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Monday, October 28, 2013

CMJ Festival in New York City, 2013

The latest installment of CMJ's monstrous music festival in New York City has now concluded for this year of 2013. The Deli Magazine once again provided detailed preview coverage (with many features written by your truly) as well as putting on a myriad of shows.  DaveCromwellWrites now does its part in attempting to present post-show-and-events coverage from a decidedly chaotic angle of view that can only come from one persons personal experience.


This CMJ Print Issue of The Deli Magazine (No. 36) can be viewed online Here

Inside there is the co-cover feature I wrote on rising Britpop revivalists Drowners


As well as individual features and reviews on Deli Mag CMJ Show performing artists WRITER, TEEN and SPIRES


The festival kicked off on Tuesday the 15th under beautiful October skies with the necessary business of securing one's press badge for all events.  Loading up on as much swag that would fit in the handy tote bag also given, it was a relatively quick jaunt over to the Official Press Party hosted by the wonderful staff at Big Picture Media - being held at the glamorous Hotel on Rivington.


Held on the Penthouse level, a number of dazzling panoramic views of New York City could be had.


Sufficiently feted at this prestigious gathering, I headed out to the street to begin the musical journey that lay ahead.


Heading over to The Living Room on Ludlow Street, I caught up with soundman extraordinaire Robin Danar.


He was there to check out seminal 80's power pop band The Bongos.

The Richard Barone fronted outfit appears to have aged rather gracefully, and sounded better than ever.  This CMJ appearance also served as a record release show as the band have recently released a "missing link" album "Phantom Train" recorded way back in 1985.

Delve further into their rich history Here

* * * * *


I soon had to hustle over to The Delancey to catch what The Deli Magazine was presenting.  On it's upstairs "Electro Stage" was a surprisingly appealing band called New Myths.



Consisting of three young cute girls, I was immediately drawn to their sound and presentation.


I couldn't help but notice they had the exact "Powerpuff Girls" thing going on - that being one brunette, one redhead and one blonde member.



In fact I told them this after their show.  They giggled and said it was completely unintentional.


The true mark of a "serious" emerging band is how their merch box looks.  Seems to be all in order here.  Email signup list; t-shirts and CD's.  Definitely caught my interest and worth pursing further in the coming days.

Check out their music Here

* * * * *

Heading downstairs, the band targeted to see was one I had been hearing about relentelessly from their PR for months now.  With their recently released EP in semi-regular rotation on my iPod,  I already knew that White Prism was a must see show in these early days of the festival.



Fronted by the Australian-born and NYC-based singer / electronic keyboardist Johanna Cranitch, a rich vocal and instrumentally textural sound is produced.


The overall sound produced by this band fit the room rather well.  Despite having an occasional delay due to getting electronics to cooperate, the set transitioned well, once they got going.


Cranitch and her band faithfully recreated all the tracks from the aforementioned EP.

Have a listen to one of those earworm catchy songs, as they performed it on this evening:






Listen to more from this artist Here
* * * * *

Much like similar big event "festivals" SouthBySouthWest and the just recently concluded second annual CBGB Fest - along with live music and discussion panels, there are also Film Presentions.

As such, my first stop on Wednesday the 16th was off the beaten path and over to West 23rd street and the Bowtie Chelsea Cinemas.

The reason?  For an advanced preview screening of the Ben Stiller directed (and starring in) epic adventure drama (and comedy) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.



Loosely based on James Thurber's classic story of a day-dreamer who escapes his safe and measured life with dreams of heroic actions.  Stiller does a masterful job of updating this theme into our present time period, and his use of the latest film techniques to bring it all to life on the big screen is nothing less than astonishing.


Of particular note are the breathtaking scenes filmed in places like Greenland and Iceland.


Some truly spectacular location shooting and film cinematography.

Check out the trailer for it:



I have to say that I really loved this movie.  If one intended purpose of the film making art is about inspiring people to rise above the mundane and "go for it" - then consider me inspired.

With so much of daily life just reinforcing my cynicism and further contributing to an increasing overall lack of faith in the things we are being told is the "truth" - it's refreshing to see a work of art that intelligently presents what's good in human beings.

It's an uplifting story that at the same time is funny, packed with action and adventure - and even romance.  Highly recommended.

* * * * *

Emerging from my two hour spacious head trip in the cushy confines of a plush movie theater, it was time to head back into the fray that is the tightly packed confines of the lower east side club scene.

Jumping onto the subway, I headed down to Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 3) to catch the final performance of The Deli Mag's "Rootsy + Alt" showcase - and the marvel that is Jesca Hoop.


Performing with a backup singer (as she frequently does) named Emma Dean, the rapt audience was treated to the intricate, quirkly beauty of Jesca's music.


This is serious business here - no doubt about that - but Jesca makes it all very much a "fun" experience as well.


Her songs are finely detailed, impeccable performed stories.

Check out one such performance that I captured from this show right here:




She's absolutely wonderful.  Beautiful voice - guitar playing that perfectly compliments her songs. 
A true artist.


The magnitude of this photo should not be overlooked.  I complimented her "hair ornaments of bones."  She had an amusing story about that as well.

* * * * *

It wouldn't be until Friday October 18th before I ventured out into CMJ madness again.  Real life ocassionally takes precedence over what one might deem less important matters.

Nevertheless, with all good intentions tucked into pockets (sharing space with the obligatory survival tools) I made my way to the familar stomping grounds of Pianos on the glorious Lower Eastside of Manhattan.


Opening the night on the Deli Mag's Indie + Dream Folk Stage was Tiny Ruins


The project of Auckland, New Zealand singer/songwrier Hollie Fullbrook - she performed solo with just an acoustic guitar.


Her music was sweet and delicate.  Another one of those new discoveries you hope the CMJ experience will provide.



Too cute not to get in a photo with - I yammered at her with redbull fueled intensity - becoming all to aware that her demure New Zealand sensibilities were amused by such a chatteringly animated American.

Get to know Tiny Ruins Here

* * * * *


Next up was a band I had been tipped to check out (by an early arriving art-school-sludge-metal-bassist - yes, that combination does exist!) - called Palehound


I liked their sound a lot.  Their songs are really good and the live show rocked out with appropriate fervor.

You can listen to some of their tracks right Here

* * * * *



Deli Mag CMJ Print Issue (No. 36) cover stars Wilsen took the stage and immediately showed why they deserved such attention.


Led by London born and raised (and Berklee School of Music educated) Tamsin Wilson, the music she and her band makes is a stark hybrid psych-folk that is centered around Tamsin's vocals.


A solid 4 piece unit, the whole band contributes to an atmospheric minimalism that frequenly builds to dynamic swells.




Here vocal timbre and cadence at times reminded me of another British chanteuse I've had to pleasure to chronicle in this blog recently - Lucy Rose



Tamsin even switched over to electric guitar for a bit more forceful jamming at one point.

Listen in to one performance of this particular night, captured by the CromCam here:







A photo with Croms - it's like being invited to sit on the couch with Johnny Carson      

(or at the very least, with Kramer on the dumpster found Merv Griffin set .)

* * * * *

Keeping a close eye on my watch, I knew it was soon time to scuttle upstairs to catch a band I have been indelibly associated with now for the better part of this year.


  WRITER has been promiently represented in both The Deli Magazine and this very blog over the past few months.




It's attention that is most deserved, as they make an intoxicating brand of music that is both heady and primal simultaneously.


They are the quintessential two-man band embracing technological advances now at our fingertips, while never losing touch with the guttural power of distorted guitars and bash throttling drums.


Tools of the trade

Listen in to a CromCam capture of how they sounded on this night, here:






My pleasure to hang out with the brothers at this event.
* * * * *

Trying desperately to keep up with my self-imposed schedule, I knew personal faves Total Slacker was getting ready to do a set downstairs.


This band seems to get better and better each time I see them.



Tucker and Emily have piloted and evolved this band into a thrash powerhouse that combines smart and heavy with equal measure.


The addition of guitarist (and Williamsburg legend) Tassy has lifted the band now to near mythical levels.


Emily is an Art School Girl of Doom (asgod) fantasy dream.  A stoic anchor in a sea of swirling madness.


Bringing that riff-heavy madess is one Tucker Roundtree - who passionately wails - "Sometimes ya just gotta Die!"


It's a lock-tight rhythm section that Emily and drummer Zoe Brecher deliver.


Bringin' the Slimegaze to ya


When they're up on the stage like this - I develop a mad crush for 'em!


Get your Slack on

* * * * *


Following that sweat-soaked mayhem came the angular psych gospel pop of TEEN


Teeny Lieberson and her cohorts present a synth-heavy sound that put equal emphasis on vocals.



They even incorporated a horn player for this show - as that instrument appears in essential areas of songs like "Circus" - off of their 2013 EP "Carolina"


 Vintage keyboards give them a unique sound.


Read my Interview with this band over on The Deli Magazine 


And on this blog, which includes the full Equipment and Recording Interview 


That dude in the front there needs to comb his hair a bit better.

* * * * *

Now whipped into a full CMJ froth, and looking for new territories to conquer, I headed out down Ludlow street towards Delancey.


As I'm equally fascinated with the moon (and skies in general) - New York city architecture (and their positions against the sky) - the covergence of these elements under the phenomena known as The Hunters Moon was too good a photo opportunity to pass up.  If you look closely, you'll see sneakers suspended from that line running horizonally across.


The hovering Hunters Moon looked even more spectacular above this building - and from this angle of view on Eldridge Street, just below Delancey.



Making my way into Fontana's, pop rocker Calvin Love was onstage just into his set.


New to this artist, I found the sound and visual presentation to be worthy of a CMJ showcase.


You can hear this artist Here

* * * * *



Hoping to once again catch a set from Kurt Feldman's Ice Choir project, I was pleased to discover they were the next band up.


Their sound emphasizes synthesizers and prominent electronic drum-pad work.


Listen to a performance from this night's show:




Passionate vocals and a single guitar share sonic space within the driving electronic sound.


Find out so much about about The Ice Choir Here

* * * * *

The final day of CMJ - Saturday, October 19th would be a relatively early one, as I had to get to Muchmore's in Brooklyn  for the My Social List official daytime showcase.


The reason?  To catch a set by one of the heaviest, best, most fun, kickass bands around - the gloriously wonderful Hunters.


Fronted by the dynamic personality that is Izzy Almeida - to attend a Hunters show is truly a wondrous thing.


The music is raw - primal - speed fuel injected - total Drop D heaven.


I get worked up into a fever pitch at Hunters shows.  My redbull enhanced state of mind matches perfectly with what is coming from the stage.


It's frantic - manic and oh so damn sexy!


Izzy is a near-perfect frontperson.  I crush hard on this woman.  I can't help it.


It's what the rock show experience should be.  Wild hair flying, deep heavy guitar and bass grooves - drums throttling like thunder cannons.  Chanting lyrics that make you want to sing and shout.


Total mad crush love.

I've previously written a live show review about this band Here for a Valentine's Day Show

and Here for The Deli Magazine 4Knots Show Preview

and Here for my post 4Knots show recap

* * * * *

Up next was a band I'd been looking forward to experiencing live ever since their music turned up in my mailbox via some well-placed PR representation.


Canada's Odonis Odonis plays an industrial surf-gaze sound that references the best that genre has to offer.


Citing influences like Thee Oh Sees, A Place To Bury Strangers and The Jesus and Mary Chain will always warrant a good hard listen.


Songs like "She's A Death" present a faithful hybrid of those bands, run through their own personal filter.


Give a listen to one of their performances from this show right here:



_ _

_ _


On occasions guitars were put down in favor of keyboards.



The audience at Muchmore's were completely into this hyper industrial imbued groove.

Check out info on Odonis Odonis right Here 

* * * * *


There is no doubt that the band Weekend has made two excellent albums.


So catching one of their live shows is always a sonic treat, as they faithfully recreate the mood and squall of both "Sports" and "Jinx"

Here is how they sounded live on this late Saturday afternoon at Muchmore's:



 - -


Despite being a rather humorless bunch who engage in very little interaction with the audience, you have to respect the sound they have created.


Though one wonders just what goes behind the thought process of wearing the above t-shirt.


You can read more descriptive text about this band in the blog I wrote about them for The Deli Magazine

* * * * *

Tired - near-psychotic - bleary-eyed from a seemingly endless participation in one media event or rock show after another - it was all I could do to drive home without crashing my car.  Fortunately I didn't and live to "rock on" another day.

See you next year, CMJ.

22 comments:

Misty said...

holy smokes, what a thorough recap! I do recognize a number of bands that you've written about before here. like Total Slacker, Hunters, Writer, Teen etc.

I have so say I am intrigued by that film you review there. it looks really interesting!

DaveCromwell said...

Glad to hear you like, Misty. Yes, I tend to re-write about many of my fave bands - but don't forget to look into some of the new bands I cover here as well - like New Myths, White Prism, Jesca Hoop, Tiny Ruins and Wilsen too.

And yes - Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is a marvelous film that I encourage everyone to check out, once its in the theaters.

Mirror said...

Anouk wrote:

The view looks great, so do the photos and videos!

via mobile ·

DaveCromwell said...

I know, right Anouk? That view from The Rivington was just spectacular. Glad you like all the pics and vids too. Trying to cram a whole week of festival into one feature takes a considerable amount of selection and editing.

The Midnite Rambler said...

Looks like a great time and a lot to take in. Nice photos - I like the photos of Hunters especially - looks very energetic. Drowners - obvious nod to Suede - would like to hear them. Maybe I missed it but what does CMJ stand for?

DaveCromwell said...

Yeah, Hunters is one of the most high energy shows out there, Rambler. Definitely catch them if you can. I was thinking of you when I did the Drowners piece - as I know you are a big Suede fan. As for what CMJ stands for - it's an abbreviation for College Music Journal. If you simply run an internet search on that (or just go to their dot com), you'll find out all you need to know about that.

Mirror said...

Steve wrote: "Gotta give you props for doing the seemingly impossible: making a lanyard/badge combo look fashionable (the pic with them against the black clothes). Stunned to hear that Rockwood now has a THIRD stage! Indeed I did not recognize the backdrop for the Jessica Hoop/Emma Dean pix. Very interesting song, btw, with bass line on her gtr throughout. Vox complemented each other well."

DaveCromwell said...

Ha! Thanks for the visual compliment Yeah, I wasn't aware of a third Rockwood stage until I headed on over. It's around the corner, though. So, it's actually in a completely different building. Must have been another club over there on Orchard that they took over. They have a close-circuit video feed to the other shows in the main location, so that's how they tie it all together. I'm not surprised you are intrigued by Jesca Hoop. Good insights on her playing (which I instinctively found unique, but not being a guitar player myself wasn't exactly sure the technical reasons why). Good stuff, Steve !

William said...

You are the new Roger Ebert or in Aussie terms Margaret and David haha! I kinda feel like beyond CMJ standing for whatever it stands for - perhaps it stands for Crom's Musical Journey!

Musically spesking some good stuff in here- I liked the grumpy folks from Weekend- an interesting sound- Drowners sound like a cool group too!

Lookin forward to the blog report from LPR in a few weeks too!!

DaveCromwell said...

Hey you may be on to something William. Perhaps I need to expand more in the film review areas. We'll see how that goes. I think I'll most-likely continue to "waste my time" being a "Drop D" freak though. The energy of those shows (and the aftermath that lives with me) is far too intoxicating to give up. Gotta admit though - a film like Ben Stiller's 'Walter Mitty' has resonated with me, though. Good to hear about the bands that caught your attention here.

Mirror said...

Michael Laughlin wrote:
Love that name "Drowners." Obvious Suede reference.

DaveCromwell said...

Yeah. They readily admit that was where they took their name from, Michael. Though the frontman cites The Smiths as more of a sonic influence.

Patricia Mena said...

What a great review Dave! Wonderful pics, cool vids, everything. I really love "Play me, i'm yours", so catchy... I was dancing hehe. I like so much the "Teaser Trailer" Amazing!
Jesca Hoop, how does she play the guitar! Super! "Odonis Odonis", i like the rhythm, so cool, and "Weekend" is a very nice one too.

DaveCromwell said...

Awesome that you took the time to check out so many of the bands and events covered here, Paty. White Prism, the Walter Mitty film, Jesca, Odonis and even the surly Weekend - nice to know you got in to all that.

Mirror said...

Carrie wrote:
Lots of venues in the city I still haven't experienced, judging by your CMJ report alone (haven't even been to The Living Room or The Delancey, although I'm probably nearby often enough).
You perfectly articulate the draw of Total Slacker, and definitely agree, they just get better each time! Saw them at the SHOT! CMJ showcase at The Flat (and previously at 285 Kent, the Valentine's Day show, and supporting R Stevie Moore at Glasslands). Discovered them through a great Exploding In Sound mixtape called 'Scuzzy Afternoon', then got hooked on their Thrashin LP.
Weekend bassist is wearing a Grave Babies t-shirt (I love that band! Kind of gothic punk with a doomy, metal edge - which sounds awful, but trust me it isn't!). If you don't know their music, this is one of my faves, from their Crusher LP:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYJvmh0_Dds

Ivanka said...

really awesome Dave!!! Great job!!!

DaveCromwell said...

Glad you like, Ivanka.

Hey Carrie – I’m sure you’ll be at those other clubs soon enough. We are driven by "who's playing" and not really the venue. At least that’s how I’ve always approached it.

Good to see you agree with my Total Slacker assessment. Yes, as I recall we both attended that Valentine's Day show this past February (chromicled on this very blog).

Thanks for the insight on the Weekend bass player’s t-shirt. It makes a bit more sense now.

Mr Smork said...

wow this is kind of mega post. :)
a lot of stuff to come through. :)

looks like it was a massive adventure for you making this edition.

i see loads of sweet music to explore for me.

...and i see you met some more arm-charms. ;)

cool stuff

DaveCromwell said...

Who's getting "charmed" on who's arm - is anybody's guess. I'm just happy to be in a room with like-minded people on these occasions. Otherwise it's just me and my own dark thoughts.

But by all means, please do explore the 'sweet music' Mr. Smork (and the darker stuff too).

madrid.space.station.spain said...

Wow. What a journey. I have to imagine beyond the words, sounds, and images you so skillfully curate, that to accompany you on one of these ny fests is a surreal experience where anything can happen, no matter how fantastic and absurd. Congrats on another blitzkrieg CMJ, though too bad you had to sit a few days out due to work (I fully sympathize, so did I this year). Where to begin?

1. Hanging with R. Danar. Sucks I missed that, viva les Moggers!!! And a forgotten back catalog album from The Bongos? Strange and exciting times! Great kick off to the week, sir Cromski!

2. New Myths and Writer. I missed out, I'm listening now and really digging their sounds. Gets the blood pumping with a dash of spice to Myths and a dollop of gasoline from the Writers side of things.

3. I've heard Tiny Ruins before on YouTube, I think from your or the deli mags prompting. Will try to see her show at the next opportunity.

4. The "redbullfueledintensity". Yes! Hahahahaha, classic!!!

I managed to dabble where it suited me this year. Caught Pelican's heavy heavy back-to-back nights at St. Vitus, as well as a great showcase on Grand St Saturday night: EULA, Bleeding Rainbow, Eternal Summers and Heliotropes. It was fantastic. Remember that show we caught with Eternal Summers opening up for The Ravonettes like a thousand summers ago? Good times!

DaveCromwell said...

Hey drid - good to see you perusing this feature and the additional info you provide.

Yeah, though it's true I missed a lot of the daytime stuff due to more significant revenue producing employment - chances are I would have burnt out even sooner if I attended the myriad of speaker panels provided. The truth is, no one can truly attend everything at a festival this big. The simple fact that many things happen simultaneously proves that alone.

Cool that you got to catch a lot of the action at St. Vitus, and shows by EULA, Bleeding Rainbow, Eternal Summers - all worthwhile.

I DO recall that gig with Eternal Summers and The Raveonettes at The Beekman Beer Gardens. Crom-icled right here my friend:
http://davecromwellwrites.blogspot.com/2011/08/raveonettes-live-south-street-seaport.html

Mirror said...

Robin Danar-real wrote: finally got to this, dave…….nice coverage and great to seeya! i caught a bunch of stuff but had a ton of gigs with Kan Wakan as well. web broadcasts, interviews, club shows, all of it. they worked CMJ hard and me as well!