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Artist of the Month
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January 2015
Bonsai
"self titled EP
"
mp3

Our regular readers may have noticed that we like to highlight residencies played by local artists in local venues, but admittedly we entirely missed Bonsai's November one at Pete Candy's Store - admittedly, we weren't aware that the lovely east Williamsburg venue actually had residencies! Well, not only they have them, but they also pick good artists for them, since Bonsai's music is an absolute delight. Their self titled debut EP is a delicate and dreamy alt folk gem. Opener "Bonsai Trees" - the most accomplished track on the record, streaming below - shows the trio's interest in revisiting traditional American music in new ways, employing intriguing percussive textures, inventive and appropriate guitar parts, and a production that's edgy without being over the top. Of course, all this wouldn't do much if Simone Stevens' vocals and melodies weren't spot on, confident and compelling. The magic continues with "When it Rains," a more subdued track floating in oozes of reverb and supported by what sounds like an acoustic guitar two-note sample loop. Atmospheric ballad "I fashion you are a dreamer" turns up the melancholy big time with a verse as intense as it gets, only to deliver one of those powerfully uplifting choruses that - unless you are fully corrupted by life - can touch you in deep ways. Upbeat pop number "I Like You Man" and final folky song "Messed Up" fill up the record competently, but without reaching the heights of the first three tracks. This is a small, beautiful record with the power to awaken emotions and make people closer, i.e. exactly what the doctor orders every time a new year begins.

This band submitted their music for coverage here.
We added this song to The Deli's playlist of
Best mellow songs by emerging NYC artists - check it out!

 
The 60's
Bob Dylan

Simon and Garfunkel

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
Sonic Youth
Bad Brains
Beastie Boys
Bruce Springsteen
Swans
The Feelies
Laurie Anderson
They Might Be Giants
John Zorn
Arto Lindsay
Sonic Youth
The Fleshtones
The 90's

Jeff Buckley

The Magnetic Fields
Yo La Tengo
Soul Coughing
Cat Power
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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scene blog

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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