Reviews

When We Break

Author: Tim Shellberg
07/22/2005 | Northwest Indiana Times | www.nwitimes.com | Live Show Preview
When it comes to modern music geography, there is a strong chance that Omaha may be to this part of this decade what Seattle was to the early '90s.

Earlier this year, the Connor Oberst-led Bright Eyes released a pair of critically acclaimed indie albums that made their way to the top 20 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The albums were released on Saddle Creek Records, which also is home to fellow Omaha faves such as Criteria, Cursive and the Faint, to name just a few.
To Criteria founder Stephen Pedersen, both his hometown and its premier label are hardly a flash in the pan.

"(There's) loads of talent, an incredible work ethic, a mountain of good luck and strong relationships," he said. "All of these have come together to create the Omaha music scene and Saddle Creek, in particular."

Headlining a 21-and-over free show Monday at Chicago's Empty Bottle, Pedersen spent more than a half-dozen years playing guitar for label mates Cursive before stepping out on his own in 1998. He left Nebraska for North Carolina, where he released a pair of albums leading The White Octave.

In 2001, Pedersen returned to his hometown and formed what would become Criteria with guitarist Aaron Druery, drummer Mike Sweeney and bassist A.J. Mogis, who each had put in no small amount of time in Omaha-based bands.

"Criteria differs from my other bands because Criteria's music is more rocking, more riffing, more over the top anthemic rock than my previous bands," Person said via e-mail from East Berlin, where the band was wrapping up a European tour late last week. I think criteria uses time signatures and melody in a unique way. We're not trying to re-invent the wheel. But I think our rock has a unique kind of quirkiness to it."

In 2003, Criteria released their debut, "En Garde," and will follow that up next month with "When We Break." Pedersen, the band's primary songwriter, had a pair of goals for his forthcoming release.

"I wanted to move away from writing about my relationships with women," he said.

"I wanted to write about the role of good fortune in my life, the need for human interaction, and express some of my concerns about our current administration. Sonically, I wanted it to sound more like a band, instead of just me."

Pedersen expects he and his band to remain on the road in support of "Break."

Supporting Criteria at Empty Bottle for their ongoing free Monday concert series are Detroit-based rockers Easy Action and the Windy City-based Hirudin.
When We Break

When We Break

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