7.30 The Headset
9.00 The Picture
11.00 The Press
12.00 Bella Noir
everybody else $5)
their punchy rhythms, catchy melodies
and inventive choruses, The Head
Set is perfectly irresistible." Splendid
"I melted like a little Kraft
caramel at their show, and I’m
still not sure if it was the temperature
of the venue or the feeling The Picture’s
songs left me with….or both.
Watch out for this band…"
of the most blogged about bands on
the NYC scene With their shaggy hair
and cool demeanor these gents know
how to be anything but soft. "
it’s pretty clear that the
Press is influenced by modern indie-rock
and maybe some punk, there’s
so much going on in their songs
that no similar bands immediately
come to mind, which is a good thing.
This means originality, and who
couldn’t use a healthy dose
of fresh lately?"
Think of Bella
Noir as the band equivalent of a Femme
Fatale. Their dark, layered, complex
sound boosts the sexiness of their
songs rather than overshadowing it,
and the ambiguity of their words keeps
you hanging all day long - The
Thursday, October 18 2007
at The Delancey
Beat The Devil
Black Tie Party
Let me tell you somthing. CMJ is stressful.
Especially for an aspiring writer such
as myself. So many hands to pump,
bands to see, press passes to get.
Before receiving my pass I was pointed
towards three different lines, I ended
up in a stall in the Women's restroom
before I realized that perhaps the line
I was in wasn't the correct one to get
a press pass... I quickly washed
my hands, nodded to the young lady washing
hers next to me and proceeded towards
the "press line." I recieved
my pass and found that, according to
CMJ's system I was not, in fact, writing
for The Deli but rather for Kevchino.com.
I imagined pasty white bloggers standing
in my way at the Dragons of Zynth, Tall
Firs, Effi Briest show at Union Pool
that night, brandishing lead pipes and
cracking their knuckles.
You ain't writin' for Kevchino.com, I
A greasy, pimply
red headed HTML coder with a bad pompadour
behind the blogger:
"You tell 'im
I made my way down the street to Bowery,
where I would see my first band of the
Honestly, I had not expected to be so
impressed with Quintus.
I had chosen to see them like dropping
my finger somewhere on a spinning globe.
Also this: where the fuck is the
Indaba loft? I literally had to
call my girlfriend and ask her to get
on a computer to help me find it. Finally
I noticed an 8 by 11 printer paper sign
on a door above a bored looking dude's
head. Turns out Indaba is a kind
of love child between Craig's List and
Garage Band and they were hosting a
show in their office(?) apartment (?)
extremely expensive loft on Bowery (check).
Regardless, there was a keg so I hunkered
down with a red cup and watched a couple
of young guys plucking away at their
guitars. It really took a minute
for the music being played to register,
to plinko through my brain hitting band
references like pegs. Wilco: ding.
George Harrison: ding ding. The
Band: ding ding ding.
me away. When you're swapping
between tempos and time signatures as
in the song "Flat Feet" or
matching three part harmonies it's near
impossible to sound as tight as they
did. Despite all the tightness,
the music stretched and contracted like
flexing a rubber-band between your index
finger and thumb. Don't be fooled
by their recording on myspace.
Cleaned up and through computer speakers
they have a tendency to sound like Maroon
5. When they're on stage they
germ up that aseptic studio sound and
start smiling into the microphones.
Please make sure you catch these guys
if you get a chance.
Quintus took the stage I staggered downstairs
to grab a cigga and realized that I
was slightly tipsy thanks to the IndabaKeg's
sweet nectars. I had four more
bands to go. It was 2PM.
Rock and Roll.
began their set in tableau. Ben
Wigler seated afloor with acoustic,
Alex Hornbake above him to the left
on a rickety chair, Andrew on keyboards
behind Alex, Nick on stand up bass and
the Drums above and behind Nick.
A fitting stance for such pristinely
crafted music, all that was missing
was a shaft of golden shimmering light
and maybe a dove with an olive branch
in its beak landing on Ben's shoulder.
Perhaps thats a bit too far, but you
get the gist of how they sounded from
that image. Typically Arizona
tosses in a little meandering noise,
Tuesday they had only acoustic guitars
so the noise took the backseat to their
strong melodies and harmony arrangements.
There were a few
tuning issues, but overall the band's
live set held up to their fantastic
LP Welcome Back Dear Children.
Quite a feat, mind you. The Deli
may have helped these guys along with
a bit of cover action, but our job is
to give you some good music so we'll
keep pushing them at you until they
stop writing good music. Which
doesn't seem like it will be anytime
Three hours, three
more beers, a thermos of wine and an
L train later I was meeting up with
friends at Union Pool in Williamsburg
for the Effi Briest, Dragons of Zynth,
Tall Firs show.
You! You don't write for Kevchino.com.
"You tell 'im
I ducked into a photo-booth
and landed on the lead singer and drummer
of Telepathe. ignoring them I
peeked out the curtains searching for
my assailants. Just the lead singer
of TVOTR and one of the guys from ...And
You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead
who was drunk and screaming about Pitchforkmedia.com.
but just to be safe I ran into Union
Pool's venue, bought another PBR and
tucked myself into the crowd that was
watching Tall Firs.
Firs sounds like tall firs.
Their sound is about as aeleatoric as
the sound of trees branches but somewhere
in the center is the sturdy trunk.
Comprised of a drummer, two guitars
and a pair of vocal pipes they can deftly
move between Thurston's gloaming groan
to twinkling Explosions In The Sky arpeggios.
Briest is made up of seven ladies,
four of whom move between a batallion
of different instruments, the rest stick
with the basic guitar, drum, bass setup.
I was quite surprised at Effi Briest's
sound which differed drastically from
the cyclical and churning "Mirror
Rim" on their myspace. They
seemed to be headed more towards an
early Animal Collective tabula-rasa-folk
sound with chanting melodies and astute
baselines. Unfortunately their
set was marred by the ridiculously bad
sound setup. It was almost as
if the sound guy didn't even bother
moving any of the sliders or knobs when
they did sound check:
Yeah. Sounds great guys."
of Zynth, TVOTR's wilder more noise
oriented protege's, may have a tendency
to sound like the aforementioned pop/shoegaze
group, but there is a darker blunter
edge to their sound. Zynth is
the hired muscle with bludgeoning cudgels
that TV On The Radio hires to do their
dirty work. The live show, still
marred by the crappy sound, was pretty
brutal with guitar feedback at the loud
parts and quite succinct at the quieter
moments with disturbing synth lines.
Catch these guys live if you can.
So day one is complete
and daylight in day two is waxing.
I plan on finding myself a new badge
today and arriving late and sweaty and
smelly to a billion different shows.
If I pump your hand today please be
friendly and squeeze back.
We're all in
Wish us luck.
are two incontrovertible truths that
I have discovered in my time upon this
earth. The first is that nobody doesn't
like a sandwich. The second: everytime
is a good time for chips and salsa.
We live in a mish-mash of evil and decrepitude
and just plain rudeness. Suharto? Evil
dictator. Rude. But it is a testament
to the hardness and tenderness of the
human race that I am able to say this
about General Suharto: he probably liked
sandwiches and salsa.
To lesser degrees there are other
somewhat enjoyable things. Sex. love.
Al Green. Those Sunday mornings when
you roll out of bed, tussle your hair,
gaze out at the new morning filled with
possibilities and find that your girlfriend
left a little extra for you in your
crack pipe. Indeed, all of these are
arguably one and the same.
And then at the bottom rung comes
work. Nobody likes work. God doesn't
even like to go to work anymore. God
was a genius, believe it or not. He
got in and out in six days and then
he took a siesta. Now I'm not claiming
to be better than God or anything, but
God sucks. I have to cram five days
of CMJ into just five or six paragraphs?
Great googly moogly I say to you sir.
Fortunately I am a punctual, well-organized,
functional member of society.
arrived late to the shows I was meant
to go to yesterday because I had gotten
too drunk the night before and then
procrastinated my ass off with the writing
of my CMJ recap for The Deli. So I missed
Robespierre (picture), Joan
as Policewoman, and Essie
Jain at the Brooklyn Vegan showcase
at Pianos. I apologize guys, I'm sure
the roof was sufficiently raised by
each of you. In my fear of Paolo's cat
o' nine tails, I began mumbling under
my breath and shiftily scrambling around
the lower east side hoping to catch
a glimpse of a New York band that might
be tucked away into my pocket for future
use like a chinese fortune. Ahh. Yes.
Forms. from Brooklyn. Excellent.
They will do nicely.
I ducked into The White Rabbit,
next to the sunshine theaters on Houston
street. Hoping to see Reverend
Billy and the Stop Shopping choir
(who, though I will not be reviewing
them here, must be seen and heard to
be believed) Alas, they were performing
at 7:30 which would interfere with my
later show. I had a falafel and then
went back to see The Forms perform an
acoustic set at 6:00pm. Despite their
lack of instrumentation The
Forms managed to give a spirited
performance lush with harmonies and
one loud floor tom. The band is very
much reminiscent of Guillemots quiescent
and more ponderous moments and I really
wish I could have seen them with a full
setup but they did a fine job nonetheless.
After The Forms I went out to Greenpoint
to catch the Ear Farm and Serious Business
Records showcase at Matchless. The
Unsacred Hearts, for whom The Deli
has had much love, were blowing up the
stage as I walked in. They're
less of a band than they are UPS delivery-men
each song a neat little 3 minute package
of tight catchy riffs and shout/sung
lyrics. Each song was like getting a
hallmark card from your Nana but instead
of there being a ten dollar bill inside
it just says "Fuck you."
Following The Unsung Hearts was Kickstart
(picture) who sound like the Misfits
if they watched more Charles Bronson
and John Holmes than Bela Lugosi flicks.
The lead singer had a distinctly sleazy
voice ala The Cramps, which is tough
to hear on their myspace but check them
live and you'll see what I mean. Man
in Gray, also having received love
from The Deli, was a decidedly frenetic
show. I was surprised at the speed at
which they played (I'd only heard their
toned down debut LP) and the shriek
at which lead singer Tina DaCosta was
able to shriek at. Very much like the
Cube got on stage with long stringy
hair as well as rock and/or roll. Listening
to their pummeling guitars, low bass,
and punctuated snare drums sounded like
repeatedly getting punched in the face
with testicles...in a good way. There
was more sweat flying around the stage
than Dane Cook at a MENSA convention.
Alas, I could not make it to Hull.
I was called away betwixt the shows
by a dear friend in need. Hull, I apologize.
Believe it or not, sometimes rock and/or
roll must take second banana.
See you tomorrow dear readers.
Or tonight. - Andrew Spaulding
This year a monolithic pairing between
NYU and CMJ finds the Marathon's headquarters
at the historic Puck Building. Think
of it as a sort of indie-rock
Death Star -- the center of the CMJ
universe. Amidst promotional booths
and piles of free swag sits the Day
Stage, home to performances throughout
the week. People mulled around with
gift bags and free mags, Mountain Dew
and energy drinks flowing like water.
Dirty beards and thick-rimmed glasses
were countless. On your marks, get set
first stride in my marathon was Takka
Takka's (1:00 PM Day Stage set). The
boys from Brooklyn didn't so much kick
things off as ease them in, their bright
clean guitars weaving tight patches, always
calming and clear. Pavement had riffs
like this but they felt dirty, loose and
sorta zany -- Takka Takka's intertwining
grooves are polished and fine. The five-pieces'
clarity was ideal for the daylight hour,
sunlight shining in spears through the
building's windows. Any brooding that
might find itself at home in a dark, dingy
club or bar was absent, replaced by laid-back,
shuffling percussion and melodic bass-lines.
The highlight, though, was the spirited
facial expressions, winces and grimaces
from the band's rhythm (and 3rd!) guitarist
while providing smooth vocal harmonies.
Entertaining, yes, but wholly unwarranted.
An embodiment of effortlessness, Takka
Takka don't toy with pain nor strain.
My night on the LES ran
as smoothly as a three-wheeled wagon.
Marred by my own inexperience, I tripped
and ate a little mud (to 'run' with this
marathon metaphor). Day 1 saw me miss
three scheduled bands (sorry guys!) to
be replaced along the way. Hear you me
-- I will make up the ground I lost.
A set switcheroo had me at the wrong end
of an MPress
Records showcase at Mo Pitkins on
Ave. A, leaving me with LA's Raining
Jane instead of Swati
and the (unbeknownst to me) headlining
Sage (in the picture) -
who at least is from NYC. To their credit,
the place was packed. Ladies' night, oh
what a night!
The D train over the
bridge brought me to Southpaw in Park
Slope, Brooklyn for a three-fer of good
ol' rootsy, countrified NYC Americana.
Bondy is an Alabama transplant with
a full, hoarse voice driving his weary
acoustic numbers. The Tom Waits cover
("Hang Down Your Head") was
telling but the between-song-banter was
extraordinary, the most notable of which
told a tale of Mt. Everest and Anderson
Cooper killing Bondy's entire family.
He also didn't lie when he said he had
a lovely wife and she kindly drenched
a few of his songs in sweet organ hum.
night's remaining NYC acts were a pair
of rough-n-tumble, scruffy fans of Dylan
and The Band. The
Felice Brothers (picture and embedded
mp3) were a barroom bunch -- crass, mannerless
and so much fun. With the lead Bro stripped
to a wife-beater, he belted proudly and
emphatically in a gravelly yell about
making love to a "Cincinatti Queen"
in a bathroom stall. 'Nuff said.
To a thinning room, The
Rosewood Thieves were the night's
late-night headliners, kicking out jams
with Jagger-esque throaty yelps and '60s
flair. Groovy. Regrettably there was actual
a shortage of actual kicking -- "Van
Morrison-style" -- because Erick
Jordan, the group's foul-mouthed frontman,
had injured his groin chasing a hot-air
A slow start makes it
all uphill from here. Don't touch that
dial, I'll be here all week.
DAY 2 It's 3 AM and my head is ringing
like Mike Tyson just boxed my ears. The
thing is, it's not that recurring dream
where Oscar De La Hoya dresses up in women's
clothes and I'm a heavyweight champion
(as opposed to real life where I'm only
a featherweight champion). But let me
Rolling on 4 hours
of sleep when an early evening lull hit,
I crashed for a power-nap, setting an
alarm for 6:45 PM. The time came and in
a sleepy haze I decided I had a few more
minutes to rest before I would book it
The next time I opened by eyes it was
Garrick style, I was in Greenpoint
in time for The
Vandelles (picture) and the greater
part of a CMJ showcase at Europa. Initially,
I was the least hip person in the room
as I was the only one to approach the
stage -- guess I just didn't get
the self-proclaimed "loudest
band in New York City" were killing
time in Williamsburg until their night-cap,
undoubtedly reciting their Best
New Music 'fork review to one another
from memory, Brooklyn's The
Vandelles were doing all they could
to usurp the title by fuzzy coup. While
Place To Bury Strangers ride aggro-shoegaze
revival, The Vandelles skip the gazing
all together and just pulverize ears,
burying their Dandy Warhols psych-rock
in a deep, dark place.
rhythm section, wo-manned by two unassuming,
comely females, was a true force -- bass
dipped in a hot vat of distortion and
drums clawing and clamoring to be heard.
You know the scene in Kill Bill where
Uma Thurman is buried alive, forced to
karate-chop her way through wood and tightly
packed dirt? In that adrena-frezy, she'd
play the drums like the chick from The
Vandelles. Three-quarters through the
set, the sound guy chimed in: "You're
gonna have to turn that down."
Later, dramatic pre-recorded strings welcomed
to the stage a morbid doll, her bleached
blonde hair adorned with black lace and
one fabric sleeve of her body-length dress
removed to reveal an arm swathed in a
bold tatts. Theo
and the Skyscrapers had a highly theatrical
showing, a jean-jacketed guitarist mustering
'80s squeals from a jagged axe while Theo
unleashed a booming vibrato and Joan Jett-ed
around the stage, fronting Hair Metal:
The Musical. "Welcome to the
Catholic Music Jam," our blonde-bombshell
version of Elvira cackled. Indeed.
Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black,
a satirical punk-Rocky Horror act,
apparently went to the same School Of
Spectacle as Theo. With coifed 'dos that
dwarfed Amy Winehouse's, five burlesquer
clones in bodypaint took the stage, thigh-high
laced boots poised for a horror-rock ass
kicking. Like a costume-shop Halloween
impression of the Supremes, the girls
graced the stage but left the work to
their leader Kembra Pfahler and a male-trio
content to power through motorboat numbers.
with my ears still hurting so good from
the first set, my night could end nowhere
but the eardrum graveyard of A
Place To Bury Strangers late night
stint at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Set to take the stage at 1:00 AM Eastern
Time, the band finally took the stage
closer to 2, definitely running on CMJ
time. The late night hour made it so that
every time I yawned during the band's
set, the onslaught of sound was temporarily
muted, kicking me that much harder when
the sound returned. To have thought their
title was in danger was embarrassingly
naive -- APTBS made The Vandelles sound
like Iron & Wine. Gusts of distorted
hiss cut the air and the endless engine
rev rattled my brain and body as the group's
assault sounded, and felt, like a hurricane
during an earthquake inside of a volcano.
This band sells earplugs at their merch
table. True story.
the strobe light, projector screen, tremolo
and guitar smashing, I'm pretty sure I
blacked out because I woke up on the L
train spooning with a bum who whispered
in my ear, "Can you believe it's
only Wednesday?" I couldn't.
to the reader: I've fallen further behind
in this race but I'm bracing for a Floyd
Landis at the Tour de France-worthy comeback.
Without the bike. And the steroids. Believe
it. - Joe Coscarelli
this year's appointment with
CMJ, our two brave music writers
Handlebar Joe Coscarelli and
Andrew Spaulding planned to
see live performances by 26
NYC bands each (26 as the
miles in a marathon) and report
about each show in this page.
Here is the list of shows
they planned to attend. On
the central column of this
page you can find the actual