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Artist of the Month
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June 2015
Annique Monet
"Phantom Letters
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Some records have the ability to plunge the listener into some kind of alternate reality. Annique Monet's uber-psychedelic debut album 'Phantom Letters' will do that to you. It took a few notes for opening track "Salt, Veruca," (streaming) to hypnotize us with its haunting beginning: a simple electric piano part, whistles, a fake horn section and a droney verse slowly led us towards a celestial chorus, which was quickly fogotten - for good - in favor of a baroque, droney outro. The following track 'Voodoo', a grottesque and dissonant waltz, took us to a really weird (and scary) place: we saw the devil looking at us through the speakers, from Vienna. With a beautiful melody, the first few bars of "Nowhere"  brought back some hope for a return to light, but the song didn't go anywhere - we should have expected it, considering the title. 'Relapse' delivered another waltz - a more subtle one - but filled to the brim with eerie and decadent melancholy. From its plodding intro, Turtlenecks in July resurrected the ghost of The Beatles' psychedelic pop, although sounding nothing like it, while in '52,' Greek mermeids lured us with the most ghostly of lithanies, asking us to join them - and drown. The following two songs on the record kept this beautifully absurd, elusive dream going, with noteworthy track "Unchange" closing the collection.

Although we often praise structure in songwriting (many songs here would benefit from more of it), there's very little structure in a dream - which is what this album is. In a scene that seems to have lost the imagination of its peak years, this is a record that will hopefully inspire other NYC artists to be more daring.

 
The 60's

Band of Gypsys

Bob Dylan

Bruce Haack

The Fugs

The Godz

Holy Modal Rounders

Velvet Underground
The 70's
Television
Patti Smith
The New York Dolls

The Ramones

The Talking Heads
Richard Hell
The Dead Boys
Blondie
Suicide
Lydia Lunch
DNA  
Mars
The Contortions  
The 80's
Afrika Bambaataa
Arto Lindsay
Bad Brains
Beastie Boys
Bruce Springsteen
The Feelies
The Fleshtones
Grandmaster Melle Mel
John Zorn
Laurie Anderson
Public Enemy
Run D.M.C.
Sonic Youth
Swans
They Might Be Giants
The 90's
A Tribe Called Quest
Cat Power

Jeff Buckley

The Magnetic Fields
Nas
The Notorious B.I.G.
Soul Coughing
Yo La Tengo
The 00's
The Strokes
Interpol
TV on The Radio
Fiery Furnaces
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Bravery
Animal Collective
Bright Eyes
Devendra Banhart
Moldy Peaches
Le Tigre
Liars
Blonde Redhead
Grizzly Bear
 

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Marathoner Mike day 1: Wild International, Mainland, Click Clack Boom, Adrienne Drake, Blip Blip Bleep, Deathrow Tull

Marathoner Mike day 1: Wild International, Mainland, Click Clack Boom, Adrienne Drake, Blip Blip Bleep, Deathrow Tull

And so it begins… the first lap of the CMJ marathon landed me in the East Village last night until 3ish, starting with Long Island band Wild International at Webster Hall. Wild is a group best described as what Panda bear might sound like were he in a punk band. This three piece moved from jangle to thrash in equal measure and even premiered a brand new song, ‘Creeks’, complete with water sound effects and campfire croons. But by far the best thing Wild International might have been guitarist Ryan Camenzuli’s mom, who was really cool and could have been an Animal Collective fan herself - we all need cool and supportive mothers at shows!

Next up was Mainland. Singer Jordan Topf wins the award for wearing the tightest pair of jeans of the night, and his band's sound was an equal match. Absolutely one of the most enthusiastic of the night’s groups, their dexterous bassist reacted so joyously to each song’s change you’d think he was more their fan than bandmate. Despite their numerous soundchecks, including a couple broken strings, they powered through in no small part to the young lead singers’ boundless energy.

And then came something entirely different… Click Clack Boom are from rural Pennsylvania but I have a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more from this group in NYC. The four piece were high energy and ready at a moments notice to nail a solid riff to their material. I could see them grabbing a drink with the Arctic Monkeys sometime and trading stories of filthy lucre and other such debaucheries. One part storyteller/one part auctioneer, lead singer Nathaniel Hoho gave us such endearing lyrics as “I love this woman, she loved cocaine, but she was fucking all my friends.”

And that was it for Webster Hall. After grabbing a quick slice at South Brooklyn Pizza shared with CMJ artist/East Village insider Emily Greene (playing tonight at Spike Hill!), I hurried over to the No Pulp CMJ show at Arlenes grocery to catch (pictureless) glo-fi torchbearer Adrienne Drake bring the romance. This shoe-gazey songwriter swings a big wall of circuitry at melodrama and makes quirky throwback synths dance-ready. Think Ariel Pink covering The Cure.

Next up was a band competing with Click Clack Boom for the comic book-ready band name of the night: Blip Blip Bleep. This Brooklyn-based power pop trio opened with a song to make me wish to god it was Friday already (though not in a Rebecca Black kinda way). Giving The Pains of Being Pure at Heart a run for their money, this three piece put more sounds into their keyboard-backed anthems than most bands twice their size. This included generous doses of Ableton Live, and I should also mention that their very attractive keyboardist Kayce McGehee had two very well endowed mini-korgs of her own to frame her figure. Their cover of ‘Beat It’ was made all the sexier when she turned it around into a feminist disco anthem.

Finally the evening came to a close with Brooklyn’s Deathrow Tull. Here’s a band that has their thing down, with every moment carefully choreographed to the smallest detail. An incredible exercise in jazz/ hip-hop style democracy you don’t usually find in covers of ‘Let's Get It On,’ There was an excellent juxtaposition here between the smooth soul of Temple Grindin’s soprano, and Broke and Dyalekt’s hard-edged rhymes. It was a sweaty end to my first lap of CMJ, and I can’t wait to get back out there tonight.

- Mike Levine (@goldnuggets)

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