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Thursday, October 25, 2012

CMJ - New York - Early Week

The annual CMJ Music Marathon recently concluded its weeklong festivites here in New York City once again.  Most rock music loving residents know it for the band overload celebration, much like Austin, Texas' yearly SXSW fest.

Though CMJ didn't officially start until Tuesday, October 16th,  early pre-festival shows got underway on Monday - and one significant event was The B-Sides on 91.5FM WNYE event hosted by DJ Jenna X.


Opening the evenings live performances was the gothic darkwave, stylishly geek-chic music of New York City's Autodrone.


Blending Nord fueled keyboard textures with harsher psych-rock guitars, lead vocalist Katherine Kennedy delivers vocals across more than one octave range while providing a centralized visual focal point.


 Jeremy Alisauskas is the sonic force behind those psych-n-gaze guitar tones.


The bands recorded works combine catchy songwriting with enough dense layers to satisfy the most discerning audiophiles.

 Find out more about Autodrone, here:
 
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Still basking in the glow of their recent support slot for the legendary Jesus and Mary Chain,
Brooklyn's The Vandelles continue to present a rapidly evolving sound (and light) show.


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Using an art sculpted stage to their full advantage, enhanced lighting adds dramatic visuals to a sound that grows incrementally with each live performance.

Look and listen:




The backlighting goes a long way in creating interesting visuals.


As the musicians focused on producing that  big sound.

Waves of sonics and light flood the room.


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There is a swell to heaven of sound and visual stimulation that serves to enhance The Vandelles quality surf-pop songwriting.

For additional information, check here:

 
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A moment was carved out during the night for Jenna to do a brief on air chat with yours truly.  Taking advantage of an opportunity to promote this blog, I thanked Jenna for all she does regarding our music community here!


Another highlight of the evening was the high energy show from Denmark's The Foreign Resort


Having seen this hard working, globally touring band a number of times now over the course of a year, the positive effects of playing all those shows is reflected in their increasingly tight and dynamic performance.

Check this out from the show:




Namechecking a who's who of influences I hold near and dear - Joy Division, NIN, The Cure, Sonic Youth, Serena Maneesh, Jesus & Mary Chain, Asobi Seksu, Autolux and My Bloody Valentine -
there is a lot to like about The Foreign Resort


Perusing band merch is always a fun activity.  It's impressive to see artists creating their own unique pieces (like those guitar and drum necklaces).

Learn more about them here:
 
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Capping off the night's activites was a most welcome show from one of this years new friends - the band Clinical Trials
 

I first wrote about Somer Bingham and her guitar and drum grunge band last November for The Deli Mag.  My review of their EP "Bleed Me" was the featured CD of that month, as they played a support show for Girl In A Coma at Webster Hall.
That review can be found reblogged at this very site, here:



Somer's androgynous presence prowls the stage as she slashes her guitar with an angular ferocity.  The stripped down drums and guitar only dynamic keeps everything raw and streamlined.
 
Check out this live clip from the show:




From my point of view, Somer and her Clinical Trials embody the best of The Kills Allison Mosshart and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain.  Additionally, she does the sound for the Studio at Webster Hall and has become something of a YouTube star due to her featured appearance on Showtime's The Real L Word.   It's a rather impressive resume.

Check out more about Clinical Trials here:

http://clinicaltrials.bandcamp.com/

For all things Jenna X Bsides related:

 
THE B-SIDES PODCAST:
(download all past Guests on the show in full here)
 
 
B-Sides BLOG:

 


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Wednesday night, the 17th would be my actual first night out at an officially sanctioned CMJ event.  As a staff writer for The Deli Magazine, I'm always excited to see bands that I've previously written about, as well as experiencing the pleasant surprise of new discoveries.
 
 
Slotting into the familiar category were old friends Eytan and The Embassy.
 
 
Featured as part of the magazine's Indie Pop Stage at Spike Hill in Brooklyn, Eytan and Co. delivered the kind of high quality show I've now come to know and expect from them.
 

Though a few members have changed since the last time I saw them, it was good to confirm that bassist and backing vocalist Caitlin Gray remains as a vital contributor to the overall band sound.
 

 The frequent inclusion of a horn player allows Eytan to emphasize the soulful side of his songwriting.

Check out the Motown influence in this particular performance:

 



 
Eytan is a truly gifted songwriter.  The depth and range of his work echoes classic 50's and 60's pop music in both song structure and lyrical content.
 
This current band - which may be the best Embassy yet - only further enhanced what Eytan does so well - classic pop, rock and soul music - with a lyrical content that is both intelligent and emotionally charged.
 
 
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 To find out more, about this band, see here: 


*****
 
Sponsoring the evening were the good folks at Ooh La La Recordings

 
 
Playing in a featured slot of the night was their recording artists The Last Royals
 
 
This band plays a lively guitar and vocal driven rock that rides along the strong presence of its lead vocalist.  On their song "Crystal Vases" one can hear elements of a band like The Strokes influence.  "Only The Brave" aspires to a bigger arena-rock sound.   Dominant tandem keyboard lines on the chorus hook suggest a desire to appeal on the same large scale level that a band like U2 resides.
 
Three songs from their forthcoming full-length "Twistification" can be heard at the main label site:
 
 
Definintely worth checking out.
 
*****
Next up was the band Motive
 
 
Visually going the matching suits route - they would not have looked out of place on MTV in the early 1980s.  The classic "new wave" all black suit, white shirt and skinny tie made them look like the band Blondie (minus Debbie) on the cover of "Parallel Lines"
 
 
Their sound is an energetic guitar powered vocal music, with emphatic drums and bass.  At one time this style would have been categorized as "power pop."  It's probably still an accurate description of what they played.
 
You can listen to their double A-side "What's So Bad/Lay Some Light"
here at The Deli Magazine:
 
*****
What followed next was one of my top unexpected suprise discoveries at CMJ (which is really one of the main reasons you slog through multiple nights of many bands)
 
 
Mother Feather
 
Since I am a Deli Mag Writer - of course I was aware of this band due to the fact that I am also an avid Deli Mag Reader.  Based on the things I had previously read, I was most curious to see their live show.
 
I had noticed these two frontwomen in the audience as early as during The Last Royals show.  In fact, that bands singer mentioned their presence in the crowd saying something like "I see that Mother Feather is here."
 
Before MF took the stage, I made eye contact with the dark haired frontperson (Ann Courtney) who promptly sneered at me.  I chuckled.  I then heard her associate - the impossibly built, model-like hardbody associate (Lizzie Carena) ask Ann if she was "feeling mean."  I suppose this was them getting into character before their performance.  Note:  they were both sweet and friendly afterwards.
 
 
As frontwoman for this band, Ann Courtney plays the domineering siren well.  You can see the need to perform in front of an audience with every dramatic gesture.  Having read some about her past, she claims earlier band formations were more self-deprecating ("late bloomers") - and now with this band the performances are a conscious rejection of shame.
 
 
It is most definitely a costumey, glam-extreme over-the-top show.
 
 
As dramatic as the imagery may be, the three male bandmembers holding down the guitar, bass and drums rock out with the intensity of seasoned professionals.
 
 
The boys thunder along behind their dazzling front duo - rumbling out dirty rock n' blues progressions that echo the spirit of Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin and a bit of Iggy and The Stooges too.
 
Check out this performance from the show:
 




Femme Fatale
 
Harmonies and bare midriff
 
Impassioned please to find your inner Marc Bolan


Without a doubt there is a T-Rextasy element to this late 70's era glam production.

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Both ladies are particularly amusing as they would repeatedly throw themselves to the floor when the spirit happened to move them.

Check out their grand final performance of the night here:

 



Yeah, I liked it a lot.  Anything that reminds me of my teenage years - and first discovering Alice Cooper, T-Rex, Bowie and all that great glam era showy music - it will get me every time.

Check out more about one of my new fave bands, here:

http://www.motherfeather.com

and this Deli Mag interview here:


Monday, October 8, 2012

The Raveonettes live @ Webster Hall, October 5, 2012

Autumn in New York.  No better time of the year than for The Raveonettes to return and treat their fans to yet-another amazing live show.


Since they began doing live shows here in this fair city over a decade ago - I have yet to miss one.


With their latest album "Observator" now out, it's making a strong statement regarding Sune Rose Wagner's ability to create one pop masterpiece after another.


The live show has always been a thing of wonder, with amazing lights to accompany such brilliantly executed songs.



Sharin Foo appears to have a new found energy for the band dynamic, showing off her skill as the perfect compliment to Mr. Wagner and his songs.  Alternating most effectively between bass, electric and acoustic guitar, it is still this rich voice that stands out as her primary instrument.


Joined by a familiar face on drums, the three piece delivered a crisply paced set that blended brand new songs with classics from their earlier album.

Listen to "Young and Cold" from their latest:




A light show can be a powerful thing.  Properly sequenced with the music being played, it creates a sensory experience that is both visual and can be physically felt as well.


The deeper blue hues serve to "cool" things down during quieter passages.


The Raveonettes work very well as a three-piece.  Seeing them in their earlier days with four (then five) members, they always seamlessly employed some backing tracks.  There is an art to blending these sound elements in a live show, and this band does it better than anyone out there.

 
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Listen to a clip of another new track from Observator
"Sinking With The Sun"
 
 



The big show ender (before encore) is "Aly, Walk With Me"


It's the perfect balance of slithery, seductive groove,


and full on Psych Rock freak out


The sheer force of this moment in time is as powerful and transformative as it gets.


The main set.  Some encores were played too (like the aforementioned "Sinking With The Sun")


A real pleasure on this night was getting to hang out with Loan TheNYCStreetDancer!  The inspiration for the story Sune tells in his song "She Owns The Streets" - there would be more adventures to write about before the night was over.


Having access to this is always helpful when you want to chat with the band and crew, post-show.


Which led to the great chat I had with highly regarded recording engineer Alonzo VargasWorking with noted producer Richard Gotteher, Alonzo has engineered and/or mixed all The Dum Dum Girls records; The Raveonettes Observator, Into the Night and Raven in the Grave; and Eternal Summers Correct Behavior - all amazing sounding records.


Some of the new merch available.  I chuckled at seeing the baby onesie.


Opening the show was the French Dreampop group Melody's Echo Chamber



Their sound evoked those 60's French adventure movies like "The Sweet Ride" (look it up - it's stylish and hilarious).


With a touch of Cocteau Twins for good measure as well.



Their set got progressively better as it went along, up to and including this psych jam end out.


Definitely worth investigating further.


Every great Raveonettes show deserves an afterparty - and this night would certainly be no exception.

Heading out of the venue and into street, I spotted the crews packing up gear.


I am almost as much fascinated with the inner workings of what makes a band "go" as the actual artists and their music itself.   The gentleman in the foreground is Danish record producer Jon Schumann (who also does work under the singular name Joshua).  For this tour The Raveonettes have hired him to be the "front-of-the-house-soundman."  So, he is in charge of the sound the band is producing from the stage.  An important postition, without a doubt. I had an interesting chat with Jon at the afterparty.  My thoughts and his vary somewhat on the overall volume of one aspect of the thunderous bass notes that accompanied a number of the Raveonettes songs at this show.  He informed me that none other than Depeche Mode's Martin Gore (who was at the show) told him the sound was perfect - so far be it from me to question individuals who's expertise far outweighs mine.


Out front B Bar I ran into my new friend Loan TheNYCDancer again.  I was treated to a live performance of what she does (and does so well) - dancing in the streets!





I was most amused at how she alternately entertains and possibly befuddles the NYC Cabs



"I can't wait to - get to know her - I want to be one who helps keep it alive"


Afterparty fun.  It's like SubZeroFun - only better.