Saturday, 7 November 2009

CMJ Report: Day 4

Day 4 centred mostly around the afternoon and early evening, given the full day of activity planned for the big final push on Saturday. Great diversity and performances were nonetheless abound.

Wandering along the Bowery, Crash Mansion presents itself as the most appealing line-up of the day. The first act is one I've never heard but Helado Negro do a fine job of easing one into the setting. Reclined in the venue's ample and comfortable, the languid latin melodies of Roberto Carlos Lange and crew wash over the early attendees like gentle waves lapping a quiet Mediterranean beach. Only aided by the flowing Spanish lyrics, theirs is a low-key yet engaging start to the day.

MP3: Helado Negro - Deja
Buy it at Insound!

As pleasant as this gentle beginning is, Friday night is starting to kick in and requires something a touch more feisty for the next act. Enter the familiarly eccentric sounds New York's own Kiss Kiss.

A quirky, varied quintet, the band employ synths, loops, and a towering-sounding violin to conjure up an eerie atmosphere something akin to a haunted carnival. They soar and plummet musically, occasionally in an overtly dissonant fashion but more often than not to unsettling success. The set is cut short - just 4 songs by my count - on account of an evening show to be played over in Brooklyn, so it's not much of a showing but certainly one that piques the interest to catch future performances.

Kiss Kiss "Machines"

Kiss Kiss | MySpace Video

Buy it at Insound!

Playing a number of different spaces is part and parcel of the CMJ week and one which next band Pete & the Pirates are embracing wholeheartedly. One of my own - not to mention plenty of other people's - picks for the marathon, the venue becomes decidedly more populated for this free performance as the lads from Reading take the stage.

MP3: Pete & the Pirates - Mr. Understanding (Live in Amsterdam)

Buy it at Insound!

An energetic and accessible group, the Pirates play an enthusiastic blend of rock that regularly flirts with that fickle pop stuff. No gimmicks and no hooks, other than the ridiculously catchy ones littered throughout their repertoire of songs. A particularly enjoyable set, greeted warmly by the assembled throng and playing a fine part in kicking off the evening shenanigans for many.

With energy waning from a full day at work and the umpteenth gig in 6 days, it's all I can manage to head over to the SoHo home of Apple for an in-store acoustic performance by Portugal. The Man. On later reflection it's a very good decision, as the Alaskan band play a hypnotic set of quietly enchanting songs. One that regularly nudges into the 'beautiful' category, aided by some wintery images projected up behind them.

Portugal The Man "Everyone Is Golden" acoustic from Portugal The Man on Vimeo.

Having a passing familiarity with the group, I had them down as one of mild interest to check out further should the opportunity arise. Having done so, I can certainly say the live show paints in all the colour and texture required to push home the quality of their songwriting. Various downloads from previous releases here will testify to this and explain why most recent effort, 'The Satanic Satanist', just shot up my list of 'Overdue shit to buy'.

Buy it at Insound!

Happily sated by the variety of the few performances caught, I take a briefly longing peek at the plentiful shiny Apple iTems for which I have insufficient funds, then skulk away into the rainy streets and home. Saturday will prove to be a huge and wide-ranging day of music, making this decision the correct one.

But that's another story, for another post......

Now playing: Alessi's Ark - Simple Man
via FoxyTunes

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