<I>News and notes from the 18th annual South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, a music and media conference offering industry panels and presentations, as well as more than 1,000 acts performing

News and notes from the 18th annual South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, a music and media conference offering industry panels and presentations, as well as more than 1,000 acts performing in 50 venues over the course of four days (March 17-20).

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After releasing its previous albums in North America via a complicated series of licensing deals with Epitaph and Warner Bros., Swedish rock combo the Hives has signed with Interscope, which will release the group's as-yet-untitled next album in late July. Songs tipped for the set include "Walk Idiot Walk," "Abra Cadaver," "See Through Head" and "Two Timing Touch and Broken Bones." After several appearances here this week, the group will be off the road until a June 5 appearance at the U.K.'s Download Festival.

The new set is the follow-up to 2002's "Veni Vidi Vicious," which reached No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. The single "Hate To Say I Told You So" reached No. 6 on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart.

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Following his performance at the Billboard/Blender party at the Ritz last night (March 20), Pete Yorn told Billboard.biz he has recorded 30 new songs with friends in New Jersey for his next Columbia album. "I'm just having fun with it," he said. "When it's ready is when it will come out."

Yorn's Trampoline Records label is also in the running to sign actress Minnie Driver, who performed live at the Billboard/Blender bash. Her set included a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart."

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The reformed Big Star has recorded 11 songs for its new album, which will be released by Rykodisc. Original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens have been joined at Ardent Studios in Memphis by Posies principals Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow.

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Akron, Ohio-based rock duo the Black Keys is hard at work on its third album, tentatively due Sept. 7 via Fat Possum. "We moved into an old abandoned tire factory in downtown Akron," vocalist/guitarist Dan Auerbach told Billboard.biz after the group's set last night at Antone's. "We're doing it all ourselves again and we're working on it every day. I'd say we're about halfway complete."

The Black Keys' latest album, "Thickfreakness," crept onto Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart last year at No. 50. The group's upcoming tour plans include a May 1 show at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., and a May 29 engagement at the Saquatch! Festival outside Seattle.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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