Off the Record

SXSW music news and carryings on

Good Vibrations

Daniel Lanois
Daniel Lanois (Photo by Sandy Carson)

"This place has a good vibe to it," surmised Daniel Lanois inside the Big Orange on Tuesday afternoon. "As soon as I stepped into it, I wanted to start picking up instruments and pushing buttons." Coming from one of the most revered songwriters and producers in the world, only days removed from working with Brian Eno on U2's new album, the words felt like a propitious blessing for For the second consecutive year, the Rock Island, Ill.-based website is holing up in Sound Team's former studio on the Eastside, recording four-song sets by more than 20 artists, all of which will become available as exclusive, free downloads in the coming months. Local favorites the Octopus Project and Brazos, along with Luke Temple and Yo La Tengo, have already laid down tracks this week, while artists ranging from the Retribution Gospel Choir and Sons & Daughters to Kaki King and Jacob Golden are scheduled for the coming days. "Last year we worked ourselves to the point of exhaustion," said Sean Moeller, who co-founded the site in March 2006 with engineer Patrick Stolley. "This time, we're scaling things back a bit, doing a few more solo recordings." In the past 12 months, Daytrotter's hits have nearly doubled, registering an average of 40,000 unique visitors a month, and the site recently partnered with Wolfgang's Vault. Right now the change means only one thing to Moeller: "We're not sleeping on the floors this year." See for Doug Freeman's interview with Lanois.

Tour of Duty

SXSW officially started for OTR with a 10am roll call at the Austin Convention Center, helping Armed Forces Entertainment develop a plan of attack for the coming days. An official agency of the Department of Defense formed in 1951, AFE dispatches up-and-coming acts around the world to entertain the U.S. troops and their families stationed abroad, and SXSW is where they scout talent. In retrospect, it might not have been such a great idea to recommend the Body of War showcase at Stubb's, but what do you expect when there are rumored special guests like Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and Ben Harper. Bands interested in a well-compensated tour of duty should swing by the AFE's booth at the SXSW Music Trade Show + Exhibition from 5 to 6pm through Friday for a briefing, or stop off at the organization's day party on Saturday at Brush Square Park, featuring veteran performers Five Star Iris, Tripdavon, and Urban Sophisticates.

Don't Worry About the Government

Off the Record
Photo by Sandy Carson

Mayor Will Wynn didn't hand out any keys to the city this year, but he did take credit for the weather and officially welcomed visitors to SXSW on Wednesday. "Cities that are more fun to live in do better economically," Wynn said. Followed by the cathartic art-punk of Austin's the Black & White Years, it was impossible to argue his logic.

Random Play

R.E.M. stepped into the Hole in the Wall on Tuesday night for its tribute to late Silos member Drew Glackin. According to booker and Austin Music Hall of Famer Paul Minor, Peter Buck sat in with the Minus 5, while Mike Mills joined Syd Straw and Michael Stipe "held court on the sidewalk."

• If you see Little Death NYC on a handbill, check it out. It's Moby's new rock band.

Let's Talk About It

Off the Record
Photo by Sandy Carson

No one can start a party quite like Austin's White Denim. The trio's garage-psychedelia puts Gestalt theory (and bodies) in motion: the dizzying parts inseparable from the fervor of the whole. Last week at the esteemed Plug Independent Music Awards in New York, the band managed to churn out two songs in less than four minutes and piss off host Patton Oswalt in the process. "We thought we got the signal to go, so we started before he had finished all of the announcements," recalled bassist Steve Terebecki. "Apparently he called for a drum roll at one point that we didn't hear. He was like, 'What the fuck man? These guys are dicking me over.'" Things went much smoother on Monday at La Zona Rosa for the Chronicle's annual SXSW Film Party, as White Denim stretched out its characteristically compact pop with funky instrumental interludes. "We're trying to figure out a way to play longer," Terebecki said afterward. Following a whirlwind of shows this week, Denim ships out for a European tour, and should have an LP available online shortly.

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