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“We literally started from scratch with Paper Tongues, although the guys are so talented it’s been a true labor of love and all so worth it. I think they have the singer, the songs and the live show to make it to the top.”
——Ben Berkman
WHEELS 2.0 GETS BACK TO BIZNESS
With the BBQ and Shiner Bocks a Fading (Belch) Memory, Jesse’s Back Bringing the Heat

Now that SXSW is over and the hangovers have subsided, I’m back to writing up some killer new music, along with name-checking the bands that made a big noise last week in Austin. Also, check out my interview with Ben Berkman from A&M/Octone.

 

SPOTLIGHT

Lloyd Dobler Effect (www.ldeband.com; www.myspace.com/lloyddoblereffect) has a new CD, A Mute Reminder, hitting April 16 on Imagen (www.imagenrecords.com). The single, “Going Back to the End,” is a high energy, radio-friendly song infused with strong rock lyrics, a great musical arrangement and excellent vocal performance. The band is getting growing support from a number of AC stations up and down the East Coast, and the reviews coming in are uniformly positive. LDE has been making the rounds at a number of radio stations promoting their upcoming CD and current single while on tour. Go to their website to listen and get a free download, and tell us what you think.

ON DECK

Kopecky Family Band (www.myspace.com/kopeckyfamilyband)- They say blood is thicker than water. If that is the case, then the members of the Kopecky Family Band are forever bound together by the music running through their veins. With their undeniable connection both onstage and off, the band is composed of an eclectic mix of both classically trained musicians and home-honed talent that is truly unique. Everyone in this family brings something different to the table. Their captivating blend of neoclassical, folk and electric sensibilities still maintains a strong, distinctive musical voice. From their thoughtful lyrics to their ethereal harmonies, this band demands attention. They just finished an impressive run at SXSW, look for them to make some noise in the months to come.

 

BANDS THAT MADE NOISE @ SXSW
Fang Island: According to stats from Next Big Sound, Fang Island is the #1 most-buzzed band from SXSW. Read about it here. The group also received a Best New Music review from Pitchfork.

 

Good Old War: Received considerable buzz and hype from their showcase—a packed Habana Calle 6 offered proof of that. Keep an eye out on this band as they prepare for their sophomore album release on June 1.

 

Death on 2 Wheels (www.myspace.com/deathontwowheels): Indie-rockers from Atlanta generated a sizable industry buzz.

 

Honorable Mention: Band of Horses, Fitz and the Tantrums and Court Yard Hounds

 

EMAIL Q&A WITH A&M/OCTONE’S BEN BERKMAN
Describe your position at the company.
I’m EVP and Head of Promotion. The job has a lot of facets. First, I help identify the talent we invest in @ A&M/Octone. Then, I work with our artists to develop their songs, and choose with them which ones make their albums. Once the repertoire is complete, I work with our staff to conceive album-marketing plans, and in the final stage I actually “land on the beach” with our projects once we launch them at radio. It’s the greatest job in the world, and every day I feel so lucky to have it!

 

How did you get started in the music business?
I got my start in the business while in college, when I worked on the Campus Activities Board booking talent for Winter Carnivals/Spring Flings, etc. I found myself at odds with the faculty advisors since they didn't “get” how to build shows students actually wanted to see. They usually favored national acts that were on airplay charts and ignored regional talent that was much cheaper and actually had a buzz. Bands like Phish, The Samples, etc., were examples. Eventually I quit and went into business for myself, buying shows and promoting them myself: renting rooms, building stages, getting lighting packages, selling tickets, etc. My partner and I made a lot of money and had a total blast. I decided, "This is what I want to do with my life!"

 

A lot of labels don't seem to care much about artist development these days, whereas you guys pride yourself on it. What allows you to be able to do this?
We have the luxury of a small staff and low overhead. This allows us to really focus the time, energies and resources into a very carefully chosen handful of acts. We simply cannot afford to just throw things against the wall, as every artist we sign equates to a roughly million-dollar investment. That's a lot of money. We have to realize these investments by being profitable over time. We have big dreams for every act. We only release albums we believe can be gold or platinum at a minimum. We were also lucky enough to hit a grand slam with our first act: Maroon 5. They became our franchise artist, and our success with them gave us the resources to build a true full-service record company around them.

 

What bands out there have your attention right now, signed or unsigned?
I really like The Temper Trap. Their single "Sweet Disposition" is just a fabulous song. Hearing it in the Diet Coke commercial during the Oscars really sealed it for me. I think Glassnote Records is doing an incredible job finding stuff that is not just credible musically but has vast commercial potential as well. There is a guy named Bruno Mars signed to Atlantic that I think is terrific. He is a great songwriter and producer who I worked with on K'Naan's debut album, and now he is starting to have hits of his own. He performs on the B.o.B. single called "Nothing on You" that is a smash. Unsigned, I'm digging a country act called Miss Willie Brown.

 

Along with the new Maroon 5 album, how excited are you about your new young group Paper Tongues, who have the iTunes Single of the Week next week?
Really excited! This project has been a ton of work, as Paper Tongues was a band that had no fan base when we signed them. I don't think they had ever even played a show. We literally started from scratch, although the guys are so talented it’s been a true labor of love and all so worth it. I think they have the singer, the songs and the live show to make it to the top. Having iTunes choose "Trinity" as Single of the Week just as our album hits retail and the track is landing at radio is going to be really fortuitous for the group. It’s also been a total blast working with their manager and my old friend from Columbia Records, Randy Jackson. Holla Dawg!

 

What made you choose the iPhone over the BlackBerry?
The iPhone is great for me because I love the ease of viewing pictures of my family and being able to show off my kids. I travel a lot, so being to “take” my kids with me is really nice. I also love the apps and games like Doodle Jump!

Boxers or Briefs?
Boxers always, unless in the gym—then nothing gets between me and my Calvin briefs!

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