CatsMelvin records with Steve Albini; Omaha Girls Rock alum plays solo show tonight; Growlers return

Audio engineer Ben Brodin and Lincoln musician Michael Amend recently wrapped up a recording session with prolific and legendary engineer Steve Albini in Chicago.

Amend has been the sole constant in CatsMelvin for the last four years. Brodin is best known for his recording work at ARC Studio in Omaha with artists like Simon Joyner, Josh Hoyer and Pro Magnum in 2014. The two went to Albini’s Electrical Audio studio to track the six-song EP Color Me In. Listen here.

Albini has engineered thousands of records in his career, including Nirvana, Pixies, Mogwai, Cheap Trick, Joanna Newsom and more.

“Steve’s reputation precedes him for sure, but in addition to being one of the best engineers of the past 30 years, he is pleasant, funny and terribly smart,” Brodin told us in an e-mail. “The studio is wonderful, as well.”

Brodin worked with Albini on Stephen Bartolomei’s 2013 All The Ghosts record.

Amend has been working through CatsMelvin since 2010 on a variety of projects, almost always with different musicians. He’ll work with a group of musicians to craft a batch of songs, then Amend will come in after and fill-in with vocal work. The result has been a swath of different approaches to the process.

“Sometimes I have a song in my head and I put it to the music, others I create the lyrics as karaoke to the music,” Amend says.

CatsMelvin has a few projects in the works now, including a synth-infused country record.

Brodin wrote all the music for Color Me In while Amend, as always, did the vocal work. It was an experiment in efficiency. Brodin says they worked to put all the instruments down in one to two days.

Brodin says he’ll occasionally fill in instrumental work while recording other bands. He also makes his own records from time-to-time, but writing all the music for the EP was somewhat unique.

“It was a pretty blank compositional canvas.”

Amend says he gave Brodin the song titles and loose structural direction and Brodin sent him back the demos for the six tracks.

The result is an EP of creatively-layered electric guitar work by Brodin and a vocal inclination toward classic singer-songwriters like Cat Stevens.

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Last night, Last Call with Carson Daly featured a segment with Orenda Fink on the same episode as Weezer and Thomas Sadoski, who’s best known for his work as Don Keefer on HBO’s The Newsroom.

Stay tuned for a video of Fink’s segment on the show, as it doesn’t seem to be online yet.

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California-based beach goth outfit The Growlers return to Omaha to play The Waiting Room on Feb. 22. Read our feature interview with frontman Brooks Nielsen here, from when the band was last through in Fall 2013.

The Growlers has released two albums on Everloving Records since its last stop through town. Find ticket info and a full list of recently-announced One Percent Productions shows here.

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Omaha Girls Rock can celebrate another post-camp performance success tonight. Ryleigh Welsh, who attended OGR last summer, has a solo show at The Barley Street Tavern tonight with John Klemmensen, Vern Fergesen and Jon Oschner.

The day camp teaches empowerment and self-reliance to young women through music. Each camper learns an instrument and forms a band in the week-long camp.

RSVP here.

Down the interstate at The Bourbon, Big Smo plays tonight with Emmett Bower Band. If you can’t tell if the lineup looks more like hip-hop or country, it’s no wonder. Big Smo is some blend of country and rap, which mostly means there is some guitar, songs about things like how much Big Smo loves to work a difficult, underpaying job and he doesn’t sing.

RSVP here if you’ve always loved country themes but were never sold on the delivery.

Also tonight, Milwaukee-based punk band Direct Hit plays The Hideout with Pears, Ties, No Thanks and DJ D-Tour Dan. It’s quality punk show and Black Heart Booking leader Lucas Wright tells us (in a story to be published next week), it’s one of his company’s last for awhile. RSVP here.