Universal does something crazy: names ex-Bosstone new VP of A&R

Nate Albert

While the rest of his former bandmates attempt to regenerate the ol' Mighty Mighty Bosstones magic on stage, ex-Bosstones guitarist/songwriter Nate Albert has been moving up the corporate ladder. Having enjoyed a second life as a producer (Street Dogs, the Explosion), artist manager (Bayside), and talent scout (Straylight Run), he's just been named VP of A&R at Universal Republic Records. Boston bands: this is your cue to stop reading this post and start senspacing demos. For reference, go back and check out the Plastics/Brakes/Kickovers material Albert recorded after he left the Bosstones: while he was never a natural frontman, he had a knack for the proto-emo anthem -- he wrote the same kinds of hooks that younger bands (say, Universal's All American Rejects) later parlayed into Top-40 pop hits. He's probably the only Uni A&R dude with a Fleet Foxes song playing on his MySpace page. And presumably he'll be charged with helping Universal Republic de-choochify its rock roster, which currently includes the likes of Hinder, Godsmack, and 3 Doors Down.

Albert's new boss, Universal VP of A&R Tom Mackay, indicated as much in the Uni press release. “Nate brings a world of depth and experience to Universal Republic as a multi-platinum artist, manager, and as a widely respected purveyor of talent. To be able to mine his accomplishments and insight in an everyday capacity will not only strengthen our roster, but help us bridge the artistic and strategic missions of artists who will benefit greatly from his own hands-on experience. Nate has already been instrumental in helping sign and develop artists Anberlin and Erin McCarley." (Our favorite Mackay quotes are all in this sanctimonious little document, where he gives some unintentionally comic testimony about what, exactly, A&R guys do -- and why they're "the life blood of the record business.")

Coincidentally, both of the artists Mackay mentions have local dates coming up in the next week or so. Anberlin is right in Albert's sweet-spot: a band with an all-ages background, a flair for the occasional hard-rock riff, a singer who can actually sing without sounding like some whiny Top-40 emo band. Plucked off the Tooth & Nail roster, they've got a disc coming out in September and a new song up on MySpace. It almost goes without saying that they're on the Warped Tour, which Albert used to headline pretty much every other year; this year's model hits the Comcast (nee Tweeter) Center on July 23. Erin McCarley is the kind of precociously well-formed, breathy young singer-songwriter that record labels, 35+ rock critics, and Paste Magazine cover designers always fall for -- audiences less so, although every once in a while they become Sheryl Crow or Colbie Caillat. McCarley's currently on the "Ten out of Tenn" tour of Nashville singer/songwriters, which stops by Berklee's new all-ages coffeehouse Cafe 939 on July 28.

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