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Omaha's Finest: Neva Dinova's friendly exchange 

click to enlarge And Your mother said you'd never go anywhere without cleaning your room.
  • And Your mother said you'd never go anywhere without cleaning your room.
And Your mother said you'd never go anywhere without cleaning your room.
After 12 minutes of conversation broken up by three dropped calls, I realize that I've learned almost nothing remarkable about Omaha's latest Saddle Creek Records phenom, Neva Dinova. Lead singer Jake Bellows has jokingly (hopefully) claimed that the band puts ruffies into the drinks of its naysayers and also asserted that he isn't all that concerned with keeping up with new music before our communication breakdown. Oh, and he's also stopped in mid sentence to chat to his band mates about a moto-cross race track that the guys are driving past somewhere outside of Tulsa.

The connection drops again and Bellows calls back, this time on a different phone with much clearer reception and with a strikingly different demeanor. He jumps immediately into discussion about his folky, slightly alt-country sound that the band has dubbed as "rural textures" and the fact that now, after 15 years in existence, Neva Dinova has a well received record out on one of rock music's more esteemed labels. Bellows suddenly isn't the asshole I'd pegged him as.

"We never sit down and say 'let's make a song that's influenced by this certain thing," Bellow says of his band's tough-to-categorize take on indie folk rock.

"We were playing with a big band one time and after the show the guy was like 'you need to go down to your local record store, ask them what's going on, pick up a few records and see how you guys can fit into the contemporary music scene.' And I was like, 'Wow, I didn't expect you to say that,'" Bellows says.

Bellows doesn't go on to say what band exactly gave him that peculiar and seemingly profit-minded advice, but it's clear neither he nor his band took it to heart. Neva Dinova could be thought of as a mellowed-down Wilco, but even that's somewhat of an oversimplified, straight-out-of-the-can description. On the band's You May Already Be Dreaming, Bellows offers up lyrics wrapped in modern relevance that sit fluidly atop the band's ultra-simple song structure. One national critic knocked Neva Dinova as trying too hard to sound like they're not trying too hard - that's somewhat witty, but seems a rash judgment of a band that produces a simplified product, but does so with innovation and a certain amount of panache.

The alt-country flavor present on Dreaming has some hints of the music of Bellow's friend and fellow Omahaian, Conor Oberst. Bellows has played with Oberst's Bright Eyes on a tour, and has also brought Neva Dinova on tour opening for Bright Eyes. Bellows thinks Oberst's high-profile standing has definitely been a factor in making Omaha one of the country's most unlikely musical hubs.

"I think that in every town the stuff is there and either there's some focus turned on it and you get the opportunity to see it or you don't - in some towns there's a ton of good music and you've never heard of any of it," Bellows says of Omaha.

Like their contemporaries, Fleet Foxes or Blitzen Trapper (bands Bellows says he's "stoked to be thrown in with"), Neva Dinova employ the occasional dash of reverb on the vocals and other instruments to add that timeless feel that makes their cuts sound as if played on a vinyl somewhere between 1968 and 2008. For Bellows, part of the challenge is keeping these songs fresh on stage.

"We do what we need to do to keep this from feeling like I'm going from town to town covering our own songs," he says.

Before he hangs up, Bellows apologizes for the beginning of our interview. I tell him not to worry about it...but he says he was sincerely worried when our call was dropped and he thought we'd never reconnect, leaving me with a story about a band that's only noteworthy point of interest is their fascination with ruffies and smartass analogies. And for a moment, it's like being inside of one of those dropped call cell phone commercials.

Neva Dinova, McCarthy Trenching
8pm doors, 9pm show. Friday, October 3. Silver Moon Brewing Co. 24 NW Greenwood Ave. $7. 21 and over.


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