Oketo releases long-awaited album; Tara Vaughan premieres piano-pop single; Tiny Desk submissions by Floating Opera, Jason Sitzman

Oketo releases long-awaited album

After extended recording sessions and a couple of pushed-back deadlines, Oketo’s sophomore album is out in the open.

The Lincoln indie quartet dropped I Am Here, You Are Now rather unceremoniously last night via its Bandcamp page. The 16-month follow up to its self-titled debut, it was recorded over the last half of 2015 with Sean Joyce at The Bourbon engineer’s studio, and mastered by Doug Van Sloun at Focus Mastering.

Originally intended for release Jan. 1, the six-song EP was held back to make sure the band was “100 percent confident and happy with the recordings we release,” according to an announcement on its Facebook. On I Am Here, You Are Now, Oketo explores the moodier, atmospheric side of its first release. Vocalist Steven DeLair is more introspective, the instrumentation more sparsely, selectively placed.

Oketo will release the physical version of I Am Here, You Are Now at two shows next weekend. Both and Mesonjixx join them at Slowdown Feb. 19 (RSVP here), then the Omaha hip-hip duo follows them to The Bourbon and will play with I Forgot To Love My Father (RSVP here).

Listen to I Am Here, You Are Now in its entirety below:

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Tara Vaughan premieres piano-pop single

Most of us have a place from our past where we can recall making at least one major mistake, if not a few repeated ones. Omaha singer/songwriter Tara Vaughan recalls here in today’s song premiere, “Blame It On My Youth.”

[This track] tells the story of some late nights at the (former) Trackside, where my friends and I used to hang out and make interesting life choices,” Vaughan says.

“Blame It On My Youth” is the second single from Vaughan’s forthcoming album Dandelion Wine, due this April. Vaughan recorded in Nashville with producer Joe Pisapia (Ben Folds Five, k.d. lang, Guster), along with Omaha musicians Matt McGuigan on bass and guitar and drummer Rich Miller.

The piano pop track shines under Pisapia’s guidance. Vaughan’s honey-thick voice recounts those late night decisions with both fondness and head-shaking self-judgement, imploring the listener to bob along.

Catch Vaughan this Friday at the Waiting Room with The Hottman sisters and Sarah Benck. Hear “Blame It On My Youth” below:

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Tiny Desk submissions by Floating Opera, Jason Sitzman

Last week, we published a pair of features highlighting Nebraskan entries into NPR Music’s Tiny Desk concert. Since then, a couple more have come.

Richard Rebarber of Floating Opera submitted this video, in which the Lincoln chamber pop band plays “Meantime.” Rebarber mentioned that the band will soon be releasing a new album, Pop Song On The Elevator Down, which would be its first in seven years.

We also received this video from Lincoln singer/songwriter Jason Sitzman, in which he whistles through acoustic pop tune “Smile” behind the wheel of a forklift (thankfully, it isn’t moving). Sitzman also collaborates with the band North Of Neptune.

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Concert Round-Up

Tonight, celebrate Fat Tuesday with Bolzen Beer Band at Duffy’s Tavern. The longtime Lincoln polka band injects new life into the genre with punk elements and a relentless energy. Definitely not your middle-school Weird Al record. RSVP to the show here.

Around the corner, O Street Brass joins Jazzocracy at its regular Tuesday show, along with DJ Relic. O Street Brass plays at 6 p.m., followed by Jazzocracy and DJ Relic at 9 p.m. Word has it there will be Fat Tuesday fixin’s. RSVP here.

As always, head to our statewide calendar at hearnebraska.org/events for a fuller listing of shows. If you do not see your show or one you plan to attend, email us at news@hearnebraska.org, or add it yourself. And keep those song submissions, story ideas and news tips coming.

Andrew Stellmon is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. Reach him with news tips and story ideas at news@hearnebraska.org.