Running the CMJ Marathon 2012 - Day 1 - by Josh S. Johnson
Blonds, Laura Stevenson, The Nightmare River Band, Sean0Sean, sami.the.great, Brainstorm, Everest Cale
The second best part of CMJ, after of course the opportunity to see tons of great bands for five straight nights in the greatest city for music, is the process of sorting through the seemingly endless list of bands in order to meticulously plan your personal schedule down to the minute. That feeling of invincibility concerning the laws of time and space is an awful like the one you get when you develop grand plans to start exercising and working out. That brief sensation of euphoria lasts right up to the minute you told yourself you were going to start. Then you realize you already walked something like three flights of stairs that day, so really there’s no need to exercise.
Similarly, that confidence in a CMJ strategy lasts for the all too brief period between the schedule’s release and when the first band you see doesn’t start or finish on time. Suddenly those hours of planning turn are for naught as you blindly choose a venue to visit next. Yet the chaos of CMJ is part of its undeniable charm. As my uncle once said to me while my dad tried to figure out how he forgot to turn the lights off in the now-non-starting rental car we were driving through the middle of Alabama: “It’s part of the adventure.”
My CMJ adventure started with an example of the aforementioned scheduling hassles. I arrived at The Rock Shop around 7:30 with the intention of catching Brooklyn’s Howth, who released a solid indie-rock album, “Newkirk” earlier this year, at 7:45. However, I soon learned that the band that was supposed to play at 7, Sean0Sean, was just beginning their set. Not wanting to leave Brooklyn empty handed, I stuck around and declared Sean0Sean, led by Brooklyn-born Sean Kiely, my first band of CMJ 2012.
Not only did Sean0Sean’s Rock Shop gig break the band’s CMJ virginity, it was their first gig, period. Hearing that, I felt that there wasn’t a better way to begin my week of researching upcoming bands than with a band that has never played a show before. When I arrived, the band consisted of only a guitarist and a bassist, but I was optimistic since I love the Flight of the Conchords. Well, Sean0Sean weren’t quite as entertaining Bret and Jemaine (and Murray, present), but they did bring a sort of straight-out-of-the-garage charm. Eventually a drummer joined the duo, and the newly formed trio banged out some solid garage-rock tunes.
After a brief excursion in Brooklyn, I made my way back to the East Village, where I spent the remainder of the night. First up was Portland, Oregon trio BRAINSTORM at the Lit Lounge. BRAINSTORM was certainly fun to watch and listen to, mostly due to the drummer/singer’s energy and the guitarist’s oscillation between psych distortion and the fluttery cleanliness of indie-rock. Also, the guitarist frequently put his instrument aside to grab a tuba, so that was neat.
I then made a quick walk to the Bowery Electric, where I caught the last couple songs of pop artist Sami Akbari, aka sami.the.great. Sami’s performance of Cyndi Lauper-like pop songs was enjoyable to watch and listen to, but it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea. However, the next act up at the Electric, The Nightmare River Band (pictured), was right up my alley.
The Nightmare River Band is the most aptly named band I’ve seen so far at CMJ. Many of their songs possess that sort of romantic notion that if the boat is sinking, then fuck it and party while you still can, specifically “Last Goodbye.” Ironically, they opened with “Last Goodbye,” which, at least by looking at its title, would seem like the perfect closing song. Instead, the band closed with an inspired cover of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers, which was somehow an even bouncier version than the original. The dueling guitar and bass solos certainly helped. Overall, the Nightmare River Band a great set filled with some rather awesome rock n’ roll songs.
Returning to my home turf, I set up shop at the Delancey to see Blonds (top of page picture) perform at the Deli's Rootsy showcase. I had high expectations for the duo, who performed as a five-piece live, and they were undoubtedly exceeded. Singer Cari Rae began the show with her smoky, sultry vocals. Just as you start to view Rae as an angel from heaven, the instrumentation, led by guitarist Jordy Asher, knocks you off the side of the earth down into hell. Rae’s smile turns to a snarl, and her swagger rises as the controlled chaos builds around her. Every song took on new power live. While the studio version of “Mr. E” embodies the suaveness of James Bond, then the live take sounds like what happens when you replace 007’s martini with an assault rifle. With their commanding take of an already strong catalog, Blonds proved to be the highlight of CMJ Tuesday.
After a misguided attempt to squeeze in seeing a band at Fontanas, I returned to the Delancy just in time for the tail end of Laura Stevenson & the Cans. Stevenson commanded the packed room with her confident folk-rock.
After Laura, I ended my first night of CMJ 2012 with Everest Cale The strength of Everest Cale’s debut EP, “Beast,” comes from Brett Treacy’s fantastic voice, which, at times, sounds like the late, great Layne Staley. While Treacy did howl like the eponymous beast, the star of the band’s performance at the Delancey was guitarist Jeremy Kolmin. Kolmin would rip off blistering solos while bending notes to new heights. With Treacy’s vocals and Kolmin’s guitar, Everest Cale delivered a high-quality performance. Plus, they won the coveted “Best Line of Stage Banter Award” with this gem: “You drunk assholes go fuck yourselves” (said jokingly, of course).
Every year, The Deli's Year End Polls highlight hundreds of the best emerging artists in the 11 local US scenes we cover - and reward them with prizes from our sponsors.
As you may know, the winner of the NYC poll will grace the cover of the spring issue of The Deli.
Now established artists like Local Natives, Yeasayer, Twin Shadow, Vampire Weekends, Vivian Girls, Ra Ra Riot, Girls, Kurt Vile, Baths, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Blank Dogs, Buke and Gass and many others won or did well in our polls months if not years before getting international recognition.
The end of the 2011 is quickly approaching and we are ready to go through the painstaking 2 month process involved in selecting the artists and processing the various votes. We are already asking our local jurors (mostly venue promoters, bloggers, record store and radio personnel) to cast their vote for their favorite local emerging artists. But of course, our polls are open to all bands who want to be considered: free submissions are open from now until December 4thHERE - after that date we'll have $5 submissions through SonicBids for another couple of weeks. All these submissions will be grouped by genre and filtered by The Deli's local editors and some Deli writers.
To submit for consideration and for more info about our year end polls please go HERE.
At The Delancey on Tuesday 10.18 we'll have a truly fantastic bill with 9 NYC based electro-pop bands - and it's going to be free!. 21+ - $8.
Full listings of the Deli's CMJ shows here. See below for the Dream Pop and Alt Rock stages that same night in the same venue (downstairs).
P.S. If you are into Pedal Effects, don't miss The Deli's STOMP BOX EXHIBIT at CMJ on Friday and Saturday!!!
Brooklyn rockers Nude Beach shared today the a-side from their upcoming 7" on Other Music, a rock and roll burner entitled "What Can Ya Do". They are also hitting the road this week for a string of dates ending with a show at The Knit on July 5th, and after that will be working on a new album.
We rarely get excited about bands devoted to classic rock or blues standards, but when we stumble upon a really good NYC act flirting with these genres we don't shy away from highlighting it - and such is Sylvana Joyce & the Moment. Much more than a revival act, the band feeds itself with a wide variety of musical influences ranging from gypsy music to reggae and funk, allowing its charismatic front lady to showcase her remarkably versatile and expressive voice. Check out the video for single "The Break" here (although our favorite song from their latest album is 'Life is Funny,' streaming below) and see them live tonight (06.18) at The Cutting Room.
We are getting mixed information about where Foxygen is currently based - many blogs were saying they are now an LA band, and the line "You're not in Brooklyn anymore" from one of the band's latest single seemed to confirm that notion, but from this insightful comment to a recent post it sounds like the band is always on the road but keeps coming back to NYC, Rado in particular (his Facebook's location is set to Manhattan). The 23 year old California native - lead guitarist and production guru in the band - just announced a solo album on Woodsis - check out the preview track 'Faces,' streaming below. Rado a couple of weeks ago also released on Bandcamp some kind of unfinished bedroom pop demo which can be heard in its entirety here.
It’s not easy running through three different directions in a song before you’ve even passed the first minute mark, but somehow Your Sister’s Canary pulls it off. Three guys with as much control over their groove as they do with their epic themes, the band’s smooth rock anthems make me think of Local Natives, if Local Natives had jazz chops. Latest record ‘Good and Alone’ takes the band to new heights, and might make you wonder why you’re still able to catch them at smaller venues. Speaking of which, you can see them at The Bitter End on Friday June 21. - Mike Levine (@Goldnuggets)
"Uptempo" and "Pop" are by themselves two concepts that - in the business of being an indie band - can take you quite far; but if on top of that you add to the equation also comparisons to The Smiths, then the hype can get out of control. Brooklyn's Drowners have more than one similarity with Morrisey's act, and although they will surely feel belittled by such comparison, they should not, because no artists really managed to be The Smiths' worthy musical heir yet (like, for example, XTC were for The Beatles, Robin Hitchcock for Syd Barrett, and The Strokes for Lou Reed - uhm, maybe...).
The band's 3 songs debut EP features the remarkable single "Between Us Girls" (streaming below) which immediately throws us back to the days of "Meat is Murder," with the electric guitar alternating between jangly parts and arpeggios, and Welsh frontman Matt Hitt singing semi-melancholically about some girls' hair length - rather than about how big they are... The edge is slightly punkier, while the songwriting reveals an almost clinical concision (the song clocks in just under 2 minutes, with the first chorus coming in after 26" - A&R allergic to intros will dig that).
The second song, "You've Got it All Wrong," beats a similar musical path, tackling the infinite well of inspiration that (for Brits) is life at the pub, with the difference of a slower bridge, which acts as a breather for the final chorus. Final track "A Shell Across the Tongue" is the punkier of the bunch, but also the one with the least memorable melody.
This is obviously a band with enormous songwriting potential. If they'll manage to write songs as good as these and integrate their influences in a more mature and personal sound, the world can be theirs. - PDG
Though set in the year 43,000 BCE, The Vanderbuilts latest record 'What We Forgot' is really an exercise in timelessness. On the surface, the band is every bit a gesture to the joys of classic rock riffs, and long road trips, but listen to the album back to back, and quite a bit more is ahead for your journey.
From the barren landscape of 'Moscow,' to the resplendent 'I'm Coming Home,' this is a band that travels far and wide to feed their imaginations (half the record seems to take place in the stone age), but always comes back with a surprising knack for making all their stories sound like they just happened, or that they're happening to you right now. And if you're not careful, you're liable to get wrapped up in all the drama...
It's hard to keep track of all the things that are important to us in the rush of the day to day, but The Vanderbuilts' ambitious new record helps remember them all over again. Watch their claymation ode to the Jurassic in the video to 'I Wish I was a Saber Toothed Tiger' below. - Mike Levine (@Goldnuggets)
In the mood for some dark, brooding weirdness? NYC's Zula - who last Wednesday opened for Deli Portland's favorites Radiation City at Mercury Lounge - will definitely fix you up in that department. With a debut LP brewing for the summer, the band takes its cues from a variety of places, from Krautrock to acid house and everything in between. Check out their captivating psychedelic samples and swirling effects in the track streaming below, entitled "Make Contact" or on their bandcamp page here, or see them live at Silent Barn's Block Party on June 21. - Zack Kraimer