Off the Record
SXSW music news and carryings on
A Star Is Born
The control room of Tequila Mockingbird studios swelled with the intensity of a NASA launch on Friday afternoon, and appropriately so. UK songstress Duffy, whose first album, Rockferry, has already skyrocketed to No. 1 in England and lands stateside in May, made her U.S. radio debut for Santa Monica's KCRW, performing a crystalline six-song set of luscious, 1970s-style pop that concluded with her hit single "Mercy."
• Following the Bad Livers' induction into the Austin Music Hall of Fame on Wednesday, bassist Mark Rubin announced that the seminal avant-Americana trio is reuniting for shows at the 2008 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in October and Oregon's 10th annual Pickathon. "I wouldn't call it a 'reunion' per se; it's more aptly described that in some environments the market has finally come around to our art," Rubin clarified.
• Lou Reed joined My Morning Jacket, Moby, and Thurston Moore, among others, for Fader's tribute to his legacy at the Fort.
How Do You Like the Sound of That?
It's no secret that Austin's Arclight Records houses some of the loudest rock bands in town. In fact, the local label prides itself on the matter (see "Welcome to the Machine," Oct. 19, 2007). Yet Thursday evening, Arclight's official SXSW showcase on the rooftop of Light Bar, located on the corner of Congress and Fourth Street, was shut down prematurely by the authorities for Noise Ordinance violations. "Either SXSW didn't do their research, or the owner of the club should have requested not to get a rock & roll showcase," fired Gian Ortiz of Amplified Heat, which wasn't allowed to perform. "It was much more unfortunate for Freshkills. They drove all the way down from New York to play two songs." The remainder of Light Bar's SXSW showcases will take place indoors, according to club manager Heather Maze. While the Heat's performance was rescheduled for Friday at Emo's, the experience left Ortiz skeptical about the future of live music in the Red River entertainment district with all its current urban development. "Rock & roll doesn't turn down," he said. "What makes this city what it is is being pushed away by the construction. If you don't like the music, get the hell out."
Crossing Over to the Dark Side
Despite working on the Beatles' Abbey Road and the international success of his namesake Project, not a day passes without someone asking Alan Parsons about his engineering experience for Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. SXSW proves no exception. "People often forget that it was recorded with two distinct halves," says Parsons of the landmark album. "You need that breathing space." Parson leads the panel discussion Producers: The Analog-Digital Shift, 3pm, in room 18ABC at the Austin Convention Center. "The good news about digital recording at the professional level is that it's improving," offers Parsons. "There will come a time, like hi-definition video in film, where you'll be able to emulate vinyl exactly through the manipulation of digital numbers. It's probably already here, and one day we'll all laugh for insisting that the best sound came from these wax records or plastic discs." For the rest of the interview with Parsons, see austinchronicle.com/earache.
Rock & Roll High School
Prefacing the administration of the Rhino Musical Aptitude Test yesterday at the Austin Convention Center, Roky Erickson said, "If you know who I am, you're probably going to do well." He couldn't have been more wrong. The 305-question rock-history exam left OTR dazed and confused, ultimately having to revert back to a formula from Angus Young's school of rock to complete the multiple-choice test: A-C-D-C.
The irony-laced opening lines to MGMT's set-starter, "Time to Pretend," perfectly described the atmosphere at Playboy's afterparty on Thursday at the 301: "I'm feeling rough. I'm feeling raw. I'm in the prime of my life. Let's make some music, make some money, find some models for wives." OTR had the pleasure of meeting March's Playmate of the Month Ida Ljungqvist, the centerfold for the annual Sex and Music issue, which features a Q&A with Austin's Ghostland Observatory and quotes University of Texas psychologist David Buss for the fourth installment of its "The Look of Love" series.