Tvsmith He is the author of Gary Gilmore’s Eyes, Bored Teenagers and One Chord Wonders – three of punk’s defining tunes. He also happens to be one of the most singular British songwriters to emerge in the last 30 years. He is the inimitable TV Smith and tonight, March 30, he guests on MOJO Radio.

Indeed, the man who led The Adverts for two and a half glorious years between late ’76 and mid’79 will join MOJO’s editor-in-chief Phil Alexander to discuss his decision to reprise the band’s classic debut album, Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts, in its entirety – something which he is set to do with his backing band, The Bored Teenagers, on Thursday April 5 at London’s 100 Club.

Smith will appear on MOJO Rocks, MOJO radio’s weekly rock show, at 9.00pm (the show is repeated on Sunday at the same time).

Also on the programme, expect new music from 1990s, Maps and Arctic Monkeys, while The Kings Of Leon’s Because Of The Times is Album Of The Week.

Meanwhile TV Smith’s rather fine new album Misinformation Overload is available to purchase by clicking here.

For more information on TV Smith’s shows with The Bored Teenagers visit

Tune into MOJO Radio via Sky Digital (channel 0182), Freeview (channel 721) or via the radio player on this site (UK residents only).

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 06:25PM | 

Fionn Following his triumphant appearance at South By Southwest, Irish troubadour Fionn Regan has signed a Stateside deal with Lost Highway – home to the likes of Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams and Willie Nelson. “It’s great to get that US deal sorted out. I guess it means that I’ll be heading back over to America soon,” he begins to tell MOJO...

Regan’s debut album The End Of History – released in the UK via Bella Union – is due out in the US in late June at which point Fionn clearly expects to put in the hours Stateside.

“There’s no point having a record out there unless you put the hours in,” he states. “A lot of acts go over there and come back with their tails between their legs. You have to go there and spend time playing America properly.”

’s ability to play solo shows means that he is likely to mix up the nature of his shows.

“I’ll probably play some shows on my own but having this deal also means that I can go back and play with my full band,” he says. “That’s great because sometimes playing on your own is a bit like carrying a reservoir on your back.”

As well as playing the States, Regan will appear at a number of UK festivals this year including London’s Homefires hoedown on June 2, Glastonbury on June 24 and the Isle Of Wight’s Bestival on September 8.

“I’m looking forward to doing the whole festival thing,” Fionn states. “Glastonbury should also be good. But I’m also looking forward to having a bit of a break right now because I’ve been working like a dog for the last year.”

Fionn’s break will be followed by a tour of Ireland in April. A full list of dates are available via

In the meantime his video for his latest single Be Good Or Be Gone can be viewed here:

 Fionn_Regan_Be_Good_Or_Be_Gone high.wmv (Windows media player)

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 06:12PM | 

Steph Following her arresting performances at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas, last week, rising American chanteuse Stephanie Dosen guests on MOJO Rocks on MOJO Radio tonight , March 23, at 9.00pm. She is joined by ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde , the man who signed her to his label Bella Union.

The pair will join MOJO’s editor-in-chief  Phil Alexander on his weekly rock show as they review SXSW. Stephanie will also preview her debut album A Lily For The Spectre which is due out on Bella Union in May.

The show will feature new music by key rising acts from the festival such as Boston soul-blues man Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed And The True Loves, Chicago Creedence-styled stoners Catfish Haven and former Shangri-La Mary Weiss.

Twenty two year-old  Californian troubadour Willy Mason occupies the show’s Album Of The Week slot with four tracks from his outstanding new long-player, If The Ocean Gets Rough. The album is out now and is reviewed in the current  issue of MOJO magazine. It is also available to buy here

MOJO Radio is available on Sky Digital (channel  0182), Freeview (channel  721)  or, for UK listeners, via the radio player on this site. MOJO Rocks airs at 9.00pm every Friday night and is repeated at 9.00pm on Sunday.

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 11:12AM | 

Amy She arrived at South By Southwest in emotional disarray and left three days having begun her conquest of America. In his final report from Austin, Texas, Phil Alexander reports on Amy Winehouse’s US success and the last throes of this most singular of festivals…

AT FIRST it looked ominous… On March 8 and 9 Amy Winehouse blew out two sold-out hometown shows at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire following her split with her boyfriend. Four days later her Back For Black album hit the racks in America amid reports that Ms Winehouse was once again dealing with the pain of heartbreak by drowning her sorrows. Having tipped Amy as THE British star to watch at SXSW in MOJO’s daily column in the Austin Chronicle and sensing that a re-write may be required, your correspondent made a swift call to see whether Amy was actually likely to turn up to make the four shows she was scheduled to play at America’s most influential new music festival.

And then, following a set of reassurances, just after midday on March 15, Amy, introduced by Radio 2 presenter Dermot O’Leary, stepped out on stage at the British BBQ in Brush Square, performing three acoustic songs (including the fragile and overtly poignant set closer, Rehab) and beginning her charm offensive on both the three-day festival and America as a whole.

Chronicle_2 Her midnight show at the Eternal club that same day was equally emotional but it was her performance at La Zona Rosa the following night, where backed by The Dap Kings (the US outfit that featured on the key tracks on her latest album), she graduated from being a hotly tipped newcomer to commanding the Chronicle’s frontpage.

“There’s a thin line that separates talented pop and R&B stars from the jazz masters, and while Winehouse may wobble slightly across it, she comes closer to the Holidays and Fitzgeralds of yesteryear than any of her contemporaries could ever hope,” wrote Darcie Stevens. “Her abrasive candor might be just the shot in the arm that the States need.”

While Amy’s seduction of theself-styled  Live Music Capital Of The World appeared complete, she was not the only British artist to triumph in Texas this year.

Pete Watford punk urchins Gallows were also reported to have thrilled both crowds and US music biz insiders; The Fratellis enjoyed the patronage of The Who’s Pete Townshend who joined them onstage at the Spin party at Stubbs: Oxford ‘angular’ scamps Foals thrilled the crowds at MOJO’s Bootleg BBQ (watch for their debut single on Transgressive imminently); Irish songsmith Fionn Regan looks set to secure a US deal on the strength of his visit to SXSW; The Buzzcocks’s bone-rattling performance at Emo’s on Saturday March 16 confirmed their status as the godfathers of the Warped Tour generation; Brighton’s Neu!-sters Fujiya And Miyagi continued to be courted by assorted labels; and The Good, The Bad And The Queen established themselves as far more than just another Damon Albarn project.

Theend Meanwhile, MOJO’s final night in Austin was spent at the Bella Union showcase at the Buffalo Billiards while the local festival thoroughfare of 6th Street swarmed, snake-like, with humanity. With a bill that included Stephanie Dosen, Fionn Regan, Robert Gomez, Midlake (whose material is of such strength that their performance took on all the characteristics of a ‘greatest hits’ set) and The Kissaway Trail, the night proved a highly-charged end to a festival like no other. And one which MOJO will revisit next year.

A less impressionic review of SXSW will appear in the issue of MOJO on sale on May 1. Meanwhile MOJO would like to thank the following for making our Texan sojourn so darn enjoyable:  Crispin, Tom, Ben, Dan, Mori and the British Underground gang, Phil Penman, Ross Fortune, Raoul Hernandez and the Austin Chronicle, Caroline and Gina at Metropolis, all the staff at the Mean Eyed Cat, all the bands at the Bootleg BBQ, Hugh Cornwell and gang and quite a few people whose names we may well have forgotten.

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 06:27PM | 

Ps_2 They are known for their warm post-Smile melodies and their flowing robes. And while the former remain, latter have been replaced by black army uniforms, marking “a new phase” in the development of The Polyphonic Spree. Last weekend the Dallas-based symphonic rock troupe previewed their new look and new album at the South By Southwest festival, stopping off to play MOJO’s Bootleg BBQ along the way. Phil Alexander reports on a day of Spree-ing, beer-drinking, Gruff Rhys-ing, sunburning, Bat For Lashes-ing. Oh, and one of the best new bands in Britain…

IT COMES as something of a shock to see them all clad in black, their tunics festooned with hearts, crosses and their logo stitched on to their uniforms with gold brocade. The Polyphonic Spree are back but this time they have returned with a provocative new album, The Fragile Army, eschewing their previous Happy Clapper stance in favour of something far more serious.

"This recording was extremely challenging for us, trying to create a piece of art while weathering the storm of our collective relationship as humans in a political climate that's choking us all, ” reads a statement issued by the band on the eve of their appearance at SXSW.

Today at the Bootleg BBQ – a two stage affair hosted by MOJO and our friends at the British Underground at the Mean Eyed Cat, a wonderful wooden shack of a bar four miles out from the main SXSW club drag of 6th Street – the Spree unveil their new look and showcase some of their material from The Fragile Army.

Of the Iraq-inspired title track Spree frontman Tim DeLaughter says: “It's basically an ode-to-Bush song. It's very specific in its agenda, I believe it's our own battle cry."

Quite how much that cry will be heeded per se upon the album’s release remains to be seen, but, as the hour hand tips one o’clock and temperatures soar into the 80s, the Spree’s performance is lauded and applauded by the 600 BBQ music biz attendees, something which augers well for their new album which is set for release in the US via TVT in June with the UK release to follow.

Fionn2 The Spree’s appearance on the outdoor stage - make that two stages, due to the overspill of their drummer and violinist who are accommodated on a makeshift side stage away from their other 22 bandmates! -  is preceded by an intimate solo set by Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan whose The End Of History debut has yet to be released in the States. Regan’s warm and tender set – exemplified by his lilting take of his last single Be Good Or Be Gone - confirms his growing stature as a performer and as an artist capable of repeating the sly success of his good friend Damien Rice. Not that Regan is not his own man. Neither is acoustic music his sole domain. Unlike Rice, Regan is also able to rock with the best of them when armed with his own band (an outfit that on occasion includes members of Babyshambles). Today, his genteel approach allows the songs themselves to shine and suggests that he won’t have long to wait for that US deal to materialize.

If ever a band were born to play the Mean Eyed Cat, then Detroit’s Blanche are it. A shrine to Johnny Cash, every available square-inch of the MEC’s wooden frame is festooned with tributes to The Man In Black. And, while Blanche may not be a country act per se, the Detroit five-piece – now featuring Ranconteurs’s Little Jack Lawrence on banjo and based around the husband and wife duo of Dan and Tracee Miller, both of whom acted in Walk The Line – possess an old time sense of style and bleak Cash-esque lyricism. The occasional chug-and-honk of passing trains on the nearby railway line further enhances Blanche’s sense of American gothic splendour whose half an hour set is characterised by the post-Gun Club lurch of What This Town Needs.

In contrast, angular pop of plimsoll-sporting Oxford five-piece Foals couldn’t be more out of place on the Mean Eyed Cat’s shack-like stage. Or at least it would be if the quintet weren’t so utterly relentless. Their beat-heavy Gang Of Four-meets-Can sound is enough to force everyone in attendance to dance, something that, bearing in mind the desert-like conditions underfoot, is ill-advised. Either way, Foals – who have just signed to the Transgressive label – lay down their credentials as one of the most explosive acts in Britain today in a set that last no more than half an hour but which sees them leave the stage dripping with sweat, sunburnt and short of breath. Hear what all the fuss is about for yourself by logging on to - or better still, see them live.

If Foals are a beat-ball of energy, Bat For Lashes are all about creating musical textures, a point which is slightly blunted by a PA that – still struggling to cope with the previous 24-strong performance of The Polyphonic Spree - packs in halfway through the opener Trophy. Regardless, Natasha Kahn and her cohorts continue, delivering a set anchored around their Fur And Gold debut (Tahiti, I Saw A Light, The Wizard) and which also includes the band’s eternally popular take on Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire. This time the dancing is less frenetic, and decidedly freakier, involving, as it does, bare-chested members of the road crew as well as one particularly intriguing audience member sporting a lime green tank top.

The Lashes set over, a quick saunter back to the inside stage finds Super Furry Animals mainman Gruff Rhys prepared to take the stage. Joined by Lisa Jen (of Welsh band 9Bach), Gruff’s set is packed with his trademark post-stoner humour and eccentric instrumentation (a metronome, a noisestick, a handheld casino keyboard). ”It’s St Patrick’s Day today,” he begins. “Not that I’m a believer. I believe in any excuse, really.” If Rhys is a natural raconteur, his songwriting is equally enthralling. He is also quite possibly the only performer on the planet capable of translating his native Welsh into a vocal approximation of Brazilian, something which he does to remarkable effect on his ode to perpetual motion, Gyrru, Gyrru, Gyrru (Driving, Driving, Drivin) – just one of the stand out tracks from his currentl solo offering Candylion.

Gruff’s gentlemanliness is such that, his set finished, he implores the audience to “make the effort” and stroll back out to the main stage in order to see the closing act of the day – harmony-rich Charleston six-piece, The Explorers Club.

Explorers_2 Effectively manning the graveyard shift (the combination of sun and beer having put paid to vast swathes of the audience), the South Carolina sextet are undeterred and deliver a closing set that owes much to their key influences of mid-period Beach Boys on tracks like I Lost My Head and current Rough Trade Shop favourite Forever. As the band attempt secure a deal, MOJO is proud to urge to you enjoy The Explorers Club’s sublime sunshine pop for yourself by visiting

Following a blasting finale of Johnny B Goode (which sees the band end their set in an oustage heap), the six-piece end with an impromptu rendition of Happy Birthday in honour of Gina from Metropolis Music, a valiant soul who has helped run the entire event. It is a fitting end to a day full of wondrous entertainment which, one would hope, has helped introduce the British acts in particular to our American cousins in a meaningful manner. Ominously, as The Explorers Club take a bow, one last night roaming the streets of Austin beckons…

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final installment of MOJO’s exclusive on-line coverage of South By Southwest.

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 04:39PM | 

Interview Hugh Cornwell, the Stranglers’ ex-guitar player and singer, has told MOJO that he is unlikely to jump on the current reunion bandwagon, despite several lucrative offers to do so. “I don’t need the money to be honest,” he stated during a live MOJO Interview session conducted at Texan music convention South By Southwest.

Hosted by MOJO’s editor-in-chief Phil Alexander (pictured left with Hugh), the interview took place at the British Music Stand at the Austin Convention Centre and saw Cornwell discuss his entire career, including his early days in a school band playing alongside future Fairport Convention legend Richard Thompson, as well as his time in The Stranglers. Asked about the possibility of a reformation, Cornwell was emphatic in his denial.

“People either reform because they get made an offer they can’t refuse or they’re bored.” He stated. “I believe that (Eric) Clapton, for instance, reformed Cream because he was bored. That doesn’t apply in this case. I’m having a great time doing what I’m doing.”

Cornwell split from The Stranglers in 1990 after a 16 year career with the band which saw them establish themselves as one of the most successful British acts to emerge during punk. The other former members of Jean Jacques Burnel (bass), Dave Greenfield (keyboards) and Jet Black (drums) have continued as The Stranglers, and currently feature vocalist/guitarist Baz Warne in their ranks. Cornwell meanwhile has enjoyed a varied solo career. His last studio album, Beyond Elysian Fields, was recorded in New Orleans and produced by Tony Visconti.

“It was very much an acoustic based album but the next one will be the heaviest thing I’ve ever done,” he told MOJO. “I’ve been enjoying playing guitar again so that’s why.”

Cornwell, who made his live return to Austin for the first time since he toured their with his former band in 1984, stated that he would like to tour the US properly once again.

“It’s been great coming back so hopefully we can do more shows in the Summer,” he stated. “And we will also be touring the UK.”

’s latest album is a live set, Dirty Dozen, and features a selection of solo material and Stranglers-era classics recorded live in April 2005 at London’s Carling Academy. The album is available to purchase by clicking here

For more information of Hugh Cornwell, visit:

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 04:26PM | 

GoodbadqueenThe Good, The Bad And The Queen rolled into Austin, Texas, last night, March 16, to play South By Southwest. So could the so-called latter day supergroup of frontman Damon Albarn, bassist Paul Simonon, drummer Tony Allen and guitarist Simon Tong seduce an American audience with their hymns to London? So wonders MOJO’s editor-in-chief, Phil Alexander

A DECADE ago Britpop floundered in America, too parochial to entertain a country in search of new stadium rock heroes and MTV-friendly rock stars. Tonight, therefore the popularity of Blur man Damon Albarn’s latest lyrical vehicle, The Good, The Bad And The Queen, and his nostalgic view of British culture looks likely to be tested in front of a 1500-strong audience at Stubbs. At least, it would be if the British presence at SXSW – America’s annual four-day music and media convention – were less substantial.

Tonight, taking to the stage at 12.30am, Albarn’s  Fagin-styled, top-hatted stance is enhanced by Paul Simonon’s impressionistic painted backdrop of a London skyline and a Union Jack drapped over what looks like an old pub piano to Damon’s right. At face value, it is an image that confirms the stereotypical cherished American picture-postcard view of quaint old England.

“Do they rock any harder?” asks a less impressed American voice during a more ambient section of the band’s hour-plus set. While it is hard to imagine anyone rocking any harder than ex-Clash bassist Paul Simonon (a man still prone to wielding a bass as if it were a lethal weapon), the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

The Good, The Bad And The Queen are not so much a rock band as an exercise in sound. Initially conceived as a project, their decision to tour is brave and, on the strength of tonight’s evidence, yielding dividends, allowing the material from the band’s debut album to truly grow and develop. The mini-Red Rocks feel to Stubbs itself – essentially an outdoor stage with a semi-circular roof erected at the back of the smaller club – provides a perfect setting for the foursome’s textured, post-punk afro-funk. Tracks like A Soldier’s Tale, Herculean and the frenetic The Bunting Song are given a new lease of life, it TGTBATQ’s encore material that hints at an even more expansive future.

First up is Doghouse – an infectious track which Albarn began recording with Allen in Lagos two years ago and whose rolling afro-beat rhythm is underpinned by Simonon’s dub-heavy bass and overlayed to wondrous effect by Damon’s melodica playing. Second, is Mr Whippy (the B-side to Herculean) that features Syrian rapper Eslam Jawaad delivering a pro-peace message and rallying the crowd against musical backdrop of further roasted beats. It is the climax to a hugely impressive, ambitious and well received set that indicates that there that, despite their conceptual origins, there may well be more to come from The Good, The Bad And The Queen. Fittingly, Albarn, Simonon and co. leave the stage to rapturous applause, sporting wide grins and bringing to a close the third day of SXSW in a triumphant manner.

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 06:40PM | 

Roky_giles While his music has influenced everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Primal Scream, for the last 20 years the legend of Roky Erickson has been defined by his eccentric behaviour and mental fragility. However, yesterday – March 15 – the ex-13th Floor Elevators’ mainman played a stunning show in Austin, Texas, which confirmed his remarkable recovery. As part of his daily update on the South By Southwest festival, MOJO’s editor-in-chief Phil Alexander celebrates the return of The Godfather Of American Psychedelic Music….

SO TODAY was simply meant to be the second installment in this part-blog dedicated to MOJO’s meandering around Austin’s SXSW festival. And certainly the day started off with a midday wander down to the British Music BBQ at Brush Square to catch a snatch of Seth Lakeman and to see whether Amy Winehouse would turn up following her emotional trauma in London last week (you correspondent is happy to note that she did, performing three acoustic numbers, followed by a full set later in the evening). And then Raoul Hernandez – the music editor of the Austin Chronicle – mentioned that Roky Erickson was hosting a bash over at Threadgills bar and restaurant…

Shocked Hotfooting it over to the eatery in question on Riverside Drive, MOJO arrives in time to hear a bearded man on the outdoor stage inviting the crowd to “Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is more accurately called ECB - electroconvulsive brainwashing! It is a brutal assault, a crime against humanity!” He is Leonard Roy Frank – a leading anti-electroshock campaigner – and he holds forth on the effects of this dubious branch of medical science. Standing by his side is Michelle Shocked, preparing to perform. Rather than start her set, she tells the audience of the time during which she was subjected to psychiatric assault by forced incarceration and Haldol injections. Her story is horrific.

Then again, Roky Erickson’s story is equally disturbing. Erickson was arrested in 1969 for possession a single joint and then incarcerated at the Rusk State Hospital For The Criminally Insane. It was there that he found himself subjected to eletro-shock therapy and, allegedly, lost his mind. The intervening years have been traumatic and yet today, at his annual Psychedelic Ice Cream Social, Erickson has reason to celebrate: after a long battle he is finally his own legal guardian and, after close to two decades of medical oppression, a free man.

It is to celebrate this fact that Michelle Shocked, Robyn Hitchcock And Peter Buck, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite and local heroes Spoon (among others) have elected to play this benefit for Roky which is simultaneously designed to raise awareness for the victims of electro-shock therapy.

Rokygrill At 7.15 – and following an acoustic performance by his brother Sumner Roky himself takes to the stage alongside his friends in The Explosives. Erickson beams at the ecstatic reception he receives and launches into an hour-long set that is nothing short of triumphant, spurred on by guitarist Cam King and underlining just how ageless Erickson’s voice is. The set itself traverses the Elevators catalogue as well as Roky’s latter endeavours, but most poignant is Splash #1, the refrain of “And now I’m home to stay” echoing loudly beyond this mere performance.

The finale of Two Headed Dog, You’re Gonna Miss Me and an encore of I Walked With A Zombie leave the audience – that include beaming US critics David Fricke and Dave Marsh – elated. Speaking to MOJO briefly afterwards, Erickson proclaims himself “happy with the way it went” and plans are discussed as to possible UK and European shows. Indeed, the latter discussion is proof positive of Roky’s much improved state of mind. We leave Mr Erickson signing autographs for an adoring audience of fans and friends, and prepare ourselves for the long night ahead.

Our visit to Threadgills means that we have missed the Stax 50th Birthday celebrations at Antone’s featuring Isaac Hayes, Booker T And The MGs and William Bell. Nevertheless, after a failed attempt to catch The Besnard Lakes at The Mohawk, we are in time to visit the hole-in-the-wall venue that is The Alehouse in time to catch Bella Union’s latest signing Stephanie Dosen.

Dosen We arrive in time to find label supremo Simon Raymonde, who is set to play with Dosen, looking for a suitable bass amp. None materialize but he plays by plugging straight into the mixing desk and joins Dosen’s all-star band which, for one night only, features Robert Gomez on guitar and Midlake’s Mckenzie on drums as well as violinist and cellist. Dosen’s set matches ethereal music with an earthy sense of humour (“I have some string goddesses on this track. I only met them today but they’re so gorgeous that we all had sex!” she declares introducing Owl In The Dark). Her combination of wit and ambition augers well for the release of her debut in May.

Godlovesyou Following Dosen’s set, we emerge onto 6th Street – Austin’s centre of musical entertainment – only to find a set of evangelists asking us to repent and informing us, via banner, that ‘God Loves You’. It sets us scurrying out of the way, and we tramp seven blocks to try and see Brighton’s answer to Neu!, Fujiya & Miyagi, at the Karma Lounge. We arrive to find a few too many Hoxton-styled hairstyles, a venue that is packed and a band that we can hear but can’t see. A second later we’re on our way to catch the Reigning Sound who are set to also act as Mary Weiss’s backing band on her subsequent set at the Red 7. Sadly, the queue means that there is very little chance that we will get to see the former Shangri-La singer. In a final act of desperation we decide to head to the Red Eye Fly where, in two hours time, The Horrors are set to play. The consequences of this means that we arrive in time to see LA power popper The Oohlas. At least we get in to the venue…

Horror After much scrabbling from road crew types The Horrors take to the stage and launch into a slow-grinding version of Jack The Ripper. Their forty minute set is punctuated by an ill-advised attempt to throw a dustbin full of rubbish into the audience which, naturally, solicits an avalanche of bottles and cans heading stage-wards in return. Their fine organ-soaked set provides us with a final reminder of the importance of Roky Erickson’s role in the rock firmament. And, as such, we are thrilled to have seen him reborn in Texas.

Log on tomorrow for the next installment in MOJO’s exclusive report on South By Southwest.

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 06:05PM | 

Pete South By Southwest, America’s groundbreaking music and media festival returned last night with Pete Townshend providing the keynote speech. Taking to the stage at the Convention Centre, in Austin, Texas, his address touched upon the death of Keith Moon and John Entwistle, the resurrection of The Who and the state of the music industry in the wake of download culture. Sadly, MOJO’s editor-in-chief Phil Alexander managed to miss Mr Townshend’s opening to the festival. Why? Because he was too busy trying to work out how to watch 1500 artists in four days…

At first the very concept is completely overwhelming. Four days, over 1500 bands spread through 57 venues across an entire town… As you contemplate South By Southwest’s listings you realise that there are at least seven acts that you would like to see, all of whom are playing at the same time in different venues. Thankfully a large majority of these venues are located on the main drag of 6th Street meaning, queues not withstanding, that you can literally pop to the venue next door should the band you are fail to sustain your interest.

Above everything else, SXSW – to give it its convenient abbreviation – is a showcase for hot new talent, packing acts that are signed and unsigned in equal measure and allowing them to perform in front of an audience of increasingly key media players. For certain artists there is a level of discomfort associated with this. For most, however, SXSW is the opportunity to participate in an orgiastic celebration of music.

Your correspondent’s introduction to this singular event begins on Wednesday afternoon as we stroll down 6th Street in search of lunch. No sooner have we started walking that we are offered a flyer inviting us to enjoy ‘Free Beer And Food’ at a bar named Bourbon Rocks where a radio group named HD are hosting an afternoon session featuring seven artists. Among them are Detroit’s The Sights. The only downside is that no one knows when they’re playing. Instead, we are faced with a wailing female singer/songwriter. She finds herself summarily ignored by the crowd. Despite our guilty conscience concerning the treatment of this poor soul, our drink tokens are traded, food is eaten and, as we are joined by fellow MOJO-ite, Manish Agarwal, we too find ourselves deep in conversation. An SXSW veteran, Manish informs us that some friends of his – The Boggs – are due to play soon and we should stick around. We do, and we’re glad we did when an eight-piece act take to the stage.

Reed_2 We know nothing about this troupe except that they are not The Boggs. They feature a horn section and a sharp-suited, be-quiffed frontman. But as they start playing their rambunctious sense of R&B blues places them somewhere between the soulful sounds of Sam Cooke and the blues holler of T Bone Walker. It transpires that he is Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed and his band are The True Loves. Hailing from Boston, their jump-and-jive routine banishes any indifference and solicits unanimous applause from a crowd ranging from hardcore kids to cynical industry types. A noted highlight is the title track of Reed’s debut album Walkin’ And Talkin’, while Doing The Moho even has a bartender whirling his way across the dancefloor. Put simply, Reed and his magnificent seven are quite possibly one of the inspired soul-blues combos you are likely to see. MOJO recommends that you experience their infectious stomp for yourself by logging on to myspace/elipaperboyreed – and tell yer friends about them too.

Of course, Reed’s spectacular 25 minute set leaves a huge ‘Follow That!’ scrawled across MOJO’s pad. And The Boggs have to do just that. Of course their brand of scratchy post-Fall stance is at odds with Reed’s effortless bonhomie. Nevertheless, the three-piece deliver a set of spirited indie-rock that, under different circumstances, may be capable of delighting American audiences currently in the throes of a full-blown love affair with The Shins.

Catfish Keen on a change of scenery, we saunter on down 6th Street, and arrive at legendary Austin venue EMO’s – home, it proclaims, to ‘alternative lounging’, There is little opportunity to lounge in the beer-and-rain soaked courtyard but Chicago’s Catfish Haven are a remarkable enough proposition to blow away any further cobwebs remaining from our 12-hour journey the previous day. Now augmented by two remarkable backing vocalists, the foursome’s stoner-Creedence credentials are greatly enhanced, while in Crazy For Leaving they have arguably the best song that Hall & Oates never managed to write.

Extreme A quick visit to the Austin Convention Centre to visit the British Music Stand – which will become our base for a live MOJO Interview with Hugh Cornwell on Friday March 16 at 2.00pm – is followed by a swift slice of pizza before powering on to legendary blues venue Antone’s for a night hosted by Merge Records (previously home to The Arcade Fire in North America). En route we encounter an eatery that not only promises Extremely Fast Delivery, but Free Smells. Unclear as to whether this is part of the so-called ‘Keep Austin Weird’ campaign (a slogan we have seen adorning several T-shirts), we feel bewildered by what this may mean and resolve to visit the eatery tomorrow to ascertain just what these smells may consist of.

Arriving at Antone’s you are faced with endless shots of the venue’s most famous son, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan. Onstage, we are faced by ex-Faith No More man Roddy Bottum who’s indie band Imperial Teen are playing for the first time in eight months. To be honest, it shows and the band’s set features a clutch of ragged new material that leaves us feeling the effects of our Transatlantic flight the day before.

Oakleyhall Thankfully, next up are Oakley Hall – a Brooklyn’s sextet whose Gypsum Strings album underlined their ability to draw on genuinely great, cosmic Americana of the past (Burritos, Chris Bell etc) and the post-Arcade Fire US indie-rock of now. Tonight, the odd ragged edge does nothing to deter from their magisterial ambition, and the prospect of the band’s new album remains enthralling.

It is around 11.20pm. Time to move on once again. Consulting out pocket-sized 58-page guide to SXSW, we contemplate going to see Eli Reed’s second set of the day at the Continental. Either that or Hugh Cornwell at goth venue The Elysium. Cornwell wins out purely because The Continental is a 15 minute walk. Beset by soundcheck problems, his set is well received by a crowd who cheer his mention of The Stranglers and who sing along with his unusual acoustic adaptation of Nice’N’Sleazy.

Emos While watching Hugh, news reaches us of other shows we’ve missed – including Lily Allen’s NME showcase which apparently featured Ms Allen abusing the said publication and questioning the manhood of its editor. Quite why is anyone’s guess but as we leave The Elysium we see Lily wondering around outside the venue, glowering. Her expression suggests that she may be best left alone. Instead, we attempt to go and see noise insurrectionists Les Savy Fav at the Red Eye Fly. After 10 minutes we are defeated the non-moving queue and elect to visit the fourth room at EMO’s to catch Sub Pop heavyweights Kinski. We are unprepared for the onslaught that awaits us.

The equivalent of being headbutted by a platypus, Kinski’s post-stoner alt. rock is relentless, heavy and, above all, exceedingly loud. In the closing stages of their set the Seattle three-piece are joined by ex-Butthole Surfers man King Coffey much to the astonishment of the small-but-enraptured throng. As the band finish their set one of Sub Pop’s A&R men develops a nosebleed. This, it seems, says all that needs to be said about the threesome.

It is 1.20am. We are spent, the venues are closing and 6th Street is awash with all manner of musicians, schmoozic business types and casualties of drink. In all of this traipsing around MOJO has managed to miss Pete Townshend’s keynote speech, his jam with his old pal Ian McLagan at the Austin Music Awards bash (the pair’s Kuschty Rye tribute to fallen friend Ronnie Lane makes the frontpage of the Austin Chronicle), Donovan, Blonde Redhead, Rosie Thomas and about 360 other acts.

Tomorrow beckons with a glittering array of talent ranging from Amy Winehouse to Vashti Bunyan via Bob Mould, The Besnard Lakes, The Horrors and Tom Morello’s Nighwatchman project. There is, of course, no guarantee that we will see any of these but we will be back here to tell you exactly what musical marvels we have enjoyed. ‘Til then, then…

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 06:39PM | 

Tct160_2Enter Aloud's text-to-win competition now for your chance to win a pair of tickets for The Who on Saturday March 31 at the Royal Albert Hall, one of this year's unmissable sold-out shows in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. 

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For your chance to win tickets to see The Who, simply answer the following question:

Teenage Cancer Trust patron Roger Daltrey is the singer of which legendary band?


Simply text WHO MOJO plus your answer (A, B or C) to 83149. Texts cost 50p each.

Terms and Conditions - No cash alternative will be offered and the prize is non-transferable and non-refundable. The prize is one pair of tickets for the entrants' choice of show from the events listed above selected by the competition entrant when they send their text. Travel to the event or any accommodation necessary are NOT included. Entrants must be 18 years or over. The closing date for this competition is midnight on Tuesday March 20.

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Posted by Ross_Bennett at 04:43PM |