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Isabel's CMJ Day 1: Ron Gallo, Wet Leather, Caged Animals, and Weekend Money

My first CMJ day started at Arlene's Grocery with Wet Leather, an NYC based band. The quintet filled the venue with their soulful and memorable alt pop. You can hear an 80’s influence (dominating synth & funky basslines) in their music, but it isn’t gimmicky. Performing alongside, “Yours and Mine,” a track of theirs with anthem potential, Wet Leather also premiered their new track, “Shame,” which had just been premiered on Consequence of Sound. Continuing my night at Cake Shop, Caged Animals were a highlight. The group makes dreamy alt pop so momentous, I forgot I was in the Lower East Side of Manhattan; with introspective lyrics, Vincent Cacchione’s voice, often harmonizing with Magali Francoise, soared over the tightly organized instrumentation. Ending the set with their song, “Teflon Heart,” the track’s catchy melody and vocal hook followed me the rest of the night. To finish the night, I headed back around the corner to Arlene’s Grocery to see local Hip Hop duo (via Philly and Iraq!) Weekend Money perform (pictured). Lead singer Ne$$ was bold in every way, shouting into the crowd, “This ain’t spoken word, wake the fuck up!” Accompanied by Baghdaddy, the two made the audience bounce, but it was Ne$$’s lyrics that were most affecting. Performing their track “Yellow,” he exclaimed to the NYC audience, “Piggy piggy piggies, all I see/Roll around in NYC/And I just try to stay out their way/ We get money in Manhattan take it back to BK.”

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Zach's CMJ Day 1: Captain Baby, Rosy Street, Henry Hall, and Ron Gallo at Arlene's Grocery

The dimly-lit Arlene's Grocery may have been rather empty yesterday afternoon (tough to fill up a NYC venue on an early Tuesday pm!) but it held several intriguing, strangely beautiful acts, booked by NYC promoters Siren Sounds. First up was the Brooklyn six-piece Captain Baby whose heavy guitars and warbled vocals conjured a darkly electric atmosphere, like something out of Gotham City. The Asher Rogers-led band also displayed a warmer side, though, their drum-pulsed last track (presumably from their debut album 'Sugar Ox') being catchy and even sexy. Next to take the disco ball-fronted stage were fellow Brooklyners Rosy Street. Down to frontman Kyle Avallone's skinny black jeans and deep vocal rasp, the rock quartet was something out of filmmaker Jim Jarmusch's universe, its ominous yet serene tracks of thin guitars and tumbling drums creating a spectral warmth. Afterwards came Henry Hall, a beguiling singer-songwriter whose hometown on his Facebook page amusingly states: "JFK//LAX." Along with his bassist Robby Caplan and drummer (apparently Nate Mondschein), Hall broke into the guitar-fuzzed songs (off his eponymous EP released earlier this year) that intriguingly sunk mellow R&B in hard rock, his virtuosic voice at times recalling Jack Black and at others Destiny's Child and always commanding the room. Philadelphia-based rock trio Ron Gallo closed the afternoon with classic rock force, its thunderous guitar cuts (off a forthcoming album) fondly recalling Led Zeppelin and Cream while proving, as many of the songs from the previous groups did, that thrilling, committed music can occur at all hours of the day. - Zach Weg





Jaime Woods unveils new single "Hello Morning" + plays The Deli's CMJ show at Rockwood tonight

If you saw the cover of Jaime Woods' new EP, "Troy," and thought it was an effort in nu-feminist rock, ala Tracy Chapman or Sinead O'Connor, you'd only be half wrong. Musically, she's retro-soul with a modern twist; vocal inflections recall Amy Winehouse, though the restrained singer-songwriter vibe of cuts like “How Love's Made” keep things resolutely personal and poetic. Her more recent single "Powers" (streaming below) has been resonating with thousands, online. Don't miss he performance, tonight at Rockwood Music Hall within The Deli's CMJ 2015 Showcases. - Brian Chidester

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New to NYC, from Israel: Tesha's brings her stylish synth pop to CMJ

Few things are more effective in grabbing our attention than really good press pictures, and Israeli electronic chanteuse Tesha - who recently moved to NYC - sure knows a thing or two about that. But looks are irrelevant if not supported by good music, and, in this case, support was found. Tesha plays a stylishly cinematic, vaguely jazzy form of synth pop, reminiscent of some of the less trippy trip hop bands like Lamb and Morcheeba, but entirely her own. Her voice is confident and full of character, and her comfort zone is in the downtempo side of things, which opens space for the creative electronic arrangements. On her Bandcamp profile you'll find an instrumental single and a three song EP, entitled "Crystallization," both released in 2014. We paricularly enjoyed opening track "Over the Edge" (streaming). We have three opportunities to catch her live this week within the CMJ music marathon.

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NYC Negative Gemini plays three CMJ shows this week - Bowery Electric Tomorrow (10.14)

Queens-based Negative Gemini - a project started by composer/programmer Lindsey French after her hip hop group dismantled - has been getting some attention this year after the release of debut EP "Real Virtual Unison." Her electronic sound escapes the synth-pop cathegorization, borrowing insatead from the dark, tense, and drony aesthetics of the early new wave (as in the more electronic, less extreme cousin of post punk). Our favorite track "Forget Your Future" (streaming below), never lets the tension fade, flirting with dissonance, while extremely filtered vocals harmonize in a crescendo of desperation. Negative Gemini has three shows scheduled this week within the CMJ Music Marathon, the first one at Bowery Electric on Wednesday 10.14. - Photo by Julia Nichols.

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