by Hilary Stohs-Krause
I feel like I've been seeing the same bands perform over and over.
The music is still great; the people are still great. But the Lincoln scene, for me, had been developing a dangerous "same-old, same-old" mentality. I needed some fresh arias.
Just in time, Sunday night found me at The Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St., in Omaha, to catch a fully-female-fronted lineup — two-thirds of which I'd never heard of, let alone seen four times in the last two months.
Turns out, it was the perfect time to try something new: both Edge of Arbor and Vaughan had new EPs for sale, their first and second, respectively.
Photo by Hilary Stohs-Krause: Tara Vaughan joins Edge of Arbor for a song Sunday, March 20th at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St. In Omaha.
Edge of Arbor
Edge of Arbor took the stage with an odd mascot, also present in their promo photos. Think how Humpty Dumpty would look after he fell ... if Humpty Dumpty were a plaid-patterned potato, that is.
Edge of Arbor was fun. That's really all there is to it. Led by Jessica Errett, the group is a prime example of what I'd call "indie twang": a little folk, a little country, a little pop, but pure Nebraska. Errett and the band switched genres fluidly, from the more dreampop feel of "Blur" to the almost honky tonk sound of "Sin City." Elements of tribal percussion were sometimes a bit jarring, but they also added spice.
Their five-song EP doesn't quite capture the joviality of their live performance, but this is definitely a group to check out.
When Tara Vaughan first took the stage, I immediately thought she was akin to a female Jamie Cullum, down to the dark hair and large eyes. I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not.
Piano-driven jazz/pop has never been my favorite genre. As I explained to a friend at the concert, it's the kind of music I have random cravings for every few months, but I rarely seek it out. However, the crowd's enthusiasm was infectious. Many appeared to be related to the singer-songwriter — when the concertgoers clapped heartily after a song, she joked about the Vaughans never being great with tempo.
And the more I listen to her disc, titled Better Versions, the more I find myself enjoying it. I feel like the piano/keyboard is making a comeback in pop music — Elizabeth & the Captapult, Regina Spektor, Laura Jansen, Au Revoir Simone, even Gaga — and Vaughan has the potential to help alleviate Nebraska's shameful dearth of quality pop music.
Vaughan, who returned to Omaha last summer after earning a music degree in Boston, sings mostly about transition, change and breaking up. The jaunty, jazzy "Fools Rush In," the indie-rock-flavored "Temp Savior" and the minimalist, heartfelt "Things I Said" are standout tracks from the EP.
Download an acoustic version of "Til Death" by Tara Vaughan here.
For more, tune into Hilary's X-Rated: Women in Music radio show every Thursday from 1:05 to 3 p.m. CST at 89.3FM KZUM in Lincoln or streaming live at http://kzum.org. X-Rated is also on Facebook at facebook.com/xmusicnebraska. Or, if tumblr is more your style, check out xmusic.tumblr.com.