Mauro of Porcelain Raft
Around nine hours into the day, we embarked for the final chapter of this year's CMJ. The destination was Glasslands, a venue that I'd heard much about, but hadn't actually visited until now. It's a small room, with an intimate low stage and a striking, fluffy backdrop that turns molten hues (at least on film). There's also a seating area overlooking the stage, a la Bowery Ballroom.
It's a really cool space, and a fitting end to CMJ, which is supposed to be about new experiences. The showcase, by Popgun Booking, definitely fit that bill, with a headliner (Baths) and DJs (Anamanaguchi) that I had heard of, and a bunch of bands that were previously unknown.
Jaill, from Milwaukee, kicked things off with a nice balance between indie pop hooks and punkier elements. Vincent Kircher's elastic voice kept up nicely with the rapid guitars, and the band kept things moving. Standout "Everybody's Hip," with a Brooklyn-appropriate title (ha!) had hooks that suggested a leaner, more garage-y New Pornographers, definitely a good thing. BlearyEyedBrooklyn has footage here.
MP3: Jaill - Everybody's Hip
MP3: Jaill - The Stroller
Mon Khmer, named for a group of Asiatic languages, had some wordly elements to their music, but the framework was made of guitar slashes and the shifting vocals of the band's singer, who goes by Hammarsing. They're hard to pin down. You can grab a recording of Mon Khmer's Feb. 19 set at Glasslands over at nyctaper, and another mp3 below, courtesy of our friends at the MuseBox.
MP3: Mon Khmer - Birthplace
Porcelain Raft is the solo project of Mauro R., using guitars, a sampler, loops and a keyboard to create haunting tracks that mesmerized the Glasslands crowd. There's a stark beauty to the music, humanized by Mauro's quavering voice. The most memorable moments of the set were those of saturated darkness.
Stream some Porcelain Raft tracks here.
Teen Daze is also one man show, but embraced the euphoric, almost Balearic side of electronica. The Vancouver native was full of positivity, gushing about how much he loves the city, and then leaping up and down throughout his set. The enthusiasm was pretty infectious, and his sunny beats temporarily lifted the fatigue of the festival. It was definitely one of the more exciting sets of the week that I saw.
Here are two tracks from his Tumblr (left click), and you can grab a good remix of Local Natives at Stereogum.
MP3: Teen Daze - Cold House
MP3: Teen Daze - Everywhere
It became quickly apparent that Dominant Legs was just what I liked. There was the boy-girl pair of singers in Ryan Lynch and Hannah Hunt, the latter adding dreamy oohs, along with jangly guitars and synths, and backed by percussion, both drum and laptop-aided. There was the songs, pleasant and melodic, with a restraint that was admirable.
Here's a track below from Lefse, and there are a few more at the 'gum.
MP3: Dominant Legs - Clawing Out at the Walls
PS I Love You were, unfortunately, not my thing at all. The guitar-playing was fine, but Paul Saulnier's Wolf Paradesque yowling came off like nails on a chalk board. Part of my intolerance was inevitably a byproduct of exhaustion, but the band just didn't fit my tastes. Of course, your mileage may very well vary, so by all means, check them out.
Baths' Will Wiesenfeld was sick, and he admitted early on that his voice wasn't quite there, but he gamely played on. After the last five days, we were all probably feeling some aches and pains, but thankfully Wiesenfeld's gear didn't tire, the dizzying synths and cascading clanks of his drum machines veering with gleeful momentum. The performance was half turntablism (without the turntables), as Wiesenfeld dropped beats, faded things out, and then punched everything back in front. The other half was his high falsetto, as he fought through weary vocal chords, singing jubilantly one last time.
You can grab a Baths track at Pitchfork.
So, another CMJ in the books. Thanks to the sheer volume on Saturday (17 bands!), I exceeded even the CMJs of 2007 and 2008. But what was particularly great this year was, once again, the amount of bands, and even a couple of venues, that I saw with no preconceived notions. A big reason I stopped blogging in the last couple years was because I became stuck in a musical rut, with no real motivation to get out. But the last six months or so, beginning with a fantastic summer, have really energized me, and I'm really excited about music again. And that is a great feeling.
So, thanks to the bands, thanks to the promoters, the venues, even the sponsors. Thanks to the reporters and most of all, thanks to the friends who turned me on to some really awesome new stuff. See you next year.
Finally, props to Anamanaguchi, who kept the Glasslands party going in between and after the sets, with some choice cuts, such as these.
Stardust - "The Music Sounds Better With You"
Orbital - "Halycon On and On"
Rest of the photos after the jump.