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.



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.


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:

For all things Jenna X Bsides related:

(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.
 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.


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:

and this Deli Mag interview here:


Misty said...

Wow, this one is really packed with a lot of bands! that Jenna b-sides show looked pretty cool. and the cmj stuff looked like totally wild night. thanks for including all the live clips!

Anonymous said...

Great one Dave. Love the photos :)

DaveCromwell said...

These were fun shows to cover! Be sure to click on those band links too - there's a lot of info on how to get and listen to their studio recordings - and get t-shirts and stuff (cause everybody needs a new shirt every now and then).

Mirror said...

love that Mother Feather!
here's another video from them:

Unknown said...


DaveCromwell said...

That was a great show to cover, Jenna! Thanks for doing it.

Well, as we all know, YouTube is a wonderful resource for discovering bands, hearing their music and seeing their creative vision through that moving image medium.

Check out the very cool video Clinical Trials did for their monster song “Whip It” here:

Then watch the blooper reel! said...

Eytan and Mother Feather are bands I need to check out, it seems you were really drawn to them both. However, I'm thinking Clinical Trials is the band here that interests me the most. She has a cool t-shirt in your pics and the good bit of tension between a guitar and drums only band is my slice of pie. Not cake. Good multimedia content as always Dave, but what else should we expect, looking forward to see what the 2nd half of the week had in store for you! (as an aside, I will mention I saw Delicate Steve twice in one day by fortunate chance, though no fires this time).

DaveCromwell said...

I have a feeling you will find much to like with Clinical Trials, 'drid. Yeah, Eytan & Co were the band I already knew and had been a fan of. Mother Feather was that new discovery you always hope to find. Ah, yes - Mr. Delicate Steve Marion - the guitar maestro. Thanks for the reminder of that 4 Knots excitement!

Ivanka said...

beautiful review Dave as always!!!
and amazing photos!

DaveCromwell said...

Glad to hear you enjoy the review and especially the photos, Ivanka. As I know you are an adventurous photographer yourself, it's satisfying to be able to share these experiences.

The Midnite Rambler said...

Looks like a really good time. Too band I don't live closer to NYC. This blog will give me some good ideas of some new bands to try out. They sound very interesting. Your pictures are very nice, BTW. Thanks ! Charlie P.

DaveCromwell said...

Hey Midnight ramblin' Charlie - good to hear you'll investigate some of these bands further. That's what a lot of this blog is all about - getting people to check out who I feature (cause I don't feature anyone I don't like). You've got to get yourself down here to NYC sometime for one of these events!

Mr Smork said...

sweet. sorry if i might skip some of bands mentioned in this post, but i really like to express my fascination for some of them.

vendelles rockin' as always.

remember clinical trials - and they still sound great.

but this time's discovery for me was - the embassy- the main reasons are love their jazzy and bluesy sound.
and last but not least i kind of dig the bass player. :P not sayin' love at 1st sight, but there's definitely something working for me. :P

DaveCromwell said...

That's cool, Mr. Smork. Always appreciate the feedback on whatever artist featured strikes your fancy. Yes, I know you've been a big supporter of The Vandelles for a while now. And great to hear you remember my previous feature on Clinical Trials. But yeah - Eytan & The Embassy is a great band that definitely deserves further investigation. As for the attractive bass player - she has been featured on this blog two previous CMJ's ago - when she played with another group. So, often it comes full circle. I always recommend you seek out all the bands I feature here.