(Editor’s Note: We start our SXSW Dispatch with an early report from Imagem Music‘s Jon Pikus. He’s scheduled for the Saturday dispatch, but decided to submit the following piece when he had a dream about driving to Austin, Hunter S. Thompson, BBQ and RM 64‘s Berko? Enjoy…)
We were somewhere around Austin when the Shiner Bock began to take hold. Read more…
L.A.-based of Verona have recently been drawing praise from both critics and artists alike, with comparisons to acts like Florence and the Machine, and landing on ‘bands to watch in 2011′ lists, including a recent feature on the MTV daily series The Seven. Comprised of members hailing from Brooklyn and Toronto, the band set up shop in Los Angeles, and have been touring constantly for the last year, including performances at Summerfest, SXSW, The Seattle Music Festival, Sundance Film Festival and The New Music Seminar. of Verona will take up residency at the Viper Room for the month of September, and they’re currently giving away their new self-produced album Fall Like Roses, which was mixed by John O’Mahony (Metric, Coldplay), on their Facebook page…. Check it our HERE.
Surprise!! After been closeted away down the rabbit hole, toiling away turning the wheels of industry, figures it was time to pop up again into the world and find out just what we have missed. And what better day to choose, than April 1st? So just what has been going on these past few months?
* Domino blasted out of the annual SXSW fiesta on a definite high with everyone raving about their new signing, Austra. The band’s debut album Feel it Break drops May 17. The label also has a schedule of highly rated new releases from Cass McCombs, Anna Calvi and of course the long awaited re-issue of the Queens of the Stone Age classic debut album. Oh yeah, there’s also a new album, Blood Pressure, from our favorite rock duo, The Kills about to drop any day. Bets on ‘best of 2011 list’ anyone?
* A band www.arcadefire.com on an indie won a Grammy for best album or something. More exciting was that their label, Merge Records, released the stunning new album, Civilian from Baltimore’s Wye Oak.
* A new UK combo with inauspicous beginnings (formed from the ashes of Cajun Dance Party) and a terrible name – Yuck – put on some shows and released an album that was far from terrible or inauspicious. Combining a dose of classic 90′s Sonic Youth & Dinosaur Jr the UK group stands as a definite bright spark in early 2011.
* After 20 years in business, our favorite Bay Area operation, Slumberland Records, suddenly became a ‘label to watch’ with new records from Pains of Being Pure at Heart and new noise group, Weekend.
* Sub Pop signed a new band. Or two. Or ten it seems. But seriously though, can they have any more? Still Corners, Memory House, Niki & the Dove… the list of newbies goes on. How many is too many? When you factor in their sub-label Hardly Art, the Seattle indie seems to have an active roster the size of a major label.
* Sharon Van Etten toured. And made even more fans. Swooooooooon.
* Radiohead suddenly dropped a new record on the world to much fanfare. An album which even their fans weren’t sure they really liked.
* The 2 piece is still in vogue despite the demise of the White Stripes in the guise of Hanni El Khatib.
* It became clearly evident that just because the bloggers love you and the press file is big and thick, it doesn’t mean you sell a massive number of records in 2011. Looking at you Dum Dum Girls. And Deerhoof.
* Bright Eyes released an excellent new album, ‘The People’s Key’, which may have been the most lavishly packaged release to hit the top echelons of the charts.
* Sebadoh toured to support the release of a t-shirt because the US label organizing the reissue of their classic Bakesale, release didn’t come close to getting the album out on time.
* The Radio Dept finally toured North America and released a double CD of singles and oddities. Peter Bjorn and John released a new record. Yay Sweden!
* Portishead sent a welcome message that they are happy to buck the system. And you know they will still have fans. And will still sell records.
* Sasquatch Festival once again looked like more fun than spending 3 days in the desert…
* Wilco became an indie band. Rah!
* The neo-soul movement became even stronger, with the continuing charge of Fitz and the Tantrums, as they took over SXSW, and seemingly now, the world. Then there is that old dude (62!) Charles Bradley showing a) its never too late to start your recording career (ageism be damned!) and b) THIS is how you make a great soul record. He may not be Otis Redding but he is a fine substitute!
My, this has been fun. But wait – there’s more we’re sure! Maybe we’ll just have to be back next week too fill in some holes that have undoubtedly been missed…
The latest news coming out of the Warner Music Group sale, is that Napster co-founder, and current Facebook and Spotify investor, Sean Parker is part of a consortium that is planning to make a bid for WMG, a group led by Ron Burkle and Doug Teitelbaum, according to AllThingsD. Burkle’s interest in making a play for the company was recently revealed along with a handful of other leading suitors. Parker’s moves are always of interest to tech and music industry circles, due to his association with such high-profile and influential start ups. Warner is one of two remaining major label groups yet to sign on with Spotify in the U.S. – Universal Music Group being the other… The New York Times profiled Big Machine Records founder Scott Borchetta in a piece over the weekend. Borchetta goes into his early career in Nashville working with his father’s promotion company and various Music City record labels, before starting Big Machine in 2005… On the heels of the recent acquisition of music subscription service Thumbplay byClear Channel, who is eyeing the online radio space currently dominated by Pandora, the company has announced the departure of its head of digital Evan Harrison… And Superglued, a highly-anticipted location-based Foursquare-like mobile app for concerts, will be unveiled tomorrow during the last day of SXSW Interactive.
Los Angeles-based Saint Motel have been busy since they last released new music back in September of 2009, including selling out multiple hometown shows, most recently their 3rd annual Zombie Prom, playing the Rock & Roll Circus in NYC with Ariel Pink and Amazing Baby, as well as touring with the likes of Band of Skulls and Nico Vega. The band will be playing a series of shows at the little music gathering in Austin next week called SXSW, including an official showcase at Emo’s on Saturday night (3/19) with Neon Trees and The Limousines among others, and they just wrapped up an albums worth of new tracks, the first of which they’ve released today, called “Puzzle Pieces” – check it out… SAINT MOTEL – Puzzle Pieces by saintmotel
As industry folks from all over the world are preparing to descend upon 6th Street in a matter of weeks, intent on keeping Austin weird during SXSW, a buzz is already developing down in Bat City over locals The Soldier Thread. The Austinite five-piece was originally formed by songwriter/pianist/guitarist Justin McHugh and guitarist Todd Abels, before recruiting lead singer Patricia Lynn along with drummer Drew Vandiver and Chance Gilmore on bass. The band recently finished a new set of recordings with local producer Dwight Baker, and the tracks are generating serious attention from both record labels and management firms on both coasts. Our intense investigative methods (i.e. Facebook), also reveal that Lynn was recently in the studio providing guest vocals on a few tracks for the new Blue October album… Make sure to put them on your SXSW dance card, but better hope it isn’t be too late.
Music-streaming start up Rdio has raised $17.5million in new funding with a round led by Mangrove Partners. The company, founded by Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom of Skype notoriety, also announced the addition of Warner Bros. Records chief Rob Cavallo to its board of directors. The addition of Cavallo is said to be an effort to “strengthen” relationships with the music industry. Rdio currently offers a two-tiered paid subscription service, which fits in with Warner Music Group ruler Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s stance on services offering free levels of access, as in they “will not be licensed” by WMG… Yesterday’s News Corp. earnings call has led to more reports of an impending sale of MySpace. Company executives are not really saying anything new from what’s already been reported over the previous weeks, this time it is just more official… Anschutz Entertainment Group has announced a new joint venture called Outbox Enterprises, which sees the promoter entering the ticketing arena. As a result of the regulatory judgement in the Live Nation merger with Ticketmaster, AEG is allowed to compete for ticket sales. The new venture will be headed by former Ticketmaster executive Fred Rosen who will act as CEO. The company plans on beginning to sell tickets through Outbox in the next six to twelve months… Elsewhere, Inc.com checks in the eMusic after last years customer kerfuffle over the addition of more major label catalogues to the once indie-only music service, as well increased prices and the departure of indie stalwart labels Domino, Merge and Beggars Group… And The Fader Fort, a staple of the SXSW music festival for the last decade, has announced a new sponsor this year in Fiat. They’ll also be streaming live performances in conjunction with, err, MySpace Music?
A contingent of fans and industry alike were packed into Spaceland last night (or do we call it the Satellite yet?), to catch Los Angeles locals The Belle Brigade for the second week of what will be the final Monday night residency at the east side enclave. The group, led by brother-sister duo Ethan and Barbara Gruska, quietly signed to Warner Bros. Records last fall, right on the heels of the executive shake up which saw the installation of Rob Cavallo as new WBR chairman and chief executive. Talk about a tough room. Expect the Red Light-managed band, whose debut album is scheduled for an April release, to be one of this year’s SXSW buzz acts, with a number of shows already line up. We hear publishers are in hot pursuit. Stay tuned…