Labels & managers courting Seattle's latest buzz-act, Pickwick
In an odd redux of 2011, and the frenzy that erupted around The Head and the Heart, many eyes are again looking to the Pacific Northwest, and Seattle, and newbies Pickwick. The band were one of the buzz acts coming out of the recent MusicfestNW festival, with various labels checking them out, and a spirited chase developing between a selection of managers, most notably Jason Colton from Redlight, and Matt Shay from Zeigeist. Strangely the parallels to THATH are several, with the band already booked by Billions, and sharing a lawyer in Ed Pierson, which obviously has the contenders hoping Pickwick can also repeat the runaway sales of the Seattle sextet.
Closer to home, a number of label scouts, including reps from Atlantic, RCA and Columbia were out for the official record release party from LA’s Hanni El Khatib at the Echo last week. The singer/guitarist, who plays live as a duo with a drummer, performed to a packed house celebrating the issue of the album Will the Guns Come Out on the Innovative Leisure label. Hanni has already toured extensively, playing more than his fair chare of high profile shows, with Florence Welch (of Florence and the Machine) being just one of his notable fans and supporters, and a definite thumbs up for the two 7″ singles released to date has helped fuel the buzz. The slew of recent local gigs showed once again that Hanni, with his swampy garage punk that echoes the finer points of both the White Stripes and the Black Keys, has the goods, as an amplifier catching on fire, a sweaty house, and a rowdy moshpit, just added flavor to his eye-popping rock’n'roll set last week. Hanni played a repeat album release show last night at Chris Douridas‘ It’s A School Night, and he supports Peter Bjorn and John tomorrow night, 10/05, at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.
Another week, and another set of prime independent releases smash into the upper reaches of the mainstream charts. This past week it was Sufjan Stevens, Ra Ra Riot and The Sword with their moment in the spotlight, as all three made it into the top 50. Most noteworthy is the Sufjan EP, All Delighted People, which managed to rank #27 in spite of a previous limited release (that also trickled into the charts), and still being digital-only with no physical formats due for some time. Meanwhile Ra Ra Riot’s The Orchard on Barsuk clocked in at #36, and the Kemado/Mexican Summer crew showed that their Best Coast chart debut was no fluke by nabbing the #42 slot with the Warp Riders album from Texas face-melting metal band The Sword. Of course the real message in chart-land may be that the majors are losing ground (and sales) faster than the indies. But with the proliferation of prime independent releases hitting the charts in 2010, including the Arcade Fire nabbing the top spot, and the just-released Interpol album on Matador sure to do big business, maybe the story is now almost becoming a non-story?
Meanwhile, this week all (discerning) eyes are pointed towards the northwest. As if Stumptown Coffee, Pok Pok restaurant, the fresh air, Voodoo Donuts and the fine vinyl emporiums (like Mississippi Records) aren’t enough of a reason to make a trip to Portland, OR, the annual MusicFestNW festival is the icing on the cake. The 2010 line-up may be the festival’s best yet, featuring a heavy bias towards some of the Pacific Northwest’s finest talent, both new and old, paired with a choice selection of artists from other regions. So you have A-list acts such as The Decemberists, The National, The Walkmen and Panda Bear, combined with newbies such as The Head and the Heart, Jeff the Brotherhood and Magic Kids, making for a winning combination. Add in The Thermals, Kevin Devine, Menomena, The Dodos, AA Bondy and Past Lives and you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to spend your time this weekend.
- Cool Hand Luke
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