Playing It Cool in Feeding Frenzy

You can cross Jennifer Trynin off the top of the record industry’s “we gotta have ‘em” wish list. The Boston-based singer-songwriter just signed with Warner Bros. Records after being pursued by everyone in the industry with an expense account and pen.

That puts the focus squarely on another Boston-based performer: Mary Lou Lord.

Lord’s recent Troubadour concert brought out some of the music industry’s top guns, including representatives of A&M;, Atlantic, Capitol and MCA, and American Recordings chief Rick Rubin himself. “This kind of feeding frenzy reminds me of the ‘70s,” remarked MCA Chairman Al Teller at the show.

It’s all the result of the intense competition for new bands among record labels at a time when bands are able to go from ground zero to the top of the charts with unprecedented speed, insiders say.


“It’s pretty crazy,” says Lord, 28, of the competitive air. “Sometimes it seems (the label executives) are more concerned about who’s over their shoulder than who’s on stage.”

Lord has made a solid name for herself on the underground circuit. The singer-songwriter, who recently released a debut EP through the tiny Kill Rock Stars label, is the latest discovery of Margaret Mittleman, the BMG publishing executive who brought us Beck (see story on Page 64).

The irony is that Lord is seriously thinking about not signing with a major at all, but staying with Kill Rock Stars, where she has total artistic control and doesn’t have to share her income with a large, high-overhead corporation.

Lord is not planning to make a decision until the EP, which features the college radio hit “Lights Are Changing” (with Juliana Hatfield on background vocals), has had a good run. In the meantime, she’ll continue touring, even “busking” on streets and in subway stations the way she has since she started performing several years ago.


“I want to take this as far as I can without help from a major,” Lord says. “Then we’ll see.”


BIDDING WARS II: As for Jennifer Trynin, most of the country will get the first taste of her music in May when Warner Bros. takes over distribution of “Cockamamie,” an album that she released on her own label, Squint.

Boston Globe pop critic Steve Morse predicts that we’ll be impressed.

“The other night at a show she was rocking so hard that it was reminiscent of Chrissie Hynde,” says Morse, noting that Trynin started as a tentative, solo folkie. “It’s a very powerful sound now. She’s come into her own. This bidding war or whatever has mushroomed her confidence and she’s letting it out.”