Results for SXSW

interviews

Protomartyr

In the 1990's, the musical attitude of Detroit was reshaped by artists like Eminem and Jack White. But now the Motor City's mood has changed even more, and the minimalist post-punk sounds of Protomartyr are at the fore. The four-piece made a big impact on Greg back at this year's SXSW in Austin, TX with an almost contradictory mix of urgency and restraint, courtesy of guitarist Greg Ahee's stripped down playing and vocalist Joe Casey's sometimes callous, sometimes cool vocals. The band is rounded out by bassist Scott Davidson and drummer Alex Leonard and Greg welcomes them into the studio for a conversation and performance of songs off their sophomore album, Under Color of Official Right. In addition to their connection to literary icon Elmore Leonard, the band also tells Greg about how they went from a somewhat nonchalant beginnings, to constructing a tightly arranged and thoroughly purposeful album guided by the philosophy of doing more with less.

Go to episode 470

Midlake

When Jim and Greg were at SXSW last year they discovered one of their new favorite bands: Midlake. The Denton, TX quintet have been around for about 10 years, but Greg notes that the current Midlake is almost unrecognizable from the old one. He and Jim talk with three-fifths of the band (Eric Pulido, Eric Nichelson, Tim Smith) about how they came together and evolved. The lead singer Tim explains that OK Computer was integral to their development from a 30-minute jam band to what they are today. Psychedelic music fan Jim also wanted to ask what is in the water in Denton. Considering the size and location of the city, it's surprising how many bands came out of there. Eric Pullido, the band's rhythm guitarist, responds that the Denton community really supports art and music.

During their visit Tim and the two Erics of Midlake play "Van Occupanther" off their 2006 release The Trials of Van Occupanther. Tim, the chief songwriter, explains that during a game of “strangest name,”someone came up with Van Occupanther, and everything followed from there. He dismisses the notion of a“concept record,”but admits that there are recurring themes and a cohesive nature to the album due to the fact that all the songs stem from one person. The band also plays "Chasing After Deer," and discusses the process of writing Jim, Greg and Jason Lytle's favorite track, "Roscoe." You can also hear the bonus track "Bandits" here.

Go to episode 95

The Besnard Lakes

This week's guests are the members of Canadian indie rock group The Besnard Lakes. The band is one of many up and coming acts to come out of the Montreal rock scene, including recent guests Arcade Fire. Jace Lasek, Olga Goreas, Steve Raegele, Richard White and Kevin Laing came to town for a tour in support of their second album The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse. Jim and Greg first became fans after seeing the group perform at this year's SXSW Festival.

Husband and wife Jace and Olga are the primary songwriters in The Besnard Lakes. The pair met after Jace saw Olga playing bass, and immediately became smitten. The two moved to Montreal in 2003 to start a recording studio, and they didn‘t form The Besnard Lakes until after they put their first record together. Their name comes from Jace and Olga’s favorite spot for R&R: a lake in northern Saskatchewan. But, Jim and Greg wonder if the band has gotten enough vacation time in recent years; there are very dark themes running through the record — devastation, destruction — and Jace explains that he loves writing sad and emotional songs. You can hear three such songs during the course of the interview.

Go to episode 89

Booker T. Jones

When Jim and Greg were at SXSW, they were invited to interview soul legend Booker T. Jones in front of a live audience. This week, you'll get to hear some highlights of that interview. Jim and Greg start the interview by asking Booker how he became such a musical prodigy. The multi-instrumentalist, who has played tuba, piano, saxophone, guitar, oboe, and of course, most notably, organ, credits his musical family with steering him on that path. This path took him to Stax Records where he, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr., and Lewie Steinberg (later replaced by Duck Dunn) formed Booker T. and the MGs. While Booker was still in high school, the group recorded "Green Onions," which went on to become one of their most well-known hits.

Jim asks how Booker feels about being relegated to the role of“side man,”in music history, but the musician explains that he feels nothing but pride about being“best supporting musician.”In fact, Booker explains that being a side man elevated him as a musician and allowed him to do so much more than he would have been able to solo. Some of the people our guest has recorded with over the years include Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Ray Charles, and even Barbra Streisand.

Booker T. and the MG's not only played with an impressive cast in the studio, but on the road as well. Jim and Greg highlight his 1967 European tour with other Stax artists, and ask Booker what everyone must have been on to get that powerful, lighting fast tempos. Booker attributes that kind of energy and enthusiasm to people like Otis Redding and Al Jackson, describing them as“possessed people.”The Monterey International Pop Music Festival followed in the summer of 1967, and Booker describes this experience as one of the most eye-opening of his life. With everyone (including the Hell's Angels) collectively joining in to ensure its success, this concert was an affirmation of the values of peace and love everyone there believed in. The MGs went on to perform with Neil Young and with many artists at the Bob Dylan tribute in 1992 including George Harrison and Eric Clapton, who he dishes on later in the interview.

Performing at Monterey eventually led Booker to leave his steady stream of jobs at Stax and venture out to California. As a solo performer and producer Booker challenged himself with a number of new projects including a collection of standards for his neighbor, Willie Nelson. He also worked in the studio with Stephen Stills, Rita Coolidge, Bill Withers and Neil Young.

Go to episode 72

Art Brut

This week's guests are the members of Art Brut: Eddie Argos, Ian Catskilkin, Jasper Future, Mikey B., and Freddy Feedback. Sound Opinions was anxious to get these Brits on the show after seeing them play at the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX. The band, which got its name from a French theory of outsider art, was in Chicago as part of its first U.S. tour, and just released its first album, Bang Bang Rock and Roll, in the U.S. earlier this week.

After lead singer and songwriter Eddie Argos warns the kids to "stay off the crack", we hear a bit of music by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Richman was a major influence on Argos as a songwriter. Argos explains that his career as a musician did not really come easily. After his former bandmates all left to go to university, Argos moved to London for a second try. But there were not many takers, because, as Argos explains, he is not much of a singer and can't play an instrument. Lucky for us, an inebriated Argos was able to convince a few people to join him, and so emerged Art Brut.

What Argos may lack in singing talent and musical ability, he certainly makes up for in personality. In the vein of singers like Damon Albarn and Lou Reed, Argos knows that attitude, wit and a voice are more important than formal training. That voice comes through in songs like "Formed a Band," where he expresses delight in the sheer act of forming a band.“Why not?”he explains to Jim and Greg.“Why can't we get on Top of the Pops?”People who have seen the band (who tours in a 40-foot tour bus) play live know that is a valid question indeed.

Go to episode 24

Bully

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

Tim Fite

When Jim and Greg were in Austin, TX for SXSW they met with music artist Tim Fite. In 2007, Fite made Over the Counter Culture, one of Jim and Greg's favorite albums of the year and released it for free. Now he's back with a new record called Fair Ain't Fair that he's releasing the old-fashioned way. But, the artist explains that the subject matter of this album isn‘t as political and anti-consumerist, and therefore would be appropriate for sale. Plus he’s happy to support a great record label like Anti. Fite's music is hard to classify, but you can hear the folk, hip-hop, rock, blues mix in the songs performed on the show, as well as in a special bonus track.

Go to episode 124

Peter Bjorn & John

Recently Jim and Greg invited a group of listeners to sit in on their session with Swedish trio Peter Bjorn & John. Many members of the audience had heard their album Writer's Block or seen them perform at festivals like SXSW. But, certainly everyone in the room had heard their catchy hit "Young Folks." The song has been featured in TV shows and commercials and was recently sampled by Kanye West. It provides just a taste of what the band had to offer. During their interview Peter Morén, Björn Yttling, and pinch hitter Nino Keller performed a number of songs, all of which you can sample here.

Go to episode 83

The BellRays

California garage rockers The BellRays join Jim and Greg in the studio this week. Some listeners may be hearing of the band for the first time (as our hosts explain, they are a group on the rise). The BellRays gained attention at festivals like SXSW and through their appearance in a Nissan Xterra commercial, but many people may only be familiar with lead singer Lisa Kekaula's side projects: Her powerful voice has been lent to Crystal Method, Basement Jaxx, and a recent MC5 reunion tour.

No one should doubt that The BellRays is a collaborative effort, though. The band's fifth album, Have a Little Faith, was produced by bassist Bob Vennum (who happens to be Lisa's husband), and most of the songs were written by guitarist Tony Fate. These three are joined by drummer Craig Waters to achieve a sound that is hard to describe. Many clichés have been attached to the group's music, which our hosts decided to call "part Tina Turner, part MC5." It's all fine with the band; just don‘t say they’re from Detroit.

Go to episode 35

St. Vincent

This week Jim and Greg welcome singer and musician Annie Clark, otherwise known as St. Vincent. After making a name for herself by touring and recording with Sufjan Stevens and The Polyphonic Spree, she recently released a second solo album called Actor. St. Vincent blew our hosts away at this year's SXSW festival, and Greg is already calling Actor one of the best albums of the year. They were excited to have St. Vincent along with her band into the studio for a live performance and conversation about dirty tour buses, digital oboes and Disney cartoons.

Go to episode 189

Fred Armisen

You know him as Fericito, the Tito Puente-like talk show host on Saturday Night Live or Spyke, the stretched hipster from Portlandia. But before Fred Armisen was a comedian, he was a punk rock drummer, working with groups like Chicago band Trenchmouth. It was only after spoofing the music industry conference SXSW and its "How to Make It"- style seminars that Fred transitioned into comedy. He went on to successful television projects and also produced a hilarious mock drum instruction video and a single by the aging hardcore act Crisis of Conformity. He returned to his old Chicago stomping grounds as part of Portlandia's live tour and spoke with Jim and Greg about the connections between music and humor. For example, musicians and music fans are rife for parody. And, Moammar Gadhafi is more like a rock star than you might think.

Portlandia fans should also check out Jim and Greg's interview with Carrie Brownstein and the members of Wild Flag.

Go to episode 327

Savages

After seeing Savages at SXSW, Jim reported back that he“saw god.”So imagine how thrilled we were to have god…er…Savages perform live in front of an audience at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. Jehnny Beth, Gemma Thompson, Ayse Hassan, and Fay Milton played songs from their Matador debut and talked about drummer warm-ups, rock and roll PhDs and why we should all“be here, now.”Couldn‘t be there in person? We’ve got video!

Go to episode 409
specials

SXSW 2008

Every year Jim and Greg return from SXSW with a list of“freshman”bands they recommend listeners check out. You can read Jim and Greg's complete SXSW reports here. And check out last year's picks to see where they are now. Here's the 2008 class:

Go to episode 121

SXSW 2009

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
reviews
AccelerateAccelerate available on iTunes

R.E.M. Accelerate

One of the most buzzed about events at the festival was the debut of songs from R.E.M.'s new album Accelerate. The band played its first show at SXSW, as well as Austin City Limits. (You can hear their live performance of "Fall On Me" during the show.) Jim and Greg both saw the rock veterans perform and have listened to the new album. So what's the verdict? Jim's feelings are mixed. R.E.M. is a band that has meant a lot to him in the early part of their career, but has disappointed him in the past decade. They've never reached the peaks they did with albums like Life's Rich Pageant, Murmur and Automatic for the People. He thought the ACL live show was better than recent tours, but not amazing. And the same can be said of Accelerate. They've returned to their roots, but not to form, and Jim can only give it a Try It. Greg was actually pleasantly surprised to hear the band re-invested again-for the first time since losing drummer Bill Berry. That was an incredible loss for the other three members, and Accelerate is the first album in years that can stand up to their earlier work, according to Greg. He hears a renewed urgency in Michael Stipe's voice and the emphasis placed once again on Peter Buck's guitar. Greg gives Accelerate a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 121
Blue Planet EyesBlue Planet Eyes available on iTunes

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.

JimGreg
Go to episode 470
SantigoldSantigold available on iTunes

Santigold Santigold

The final album up for review comes from Santigold, an artist Greg highlighted during the SXSW episode. He has been a fan of her songwriting since he knew her as Santi White, an A&R executive turned musician. He thinks the songs are as strong on her self-titled debut, which features production from people like Diplo and Switch. He gives the album a Buy It. Jim is put off by the branding of Santigold, and what he thinks is blatant ripping off of M.I.A. But he‘d be willing to forgive Santi if her voice wasn’t so irritating. He gives Santigold a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 128
Public WarningPublic Warning available on iTunes

Lady Sovereign Public Warning

After much buzz and anticipation, the major-label debut album from Lady Sovereign has finally been released. The British rapper, who is at once both diminutive and loud-mouthed, caught fans' attention after releasing an EP and a number of hit singles, and appearing at festivals like SXSW and Intonation. Now her first full-length album, Public Warning, is being put out by Def Jam. Not a bad way to make an entrance, but Jim and Greg wonder if there was too much expectation. They are both a little disappointed in Public Warning, and wish Lady Sovereign had released an album earlier and with some of her old material. But, they agree that there are a number of catchy, attitude-filled tracks and impressive rhymes, and they strongly urge listeners to not only Burn It, but keep an eye out for Lady Sov in the future.

JimGreg
Go to episode 50
RatchetRatchet available on iTunes

Shamir Ratchet

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.

JimGreg
Go to episode 495
Back to BlackBack to Black available on iTunes

Amy Winehouse Back to Black

This first album up for review this week is of Back to Black, the second album by British import Amy Winehouse. The singer/songwriter was one of the most buzzed about acts at this year's SXSW Festival, and her off-stage antics are getting her a flurry of attention in the British press. Jim and Greg, however, aren't sure the phenomenon will translate overseas. Winehouse prides herself on being influenced by jazz and the R&B and soul singers of the 1960s. But, both critics find her music to be a retro parody more than an authentic homage. In fact, Jim outright hates this album and gives his Trash It rating right up front. Greg didn‘t dislike the album as much as he thought he would, but was still unimpressed by Winehouse’s pale imitation of artists like Donnie Hathaway and Nina Simone. He also gives Back to Black a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 71
TreatsTreats available on iTunes

Sleigh Bells Treats

Sleigh Bells has released its debut record, Treats. The duo of guitarist and beat maker Derek Miller and vocalist Alexis Krauss made noise at both CMJ and SXSW. But to Jim, a self-professed connoisseur of noise, this is too much. Every note is full of massive fuzz and distortion. Everything's at“11,”and it gets a Trash It from Jim. Greg wants us all to note the moment where Jim complained his rock and roll was too loud. It's ear-bleed loud, yes, but it's also a tremendous pop pick-me-up. Greg gives Sleigh Bells a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 236
Cost of LivingCost of Living available on iTunes

Downtown Boys Cost of Living

Jim has been a Downtown Boys fan since he saw them perform at SXSW 2016, and describes them as“an undeniable force of nature.”On their new album, Cost of Living, the members of Downtown Boys are angry at today's sociopolitical climate and use their music to convey that anger, fighting the fight using "good humor, momentum, and the only good saxophone in punk rock history since X-Ray Spex." Greg names Victoria Ruiz the“perfect front woman for these times”and thinks "A Wall" is the song of the year. He also notes how producer Guy Picciotto, of Fugazi, highlights the band's excellent rhythm section. Given the sad events that occurred in Charlottesville this week, Jim calls Cost of Living an“antidote and inspiration.” Both give the album a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 612
Album ArtSilence Yourself available on iTunes

Savages Silence Yourself

Last year, London-based quartet Savages burst onto the indie scene seemingly fully formed. Jehny Beth, Gemma Thompson, Ayse Hassan, and Fay Milton had been a band for less than a year when the UK music press caught on to "Husbands," the group's debut single. Critically acclaimed performances at CMJ, SXSW, and Coachella followed (In our own SXSW wrap-up, Jim declared he had“seen God”at Savages' set). So do they deliver on their Matador Recordsdebut Silence Yourself? Jim's answer is an unequivocal "Yes!" Not only does he stand by his previous claim that Jehny Beth is the most compelling rock frontperson since Kurt Cobain, he extends the Nirvana metaphor. Just like that legendary nineties grunge band, Savages take familiar ingredients (post-punk and minimalism) and make them fresh. Greg agrees. This is a serious band, he says, with the album cover manifesto to prove it and the songs to back it up. Silence Yourself gets an enthusiastic double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 389
WWIWWI available on iTunes

White Whale WWI

The first album up for review this week is by White Whale. This up-and-coming indie rock group from Lawrence, Kansas first caught the attention of our hosts at this year's SXSW Music Conference. Now they have released their debut album, WWI. Whether the title refers to the Great War, or a great record, is unclear. But, both Jim and Greg agree this album is worth a listen, though not necessarily a purchase. Jim loves the prog rock approach, but can't go with a full Buy It. Greg agrees, explaining that he likes the music and finds White Whale intriguing, but isn't clear on the emotional subtext. He wonders where the“meat”is. Therefore, WWI gets two Burn Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 36
It's a Bit ComplicatedIt's A Bit Complicated available on iTunes

Art Brut It's A Bit Complicated

This week is an all out reviews blowout beginning with the sophomore album from British rock act Art Brut. Jim and Greg were both Art Brut fans from the get-go. They saw them at last year's SXSW Festival and invited them on the show. And once the band's debut album Bang Bang Rock and Roll was released in the States, it immediately soared to the top of both critics‘ Best of 2006 lists. So it’s no exaggeration to say that this follow-up has been highly anticipated. On It's A Bit Complicated, the band sticks to their three-minute garage rock formula that, ironically enough, isn't very complicated at all. But, Jim and Greg explain that Eddie Argos and the band have stepped up their game and amped up the hooks. Argos' earnest and self-deprecating lyrics are still there, making his stories completely relatable, especially for fellow rock obsessives like Jim and Greg. It's A Bit Complicated gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 84
Hold on Now, YoungsterHold on Now, Youngster... available on iTunes

Los Campesinos! Hold on Now, Youngster...

Welsh group Los Campesinos! has released their first full length album called Hold on Now, Youngster…. The seven-piece indie pop band first appeared on Greg's radar at SXSW. He was impressed by their exuberance, but admits that you have to be in the right mood for that level of enthusiasm. The formula can't sustain an entire album though, so Greg gives Hold On Now, Youngster… a Try It. Jim agrees about the rating, but was more put off by the band's lyrics. Like many indie bands today, these songwriters can be mighty pretentious. Jim really wanted to love this album, so he gives Los Campesinos! an angry Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 129
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just SitSometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit available on iTunes

Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has garnered attention over the last few years on the strength of a few buzzed-about EPs. She made a big splash at this year's SXSW and now has a proper album out called Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Greg loves how Barnett takes everyday details and turns them into incisive songs filled with fleshed out characters. She's also a fantastic guitar player with a distinctive rhythm/lead style. It's one of the best collection of songs Greg has heard in years. Jim compares Barnett to Kurt Cobain in her ability to mix the power of rock with the intricacy of pop melodies. Like Greg, he proclaims it one of the best albums of the year so far. Both critics give Courtney Barnett a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 488
Actor (Bonus Track Version)Actor available on iTunes

St. Vincent Actor

One of Greg's favorite acts at this year's SXSW was St. Vincent, also known as Annie Clark. After performing with the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, she's released her 2nd solo album Actor. Greg finds this sophomore effort to be a big step up. Clark wrote and produced the material all on her own, and the arrangements blow Greg away. He thinks it's one of the year's best records so far. Jim agrees, noting that while Clark may look like a Disney heroine, her songs are full of dark, subversive images. Actor gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 181
Wild Flag (Bonus Track Version)Wild Flag available on iTunes

Wild Flag Wild Flag

"https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/wild-flag-bonus-track-version/id451157831?uo=4") Ever since seeing them perform at this year's SXSW conference, Jim and Greg have been eagerly awaiting the self-titled debut from indie supergroup Wild Flag. And now that it's here, they aren't disappointed. The band is comprised of Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein, of Sleater-Kinney, Mary Timony formerly of Helium and a number of solo projects, and Rebecca Cole formerly of The Minders. Greg describes the songs as intense as Sleater-Kinney, but with more joy and a sense of abandonment. He's especially in awe of Weiss' drumming. Jim also loves Wild Flag, but for different reasons. For him Sleater-Kinney was lacking in melodies, something these songs have in spades thanks to Timony, who he calls an indie rock Stevie Nicks. Wild Flag gets a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 302
dijs

Greg

“Another Mellow Winter”Mellow

In light of recent tragic events in Paris, this week Greg wanted to celebrate the music of France with his Desert Island Jukebox selection. He focuses in on French rock band Mellow, a group he had a memorable experience watching perform at SXSW in the early 2000s. Even though they have been relatively inactive the past few years, their 1999 album Another Mellow Spring is their masterpiece. Greg chose the track "Another Mellow Winter" off the album because of its psychedelic, electronic and surrealist vibes. It's an epic track that reminds Greg of the power and strength of French music.

Go to episode 521

Jim

“Nicolas”Les Calamit'es

Jim spoke about the French pop group Les Calamit'es during the SXSW show, and now he has an opportunity to further showcase them. The British press called them better than Bananarama. The American press called them better than The Bangles. However they stacked up, the songs were irrepressible and high energy. In fact reviewing their LP A Bride Abattue, was Jim's first professional review job, and his editor stole his copy of the record. So to re-appropriate what was rightly his, he adds "Nicolas" to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 332

Greg

“Losing True”The Roches

Greg was inspired by a conversation he had at SXSW with a fan of The Roches, a sister group from New York City in the late '70s/early '80s. While British female-led post-punk bands like The Slits and The Raincoats are celebrated, their American counterparts like The Roches are often overlooked. Sisters Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche began singing Christmas carols door-to-door, but were later recruited by Paul Simon to sing backup vocals. They had an artier, weirder strain than most others in the folk scene, with lyrics that could be very funny or extremely poignant. Robert Fripp of King Crimson became a huge fan and produced two of their records. Fripp's guitar line on "Losing True" combines with the sisters' rich vocals to create what Greg calls a celestial sound, landing it a spot in the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 488
lists

SXSW 2014

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

SXSW 2013

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

SXSW 2011

Music fans and industry insiders have been gathering at the SXSW Music and Media Conference in Austin, TX for twenty-five years. While it has gotten too big for its britches in recent years, SXSW remains the place to hear new artists and issues facing the business. Jim and Greg didn‘t have high hopes for this year’s keynote speaker Bob Geldof. What has the Boomtown Rats done for us lately? Well, not much. But he provided one of the most insightful keynotes our hosts have ever heard. Geldof, who brought the world Live Aid, encouraged American musicians to wake up. He explained that rock ‘n’ roll needs to be against something – whether that's in reality or in spirit. Another noteworthy panel featured independent concert promoters from around the country, as well as Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard. The Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger was approved last year, and this panel attempted to find out how that has affected the concert industry. There were no concrete answers; ticket prices have skyrocketed but it's too early to attribute this to consolidation.

It's panels by day and music by night. Jim and Greg always return from SXSW with a truckload of new music. Here are their respective discoveries of artists to watch in 2011.

Go to episode 278

SXSW 2016

The South by Southwest Conferences in Austin, Texas showcase a whole host of creative content from films to developing technologies to new media. But for Greg and Jim, the chief purpose of attending is to discover their favorite new artists. Check out their picks for the best of 2016's SXSW.

Go to episode 539

SXSW 2015

SXSW2015 For years now Jim and Greg have been making an annual exodus to the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, TX. And while they often have to battle crowds and overblown corporate promotions in order to see new, up-and-coming bands, this year was, thankfully, a little more subdued. But star power was still the draw at the 2015 keynote featuring rapper Snoop Dogg being interviewed by…his manager. Greg preferred the candor of industry veteran and panelist Henry Rollins, while Jim was fascinated to hear a conversation on the new music economy with Win and Will Butler of Arcade Fire and New York Times columnist, Nobel laureate and former Sound Opinions Rock Doctors patient Paul Krugman.

Each year Jim and Greg slowly limp back from SXSW with a list of new artists to watch. Here is the 2015 crop:

Go to episode 487

Buried Treasures

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:

  1. The Dials, "Tick Tock"
  2. Lefties Soul Connection, "Organ Donor"
  3. Dialated Peoples, "Alarm Clock Music"
  4. The Subways, "City Pavement"
  5. Animal Collective, "Did You See the Words?"
  6. Lying in States, "Tell Me"
  7. Stereolab, "Interlock"
  8. Lady Sovereign, "Random"
Go to episode 16

SXSW 2010

For decades Jim and Greg have been making an annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas for the SXSW Music Festival and Conference. That makes them industry vets, just like this year's keynote speaker Smokey Robinson. In the digital age, it's easy to sample music from hundreds, if not thousands of bands from all around the world, but as Jim and Greg explain, a MySpace stream has got nothing on the live experience. This is why they and more than 10,000 other people converge on the Texas capital year after year. Here are Jim and Greg's SXSW discoveries for 2010:

Read more about SXSW at Jim and Greg's blogs.

Go to episode 226
features

SXSW '06

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.

Beastie Boys at SXSW 2006

  • 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.

Tim Fite at SXSW 2006

  • 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.

Go to episode 18
news

Music News

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

Music News

Universal Music, the home to U2, Eminem and Lil Wayne, has decided to drop its CD prices to $10 or less. These new prices will certainly be welcome by both consumers and retailers, but Jim and Greg wonder if this is a case of too little, too late for the music industry. CDs were nearly $20 a decade ago when physical music sales were at a high. Now that those sales are down, $10 may draw some consumers back in, but it's still a heck of a lot more expensive than an mp3.

Alex Chilton Next Jim and Greg remember musician Alex Chilton who died last week at the age of 59. Chilton first came on the scene as the 16-year-old singer of The Box Tops' "The Letter." He then joined Big Star, and as Jim and Greg explain, became hugely significant to musicians in the 1980's. Big Star was never a commercial hit, but everyone from REM to The Replacements has name-checked Chilton and the band's power-pop sound as an influence. The singer and songwriter died only days before a scheduled Big Star reunion at SXSW. The event turned into a tribute, one that Greg describes as one of the most memorable shows he's ever seen. To honor Alex Chilton Jim and Greg play a song from Big Star's third release Third/Sister Lovers called "Thank You Friends." For more Big Star love, check out the Sound Opinions Classic Album Dissections of #1 Record and Radio City.

Go to episode 226

Music News

This year's Mercury Prize winner has just been announced. The Arctic Monkeys will take home the British music prize, following in the footsteps of PJ Harvey, Dizzee Rascal, Badly Drawn Boy and Pulp. The prize is usually awarded to a non-commercial artist as an alternative to the more mainstream Brit Awards. Jim suggests that the U.S. equivalent would fall between the Grammy Awards and the more-eclectic Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics Poll. The Arctic Monkeys were a surprising choice because they were perhaps the most obvious candidates. To say they were a huge phenomenon in the U.K. is an understatement — their album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, was the fastest selling debut album in UK history. However, despite high profile appearances on Saturday Night Live and at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, they did not wow American audiences on the same level. But Jim and Greg both gave the record a Buy It rating in their review.

Also making headlines is soul legend Ronald Isley. The Isley Brother, also known as“Mr. Biggs,”has been convicted of tax evasion. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to pay $3.1 million to the I.R.S — the maximum sentence he could have received. Jim and Greg had hoped that the judge would show some leniency to the musician, who recently suffered a stroke and a bout with kidney cancer, and is expecting a baby in January. Our hosts also cite Isley as one of the great talents of our time, noting that he has had a major hit in every one of his six decades as a performer. They suggest that it is Isley's friend, R. Kelly, who deserves the harsh hand of the law.

While“Mr. Biggs”can stay“Mr. Biggs,”even in prison,“Diddy”can no longer be“Diddy”in the U.K. The artist formerly known as P. Diddy, Puffy, Puff Daddy, and Sean Combs has agreed to drop the Diddy name as part of a legal settlement with a London-based producer named Richard“Diddy”Dearlove. Diddy became Diddy in 2001, but Dearlove had a hit under the name in 1997. Combs, however, announced that he can now add a new name to the list: Diddy is going to be a daddy.

Go to episode 42

SXSW 2007

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