Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Prefix helpfully lets us know that Amazon is currently offering a free download of a live version of Feist's "My Moon My Man," at least for a little while longer. Grab it here, although you'll need an Amazon account to complete the process. It's a very restrained version, subtracting the thump and swells of the original track, but keeping that lovely voice, of course.
On the other end of the spectrum, I'm quite partial to this remix by Boys Noize, guttural robot sample and all.
As previously mentioned, Feist is releasing a documentary, Look What The Light Did Now, which is out next Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Monday, November 29, 2010
In a satisfying pairing, the Radio Dept. will visit an actual radio station tonight, appearing on East Village Radio's Guilty Pleasure show at 8 pm. They'll talk about their current tour, upcoming releases and debut some new tracks. You can listen here. The Swedish shoegazers will play two sold-out local shows later this week, first at the Knitting Factory on Nov. 30, and then Bowery Ballroom on Dec. 1.
Speaking of local radio stations, Washington Square News (my first reporting gig!) has a reminder in today's paper that WNYU (my first DJing gig!) exists.
Anyhow, here's my favorite Radio Dept. song, which happens to be track seven in a singles compilation that the band will be releasing on Jan. 25.
L-R: Lesley Hann, Samantha Urbani, Nikki Shapiro, Oliver Duncan, Matthew Molnar (via Facebook)
On a frosty Thursday in October, Friends entered the CMJ vortex.
The quintet - singer Samantha Urbani, Lesley Hann, Nikki Shapiro, Oliver Duncan and Matthew Molnar - had only been a band for about six weeks, formed after members worked together at Angelica’s Kitchen, a vegan restaurant in the East Village.
The gig came about, like much of their development, from a branching network of, well, friends. Molnar had an acquaintance who booked shows at the Delancey, and on the Sunday beforehand, they were slotted into the showcase. The band rushed down in a car after playing in Connecticut, getting lost in the process, but eventually arriving a few steps from the Williamsburg Bridge in the Lower East Side.
Under a glaring red light, they played their self-described “weird pop,” with what Urbani calls African-inspired rhythms and a tropical dash (“We nicknamed it Tropicool,” she says with a laugh). Some bands members swapped between instruments from song-to-song, a result of their expertise with different instruments, and underscoring the communal style of the group.
“It’s just another aspect of our performance that makes it more interesting and more dynamic,” says Hann, who plays bass and keyboard.
While many see the annual CMJ festival as a platform for quick publicity, it was more of a first step for Friends, which has since played throughout the city’s D.I.Y. circuit. They opened for Darwin Deez last week at Mercury Lounge, and played hotspots like Silent Barn and Death By Audio. They will return to Death By Audio on Dec. 9, followed by Shea Stadium on Dec 11, and then hit the road for an national tour with Darwin Deez in January, finishing at the Bowery Ballroom in Feb. 19.
Lesley Hann at the Delancey
Urbani is the vivacious leader of the group, as likely to be seen performing her own material as dancing furiously at another band’s gig - an example that she hopes inspires others. “There’s nothing worse than playing to people with their arms crossed,” she says. “Apathy is not that cool.”
Like many of her peers, she’s embraced the free-spirited enthusiasm of the Brooklyn of recent years, having moved to Bedford-Stuyvesant when she was 20, and recently to artist commune Market Hotel. On the other hand, Urbanski is driven and focused. She recently quit her videography studies at Lang College, the New School's liberal arts school, to focus entirely on the band.
“I always have to live in a way that feels right to me,” she says, describing education as something that she could return to.
So far, Friends has established itself quickly, amassing over 500 fans on Facebook, despite having just six songs. At the Delancey, the band didn’t have any music to sell, and instead handed out buttons. The band is currently unsigned, but has a deal in the works with an "mystery label."
Although it’s still early, Urbani is wary of compromising artistic integrity for profit. But in a licensing-happy music industry, where a group can be plucked out of obscurity and into the next iPod commercial, it’s a delicate balancing act.
“I have a lot of serious ethical issues with giant, evil corporations,” she says, but doesn’t entirely dismiss a commercial use of music. She has a bit of experience in that world, having modeled for a Best Buy ad campaign.
Kopi, Berlin (via Flickr)
Friends started as a solo project from Urbani, who had been writing songs since childhood, but she only recently summoned the poise to perform in front of intimate crowds.
“In the springtime, I had all these songs that were bubbling out of my brain,” says Urbani, who recorded demos on GarageBand in the early part of this year.
Over the summer, Urbanski spent two months studying in Berlin, living in Kopi, a graffiti-etched commune that has housed around 50 legalized squatters since the early 1990s, after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In addition to the residents, Kopi has regular cultural events in its two concert halls and a free cinema - making it a sort of Deutsch Market Hotel.
It was an experience that Urbani describes as a “fertile living situation,” and as her first trip to a foreign country, one that expanded her horizons. Eating at a communal table and experiencing new subcultures instilled a sense of sharing and creativity in her, one that seems to inform her current project.
After returning from Germany, Urbani and her soon-to-be-bandmates were stuck in her apartment following a bedbug infestation, a situation that turned into their first band practice. The group was briefly called Perpetual Crush, but they eventually settled on Friends.
“I am hoping we will dominate the search engine,” says Urbanski.
Following a few more practices and the memorizing of six songs, their first real gig was in front of around 30 people, right before Urbanski moved out of her old apartment.
The band's activity in the last couple months is indicative of the velocity of today's music industry, as well as the vibrancy of the city's D.I.Y. rock scene. And with any luck, this is just the beginning.
“I have a lot of confidence that we can take this pretty far,” says Urbanski. “There’s definitely space in pop music right now for something more genuine.”
Check out Friends on MySpace, Bandcamp and Facebook.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
There's an interesting story over at Advertising Age that argues that MTV should buy Vevo, a Universal Music Group, Sony and EMI venture that has quickly become one of the largest streamers - and advertisers - of music videos. Writer Mike Henry says that MTV, owned by media giant Viacom, should write a big check to the labels and recapture its ability to "influence youth culture."
But such a deal seems pretty unlikely. Vevo is essentially an effort from the major labels to regain control over the streaming market, and it's one of the few bright spots in an incredibly bleak industry. So it's hard to imagine that the majors would want to cede control of such a valuable platform with actual growth potential. In August, Universal pulled its videos from MTV's sites (but not television channels), after the two companies couldn't come together on advertising terms, a move that was only possible with the existence of Vevo.
With such a vibrant environment for independent music, sometimes it's easy to forget that pop music still dominates eyeballs. Music videos from independent artists usually (thankfully) don't have ads, but indie labels might also have to consider monetizing videos, as they look for additional revenue streams. While they don't have the advantages of such massive scale, every penny helps.
Until then, we can enjoy videos like this, ad-free.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
The choice was between sleep and techno on Sunday, and I think I chose wisely.
The party, put on by Blkmarket Membership, was originally supposed to be a warehouse affair the night before, but because of concerns following some issues with police over Halloween, they moved it to Sunday night and to a licensed venue in Highline Ballroom. Although the time was unfortunate, the venue happily accommodated the around 1,000 fans who showed up for Richie Hawtin, his labelmate Gaiser, and Droog.
I arrived shortly before midnight, thankfully with tickets still available, and arrived as Droog was finishing up. The spirit of minimalism was alive and well, austere beats with limited accompaniment vibrating through the room. Gaiser threw in some build-ups and breakdowns, enticing the crowd to move harder. The tension between restraint and movement is key to this sort of music, and the best DJs are the ones who can create dynamic arrangements with a limited palette. Gaiser demonstrated as much with a creative set.
Richie Hawtin brought the thunder. With relentless, consistently danceable selection, Hawtin melded the ambient leanings of his early days with a fluid modernism. Although ostensibly a tour supporting the release of the Plastikman Arkives, his set was informed by the decades since those releases.
"People want to feel a part of something," Hawtin says at the beginning an interview with Spinner, and despite the coldness of the music, there's an intense sense of community that seems largely absent in the guitar world. Hearing music is one thing - responding is another. Apparently Hawtin was feeling the crowd so much that he extended his set until 4:30, which definitely beats the canned three-song encore.
Here's some live footage from the event. More on YouTube, and check out some Hawtin mixes here. But as the man says, nothing replaces being there. Speaking of which, Blkmarket has some stellar stuff coming up, including Magda and Marc Houle at District 36 on Dec. 3, and DJ Koze, Isolée and Cassy at Santos Party House on Dec. 4.
Rest of the photos after the jump.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Portishead just announced that they will be co-curating All Tomorrow's Parties in London on July 23 and 24, with the likes of the Books, Swans, Beach House and Liars already booked. Even more exciting is the news that the band will be touring Europe in the summer, and plan to visit the U.S. around September or October.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Geoff Barrow a couple years back for Wireless Bollinger and can't wait for more details.
Here's one of the last times they played New York.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Music can be a relic, a reminder of a time long unremembered, but such relics can be unearthed.
In that vein, I was digging through some folders the other day and came across Jennifer Cardini's Feeling Strange, a great little mix on Kompakt. It has an eye-opening tracklist and really sparked in me a growing interest in this sort of electronic music when it was released a couple years back. Although it got panned by Resident Advisor, and didn't really make much of a mark on the electronic landscape, I think it's a beautiful piece of work.
One of the mix's most striking moments is Compuphonic & Kolombo's "Emotion," a distillation of much of what I like about electronic music - a thumping beat, foreboding synths and a vocal sample that puts an accent on the whole thing. The track is a collaboration between two Belgians (Compuphonic and Kolombo), and their other work is rather good as well.
And the best part? You can grab a free mp3 of the track at RCRD LBL. Get to it!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
"Fichael J. Mox" of Total Slacker
I find myself going south of Metropolitan Avenue more and more these days. Although the lure of Music Hall of Williamsburg and Public Assembly is still strong, there's a particular D.I.Y. vibrancy to Glasslands, Death By Audio (which I still need to visit) and, on Friday, 285 Kent. I was actually first there at a Mister Saturday Night party featuring Efdemin, which was a pretty sweaty affair, but it seems to have aired out since then. I unfortunately missed openers Eternal Summers and Night Manager, and arrived to a packed room.
The Babies is headed by Kevin Morby of Woods and Cassie Ramone of Vivian Girls, making it a sort of Brooklyn super-group. Morby tends to lead on vocals, but their set was less about lyrical interplay and more about blistering guitarwork, a pleasing, crunchy focus that kept things moving. Grab an MP3 over at Pitchfork.
It was Total Slacker's bassist Emily's 21st birthday, and the band's set had a celebratory tone. The crowd up front danced throughout the frantic set, although it was a bit lacking in the melody department. Things ended quite spectacularly with singer and guitarist Fichael J. Mox and drummer Ross leaping into the crowd and smashing a guitar into the ground, and then through an amp. Happy Birthday!
As the Beets assumed the stage, the lights dropped almost entirely, casting the venue in a dense gloom. It was a fitting accompaniment for their minimalist rock, flecked, like their home of Jackson Heights, Queens, with hints of foreign lands (they use a piccolo!). It was a deliberate, brief set - not my favorite style, but a striking one nonetheless. Some live footage from the Beets below, and you can also check them out at Daytrotter.
Rest of the photos after the jump.
The techno goodness keeps flowing. Minus boss Richie Hawtin and Gaiser will DJ at Highline Ballroom tonight, headlining a Blkmarket Membership party that also features Los Angeles' Droog. (Maybe Hawtin will stream it?) The show coincides with the announcement of Arkives, a comprehensive collection of his work as Plastikman, including an 11-CD edition with a 64-page book. A release date is set for Feb. 28.
Tickets for tonight are available here and at Halcyon in Dumbo.
Tonight is just the start of a whole lot of great electronic music. On Monday, Nov. 22, the illustrious Carl Craig will appear at François K's long-running Deep Space residency at Cielo, tickets available here.
And on Dec. 3, Magda and Marc Houle will take over District 36, the new club on 29 West 36th Street, a stone's throw away from the Empire State Building. Both are coming off of new albums: Magda just released From The Fallen Page, and Houle put out Drift in September. More details on that show to come, but the Voice reports that the new venue is generously sized, with a 900-person capacity and, thankfully, "minimal pretension."
Looks like a great couple of weeks!
Plastikman - "Plasticine"
Friday, November 19, 2010
Le Poisson Rouge has been killing it recently with a slew of diverse electronic acts, and last Saturday saw the Norwegian disco maestro Hans-Peter Lindstrøm take over the decks. But first up were JDH and Dave P, the two gentlemen behind the long-running series FIXED, which celebrates its sixth anniversary tomorrow. They kept the energy high, blasting divas and basslines that kept the crowd in motion. Here's a nice montage of their set.
Perhaps because of the boisterous prelude, Lindstrøm felt like a sharp drop, starting with frosty, atmospheric beats. Unfortunately, things didn't ever reach the sustained peaks of his studio work, and the set meandered, rather than coalescing into something really special.
Lindstrøm's recently been collaborating with singer Christabelle on more pop-centric tracks, but she wasn't there, and he instead murmured into the microphone at various points, attempting a sort of centrist approach between pop and dance music. But the crowd didn't really respond, and it was sadly almost a relief when JDH and Dave P took over again.
It's kind of a shame, because he's definitely capable of working the crowd, but tonight, it just wasn't really there.
Lindstrøm - "I Feel Space"
Rest of the pictures after the jump.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The Pipettes released their new album in the U.S. today. Entitled Earth vs. the Pipettes, the sophomore effort sees the group shrink from a duo to trio, with Rose Elinor Dougall and RiotBecki leaving the band to start solo careers. The new lineup has singer Gwenno Saunders paired with her sister, Ani, and ex-drummer Joe Lean is replaced by Alex White, while the songwriters and backup band remain intact.
Preliminary listens suggest that they've shifted from the bombastic girl group sound into a sleeker, more electronic sound, which has its upsides and downsides. No stateside tour dates yet, but we'll keep a look out.
Here's the video for "Stop The Music." There's also a smooth Justus Köhncke remix here.
Photographer Emily Watson captures the musicians and venues of the Williamsburg of the late 1990s (along with some nearby places) in her new photo book, Grand and Lorimer. It's a an intimate look at the early days of the now ubiquitous scene, featuring the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio and Sonic Youth.
Watson sorted through hundreds of old photos to create the collection, and raised around $3,000 to pay for the printing through Kickstarter, which is about as D.I.Y. as you can get.
The musical vibrancy of the last decade may have dissipated somewhat, with glassy new condos replacing industrial warehouses in the area, and Watson now lives in Hell's Kitchen, telling the Brooklyn Paper that she barely recognizes anyone when she visits. But the spirit definitely still lives on - it just may have shifted south and east.
Flavorwire has a gallery of the photos, and you can pick up the book here. There will also be a book release party on Nov. 20 at Pete's Candy Source, located at - where else? - 709 Lorimer Street.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Thursday was a striking contrast of two styles of electronic music. While the genre is a second fiddle - or turntable - to the city's plethora of indie rock, there's plenty of action bubbling below the surface.
I started the night off at the always enjoyable Le Poisson Rouge, checking out the late show, which opened with Sam Baker, aka Samiyam, an Ann Arbor, Mich. native who's done work with Warp's Flying Lotus. In the same vein, Sam spun an abstract mix of hip hop, infused with bass booms and party-ready rap. There were some 8 bit bleeps and a little sprinkle of stuff from Baker's neighbor, Ghostly International, and the set warmed the crowd up nicely.
Daedelus, the guise of Los Angeles producer Alfred Darlington, crafts sample-heavy albums that veer from 2006's Denies The Day's Demise, a cinematic, avant garde work, to 2008's Love To Make Music To, which entered pop song territory. But Daedelus live is a whole other beast, with Darlington resembling a mad scientist as he furiously worked his monome, a white pad of flashing buttons, each corresponding to a sample. He collapsed and jerked alongside the music, flinging himself with the crashing beats and stuttering vocals.
It was a rollercoaster set, surprisingly loud and bolstered by a crowd that was continuously freaking out. In retrospect, it's hard to pick out individual parts, aside from the synth hook of "Fair Weather Friends," which is a repeating motif in most of his performances. It was less about particular moments, but rather more about a constant, mutating construct, an incredible production infused with raw, live energy.
Daedelus - Live on KEXP
Afterwards, I hurried over to the Delancey for Kate Simko. As previously mentioned, the party was a bit of a make-up for Blkmarket Membership, and having wanted to see the Chicago DJ for ages, it was a real treat. Simko plays elegant, meditative techno, an immediate mood setter under the glaring red lights. Clean kick drums that underpinned her set, while understated female murmurs faded in and out. Alas, she was about halfway through when I arrived, and another DJ, I believe Burnski, took over soon after, although he kept the minimal aesthetic going. Hopefully, I'll get the full experience next time.
Check out a bunch of Kate Simko tracks below via Beatport.
Rest of the photos after the jump.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Last Thursday, I returned to Music Hall of Williamsburg, albeit for a very different show than the one a couple days before. I missed the first opener, Elks, but arrived to catch Liquor Store. The foursome's bottom-heavy grooves were unrelenting, forming the backbone of a set that emphasized rhythm and power stances over vocals.
Ninjasonik - last seen on a magical summer day two years back - were the unlikely bridge between two rock bands. The mischievous rap trio of Reverend McFly, Telli Gramz and DJ Roofeeo unleashed vulgar rhymes that were more absurd than aggressive (Sample title: "Somebody Gonna Get Pregnant"). The two rappers spent a good chunk of time down with the crowd, flipping out and, um, handing me wet, black objects.
MP3: Ninjasonik - Tight Pants
MP3: Ninjasonik - Holla For A Dolla
Jeff the Brotherhood are Jack and Jamin Orrall, actual brothers from Nashville who play grungy, garage-y rock. It's pretty straightforward stuff: drums, guitar, vocals, although they would receive a little help from a backing track, an alien and a monkey. The lean setup allowed for a fluid, impressive sequence of songs, and crowd was in an absolute frenzy, crashing into one another up front, crowd surfing and stage diving. It's been a while since I've witnessed such energy at an indie rock show - I might have to go back to the heydays of McCarren Pool - and it was quite a blast.
Grab "Diamond Way" below, via RCRD LBL.
Here's a new song from the show.
Rest of the photos after the jump. More at BrooklynVegan.
Booka Shade defy the notion that live electronic music is encapsulated with the push of a button. The Berlin duo of Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger are the antithesis of DJs, eschewing vinyl and Serato for the visceral sounds of real instruments. There's still heavy use of programmed beats and samples, but when Booka Shade plays live, it's a performance. Their set at Music Hall of Williamsburg last week was a forceful reminder that the group can fill arenas, while still conveying the subtlety of their earlier work.
As always, it was Kammermeier on percussion and Merziger handling samples and electronics, with the occasional vocodor-warped singing. They wove classic tracks from Movements with newer material from 2008's The Sun and the Neon Light and this year's More!, tilting between bittersweet electro pop and moody tech house.
The most satisfying tracks were inevitably the classics. They dropped "Darko" early on, and later transitioned beautifully from "Charlotte" to "Night Falls," the understated masterpiece that opens Movements. The anthemic "Body Language (Interpretation)" had the crowd chanting the bassline, which has become a sort of tradition, and "Mandarine Girl" was, as always, spectacular. Sadly, "In White Rooms" either wasn't played or was overlooked.
Alas, with such a daunting back catalog, embracing the newer stuff is an uphill battle. The effusive, jittering climax of "Regenerate" and the stuttering beats of "Teenage Spaceman" were enjoyable enough, but don't quite reach the heights of Booka's club essentials. The group's new focus on lyricism is also a bit questionable, but thankfully new songs like "Bad Love" were about beats, first and foremost.
The crowd was great throughout the night, with hands in the air and bodies leaping. The high energy level was reciprocated, with the band adding on an extra song to the encore, and graciously thanking the audience throughout the set.
Both as producers and founders of the seminal label Get Physical, Booka Shade is one of the most influential electronic artists of the last decade, and the set demonstrated that they're still one of the most engrossing performers.
Here's another review from the show at my alma mater, Washington Square News, and the amazing Jon Pareles checked them out back in May at the same venue. Video from Lost in Sound, and rest of the photos after the jump.
Booka Shade - "Mandarine Girl" (Live at Music Hall of Williamsburg)
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
The Dears will play their new album, Degeneration Street, in its entirety at Brooklyn's Knitting Factory tonight and tomorrow. The album will be released on Feb. 15, and the lineup's changed quite a bit since 2008's Missiles. Degeneration Street actually started out as a solo project for frontman Murray Lightburn before turning into another Dears effort. Like fellow Montreal group Stars, they play romantic, dramatic indie rock, although there's a bit more anguish here.
They were pretty solid when they played New York back in 2007, and it should be a good show.
Here's live footage from Mexico City of "Omega Dog."
There were some last-minute fireworks in the EMI lawsuit before the testimonies closed today. The dispute, which centers on Terra Firma's claims that Citigroup was a deceptive advisor during Terra's acquisition of EMI, has already had plenty of personal attacks and questions of character.
Things got even crazier yesterday, when juror Donna Gianell was dismissed after it was revealed that her name appeared in the credits of Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, which has some anti-Citi footage.
Gianell - all five feet and two inches of her - spoke with the Times, and said that she was actually dismissed because Judge Jed Rakoff thought she was talking to her fellow jurors in the elevator, something she denies. Also, she didn't even know she was credited in the film - her husband works as a Santa Claus and was contacted by the film's producers for an interview, but the footage didn't make the cut.
Meanwhile, Judge Rakoff has rejected Terra Firma's bid for punitive damage, limiting them to $2 billion, and called the case a "cat fight between two rich companies."
Well, make that two rich companies and one rather poor one - at the time of the sale, a Citi employee called EMI a "terribly ill cancer patient."
Ladytron will release a new single, "Ace of Hz," at the end of the month, followed by a best-of album next year, according to Pitchfork. It's pretty vintage Ladytron, with the synth and pristine vocals, which is totally fine by me.
On Sunday, Nov. 7, Mira Aroyo and Reuben Wu will also be DJing at the Standard Hotel, which has recently hosted James Murphy.
Stream "Ace of Hz" below.
Ladytron - Ace Of Hz by nettwerkmusicgroup
Last week, a district judge ordered Limewire, the colorful downloading service with dubiously labelled files, to shut down its downloading operations. It started with a 2006 lawsuit filed by the RIAA, and in January, the trial will enter its damages phase, which is sure to be exorbitant. Limewire has since laid off 29 of its 100 employees, but still seems committed to creating some sort of legitimate service.
But as Read Write Web notes (via the Observer), Limewire users have just migrated elsewhere, with the likes of BearShare seeing a 780 percent increase in downloads. Shutting down one program has done little more than rouse more anti-RIAA sentiment, and members of 4chan even hacked into the RIAA's website on Friday in retaliation.
The RIAA isn't going to save the music industry by suing the likes of Limewire. It's attacking the symptom, rather than the root of the problem. There will never be a return to the heady sales of the 90s, and the solution is to adapt, rather than resist. Live music, merchandise and licensing have replaced albums as primary revenue streams for musicians, and it's up to the labels to come up with a way of finding alternative profits of their own. But with this history of unflattering litigation, they have their work cut out for them.
Update: Things aren't going too well across the pond, either.
Update: Things aren't going too well across the pond, either.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Building on the recent Minus kick, Jesse Siminski, aka Heartthrob, will be playing tonight at Bar 13 in the Village. Promoters Blkmarket Membership, Esthetik and ReSolute had some problems with police at their Saturday party, and this is a sort of consolation. (It's been a rough week for concert venues all over the city.) It's free for ticket holders of the Saturday event, and apparently $15 otherwise. Mara Trax opens.
The promoters will also have the awesome Kate Simko, along with Burnski, at the Delancey on Thursday.
Hear Heartthrob's awesome "Baby Kate" (no relation to Simko) below.
Cut Copy will release Zonoscope on Feb. 8, according to Spin (via Pitchfork). 2011 is already looking like a strong year for new releases!
The cover features a very cool photomontage of New York City and a waterfall (full version above) by Tsunehisa Kimura, and the contrast between organic and electronic elements is one of the themes of the album, Cut Copy's Tim Hoey tells Spin.
You can grab "Where I'm Going," from the album, below.
The Decemberists will release their next album, The King Is Dead, on Jan. 18 on Capitol. R.E.M.'s Peter Buck plays guitars on some tracks, and a number of live cuts have been floating around - Consequence of Sound has some of those.
You can grab "Down By The Water" below.
CMJ 2010: Baths, PS I Love You, Dominant Legs, Teen Daze, Porcelain Raft, Mon Khmer and Jaill Played Glasslands
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.