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:
* * * * *
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:
* * * * *
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
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:
* * * * *
Capping off the night's activites was a most welcome show from one of this years new friends - the band Clinical Trials
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.
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)
* * * * *
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.
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)
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:
Harmonies and bare midriff
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: