Review by TNT
As new music filled the streets of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg during CMJ 2010, I was eager to discover something new for my ears to devour. I did my research and planned a schedule; I was able to see majority of the bands and artists that struck my musical fancy and I will share some of those gems in just a moment. In a future post, I will give a list of bands deemed worthy of checking out, either live or recorded, that’s your prerogative.
On Tuesday night, 10/19, I headed to NYU Judson Church to pick up my badge. Walking through Washington Square Park felt like a moment of clarity and a breath of relief. We all have our day jobs, and this year I was hitting up CMJ Tuesday through Friday immediately after mine, braving the rushing hour traffic from Jersey to NYC (averaging around an hour and a half of traffic each day). This felt like my happy hour (minus the bar). Working through a day job you don’t love and following it up with something you just can’t get enough of (new music, NYC, networking, meeting up with friends you don’t get to see as much as you’d like to), even knowing that you’re not going to be sleeping all week, made every second worthwhile. Next stop was right next door, NYU Kimmel Center, for the festival guide and other various goodies. Props to Reverend Moose and company for selecting such unbelievably fashionable travel bags.
Last but not least, I hunted down the Pure Volume House, which was conveniently located at the back alley of Extra Pl., a street I never knew existed in NYC until now. I grabbed my pass, but am sad to say that I never made it inside. Guess the discovery of Extra Pl. was good enough. I saw Aunt Martha at Pianos once again. Three members out of four played, but were still able to fill the air with their ambiance. At least the last time I saw them there were four members, but their MySpace says three is the magic number. But that is neither here nor there. I always fall in love with the picture their lyrics and beats paint; it washes over me like a tidal wave. My favorite songs were “Neighbor Song” and “Detroit City”. They’ll be at The Living Room on 11/12 if you want to check them out live.
My favorite band at CMJ was Black Taxi. I saw them at Bowery Electric Tuesday night and at the CMJ Gallery on Wednesday. They always blow my mind. Their live show is seriously not to be missed; so much energy and raw power! Lead singer Ezra brings out a smorgasbord of instruments to keep your eyes and ears at attention. My favorite? The megaphone. This man knows how to use it, especially in “Up Here for Thinking, Down There for Dancing”. He crawled along the bar at the CMJ Gallery and jumped into the crowd. I love Things of That Nature; every single song is a hit for me. I dare you to not love them live, I double dog dare ya!
After surviving more rush hour traffic, I was ready hit the clubs and bars supporting CMJ on Wednesday. One of the first bands I saw was the New Collisions @ CMJ Gallery. This was a great band to check out live. The lyrics were a mix between fun, carefree anthems and some darker lines. The sound had a powerful pop rock/punk vibe with a new wave touch. Besides their onstage energy, I thought the synth really made this band come alive. Their catchy rhythms and beats kept the crowd moving.
I hate when you walk into a show and you know the band is on their second to last or last song. It was a real shame with Click Clack Boom because they sounded like a band I would have wanted to catch their entire set. I wish I could have heard more. No use being upset, they often play in NYC. I’m excited to hear more from this band and look forward to seeing them live again, hopefully a full set this time around.
One of the buzz bands at CMJ this year was Blood Red Shoes, whom I checked out at Le Poisson Rouge. Minimal effects, just raw guitar riffs and drums made this rock duo from Brighton, UK a must see. I loved what I heard on their MySpace page, but was not overly impressed with them live; I was expecting more from all the hype. I liked that they both had a ‘I don’t care’ attitude while on stage, as if they were both in their own worlds and communicating only by looks. Their music was pure and I would enjoy them at house party, but otherwise wouldn’t see them live again.
What could be a better end to a night of live music then with a dance party? Nothing, which is why my last stop Wednesday night was at Bowery Ballroom to see The Knocks. So much fun! I can add them to my list of bands I’d hire to play a private party. This duo knows how to kick it into high gear and get a crowd going wild. The Knocks have been on my ‘must see’ list for some time, and I was not let down. I recommend checking out some music, live if you can.
Thursday I had my heart set on seeing only a couple of bands. I started at Arlene’s Grocery for Braids at the M for (pour) Montreal showcase. As I waited for the music to start, I tried some free poutine, which is the Canadian version of disco fries (cheese and gravy on french fries). I wasn’t crazy about the poutine, as the cheese was chunky and cold, the gravy was hot, and the fries were stale. Maybe next time Canada, but I’m gonna pass on your version of an American classic. I was not in love with Braids, they were all about the effects and it sounded like one big experiment to me. I respected the effort and the sound was interesting to hear. I stayed for most of their set when I was honestly done with them after the first few songs. It started to get a bit repetitive. Experiments are usually fun to watch, but I just wasn’t getting down with Braids. I decided to hit up Bruar Falls in Williamsburg to catch Turbogeist from London/SE UK. Tonight was the last show on their tour and knew it could not be missed. This thrash rock band had so much energy and was just the music I needed to hear after the cab ride from hell (note to self and others- do not get a hot cup of coffee for a cab ride in NYC. It’s just not going to happen). “Extreme Closeup” was a great song to hear live and is about Wayne’s World. I also loved “Ice Cold Beer” and “Devil’s Barter”. This band is must see/must hear, check them out immediately!
Friday, the last day of CMJ for TNT. I started the night at Pianos to check out Lord Huron for my curiosity. Their MySpace page had me intrigued with elephants swimming in the ocean. While listening, I felt like water was flowing all around me and that I was on vacation, either in Hawaii (because of the hula dancers on-screen behind them) or Africa (music has a tribal/tropical feel to it, like I was going on a safari). I don’t think I came to any conclusions while listening to Lord Huron, but I did like the relaxed and chilled state their music put me in. Any kind of music that is new to my ears and can do that gets a thumbs up in my book. I wanted to see Bonfire at The Delancey, but due to a last-minute cancellation, I stuck around to check out Midnight Spin. I liked what I heard, but it was short-lived when a bass string broke on stage. It happens, but I didn’t have the time to stick around because K.Flay was playing next at Fat Baby. Man alive, this girl is talented! She can rap like no one I’ve ever heard. Such speed and accuracy made me pay attention long ago, but any chance to hear her live is not to be taken for granted. She just finished up a tour w/ Passion Pit and is on tour with 3OH!3. Phenomenal!
The band to surprise me the most was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. You know when you know of a bands’ existence and have heard a song or maybe two, but just never really gave them the light of day or a fair chance? This is what DEJJ was for me, until this epic night. I LOVED every single song they played, reminding me of a mix between OkGo and Weezer and a touch of The Beatles. The harmonies blew me away, the sound was so in tune that it felt natural for them; the pitch was perfect. I was shocked to see them in the racing jumpsuits; those things have to be heavy and hot. After the show, I did confirm with Daniel Zott that it’s 100% true. Until next year CMJ!