CMJ '09 wrap up- remembrance of bands past
Decided to skip the big acts for this year (Busta Rhymes, Mum, Broadcast, Cymbals Eat Guitars) to hear some bands I didn't know, with one exception. It also helps to do this since it's hard to remember what the hell you saw when you run around seeing 4-5 bands a night- hopefully, I can go back to this someday and think "oh yeah, that's what I saw..." And hopefully, it'll also turn you on to some of these groups too.
Arms - kind of funny to hear this Brooklyn trio keep saying 'this is a new song' after telling us this was their 3rd/4th gig (must have been gestating in the studio for a while). Really nice low-key indie pop with hints of folk and shoegaze (later note: forgot to mention that the singer is also with Brooklyn-band Harlem).
Beach Fossils - what does it say about the New Zealand bands and their showcases when the best band carrying the Flying Nun flag was this Brooklyn group? (Surf City was a close 2nd though). Light, twangy guitars, distant vocals, nice simple Velvets beats.
Duck Down showcase - Sad to say, I missed Skyzoo (who's put out one of the best rap records this year) but this label still had a great show of force later, with one impressive crew after another, including the Blues Scholars (great beats, clever rhymes) and tough guys Boot Camp Clik. Do NOT miss these guys if they put on another road show with their acts.
Dum Dum Girls - how are you not gonna love a femme group that has a name taking off from an Iggy Pop song? Also helps that this L.A. group has great harmonies and soaring songs to go along with their shoegaze sound.
The Fleshtones - I know, I know... they're in their 3rd decade now but they also put on the best club act that I've seen in a while. If Madonna, Bruce and Prince can still do great shows decades after their prime, why can't these great garage revivalists?
Lovvers - Of the many post-post-punk bands on the bill this year, this UK band was one of the bests on sound alone- hazy vocals, driving guitars, thumping drums, catchy songs hidden in there (think Buzzcocks if they were a Rough Trade band). They've earned the right to tour with Shonen Knife and the Urinals now.
Malajube - Beautiful power pop from Quebec, featuring dreamy harmonies and zooming
production values. If Phoenix can make it, then why can't these North American Frenchmen?
NOW Ensemble - Look out Kronos and Bang on A Can, here's another stalwart modern classical ensemble and like Kronos they have a plugged-in guitarist.
The Pack A.D. - The femme guitar/drum duo plays dirty, dirty blues- the guitarist was using a shotglass as a slide. They put their all into their show too so it's worth seeing 'em live.
papercranes - Adorable indie pop with sweet harmonies, who actually sound better live than on record (which is already pretty attractive).
The Shoestrung - Remember that great British institution of blues guitarists called the Yardbirds? Well, this group doesn't have any Clapton, Beck or Page but their garage-styled R&B kicks some serious ass. Someone call Giorgio Gomelsky (he's still throwing parties you know...).
We Should Be Dead - Nice Irish lasses who sing like girl group fans and who play crunchy guitar rock that verges on grunge. Good stage act too- singer likes to spend most of her time off stage, doing acrobatics.