It’s that wonderful time of year again when Austin, Texas becomes the center of the music universe for a beautiful week in spring, as the city welcomes SXSW. The festival camp blasted the full schedule of official performing artists – aside from a few larger acts they like to tease as the festival nears – yesterday. As previously reported, we know the BOSS will deliver the keynote speech. While the announced talent is, as always, overwhelming. Some artists we’re excited about, though: The Drums, Sharon Van Etten, Ezra Furman, The War on Drugs, Micachu & the Shapes and in a twisted schadenfreude way, the ongoing hype balladry of Lana Del Rey.
In response and protest to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) looming over the free people of the intranets, Wikipedia will be shutting down for the first time ever for 24 hours at the beginning hour of Wednesday, January 18, founder Jimmy Wales encouraging people to “melt phone systems in Washington” instead. In short, these proposed acts would hold sites from search engines to blog hosts responsible for the content they house. Meaning, if SongLyrics were to post a news item with some links to a few Lana Del Rey leaks, we could not only be reprimanded, but shut down and possibly jailed. So go on and get your wiki fix on for a bit before the site shows you what it’s like to exist without freedom of speech. Also participating – WordPress, Mozilla, and all of the Cheezburger properties.
Under African Skies:
Ground zero for worldly white dude pop geniusry, Paul Simon‘s Graceland turns 25 this year, coinciding with a two-disc box set of the album and a director’s cut of anticipated roc doc, Under African Skies. Helmed by Joe Berlinger (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, West Memphis Three Paradise Lost trilogy), the film, set to debut at Sundance on January 22nd, traces Simon back to South Africa as he reconnects with the musicians that helped him fuse the sound he was after in the face of cultural tensions between the Apartheid regime and the UN. Featuring interviews with anti-apartheid activists from David Byrne to Peter Gabriel, the whole original crew comes together for a get-the-band-back-together moment that sounds promising, especially since there are rumors that Simon will take said reunion on tour (via The Sacramento Bee).
The Lion’s Roar:
Continuing our post-Spotlight literature on Swedish folk sisters First Aid Kit, NPR‘s “First Listen” series is now streaming The Lion’s Roar, up until its January 24th official drop date. Toning down the shrillness of some of their earlier efforts, first impressions are that producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) concentrated on exactly what we thought he would – those pristine harmonies Klara and Johanna Soderberg are so genially versed in dueling. Stocked with guest vocals from The Felice Brothers and a cameo from early supporter Conor Oberst, it’s a fine treatment to the potential of the sisters, as their songwriting reveals greater depths with a little help from the neo-Americana regime. “This old routine will drive you mad,” they croon mid-record, as a lap steel takes it all forward.
“The Greatest,” a.k.a. Cassius Clay, a.k.a. Muhammad Ali turns 70-years-young today, still the ambassador of floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, or as wily British folk-popster Johnny Wakelin put it in his 1975 homage “Black Superman (Muhammad Ali),” the man “Who calls to the other guy ‘I’m Ali’/Catch me if you can.”