It’s always the bands you find by accident that turn out to be the best, as you’ll find by reading further about new music recommendations from NPR vs what we found by stumbling down 6th Street…
CFO Bob Carnahan and I arrived here in Austin last Friday to catch SXSW interactive, so even though yesterday was “Day one” of SXSW music, we’ve been in Austin for five days already!
The best band we’ve stumbled into so far is “MTV Breakout” (I didn’t know MTV still played music) band “THEM TERRIBLES” who were playing at Speakeasy Monday night. Check out photos of these tasty looking lads (did I write that out loud?) in our blog library. We found these guys because we begged a tour of their Gibson Tour bus Anny wanted to see the guitars and the bus driver urged us to see them. Good choice!
Probably their best known song, “Dreamers” [find it on ] , is a lovely ballad with lead singer Matt Green behind the keyboard. With an energetic and exciting stage show, great crowd building transitions, lyrical melodies and smoky good looks, this band gave us a great time. I’d love to see them again.
These young men from Santa Barbara are made up of Matt Green on vocals, Marcus Vaughn Affeldt on guitar, Jimmy Marvitch on bass and Joey Benenati on drums. You can also find them on facebook or buy their songs on iTunes.
SXSW ’09 Panel Explains – How NPR became the place to discover new music
As a example 0f the opposite tactic, I covered a panel on “How NPR became the place to discover new music” on Tuesday as part of SXSW ’09 “Platinum Track” for our local Fort Collins community radio station, krfc.
With large corporations soaking up the last of the smaller, independent radio stations (or putting them out of business) the panel tells us that many seekers of new and inspired music are turning more and more to public radio as curators of great new original music.
Bob Boilen, host of All Songs Considered, and Anya Grundmann, NPR Music Executive Producer, shared their excitement about recent and upcoming music projects. One such project, which premiered with the launch of NPR’s music site (http://npr.org/music) was “Project Song” where artists were videoed in their efforts to write, produce and record a song in just a couple of days. Challenges such as this give artists a unique situation where they can exercise their creativity in new ways, said Boilen.
Certainly NPR’s music site (http://npr.org/music), which features over 45,000 artists pages, is a vast list of music to be discovered. Panel members say that 50-65% of the music they discover comes from public submissions (such as agents, publicists, and artists) and the remainder comes from friends recommendations. Having reviewed some of NPR music’s band recommendations, I would say that if you’re into the quirky “All Things Considered” type of folksy, music, you’ll love the NPR recommendations. If you love rock and roll, metal, pop, jazz or most other types of music, you may want to look further.
When asked whether or not NPR should consider narrowing their focus, rather than trying to be of general appeal, Boilen said that inclusive, rather than exclusive was more what NPR was about. Grundmann added, “Narrow is not necessarily where we want to be.” She also indicated that NPR was planning to beef up their jazz content to a more meaningful level. Looking at the bands that the panel and NPR in general recommended (Weird Weeds, The Decemberists, The Heartless Bastards), I would suggest that NPR does have a narrow focus quirky, folky bands with unusual instrumentation (pots and pans for percussion, guitars played cross legged on the floor with a bow and so on).
The audience requested (and got) the following recommendations for great music to check out at SXSW ’09: Grizzly Bear, Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned, The Blind Pilots, The Weird Weeds, and The Decemberists. You can see more of their SXSW ’09 recommendations on their “All Songs Considered” page.
Other panelist joining in the conversation were Carrie Brownstein, NPR’s Monitor Mix blogger and former Sleater-Kinney bandmate and Jody Evan, Program Director at KUT radio, and NPR affiliate in Austin. The panel was moderated by Fast Company magazine Senior Writer Anya Kamenetz.
I did enjoy the band, The Avett Brothers, at the NPR sponsored concert at Stubbs. This band not
only had a much more exciting and engaging stage show, but also included a cello, which is the lead instrument in one of our favorite up and coming new bands, Post Paradise out of Fort Collins, Colorado. We’ll be writing up a review of Post Paradise very soon (promise).