Louis XIV is on tour supporting Slick Dogs and Ponies, the band’s second Atlantic album. Released January 29, Ponies has yet to break into the Billboard Top 200 album chart. One insider says that being on a major label can sometimes work against a so-called “baby band.”
“Atlantic has some big priorities to break other new releases by Death Cab for Cutie and Gnarls Barkley,” says the insider. “Every label has its priorities, and I hate to say it but Louis XIV may not be as high a priority as those other artists.”
Another factor that may be working against Ponies: alternative radio has become overrun by stations that avoid songs by more adventurous artists.
“Unless you’re a band that has a formulaic rock sound, it is nearly impossible to get your song in the top ten on the alternative airplay chart,” says the insider. “Unless you sound like Seether, Puddle of Mudd, or Linkin Park, it’s hard to get airplay on alternative radio anymore. We called it corporate rock in the ’70s; Seether is today’s Foreigner.”
The Louis XIV single “Air Traffic Control” has yet to reach the Radio & Records alternative airplay chart; rankings are based on playlist data from among the 80 alternative stations across the country.
Ted Volk, who writes for Hits magazine, says FM94/9 and L.A.’s Indie 103.1 are 2 of the “12 or 13 pure alternative stations left in the country” and that it is hard for left-of-center artists to get a hit on alternative radio. “Silversun Pickups was one band that sneaked through.”
Volk says the 1991 arrival of Nirvana launched the golden age of alternative radio.
“The number of alternative stations went from 20 to 90.” He says alternative radio’s salad days lasted until the arrival of “Nookie” by Limp Bizkit. “That’s when Korn and other male-dominated artists took over. Male-dominated bands tend to do better in Middle America. It’s very hard for bands like Louis XIV to cut through now.”
Glenn Fukushima handles publicity for Atlantic. He would not comment on whether Atlantic had priorities to break certain artists.
The last date of Louis XIV’s U.S. tour is April 10 at the House of Blues.
– Ken Leighton