Oh Land @ Rebel NYC (more by David Andrako)
You've been following the CMJ adventures of multiple BV contributors for two weeks now, including the day by day reviews from Rachel Kowal. Before too much more time passes, here is the conclusion of Rachel's week (with the end of day four and all of day five), and assorted pictures from four other shows all rolled into one big post. Check it all out, below....
Shilpa Ray @ Knitting Factory's Distiller show (more by Bao Nguyen)
CMJ DAY FOUR
After the Distiller show and a quick bite to eat, it was over to Manhattan. After falling in love with the talented British folk goddess Laura Marling during last year's CMJ, I decided I should check out at least one singer-songwriter and settled on Sarah Jaffe who has apparently been killing it lately in her home state of Texas. It's easy to overlook the singer-songwriters (I find that I rarely even hit the Myspace page of an artist simply named after a single person), but I'm glad I got to hear Jaffe's rich, alluring voice.
Next - a dash around the corner to the Cake Shop where I (somewhat accidentally) caught the last few songs from Dinowalrus before Dream Diary walked on stage. After being duped on Thursday at the Woods, I was glad for this second chance to see Dream Diary. The Cake Shop can be kind of a bummer when you're in the back of the room, but in my opinion, no CMJ would be complete without the venue's characteristic low ceilings, helpful TV monitor, and my favorite - the Christmas lights canopy. As soon as Dream Diary had finished playing, I hopped over to Pianos for a few songs from La Sera before returning to the Cake Shop for one of the bands I was most eagerly anticipating - Pepper Rabbit. I had considered leaving early in order to catch the end of Sun Airway over at Rockwood Music Hall, but once I heard Pepper Rabbit, I decided to suppress my impulse to hit the shuffle button - at least for the moment. I'm looking forward to hearing the LA group's album when it drops next week.
I did at least make a quick appearance at Rockwood though - for a few songs from The Crayon Fields. The British 4-piece makes the kind of light, low maintenance, indie pop songs that many bands seem to be striving for but lack the experience to pull it off. The understated but lovely "Mirror Ball" is one of my favorite songs of 2009.
At that point in the evening, I was starting to drag, so instead of checking out a potpourri of unfamiliar bands, I headed over to the Bowery Ballroom for Crocodiles and the special Dean Wareham show. (My only regret was that this required me to sacrifice my plans to see Eternal Summers.) Arguably, what I needed was a high energy act to propel me through the night, but what I wanted was something more mellow to lazily appreciate from the back of the room, so seeing a pro like Dean Wareham reach back into his repertoire and play Galaxie 500 songs (sans his former bandmates) seemed like a good way to close out the evening.
Braids @ Bowery Ballroom (more by Amanda Hatfield)
CMJ DAY FIVE
In comparison to the hectic flurry of music on Thursday and Friday, the final hours of CMJ were somewhat underwhelming. Shouldn't there be hot ticket events? A secret show, perhaps? I was so desperate to end the week on a high note that when I saw Jon Pareles, the chief pop music critic for the New York Times, walk past the Bowery Ballroom, I seriously considered tailing him (and ok, to be honest, I followed him for about a block), but I decided to stick to my plans.
My day began at the Knitting Factory with Jaill, one of the week's buzz bands. From my brief exposure to the high-energy Milwaukee group, it's apparent that they are more reliable performers than many of the other bands featured for the week (and their non sequiturs between songs are certainly... interesting).
Up next, I headed over to see Tanlines and Dominant Legs at the Fader Fort on Delancey, but along the way, I made an unexpected stop when I heard a familiar voice pouring out onto the street from the Sol Moscot storefront. It was Robbers on High Street, whom I had listened to a bit in school. Sure, they were never one of my favorite bands, but hearing their music flow out of the small store gave me a brief flashback of my own college radio days (a whole three years ago), and somehow, the sound at that make-shift venue seemed better than a lot of what I've heard all week. They may not have been on my itinerary, but stumbling upon this unofficial show was one of the highlights of my day.
I continued to the Fader Fort. With its open floor plan, long windowed walls, and high ceilings, the space was more conducive to a party than a concert, and the sound suffered accordingly. For the most part, people seemed to be more interested in the free Budweiser than the music, but the bands did what they could to grab people's attention and luckily, their music is highly danceable.
When I had had my fill of the Fader Fort, I headed over to the Bowery Ballroom where I managed to hear four bands: Braids, Fake Problems, Lord Huron, and Lia Ices. Besides Braids (whom I had already seen on a previous night and enjoyed), my favorite of the bunch was definitely Lia Ices. Though a bit on the sleepy side, Lia Ices (who recently signed with Jagjaguwar) has a knack for crafting hushed songs that make her rich, soulful voice pop.
Following Lia Ices, I returned to Brooklyn to see my final few shows of the festival. Many of the week's showcases featured an odd assortment of uncomplimentary bands, but the line-up at Bruar Falls on Saturday night seemed to be surprisingly cohesive (to the extent that I almost wish I had arrived earlier). The lo-fi shoe-gazey stylings of Big Troubles transitioned seamlessly into the Best Coast-esque garage pop of Eternal Summers. Because Eternal Summers' set ended before midnight, I decided to go to just one last show before calling it a night - Buke & Gass at Cameo. With their eponymous instruments (each one custom-made), creative songs, and effortless charm, the Brooklyn duo made for a satisfying conclusion to a long, exhausting week of musical mayhem.
Between the technical difficulties, rushed sets, ill-suited venues, and sheer number of artists, CMJ left me somewhat disheartened and more than a little frazzled, but few things can compare to the sheer energy that radiates from the festival. After all, it isn't every day that you can see five new bands over the course of a few hours. After taking a few days to reflect, here's who made my short list: Braids, Wild Nothing, Allo Darlin', Blair, Pepper Rabbit, Oh Land, and Extra Lens.
Photos from four different CMJ shows, none of which are mentioned above, continue below....
The Star Department @ Pete's Candy Store
Netherfriends @ Pete's Candy Store
Kittens Ablaze @ Pete's Candy Store
Aviation Orange @ Crash Mansion
Minboone @ Crash Mansion
Young Mammals @ Crash Mansion
Young Mammals @ Crash Mansion CMJ 2010 10/22/2010
MiniBoone @ Crash Mansion CMJ 2010 10/22/2010
Young the Giant @ Pianos...
Ume @ Mercury Lounge....