Tuesday, October 26, 2010

CMJ 2010 - The Wrap

CMJ 2010 - The Wrap Up

Moving on to the CMJ shows I attended on Thursday, October 21, 2010

First stop was Pianos on Ludlow Street in the heart of New York City's Lower East Side.

Super manager and show promoter Steven Matrick was keeping everything humming there at a furious pace.

I caught a band from Los Angeles called Pepper Rabbit, who went on at the tail end of the daytime events.

I found their Paul McCartney-esque sound to be pleasant and appealing.

I couldn't dawdle at Pianos for long, though as I had to get over to The Living Room (fortunately, only 2 doors down) to catch the opening featured acts for The Deli Magazine's Thursday night showcase.

Living Room owner Jennifer Gilson chats preshow with Deli Publisher Paolo DeGregorio
First up was an act I was quite curious about - Octant

The "band" (really a solo artist and his incredibly unique, hand-crafted machines) delivered a wistful sound via sad, yearning vocals and sparse arrangements. Of particular note was the robot percussion. Can hammers be programmed to emote? It almost seems possible. As you find yourself (via his lyrics) with a "shipwrecked feeling on garbage island" with "hummingbird hands." As weird as it is wonderful.

Next up was breakout artists Buke & Gass

Two amazing musicians, with the female having an equally brilliant voice. They are prog, art, jazz, rock, rhythmically twisted and everything needed in music today.

Have a listen:

Following that was a singer I had seen previously (January of this year at Glasslands), Kendra Morris. Her set at that show leaned heavier on slower, soulful burners. And despite a somewhat flashy appearance, the dancing was kept to a minimum.

Not so for this go round.

On this night Kendra did the bump and grind through her set with an energy level one might expect from a Las Vegas showgirl. With all that going on, it was still her voice that was most impressive.

This being CMJ marathon, however, I had to dash out of The Living Room and head down the street (down below Delancey) to catch the Fleck PR Showcase at Fontana's

I arrived just in time to witness the short burst blasts of bluesy punk band Two Tears

Singer Kerry Davis told me after her set that she keeps everything short, rather than "playing the same thing over and over" - makes sense to me.

Inbetween sets I managed to touch base with Fleck PR's Jo Murray

Cromwell and Jo - taking a moment at the DJ table
Up next was the much anticipated set from punk-injected southern garage rockers Gringo Star

The band had an absolutely brilliant light show (especially for a relatively small venue like this).

They had different tones and textures for nearly every one of their songs.

The green lighting was particularly stunning.

They also sounded great.

Have a listen:

Saturday - October 23

With shows scheduled to begin at the un-rock'n'roll hour of 12 Noon, one had to get up early to hear some of the better bands performing.

Heading over to Spike Hill in Brooklyn for the Saturday portion of The Deli Magazine's all day presentation, I made it just in time to catch one of my favorite bands - Dead Leaf Echo

Despite the early hour, the band was in fine form.

Mysterious dreamscapes are established via their creative projections

Ana B is a multi-talented musician, accomplished on keyboards, guitar and vocals.

Their voices blended perfectly with LG's atmospheric 12 string guitar.

Shadows and Light

LG in his element

and a moment of extasy

Following Dead Leaf Echo was the chamber pop textures of Teletextile

Frontperson Pamela Martinez brings the unique texture of a Harp to their sound.

Performing as a 3 piece, live drums and backing vocals combined with bassist/guitarist and backing vocalist Caitlin, as they complemented Pamela's moving vocals.

With a delicate, emotive sound and visually attractive presentation, there is much to like about this band.

See for yourself:

"You can't escape"

Another song:

OK - but this was CMJ you know - I couldn't stay in one place for too long! There was too much to see - too much to do. Feverishly, I contemplated what was next.

Jumping into my vehicle (lovingly known as the "Crom-wagon") I raged out of Brooklyn for the horror that is trying to find a legal cost-free street parking spot in Manhattan.

Somewhere between one and two hours later I finally found one. I usually go out in NYC at night, so I wasn't aware that Saturday is pretty much the same as Monday-Friday as far as street parking goes. Now we know. Needless to say I missed the first band I was attempting to see (no need to mention them now).

One of the cool things about New York city, though (and having to park far away from you intended venue) is all the great street art you get to see.

I am continually fascinated by it all.


I never expect to see what I do.
Finally arriving at Arlene's Grocery in the heart of NYC's Lower East Side mecca,
I caught Canadian groove-enthusiasts Young Empires

The band plays an interesting hybrid of dancefloor grooves but with rock guitar embellishments.

Guitarist Robert Ellinson placed some tasty licks and textures throughout their set.

Vocalist Matthew Vlahovich and bassist Jake Palahnuk executed well-rehearsed, professionally delivered songs.

Have a listen:

Chatting with the band after their show, its always a pleasure to meet a bunch of great guys who can joke around, engage is chatter and in general not have the dreaded head-up-your-ass disease. Young Empires qualify as all around good guys.

Following them was the moderately hyped UK band Everything Everything

Having one of theirs songs on my iPod already (Lord knows which PR press release or blog I got it from) I was curious to hear them.

A fully live 4 piece band, they put on a spirited presentation and the sound was quite good. Predominantly a vocal group (and their harmonies were well executed) with emphasis on the emotive qualities of their lead singer, it was the bassist who seemed to be the "glue" in their band concept operation.

Finally it was time for the daytime portion of the ForceFieldPR / Windish Agency headliners
Shipla Ray & Her Happy Hookers

Shipla puts on an amazing show. Her band is smokin' hot and she is borderline psycho (and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible).

Give this a listen and you'll know exactly what I mean:

"I know all about the woe is me" Indeed.

These two guys are amazingly great players.

I don't know how Shipla does it. Keeps her voice and screams like that.
Talent. That's all you can say.
Whew? Is CMJ really over?
I need to lie down for a while.


ViewFromSpookysDoghouse said...

What amazing stamina you have, Dave! I enjoyed reading this, especially your New Yorker version of "sprung from cages out on Highway 9," where you "raged out of Brooklyn." If only Red Bull truly lived up to its advertising proclamation of giving you "wings," then you could have left the "Cromwagon" back at "Castle de Crom" and flown your way to each gig. You know, that kind of ability would come in really handy during events like CMJ. I reckon all that talk of superconductivity launching us into the age of The Jetsons was either the stuff of pipe dreams or just some good idea that went underfunded.

Anonymous said...

Another great review Dave! Loved the photo's of the bands. The graffiti ones were great too. Graffiti can be beautiful.

DaveCromwell said...

Ah, VFSD - I think you may be on to something there. Your thoughts are a spin on "they promised us jetpacks."

I knew you'd like the photos, Anouk. Especially the graffiti art.

Mr Smork said...

nice work.
love those "easy to read article" :)))
when i heard first performer of this post i thought some party for old people....
but the more i went to the bottom, the more i liked it. :) seems like the more to the night the old ones went home. :)
can't finish without saying that i like the girl wit the bass guitar... :)
well done, dave. ;)
feel the free everybody!

DaveCromwell said...

Interesting observations, Mr. Smork. By "party for old people" I believe you mean "easy listening." ;-)

But it is true that, as the night went on, the wilder the music got.

As for the girl with the bass guitar? Oh, I hadn't really noticed.

But I am, in fact, "feeling the free"

the sunshine factory said...

a great NYC CMJ travelogue by one of its most interesting denizens! Sir Cromwell is an excellent assessor of talent. Your dedication to music and hard work acquiring the stories that make of CMJ I enjoyed immensely. The variety of bands was astounding I was thrilled to see some representation of the south by Gringo Star and it seems as usual they "showed out" Great energy in the piece. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This CMJ malarky looks bloody great

Where was the street art? Awesome! Must of missed that on my visit !

Still we had a good chat in Hurley's eh ? Who'd a thought that would happen a few years back! The internet is such a great way for music lovin' chums to meet up and spread the love (so to speak! ) . Good stuff again DC


Anonymous said...

Holy sh*t... that's some LARGE feature right here.

Commenting on each band and all those little details would be a suicide- you work like an ant, Dave. I'm impressed by the passion that drives you.

I would like to write a little more about the Teletextile band. They're really something. I mean it. Their music is a really strange mix- but there's a certain thing that hit me when I've listened to their tracks. The 'spirit' of their sound reminds me of Led Zeppelin. There's just something about the drumming and the vocals that is similar to the natural and 'organic' sound of Led Zep, this full-of-space-and-energy kind of music. And I love it.

As always, a great job and an overwhelming quantity of information. Pics, words, videos, a perfect combination of all. Do you ever sleep, Dave?

Thank you!

DaveCromwell said...

Thanks for the feedback, people. As much as I appreciate it, I'm sure the bands reading it themselves are interested in seeing what viewers and music lovers here think.

Andy - that art is located in the east village of NYC. Think San Genarro feast and move northward just a bit.

Ah, Sunshine Robert - you know Gringo Star - excellent. As you can see they put on a dazzling show.

Eagle - I do believe I get where you are coming from, regarding Teletextile and the Led Zep comparisons. Of course you are referring to Zeps more gentle, acoustic side (of which there is much, but tends to get forgotten for the bombast). I agree they have a unique sound.

As for me sleeping? Ah, not that much. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Yup, I've been talking about the gentle side of Led Zep- especially "The Battle of Evermore" and "When the Levee Breaks" (which isn't actually their own track but it differs a lot from the original, thanks to its unique mood). I can hear the same, uh, "something" in Teletextiles recordings. Kerouac wrote about that "something" factor in music, so you will know what I mean, Dave ;)


DaveCromwell said...

I know exactly what you mean, good sir. I was just having a chat with someone at one of these shows - she told me how she was in a "jazz phase" and how she loved how they threw themselves so completely into their music. I told her how reading Kerouac's "On The Road" had me seeking out BeBop jazz.

As for the gentler side of Zep - Memphis Minnie may have assisted with their connection to blues authenticity - buy Plant always talked about The Incredible Strings Band as a major influence too. Page played the Mandolin with equal passion, as he did his Les Paul.

Spike said...

Great post, Dave. It was a lot to take in, especially for you, experiencing two days worth first hand. Every act had something to offer, to be enjoyed, if one listened with open ears. Your third photo of Young Empires convinced me that vocalist Matthew Vlahovich and bassist Jake Palahnuk are twins.