All posts tagged SXSW

Fear and Loathing in Texas

(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…

Take Notice: of Verona

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.

Indie Dispatches: All The News That’s Fit to…

UK's Yuck, among bright spots of 2011 so far

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 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…

- Cool Hand Luke

Monday Roundup: Sean Parker in on Warner Music Bid, NY Times on Big Machine’s Borchetta, Clear Channel Digital Head Leaves & more…

Parker Joins Bid for WMG

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 by Clear 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.

File Under: Stuff We Like

Read more…

Saint Motel Releases New Track, Keeps Putting Together the Pieces

Saint Motel releases new track, heading to SXSW

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

Take Notice: The Soldier Thread

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.

More Bits & Pieces: Rdio Taps WBR Chief Rob Cavallo, AEG Launching Ticketing Venture & more…

Rdio taps WBR's Cavallo

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, 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?

Out & About: The Belle Brigade @ Spaceland

The Belle Brigade

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…

SXSW 2011 Panel Picker Launches

Voting for SXSW 2011 panels has begun over at where you can give a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” to the list of dozens of proposed panels for next year’s conference. Voting concludes on Friday, August 27th and the first round of accepted panels will be announced in September…

At first glance, here are a few of the music topics that caught our eye:

Music Deals and Artist Compensation of the Future (Ed Pierson, Inside Passage Music Publishing)

The Indie Advantage (?) in Multiple Rights Deals (Eric German, MSK)

Help! I Need Somebody: Musicians With A Cause (Rynda Laurel, Vertigal)

Creating the Ideal Team for Emerging Artists (Bob Bradley, Authentik Artists)

Indie Dispatches: The Unstoppable Local Natives & The Shins New Album

Local Natives Building Momentum with Non-Stop Touring

One look at Local Natives upcoming tour schedule should leave little doubt that the LA five-piece are one the hardest working young bands out there. The group has always been a touring machine, but the list of forthcoming shows for the remainder of 2010 would make even a seasoned road warrior gasp in admiration. And showing that rewards are there for those who work, all their time on the road seems to be paying dividends. It was barely 15 months ago that Local Natives were playing SXSW for the first time, getting a Local who? response and a collective shrug of the shoulders from record labels; few suitors stepped-up with an offer to sign the band before they ultimately inked a deal with NY indie label French Kiss. Since then the group has become a global presence and have built a fan base the old-fashioned way, by touring, touring, touring. This summer sees them playing a host of A-list festivals worldwide – Oya, Glastonbury, Pitchfork, Reading, Leeds, Roskilde, Summer Sundae and Fuji Rock in Japan to name a few. This is all before setting off on North American dates that stretch from September 17th to October 28th.  The opening show of the tour at the Henry Fonda Theater in their hometown sold-out in a matter of hours, requiring the addition of a second date (the sell-out nights also seem to have brought some bigger labels sniffing around). Whether or not the sales of their album Gorilla Manor are commensurate with their live business, there’s no disputing that Local Natives are rapidly turning into the indie rock version of The Little Engine That Could.

In an interview for Pitchfork last week, James Mercer announced his next project will be a fourth album from his main combo, The Shins. Since the band have fulfilled their initial Sub Pop record deal, the two million dollar question is, which label is in line to release the album? Will it be the Seattle indie in some new-model arrangement? Or will Mercer follow the path of former label-mates Band of Horses and bring The Shins to Columbia Records – also the current home for his Broken Bells project with Dangermouse?   There’s always the possibility of another label stepping up with an offer too good to turn down, but Mercer & co. are also in a position to go it alone and turn their backs on the traditional label system. With the three prior Shins releases selling in massive quantities (both Oh Inverted World and Wincing the Night Away received gold certifications) and Mercer currently riding high with Broken Bells, to say the album is highly anticipated is an understatement.

-Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: The Emerald Isle’s Newest Troubadour & A Big Week of Releases

Conor J. O'Brien is Villagers

The last few years have seen a flood of talented singer-songwriters emerging from Ireland, from Damien Rice to Fionn Regan, but possibly eclipsing all of these could be newcomer Conor J. O’Brien. O’Brien, who records under the name Villagers, just released his debut album Becoming a Jackal this week on Domino Records. As they say in ole blighty, “it’s a corker”. The youngster, who has talents way beyond his tender years, has received comparisons to his namesake from Bright EyesConor Oberst, due to his knack for wistful lyrics and gorgeous melodies. It’s apparent O’Brien has already forged quite a name for himself and a dedicated fanbase, as his album hit the #1 spot in the charts in Ireland the week of release. Here in the states, the Villagers shows at SXSW were raved about, in particular the outdoor set on the Saturday where the singer-songwriter battled the biting cold on a windy hillside. His plaintive tunes provided a perfect soundtrack (and balm) to the unseasonal wintery weather in Austin.

Destined to join the Villagers album on the “best of 2010″ lists come December, is the latest release from Blitzen Trapper. Destroyer of the Void, which dropped this week, is the second record from the Portland, OR combo released on Sub Pop, and a follow-up to their 2008 breakout for the Seattle indie, Furr. There’s no denying that every Blitzen Trapper album to date has been a rag tag group of songs, with apparent influences from everything from Pavement to Wilco - a little bit alt-country, some spastic indie rock, but somehow it all works.

And those two are but a fraction of what has ended up being a veritable blockbuster week for indie albums. It’s hard to believe such a wealth of talent, and this is just a sampling, conspired to hit retail the same day, with new releases from Ratatat (XL), Hot Hot Heat (Dangerbird), Tokyo Police Club (Mom & Pop), Teenage Fanclub (Merge), Ariel Pink (4AD), The Belles (S-Curve), Nada Surf (Barsuk), Henry Clay People (TBD), Delta Spirit (Rounder) and more. For the indie fan, it seems like it Christmas comes in June this year!

-Cool Hand Luke

Tuesday Bits & Pieces: Buzz Band Redux, Notable Music Signings & more…

Notable Music Signs Aja West

SXSW billboard buzz-act Neon Indian has signed to Fader Label according to Billboardthe Cornerstone-backed label digitally re-releases the debut album, Psychic Chasms today… In related news, IAMSOUND Records has announced they will release albums this September from Salem, whose infamously interrupted performance at the Fader Fort during SXSW this year was well covered in the blogosphere, and Brooklyn’s Restless People, who were featured as a ‘Band to Watch’ on Stereogum last week… Helping you stay ahead of the indie-curve is the new interactive buzz-chart over at the Guardian that tracks 2010′s most hyped acts (in the UK at least) – Atlanta’s Washed Out currently leads the pack… More signing news from Notable Music as the boutique pubco announces the addition of Aja West and Chico Mann to their roster through the recent JV with Brooklyn-based Wax Poetics. West has been creating and syncing music for over a decade and has worked with luminaries such as trombonist Fred Wesley (James Brown), Headhunters rhythm section Mike Clark and Paul Jackson, and keyboard wizard Money Mark (Beastie Boys), while Mann aka Marcos “Marquitos” Garcia is the guitarist for the Brooklyn Afrobeat collective Antibalas, and is now branching out on his own… Interscope Records is holding open auditions in Austin, TX tomorrow (June 9) in search of a male Americana/Country/Rock-Pop singer. Get more info here. Similar auditions were held last fall in Nashville resulting in a new forthcoming project from the label…

Playing to the House…

L.A. Singer-Songwriter Jake Walden

The fact that many artists are utilizing alternative means of supporting their music seems to be getting picked up on more and more lately.  While recent private-investment in artists and start-up services that are based on a fan-funded model have been receiving mainstream exposure, probably due in part to more established and “known” artists beginning to employ their use, there seems to be a myriad of other ways that artists are funding their craft these days.  One such artist, L.A.-based Jake Walden, was able to fund his SXSW trip this past March by playing private shows in home settings on his route to and from the festival.  It began with simple postings online telling fans that Walden was available for private gigs on his travel to Austin, and the demand became clear when he more than paid for his expenses with stops in places like Arizona and Oklahoma. And though one might hasten to say it’s a Midwest phenomenon, a couple highly beneficial hometown private performances followed his festival return.  Currently Walden is preparing to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund his next album.  He plays in a more formal setting tonight at a sold-out show at Barre Vermont in Los Feliz…

Indie Dispatches: Coachella Music Preview & Record Store Day

Band of Skulls set to rock Coachella this Saturday

It’s that time of the year again, when music fans and industry folks alike make the trek to Indio California to sit by the pool, and sip… err, we mean, visit the Empire Polo Fields for three days of the Coachella Festival. And despite the recession and the absence of single-day tickets, we hear the mega-festival has already sold out. As always, it looks to be a great weekend with a solid lineup, but going beyond the big acts like Muse, Gorillaz, Thom Yorke and Faith No More, there is a healthy line-up of more underground but equally exciting artists to check out… Friday highlights include Brooklyn’s Sleigh Bells, who are odds-on for a “most likely to…” status in 2010, and Deer Tick who count NBC’s news anchor and indie tastemaker Brian Williams‘ as a fan… Looking to Saturday, Sub Pop’s Beach House have converted a lot of fans this year with their new album Teen Dream, while Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit should be the perfect summery pop-soundtrack for basking in the afternoon sunshine. From the West Coast, the Pitchfork-approved Girls and the odd-named-but-great-sounding Portugal the Man, who recently signed to Atlantic Records, are both worth a look, while the must-see for the day could be the UK’s Band of Skulls. Expect LCD Soundsystem to wow crowds in the desert, after wowing crowds with surprise shows in NYC last week, and keep an eye on The xx, who are fast-becoming the subject of obsession by music fans on both coast. Finally before escaping the desert, a must-see on Sunday’s dance card list includes: Australia’s The Middle East, who are rolling off a huge SXSW buzz, Sigur Ros singer/guitarist Jonsi, and Local Natives, who are one of the hardest working bands in L.A… Get Coachella set-times here.

If a trip to the desert is not in your future, don’t forget April 17th is the annual Record Store Day. A visit to support your local music emporium should always be a weekly event, but this Saturday is twice as exciting with a cool selection of limited edition items available. Just like a sample-sale event, record geeks will be out in full-force when the doors open, elbowing and jockeying their way to nab a copy of the limited Sonic Youth LPs, the Bon Iver 7″ and that Pavement compilation… Happy shopping!

- Cool Hand Luke

Indie Dispatches: L.A. gets Waved Out & Dangerbird’s Signing Spree

Dangerbird Records Signs Manchester's Delphic

The balmy Los Angeles weather had a whole stack of music fans and industry folk checking out bands on the rise, eating bacon-wrapped hot dogs and generally hanging out in historic Echo Park for the recent inaugural Waved Out Festival at the Echo/Echoplex. Kudos to the folks at Spaceland, who with help from Aquarium Drunkard put on the eastside event that was full of good vibes and from what we’re told is the first of what will be a series of similar affairs coming in 2010. Think of a mini-version of NY’s Siren Festival. The ‘one admission’ ticket across the two venues encouraged people to check out acts that they otherwise might have not investigated. This included local up-and-comers Gamblehouse and Atlanta’s The Coathangers, who came out with classic Pacific Northwest 90′s Riot grrrl rock swagger. The surprise of the day was San Francisco’s psychedelic Moon Duo – the two-piece is buzzing after some Pitchfork love for their recent SXSW shows. The all-day event was topped off with sets from Best Coast, the nom de plume of L.A. local Bethany Cosentino who has over 20k digital downloads and more than a couple premier indie labels in pursuit, followed by one of this year’s most-talked about acts at SXSW, Surfer Blood.  The latter played to a packed room, including a heavy contingent of top brass from Warner Bros. Records. Their release Astrocoast has sold over 20k on Kanine Records, and many are wondering if they will be the next act from the indie to be launched onto a major label following Chairlift‘s promotion to Columbia Records

More from the indie label front as Dangerbird Records continues their signing spree. After recently announcing the addition of both Minus the Bear and Hot Hot Heat to their expanding roster, this week they added more international flavor by signing Manchester’s Delphic. The combo’s new album Acolyte debuted in the UK top 10 earlier this year and will see a June release in the states.

- Cool Hand Luke

More Post-SXSW Bits & Pieces

Jaguar Love @ RM64 Dirty Dog Party 3/19

Like ours, your inbox has probably been piling up with post-SXSW coverage emails. To help with the clutter, here’s a look at a few post-festival reviews and interviews from some of this year’s standout artists… Live4ever catches up with the UK’s Band of Skulls on their blitz through Austin and Townshend-like amp wreckage… Buzzbands has video of locals Shadow Shadow Shade from the IFC Crossroads HouseSpinner reviews Dawes‘ “career-making” performances in Austin… Gordon Voidwell and Fitz & the Tantrums were a gear-nerds dream, Keyboard Magazine has all the synthillating details… Fader gets intimate with David Vandervelde and Vevo interviews Glasgow’s Twin Atlantic… And if you missed it, you can read our wrap-up post here

In Case You Missed It: Reading Recap

Acquires Cherry Lane Publishing - Eyeing EMI

One of the latest wrinkles in the unfolding tale of Terra Firma and EMI comes this week with a report that the struggling music company is in talks with competing major labels to license portions of its catalogue…  Universal Music followed up with a denial that it was speaking with the music company, while as rumored here, Bertelsmann and KKR‘s BMG Rights Management expressed that it is indeed interested in EMI’s assets. In related news, the newly launched publishing company made its largest acquisition to-date by purchasing Cherry Lane Publishing… In what could be interpreted as another step toward ISP bundled music subscriptions, AT&T announced a new music “experience” that will combine song downloads, streaming radio, lyrics and more in a single mobile application for subscribers… Next Big Sound compiled social media data to find the fastest rising bands at the SXSW music festival last week, and it was announced that online radio would be closing its doors.

Guitars, Dragons & Whales Oh My…

Mark Williams @ Bitter End (NYC) Friday, March 26th

For industry folks in the Big Apple, be sure to check out singer/songwriter Mark Williams perform at the Bitter End tomorrow (Friday, March 26) at 9pm. The 18-year old multi-instrumentalist is a stand-out virtuoso guitar player. He’s been playing professionally since he was 9 and played with B.B. King in Nashville when he was 11. New EP Starlit Stages is starting to get the attention of several East Coast label folks. Management is Ben Lazar (e-mail:…

Standout acts from SXSW continue to heat up on the heels of the famed festival. Last night saw a sold-out crowd for Cymbals Eat Guitars at The Echo. Many were also there to catch openers Bear in Heaven and new Frenchkiss/Mom&Pop signees Freelance Whales… We hear several East Coast label folks have flights booked to catch Imagine Dragons in Utah on April 9th & 10th.  The band also plays the Viper Room in L.A. on April 14th… Fitz & the Tantrums lived up to high expectations in Austin last week and as predicted it didn’t taken long for label offers to start coming in. Expect to see label and publisher reps out among the fossils for the band’s First Fridays performance next week (Friday, April 2) at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. Stay tuned…

SXSW ’10 Day Three

Gordon Voidwell & RM64 Crew

Thanks to the Dirty Dog, our sponsors, all the bands and everyone who stopped by our party yesterday… We’ll see you next year Austin.

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