LP has all of Dan McCarthy’s storytelling charm.
Stephen Sheehan, “Thanks for Living — Quiet, powerful new track by former Digital Sex frontman.
STATHI, “Her Memoir” – Omaha singer/songwriter Stathi Spiros Patseas’ first release since debut EP Life of Compromise.
James McMann, I’m On My Way (2020, self-release) —Funk by the former Grasshopper Takeover bassist.
Steady Wells, “Good Again” — Jordan Smith of Twinsmith; good time indie rock.
Those Far Out Arrows, Fill Yer Cup (2020, self-release) — More modern takes on classic psych rock styles that recall BRMC and Them.
The Laces, Wooden Change (2020, Mighty Feeble Records) — A “best of” collection of bedroom pop from Doug Kabourek’s pre-Fizzle Like a Flood project.
Anna McClellan, I Saw First Light (2020, Father/Daughter) — The follow-up to her 2018 debut Yes and No.
James Schroeder, Mesa Buoy (2020, self-release) — David Nance sideman/guitarist extraordinaire cooks his own dinner on this stunning debut.
Ethan Jones, McMcCartney (2020, self-release) — Ladyfinger/Dumb Beach guitarist’s homemade rock anthems seethe and sizzle.
David Nance, Staunch Honey (2020, Trouble In Mind) — Follow-up to 2018 break-out LP Peaced and Slightly Pulverized features a stripped-down, soulful sound.
Problems, Ought Not Be Overthought (2020, Knightwerk Records) — Infectious electronic club music by Darren Keen (The Show Is the Rainbow).
Over The Edge is a monthly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, music, the media and the arts. Email Tim at email@example.com.