Results for Austin
Our guest this week is the alternative grunge band out of Nashville, Bully. The group is fronted by Minnesota native Alicia Bognanno, with drummer Stewart Copeland (no, not the drummer of The Police,) bass player Reece Lazarus and guitarist Clayton Parker. In 2013, the band signed with Columbia on their Startime International label and in June of this year, released their debut full-length album, Feels Like.
Jim first saw Bully perform at SXSW this year in Austin and was blown away by their sonic power and emotional lyrics. A few weeks ago, Bully came into the studio and while unfortunately Greg couldn't be there, Jim had a great time talking to the members about their past professions, '90s nostalgia and their unique sound.Go to episode 510
In nearly 20 years, Spoon has managed to release 8 albums, all of them worth a listen, according to Jim and Greg. That is no small feat. Their latest, They Want My Soul, is a real expansion of their sound, from minimal post punk to a more grown-up soul. Lead singer Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno founded the band in 1993 in Austin, and they talk with Jim and Greg about how they have stayed relevant for so long, working with producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Low) and calling back to "Jonathan Fisk."Go to episode 476
On this episode Jim and Greg give their annual South By Southwest reports. Our hosts head down to Austin, TX every year to check out new bands and learn about what's happening on the business end of things. While most folks spend their days frolicking at outdoor parties, Jim and Greg go from conference room to conference room to hear about industry trends. One panel Jim attended focused on the state of independent labels. He was struck by the suggestion that indie labels might have to sign artists to deals similar to corporate 360 deals in order to survive. Greg understands why artists who aren't at a Radiohead level might want a small support system to get their music made and heard.
Another buzzword at this year's festival is the "darknet," which refers to a looming state where data is shared in a closed, unregulated virtual market. Greg describes how industry analysts are looking at the digital music business and see implications beyond the industry. To them, the future of democracy is at stake!
While many SXSW attendees fret about product distribution, Jim and Greg attended a discussion dedicated to one single release: The Neil Young box set. Fans have anxiously been awaiting such a collection, and this summer they‘ll not only get Young’s music, but the capability to dive into Young's archive and future archive.
Of course, it's not all work at the SXSW Music Festival. Jim and Greg check out as much new music as they can. And with more than 1800 bands playing during the four-day affair, they had a lot to choose from. Now they've returned home with some new favorites for you to check out.Go to episode 174
Record Store Day 2009
The official Record Store Day is April 18, but for Jim, Greg and other hardcore music fans, every day is Record Store Day. To honor the independent record store industry, Jim and Greg speak with Matt Jencik, head buyer at Reckless Records in Chicago, Marc Weinstein, co-founder of Amoeba Music in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and John Kunz, owner and president of Waterloo Records in Austin. These veterans of mom and pop record shops discuss the challenges they face in the wake of the digital music revolution, including exclusivity deals that artists like Prince and AC/DC have made with big box retailers. They also stress the value local retailers have in our communities.
Jim and Greg both have personal relationships with record stores as well as professional ones. During the next segment they recall two indie shops that were important to them and play songs they discovered subsequently. Jim plays "You're So Cool," by The Cyclones, a band he discovered at Pier Platters in Hoboken, NJ. Greg plays, "Temptation" by New Order, a band he fell in love with at Wax Trax in Chicago.Go to episode 177
Spoon Hot Thoughts
Austin, Texas-based indie rockers Spoon have teamed again with producer Dave Fridmann for their ninth studio album, Hot Thoughts. The result, according to Greg, is a subterranean disco record where everything becomes a percussion instrument, from the guitar riffs to Britt Daniel's rhythmic vocals. Alternating between minimalist electro-grooves and avant-garde tracks, it's a great Spoon album that the band has been building toward its entire career. Jim concurs, highlighting the inventive drumming of Jim Eno that propels the band. He marvels that Spoon can continously reshuffle the same minimalist ingredients yet always come up with bold new statements. Hot Thoughts gets a double-Buy It.
Roky Erickson True Love Cast Out All Evil
Psychedelic rock pioneer Roky Erickson has an album out called True Love Cast Out All Evil. Since fronting the 13th Floor Elevators, Erickson has been in heavy decline, dealing with mental illness and drug abuse. He was nursed back to health by his brother and, in part, the Austin community. So this record, which was produced by Will Scheff of Okkervill River, is a personal as well as a professional achievement. Greg describes this record as reflective rather than howling. But, it's beautiful to hear his voice, which is still intact. He gives it a Buy It. Jim wishes that Erickson had collaborated with someone like Billy Gibbons, who could‘ve brought out the acid rock side of the singer. He doesn’t recommend this if it's your first foray into Erickson's music, but gives it a Buy It.
The Preatures Blue Planet Eyes
While Greg discovered Protomartyr at the 2014 SXSW Music Conference, Jim came back from Austin raving about The Preatures. The Australian quintet's new album is called Blue Planet Eyes, and both Jim and Greg think it's the warm, upbeat salve we need during these blistering months. The album was produced by Spoon's Jim Eno, and Greg can hear his taut, syncopated touches all over it. And while Preatures singer Isabella Manfredi is being compared to New Wave divas like Blondie and Chrissie Hynde, Jim adds another joyful influence:“Walking on Sunshine”by Katrina & the Waves. If you're making your list for Santa, add Blue Planet Eyes—a double Buy It.
Spoon also has a new album out called Transference. It's the Austin band's 7th release, and on it they've returned to formula-a very simple one that melds cryptic lyrics with hypnotic rhythms. On their last record, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the band opened up more and included horns and more melodies. Greg wishes they had kept pushing in that direction. Instead they sound like they closed up again. He calls this an album for fans only, and while there are great moments, it's hard to listen to at times. Greg gives Transference a Burn It. Jim is shocked. He admits that Spoon has returned to its artier ways, but he believes it works. For Jim Transference is a great road trip record and a definite Buy It.
Shamir was first brought to our attention by the one and only Mr. Greg Kot as one of his favorite artists from this year's SXSW in Austin. The 20-year-old singer defies categorization on his debut album Ratchet in so many ways: vocal style, presentation and sexuality. Jim and Greg both love the way he uses all the musical influences of his own past including country rock and brings in things like Chicago House, which embraced pan sexuality and ambiguousness along with killer danceable hooks. Shamir really impressed Jim and Greg with this debut; he earns a double Buy It rating.
For years Jim and Greg have made their annual voyage down to Austin, TX for the SXSW Music Conference. The goal was always clear: discover great new musical acts. And, while they are at it, take the music industry's temperature. But in recent years, SXSW has gotten a little too big for its britches with over 2,500 bands and 10,000 registrants. And, as Jim and Greg explain, it's now become a platform for big name stars to advertise products. (Just check out this gross stage display.) But, if you can side-step the corporate elements (and St. Patty's partiers), there's still a lot to gain in Austin (including pounds from beer and queso). Jim and Greg were impressed with Dave Grohl's passionate keynote. And they have another list of up-and-coming bands to watch in the year to come.Go to episode 382
Sound Opinions is in Austin for SXSW this week, but we wanted to leave you with some new music to check out. Here are some Buried Treasures (songs/bands you may not know, but should) that Jim and Greg discuss on this week's show:
- The Dials, "Tick Tock"
- Lefties Soul Connection, "Organ Donor"
- Dialated Peoples, "Alarm Clock Music"
- The Subways, "City Pavement"
- Animal Collective, "Did You See the Words?"
- Lying in States, "Tell Me"
- Stereolab, "Interlock"
- Lady Sovereign, "Random"
The SXSW Music Conference in Austin, TX is in its 27th year, and still remains the place for fans and industry professionals to see a ton of music. Every year Jim and Greg come back from SXSW with a list of new artists to watch (as well as aches, pains and headcolds). Check out the 2014 SXSW discoveries:Go to episode 434
This week on the show, Jim and Greg share their recent experiences at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Our hosts joined over 10,000 other festival registrants to attend music industry panels, conduct interviews, and most importantly, see new bands. In the four days they were there, Jim and Greg heard a lot of music. They share some of the best with you.
First is The Dresden Dolls. Jim went to see the Boston group and fell in love with their blend of German cabaret performance style and '80s synth-pop melodies. You can hear a little bit of "Modern Moonlight" off their upcoming release, Yes Virginia.
Next up, Greg discusses one his finds: Art Brut. He enjoyed this British band's straightforward melodies, catchy choruses, and witty monologues so much that he saw them twice in Austin. This critic even scrawled“New Kings of Rock”in his notebook following one performance. Jim joined him to see the band at the Pitchfork/Windish party, where they shared a bill with RJD2, Spank Rock, and one of Greg's other discoveries, Swedish indie pop quintet Love is All. Art Brut, who just recently played a sold-out show at the Metro, entertained the entire staff so much that they were invited to appear on the show the week after the festival wrapped. Listen for that interview in the weeks to come.
In between running from show to show, Jim and Greg took a brief moment to sit down with The Beastie Boys. The hip-hop pioneers were down in Austin to promote their recent concert film, Awesome; I Fucking Shot That, and spoke to Jim and Greg about making the movie, sampling, copyright laws, and the longevity of their career.
Back to the rundown of our hosts‘ favorite Austin discoveries. Jim’s next pick, The Black Angels, actually hails from the Texas state capital. After reading Jim's book on psychedelic rock, members of the band contacted him and explained that they were right up his alley. They were right. Jim, who caught some of the dark, Velvet Underground-influenced music in the sterile environment of Austin Convention Center, was totally blown away. To describe the band, he quotes their website which begs the listener to "Picture a red moonlit night, deep in the heart of Texas, with the ghosts of Nico and Timothy Leary being called back from the dead to guide you on a journey through Heaven & Hell and back again." Whoa, man…
Greg loves coming to Austin to see bands that may not get to the States otherwise. One such band is Serena Maneesh. The Norwegian group is one of many contemporary bands compared to My Bloody Valentine. Often referred to as“shoegazers,”these musicians are often literally standing, staring at their shoes, while producing a heavy, overdriven, almost symphonic guitar sound. Serena Maneesh is certainly channeling this influence — however, as Greg explains, this band is also quite performative. Our host describes how the lead guitar player, theatrically dressed as a gypsy showman, was joined by an“Amazonian”bass player. Only during SXSW can you see this in Texas, notes Jim.
We next hear some audio of Jim recorded down in Austin. He is describing one of his favorite acts: Tim Fite. Some may remember Fite's previous incarnation in Little T and One Track Mic and their one hit, "Shaniqua." But after getting signed to Atlantic and touring with Outkast, Little T went nowhere. Now, Fite has reinvented himself as a 1920s southern preacher/rapper who combines an O Brother, Where Art Thou? sound with irreverent lyrics and hip-hop. Gone Ain't Gone is forthcoming on Anti-/Epitaph, making Fite label mates with Neko Case and Blackalicious.
The Swedish band Love is All (mentioned above) is another of Greg's discoveries. This Swedish indie-pop group is one of many European bands who are rediscovering American music. This band is particularly influenced by musicians like James Chance and the Contortions and Lydia Lunch who fused both jazz and punk. Love is All became Greg's go-to CD while he was driving around the city of Austin.
Listeners can now hear what Jim and Greg really sound like at SXSW: definitely over-tired, and perhaps over-served. Our hosts caught up with Sound Opinions H.Q. immediately after going to see Rhys Chatham at Austin's Central Presbyterian Church, an experience they described as slightly mind-blowing. The avant-garde guitarist has basically been living in exile in Paris for the past decade, but emerged in Austin with a newly-formed guitar army: eight guitarists including Doug McCombs of Eleventh Dream Day and Tortoise, Ernie Brooks of The Modern Lovers and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Jim reports that Chatham recently received a grant allowing him to realize his long-fantasized 100-member guitar ensemble.
One of the SXSW events Greg always tries to attend is Alejandro Escovedo's Sunday night show. This year Grady was one of the opening acts. Greg found their huge, overpowering sound on par with that of Chatham's guitar army. He also compares their sound to that of ZZ Top's early days. Listen for yourself as Greg plays a sample of their 2004 release Y.U. So Shady?
White Whale is Jim's final discovery. He caught the band at the Merge showcase, a label that usually delivers for this critic. He was again not disappointed. White Whale, whose members have been in a number of other indie rock bands including Butterglory, Three Higher Burning Fire and The Get Up Kids, impressed Jim with more than just its name. He found their sound to be a mix of Nick Drake and Pink Floyd, and also reminiscent of Elephant Six bands like Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. So far their music can only be heard on Myspace.com, but White Whale may turn out to be another SXSW success story.
Greg's final pick is a band called Katahdin's Edge. He caught the group after originally trying to see a Finnish band who couldn‘t make it into the country. He was blown away, and despite getting thousands of free CDs for his day job, Greg was compelled to put down his own money for a Katahdin’s Edge album. This trio from Providence is an example of how jazz and rock can fuse in a great way. Rather than take an academic approach to jazz, Katahdin's Edge had a rock and roll, party edge that Greg really appreciated.
Greg was also caught on tape before and after seeing the biggest hype of this year's festival: The Arctic Monkeys. This has been quite the year for the young British band. In January they broke records for first-week sales in the U.K. with their debut release Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. In addition, they‘ve been proclaimed by many in the press as the greatest band to emerge from the U.K. in years. That’s a lot for a new band to live up to, but Greg was pleased with what he saw. While the Arctic Monkeys may not be what their hype claims, the music was well-rehearsed, packed with rhythm, and downright“ferocious”according to our host. Plus, the lead singer already seems to have the rock and roll attitude down.
Jim and Greg are getting ready for the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, but there is already controversy brewing at the festival before they even arrive. SXSW has come under fire for language in its performance agreement with international artists that says the festival will notify U.S. immigrations authorities if the bands play unofficial shows. The language has been in the contract for years, but in the wake of the Trump administration's travel ban, some artists have threatened to boycott the festival. SXSW responded with a statement saying that it publicly opposes the executive orders and will remove the language for next year's festival.Go to episode 589
This week American Idol alum Carrie Underwood's song "I'll Stand By You," hit the Billboard singles chart. This would not be a noteworthy occurrence except for the fact this is the first time that an iTunes Exclusive single — not available on CD or from any other provider — has debuted in the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100. According to Apple, more than 100,000 audio downloads of The Pretenders' cover were purchased in less than a week. Also in the news is Warner Music Group's removal of over 400 jobs. The world's fourth largest music company reported a net loss of $27 million, and decided to cut jobs in order to shift resources to digital music distribution. Both of these stories reflect a trend in the music industry - one that favors digital music sales and usage. So, Jim and Greg wanted to check in with John Kunc, owner of Waterloo Records in Austin, TX to see how news like this affects his business. As one might guess, the mom and pop record shop isn‘t what it used to be, but Kunc explains that they’re definitely "beating the industry."Go to episode 76
Sound Opinions is sad to report the death of Stooges drummer Scott Asheton at age 64. This punk pioneer took the rhythms of Bo Diddley and the Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker and piled on the aggression, carving out the sound that would soon define punk, Jim explains. Listening to him pummel the drums on early Stooges albums, it's no surprise that Asheton (whose family couldn't afford a proper trap set) first learned to play by banging hammers on oil cans. Along with his brother Ron on guitar, Scott was described as the gasoline that Iggy's match set aflame. Jim and Greg honor the drummer by playing "1969" from the Stooges‘ debut album, a punk inferno that Asheton’s brutal rhythms kept burning bright.
It's the double feature that everybody was waiting for… in 1994. Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden are teaming up for a summer tour, just in time for the 20th anniversaries of NIN's Downward Spiral and Soundgarden's Superunknown. Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell says he's always been a NIN fan, and that he'd love to jam with the band onstage—but Trent Reznor might not be so enthused. Back in 2009, Reznor took Cornell to task on Sound Opinions, calling his Timbaland-produced solo album an“impressively bad”sell-out. Maybe NIN will bring on a more suitable collaborator for its next tour.
The 2014 SXSW Music Conference, normally a festive event, which brings tens of thousands of people to Austin every year, will unfortunately be remembered as a tragic one. A horrific car crash early Thursday morning resulted in the death of three people and the injury of many more. Also making headlines was Lady Gaga. The pop diva not only performed at a contoversial event for a snack food company, she gave the keynote address. According to Gaga, without sponsors, there wouldn‘t be music events; labels can’t afford it. A surprising assertion from a woman who later touted her music industry rebellion.Go to episode 434
The digital music site eMusic has angered some listeners and labels in recent weeks. They moved from subscriptions to a tiered pricing model similar to iTunes that will include higher priced major label songs. After making this announcement, three of the biggest indie labels in the business decided to take their music elsewhere. Domino Records, Merge Records and the Beggars Group, which includes Matador, XL, Rough Trade and 4AD, have not elaborated on their decision to leave, but Jim and Greg suspect it's because of this new deal with major labels. In their statement, eMusic explained that this change was necessary for their long-term sustainability.
What's the best music town in the country? Some would say Chicago; some would say Seattle; but according to Songkick.com, it's Austin, Texas. Austin has always touted itself as the live music capital of the world, and now they've got this to back it up. In their survey of live shows per capita, Songkick also put Madison, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Denver in their Top 5. Some surprising winners, especially when you scan down to find that New York and L.A. didn‘t even make the cut. And it’s interesting to note that these cities had lower average ticket prices than bigger markets.Go to episode 261
Every March, thousands of music fans come together in Austin, Texas to attend South by Southwest, a four-day music festival in which almost 1,400 music acts perform at clubs, parties and showcases throughout the city. For music fans it's a sonic smorgasbord, for music industry professionals it's a chance to network-but for everyone who partakes in the non-stop rock and roll action, it's an opportunity to discover great new music. During the show Jim and Greg will share some of their favorite bands and moments from SXSW 21. You can also check out last year's wrap-up.Go to episode 69