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There must be something in the waters of Omaha that fuels local songwriters to pen ponderous, beautiful, and downright depressing lyrics. Conor Oberst leads the depressive charge out of Nebraska on local Saddle Creek Records, and his labelmates, Mayday, share the same bummed out Americana style of music making that Bright Eyes has made so popular. Mayday’s latest effort, Bushido Karaoke, takes cues from classic ’50s greaser ballads in terms of its thematic content, all the while fleshing out those sad songs with countrified horns and violins.

Lead singer and songwriter Ted Stevens is an Omaha veteran, formerly the driving force behind Lullaby for the Working Class and lately part of Saddle Creek stalwarts Cursive. His heart remains with the blue collar: Songs off Bushido Karaoke take a decidedly anti-bourgeoisie stance. “You were much more fun when you were poor,” Stevens sings in his Elvis Costello-esque, vaguely nasal voice on “Pelf Help.” Stevens continues, asking an anonymous friend, “Remember the shabby house / Remember the empty drive / When you actually reeked of being alive?”

Bushido Karaoke is Mayday’s third full-length album. Over its initial few years of existence, Mayday has gone through varied incarnations, but on Bushido Karaoke, Stevens is backed Tiffany Kowalski (a former Lullaby bandmate), Dan McCarthy, and Pat Oakes, plus several other contributors who add to the lush orchestrations of strings and brass. Mayday is launching a North American tour in July.

Mayday tour dates:

7/14, Des Moines, IA (Vaudeville Mews)7/15, Chicago, IL (Schubas)7/16, Madison, WI (Cafe Montartme)7/17, Lansing, MI (Macs Bar)7/18, Toronto, ON (Horseshoe Tavern)7/19, Cleveland, OH (Grog Shop)7/20, Providence, RI (The Call)7/21, New York, NY (The Knitting Factory)7/23, Philadelphia, PA (Khyber)7/24, Alexandria, VA (IOTA)7/25, Carrboro, NC (506)7/28, Orlando, FL (Social)7/30, Birmingham, AL (The Nick)7/31, Nashville, TN (The End)8/3, Denton, TX (Hailey’s)8/5, Tucson, AZ (Plush)

Links:Saddle Creek home page