Friday, 22 October 2010

CMJ Report: Days 1 & 2

So New York City has been plunged headlong, once again, into the yearly industry showcase sprawl that is the CMJ Music Marathon. Aptly titled, as outside of South by Southwest (I assume) there can be no more widely spread music pow wow extending over almost an entire week. Marathon indeed.

Despite the subject tagging day one here, my action was severely limited by a tight 'real life' schedule and a need to pace the week out correctly. The free evening show at Brooklyn Bowl, with Yo La Tengo and Screaming Females looked appealing, yet a trip to Williamsburg after hours means an all nighter given the horrendous transit links to my patch, so it was nixed. I did manage to catch a stripped down drum/acoustic set in passing Washington Square Park, however, which I later found out was most likely Canadians Yukon Blonde. Tunes sounded good even in their barest form, so I'll be digging a little deeper into where else they're playing.

The next day yielded the first day day show action, with the folksy Addie Brownlee firing her powerful voice into the lush acoustics of the Living Room. Solid songs, rounded out by a particularly bittersweet (and darkly humourous) gem most likely entitled I Hope You Never Find Love ensure a good start to the musical running.

A quick hop down the road - the beauty of hitting the Ludlow Street venues - finds the Terrorbird showcase underway at the Cake Shop. Time permits me only to catch Texan deckmeister Botany, whose beats are layered and undoubtedly skillfully crafted, though not totally my cup of tea if truth be told. The visuals add a nice touch, but in a basement venue with near zero visibility unless you're in the front two rows, they're largely missed.

After catching up with another talented singer-songwriter, Rob Holzer, in something quite removed from the CMJ shenanigans, the evening shows become the focus of attention. That gent is worthy of mention, however, for breaking up the running around with some expertly played covers of the Chilli Peppers and Stone Temple Pilots, a welcome throw back to my youth during a festival obsessed with digging up the next big things.

The Canal Room is the next destination, where a mate directed my attention to the ASCAP showcase. The first band up are a crunchy melodic rock bunch from my homeland, The Xcerts. Without reinventing the wheel, they deliver powerful wallop with riffs that pound away in the good old style of Long Island core, set againsta more accessible, almost powerpop element to the vocals. The energy keeps things moving along nicely.

The highlight of the evening proves to be from the left coast, as Los Angeles-based Grouplove take the stage. Drawing comparisons to Arcade Fire from those around me, based solely on their get up it seems, they warrant some of that allusion with their anthemic melodies. They inject a bit more light-hearted fun into their engaging brand of hippy-indie-pop, however, and offer a number of different reference points with both their retro look and undeniably tight, catchy tunes. Lots of fun and well worth a closer listen once all this madness subsides on Sunday.

The last act I manage to catch is Good Old War, from whom more gentle, refined indie folk song flow to ease the crowd into a more relaxed state of being. The calming herbal tea to Grouplove's double espresso, so to speak.
Feeling the pull of a long subway ride and the Blue Moons taking their toll, I head off into the night to contemplate what the next day of venue hopping might bring...

[Ed. Note: Pics, vids, and MP3's to be added in the next day or so. Netbooks do not a multimedia friendly environment create.]


Jay said...

Great, Now I have to go check out all these bands :)

zidered said...

To quote Patton (Mike, not the General):

"It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it."