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UMGD ERA ENDS; UMG RESHAPES COMMERCIAL FUNCTIONS INTO TEAMS
A quick note from Michele and Boyd. (4/24a)
ON RECORDS:
10 ROOKIE PICKS
TO CLICK
Meet the shining lights of the Class of 2015. (4/24a)
BIBLE QUIZ
Your prayers have been answered: Friday fun! But reverent. (4/24a)
PUB CRAWLING: COUNTRY MEETS AFRIKA
This headline's called a tease in journalistic parlance. (4/24a)
DRUGS GIVE ELLEN RED EYES
So is this one. (4/24a)
HOW SWEET IT IS
Berry Gordy Jr. Brings Motown: The Musical to Hollywood
NEW & DEVELOPING ARTISTS
The next batch is being cooked up.
APPLE'S STREAMING ROLLOUT
Will iTunes-Beats hybrid be a Spotify slayer or an also-ran?
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DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I THINK I WAS?

This Tuesday (4/21), did you celebrate Robert Smith of The Cure’s birthday or Iggy Pop’s? Or, which means more to you, “Love Cats” or “I Wanna Be Your Dog?” KNDD PD Garett Michaels said Iggy, for sure, a sentiment he and I share. I ran a college radio station that played imports by The Cure, Depeche Mode, Thompson Twins, Heaven 17, Modern English, etc., but the DJs’ hearts belonged to stateside punk, new wave and the regional indie scenes that were blossoming in Athens, Hoboken, Minneapolis, Boston, NYC, Chapel Hill, etc. There’s an outpouring of birthday love on Facebook for both Iggy and Robert Smith, although most of my nearest-and-dearest have “Lust for Life” coursing through their veins 24/7/365…

Somehow, Coachella managed to have its most successful year ever, even minus my attendance. Like I said, not being there wasn’t intentional—I just had no horse in the race. I can’t imagine anything last week could have been more entertaining and life-affirming than The Replacements show at the Palladium last Thursday night. Rob Goldklang and I were hanging on the front barricade, while most of our friends were in the balcony. I think I’ve seen The Replacements more than any other band I never worked with directly—at least 50 times—beginning in 1982. This show was even better than their Coachella reunion a year prior—can’t hardly wait to see them again!...

Congrats to Red Bull’s Joe Guzik for starting off the week with AWOLNATION’s “Hollow Moon (Bad Moon)” at #1! As big as “Sail” was (and continues to be), it never reached the top spot, so hooray for Joe and his team! Some day I will write a song called, “#2, #6, #11 Equals Failure,” because there’s little more heartbreaking than those peaks to a promotion person…

It’s as close to a lock as fathomable: Alabama ShakesSound and Color will debut at #1 next week. “Don’t Wanna Fight” is now Top 20 at Modern Rock, although first-week sales might suggest that greater attention from the format is warranted. There are so few sophomore records that succeed on the promise of a debut, especially one as heralded and beloved as Boys & Girls, but the accolades for Sound and Color are even more effusive…

Think about it, how many bands have followed their critically and commercially successful debut with a sophomore release that surpassed it in both sales and praise? Mumford & Sons? Adele? I will also assert that Interpol’s Antics was a better (and more successful) record than Turn on the Bright Lights, but I might be alone…

Last year, I couldn’t understand why “Jungle” by X Ambassadors f/Jamie N. Commons wasn’t a bigger radio hit. The song was used in every commercial that wasn’t using KONGOS’ “Come With Me Now” (which was obviously a radio smash) and selling over 20k/week. There were believers, like the folks at WROX and Dustin Matthews at WRXL, but it never quite came together. Now, the band is back with “Renegades,” which is #5 on the iTunes Alternative song chart, and #46 overall, selling over 25k/ week! If you own a TV, you’ve undoubtedly seen the Jeep campaign that features the band and song prominently. Now radio has jumped on board, including a massive nod as this month’s “On the Verge” for iHeartMedia, plus early adds at KROQ, WLUM, and more. This band is poised to have a #1 song—I just know it. Wait ’til you see X Ambassadors live—they give a very powerful and connected performance—there’s nothing hipster-cool or jaded about these guys, and it’s incredible to watch while their audience, which is already substantial, hangs on every note…

Ted and I were in an artist’s studio a year or so ago, for a playback of a record still in progress. The artist introduced a song by saying that he didn’t think it was a single, but that it was the song his friends seemed to gravitate towards. Another attendee responded to the intro with, “Sometimes the best song is just the best song.” I was the first to find this insight to be amusing, ok, hilarious, and then Ted caught on to how ridiculous a statement it was (and how much more this guy was paid than us), so we spent the length of the song doing our best not to laugh aloud (while trying to make the other one crack up). When I heard the new Cold War Kids’ single “First,” I called Mark Czarra to tell him that the song was an unequivocal SMASH and, after years of developing a loyal following (this generation’s Afghan Whigs), THIS was going to be their massive radio hit. Because, you know, sometimes the best song is just the best song…

Kiss me on the bus: KGlauber@gmail.com.


 
 
TIL I HEAR IT FROM YOU

Last night, I watched in horror as my AOL (stop smirking) account cannibalized itself, as 20,000 emails deleted themselves from the inbox. Maybe it was a mass sacrifice, a poignant declaration that just because Steve Case invited me to “beta test” AOL at an HFStival decades ago, I could move on, eventually, just as he did. So if you ever have a question about Arcade Fire or Spoon circa 2006, I no longer have the answer…

Certain milestones hit this past week have me feeling unusually nostalgic: April 1st (no foolin’) marked my 25th anniversary at the “career cul de sac” known as HITS, and it was also my 23rd sober anniversary. Yes, those first two years were a bit of a blur. Whether I’ve maintained my job and sobriety out of loyalty or stubbornness, I’m grateful for the longevity of both. I also challenge anyone who asserts that I’ve already hit my career peak—not a chance. Sure, it’s not as “fun” as it used to be, but as long as there are, as Lenny says, “10 records in the Top 10,” I plan on being connected to as many of them as I possibly can, including this week’s #1, “Believe” by Mumford & Sons. Last week, my nominee for The Bachelor, Nick Petropoulos, was in L.A. with his Glassnote family (including label namesake Daniel Glass—a dear friend, even when he had me working his Kitty record) for an invite-only performance of Wilder Mind. I have a theory that using the word “Believe” in a song title is a near-guarantee of the song’s success. Also, any time Marcus Mumford uses “I” in his choruses, like “I believe” or “I will wait,” or “I really fucked it up this time,” the song is destined to be a smash. Knowing that, I heard many “I” songs among the new ones; of course they’ll all be hits. No banjos were visible during the set. However, I hear that Metallica is picking up where Mumford and The Lumineers left off (is it still April 1st?)… 

It wasn’t intentional, but this year is the first time ever I’m not going to Coachella. I’d counted on Spoon to be my “in” for this year, but they took a pass. I know many of you will be there, but once I was brutally honest with myself and acknowledged that Steely Dan and AC/DC were the bands I most wanted to see, I decided to sit this year out. It would be hard to top last year’s Arcade Fire headlining performance, or so I’ll keep telling myself… Speaking of nostalgia, Rough Trade Records in Brooklyn is hosting THREE sold-out nights celebrating the 20th anniversary of Empire Records. As some of you may know, Empire Records was the first soundtrack (of a dozen) I worked on. The movie grossed NOTHING on the first weekend—I remember seeing it in Westwood with the two others involved in the movie and soundtrack, Mitchell Leib and Jonathan McHugh, and, except for a few of our friends, we were the only ones in the theater. Now it’s a “thing.” More weirdness. But at least Alex Chilton and Edwyn Collins made money by having songs on the soundtrack—certainly my greatest contribution to pop culture… 

A year ago, XMU (my favorite radio station) added “Peaches” by In the Valley Below. The song started to sell upwards of 1,000 singles/week and was designated the channel’s #8 Song of the Summer. Now, “Peaches” is Top 20 at Modern Rock and sold nearly 6,000 singles this week, earning it a spot on the front page of iTunes. “Peaches” is Top 20 Shazam in every major airplay market and, because the right stations have come on board at the right time, Bill Carroll and Howard P. will continue build the song towards its proper destiny as a hit record. I haven’t been this passionate about a debut single since Tame Impala’s “Elephant.”… 

Congrats to Ed Green and the ATO staff on their break-through week with Alabama Shakes’ “Don’t Wanna Fight”: 10 big adds and now Top 20 on the chart! Seriously, for every Alabama Shakes, Courtney Barnett, Wolf Alice and Andrew McMahon record you add, I inch a little bit closer towards forgiving you for playing an endless heap of rap-rock records a decade ago that YOU KNEW were format-killers. I might forgive, but I won’t forget… 

SONG TO HEAR: Edwyn Collins’ “A Girl Like You.” Email me: KGlauber@gmail.com

 


 
 
DEAD INSIDE

Modern Rock’s SXSW revelers crawled into work on Monday, possibly still drunk, definitely still bloated from free BBQ, wishing for a quiet day hiding beneath their desks, thrilled that the arrival of the new Muse single took the guesswork out of their week. Countless bands had been seen (a few sets, possibly, were even remembered), as plastic cups of top-shelf liquor were sloshed together in camaraderie and rain ponchos were distributed as the skies opened up on Friday. A marauding pack of (mostly) men in their 40s (some younger, a few older), enjoying their “professional” version of Spring Break, paid for by their label colleagues, whose own week of merriment hinged upon their radio brethren’s attendance. Me? I was mostly elsewhere, a sober veteran of all 29 SXSWs, still intent on capturing that life-changing musical moment. In other words, my nights were spent stalking Spoon and The Zombies

C3’s Joe Greenwald and David Barbis hosted a dinner at Stubb’s BBQ, which was the first opportunity I had to say hello to radio friends like Lesley James, Mike Tierney, Willobee, Nik Rivers, Chris Payne, Jacent Jackson, Christy Taylor, Lazlo, Lynn Barstow, Michelle R., Charese, Paul Jarvis and Norm Winer. And you. Yes, you were also there—great to catch up. If you think it’s easy to hug while holding a plate of BBQ, guess again. And that’s why I always wear black. There was a brief (but memorable) period during my ongoing tenure at HITS, where label people and managers cared what I thought about their bands and, well, took care of me like I was radio programmer. Now, I’d much rather make money than have my ass kissed, and I’ve certainly set the bar pretty high as a valet/concierge/fixer, but it was a pleasure to have Joe Greenwald in the role of Local Hero—quick with answers and unbridled kindness. It’s treatment I would never take for granted, and neither should you. Post-dinner, Stubb’s was still the key destination of the evening for Courtney Barnett’s incredible set. “Pedestrian at Best” is one of the best-written songs you’ll ever play, and her performance was inspiring.

Shakey Graves, whose packed set was the highlight of Tuesday night, is another act busting genres, while selling out big venues. Once the dust settles on the “superstar” releases, his record has a real shot at Modern Rock—his fanbase is already in place. Lesley James and Nik Rivers have been playing “Dearly Departed” with great success. I trust these two.

Other highlights (for me) included Will Butler’s homage to late-’70s/early ’80s NYC in his first solo offering on Merge Records. Backed by three female singers/keyboard players and a standup drummer, Will was spectacular, especially on the song “Anna,” for which he said I correctly identified the Suicide influence. This is Will’s Tom Tom Club—a completely different sound from Arcade Fire. Later, I joined my Glassnote family in an Austin church for Madisen Ward and Mama Bear (pictured at right), whom Lazlo introduced to a roomful of dignitaries, including BBC Radio 1’s George Ergatoudis (pictured top left); it was truly a heavenly performance.

Although you weren’t there to see or hear it, on the panel I moderated, “I Wrote That Song,” Mac MacCaughan (Merge Records/Superchunk) played a new song from his upcoming solo record, and Marshall Crenshaw also debuted a new song, while playing “Cynical Girl” (by my request).  The aforementioned Will Butler stood at the edge of the dais to play his new single, “Take My Side,” and also wrote a brand new song in front of those assembled. Matthew Caws debuted a brand new Nada Surf song, encoring with “See These Bones,” followed by Britt Daniel’s acoustic take on “Rainy Taxi,” from the latest Spoon album. In a moment of planned spontaneity, Big Star’s Jody Stephens sang stunning, heart-stopping renditions of “Thirteen” and “For You,” backed by Luther Russell and Brett Harris. Forget about the lines, hype, etc. The purest expression of talent and shared artistic camaraderie happened in that room… 

SONG TO HEAR: Wolf Alice’s “Moaning Lisa Smile.”

Forget about the lines, hype, etc. The purest expression of talent and shared artistic camaraderie happened in that room.

 


 
 
LET ME BE MINE

I remember when SXSW Interactive meant getting drunk and making out with rock critics… But seriously, folks, within days I’ll be in Austin for my 29th go-round at SXSW, as well as my 20th consecutive year (at least) moderating a panel. This year’s panel, my third annual gathering of songwriters, will include conversations with and command performances by Will Butler (Arcade Fire), Britt Daniel (Spoon), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Mac MacCaughan (Superchunk/Merge Records) and Marshall Crenshaw (whose “Cynical Girl” was my opening song for a year’s worth of college radio shows on WOBC, circa 1983).

This musical extravaganza will take place on Friday, March 19, at 12:30pm (immediately following Snoop’s keynote speech). Maybe if I offer edibles, I can route the crowd from the main ballroom into my panel room. None for me, though, since the most jaw-dropping stat about my perfect attendance at SXSW, beginning in 1987, is that I’ve been sober for 23 of those years. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Lynn, Steve Blatter, Norm, Lazlo, Lesley, Mike Tierney, Nik, Haley, Josh, and the other handful of radio people I consider among my nearest and dearest.

I’m not much of a “people person,” as most of you already know, but the opportunity to see dozens of bands makes this my favorite week of the year. Undoubtedly, Spoon is always first-and-foremost on my must-see list, and with five or six scheduled shows, plus headlining Auditorium Shores on Friday night, I expect I’ll see them at LEAST five or six times. Also psyched to see Will Butler, Alvvays, James Bay, Passion Pit, Tobias Jesso Jr. , Best Coast, Courtney Barnett, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, AWOLNation, Brett Harris, X Ambassadors (!), Twerps, Wolf Alice, TV on the Radio and, most of all, The Zombies! My full list of recommendations will be up on www.hitsdailydouble.com by this weekend...

Never in my many decades of doing this job have there been as many weekly “superstar” releases, thusly narrowing opportunities and slots for new bands. This week’s big explosion arrived yesterday, in the form of the new Mumford & Sons single, “Believe,” which sold 37,000 singles in the first hours of release on iTunes (currently the #3 song on the sales chart), and was #1 Most Added at Modern Rock and Triple A, nearly closing out both panels in ONE DAY. Ted and I think the song is an absolute SMASH, and we’re thrilled that our prodigal son Nick Petropoulos has as close to an “automatic” as we’ve ever seen…

Brett Greenberg at Epitaph has a perfect storm brewing with Sleeping With Sirens’ new single “The Strays.” After one “4:20” spin at KROQ, the band became the #1 trend on Twitter U.S. This is INSANE. I kept asking Brett if this was for Los Angeles, and he said no, this is national. The band already has a huge fanbase (as most Epitaph bands do), and now they have “the song.” I can’t wait to see what happens next!..

Congrats to Modest Mouse and Epic Records for hitting #1 with “Lampshades on Fire” at Modern Rock and Triple A. It’s the band’s first radio #1 in 11 years! The record squeaked past Walk the Moon by the narrowest of margins, temporarily thwarted by a problem with Music Choice’s detections. WHY ARE THEY EVEN ON THE PANEL? Music Choice is NOT a radio station. It supplies music that people discover NOT by choice, like when entering a hotel room, or hitting the wrong channel number on their DirecTV. I’d rather support the on-air efforts of dozens of small market radio stations than have Music Choice’s “programming” matter as much as it does towards the chart. It’s counterintuitive, at best!..

So, what else should I see at SXSW? Email: Ivanageek@aol.com.