SXSW 2008 & Opinions on R.E.M.

Jim and Greg have returned from another pilgrimage to what many call the live music capital of the world: Austin, TX. Tune in to hear their reports of the annual South by Southwest Music Festival, including what bands to look out for in the year to come.

SXSW 2008
Download Subscribe via iTunes

Music News

Jim and Greg always return from the annual SXSW Music Festival with more than new favorite bands. They always get great insights into music industry trends. One issue that has been coming up for years now is how the music industry will survive in the digital age. This year Jim and Greg heard an interesting solution. Jim Griffin, a veteran music consultant, has proposed that Internet service providers charge an extra fee to compensate music copyright holders. Jim and Greg disagree about how effective this plan will be, but it's certainly nice to hear solutions coming out of the music industry, rather than whining.

Another major industry figure to speak at SXSW was Ticketmaster CEO Sean Moriarty. In a panel led by Wall Street Journal reporter Ethan Smith, Moriarty discussed how Ticketmaster will adjust after Live Nation severs ties and takes away 15% of its business. The ticketing company has plans to get in on the secondary ticket market, which prompts the question: What's to stop Ticketmaster from holding back hundreds of tickets to an event only to re-sell them later at hugely marked up prices? The answer, according to Jim and Greg, is nothing. And for consumers who have already been treated unfairly by the ticket monopoly holder, the future does not appear bright.

Accelerate R.E.M.


One of the most buzzed about events at the festival was the debut of songs from R.E.M.'s new album Accelerate. The band played its first show at SXSW, as well as Austin City Limits. (You can hear their live performance of "Fall On Me" during the show.) Jim and Greg both saw the rock veterans perform and have listened to the new album. So what's the verdict? Jim's feelings are mixed. R.E.M. is a band that has meant a lot to him in the early part of their career, but has disappointed him in the past decade. They've never reached the peaks they did with albums like Life’s Rich Pageant, Murmur and Automatic for the People. He thought the ACL live show was better than recent tours, but not amazing. And the same can be said of Accelerate. They've returned to their roots, but not to form, and Jim can only give it a Try It. Greg was actually pleasantly surprised to hear the band re-invested again-for the first time since losing drummer Bill Berry. That was an incredible loss for the other three members, and Accelerate is the first album in years that can stand up to their earlier work, according to Greg. He hears a renewed urgency in Michael Stipe's voice and the emphasis placed once again on Peter Buck's guitar. Greg gives Accelerate a Buy It.

SXSW 2008

Every year Jim and Greg return from SXSW with a list of "freshman" bands they recommend listeners check out. You can read Jim and Greg's complete SXSW reports here. And check out last year’s picks to see where they are now. Here's the 2008 class:


  • Frantic
  • Marked Men
  • Syd Straw
  • Crystal Castles
  • Pity Party
  • Space City Gamelan
  • Dark Meat
  • Yeasayer


  • Santigold
  • The Ting Tings
  • Monotonix
  • Los Campesinos
  • Jay Reatard
  • Dark Meat
  • Yeasayer

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!