Rebecca Lewis/Rebecca Lewis
The music industry's elite have descended on Austin, Tex., site of one of the year's premiere festivals. Over its twenty-five year history, the festival has grown tremendously, from 700 people and 25 bands to today's 23,000 attendees and 1,600 bands. And the trip is worth it for each and every act, Langer says, because a band can easily play six to nine gigs in a four-day period in front of unparalleled crowds of critics, superfans and maybe most importantly, other musicians..
Who is Langer most excited about seeing? "I want to see Duffy," he says. "She's this year's Amy Winehouse, only she's small, blond and lives at home." He says she appears to be the real deal. "If she's good, you're gonna read about her," he says. "There's three members of the press here for every one real person."
Langer previews three new records by three of South by Southwest's most exciting artists:
First is Jaymay, a neo-folkie from Brooklyn, who offers songs about rejection. After the success of KT Tunstall and Amy Winehouse, Langer says, there's no shortage of woman singer-songwriters. But Jaymay sounds different. Her new release, out today, is called Autumn Falling. Langer says Jaymay is a detailed writer, with a lyric book you can read along with. "Her phrasing is easily digestible," he says. "It's a classy and yet also funny record."
Kaki King is best known as a guitar virtuoso. Langer says she does things you didn't know guitars could do, with lightning-fast movements you wouldn't believe. But since her early work, Langer says, Kaki King has moved away from solo instrumental songs. Her new album is called Dreaming From Revenge.
As for Randy Jackson's Music Club Vol. 1, Langer does not have kind words: "I don't know what I ever did to deserve this record," he says. "The back of his CD sounds like a who's who of who you cared about five years ago. These are people that barely have record deals. There's a two-second Mariah Carey record. Ghostface Killah? There's a guy with a legitimate career. What's he doing on this? The Paula Abdul song isn't as bad as you think it would be, simply because your expectations are so low. It's certainly not as bad as the Richie Sambora/Travis Tritt cut."