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“Top Shelf & Lost Tricks” by No Blood Orphan | On the Record

words by Chance Solem-Pfeifer

Cut the new album from No Blood Orphan in half.

You have its two main pieces, the double EP the rarely convened Omaha band says comprises Top Shelf & Lost Tricks. The halves reflect each other, certainly, but with the puzzling bedlam of two partially broken mirrors facing each other.

“Tricks” appears juxtaposed with a song called “Lost Tricks” that features different instrumentation and no lyrics. Some tracks are listed as second versions but with no corresponding partner. The first track, “The Party,” can be found redone on the second half of the album with a track called “The Party (Version 1),” leaving the listener wondering which came first, or whether No Blood Orphan counts up from zero when they write.

The two EPs are holding hands but with some fingers and knuckles missing. And in some cases with a deformed, but intriguing extra digit.

But the transient mystery of this album seems to be part of some greater wandering within No Blood Orphan. They perform live infrequently. Past albums from the band and from Mal Madrigal — Steve Bartolomei and Mike Saklar’s Omaha band, which preceded the No Blood Orphan — are intentionally scarce. Each track on Top Shelf & Lost Tricks presents a dramatic and complicated soundscape (with dueling organs and electric guitars), but all with the raw exposure of the band that sounds like they walked into a room, played emotively, dropped the instruments on the ground and walked out. Perhaps like they’ll do tonight.

Top Shelf & Lost Tricks will be released at O’Leaver’s Pub on Friday with performances from Bartolomei, McCarthy Trenching, Christopher Machmuller, Lincoln Dickison, Cricket Kirk and more unannounced guests.

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Chance Solem-Pfeifer is Hear Nebraska’s staff writer. He thinks this album is a tutorial in how to properly foreground an organ. Reach chance at chancesp@hearnebraska.org.