“Several months before the request to make a video for ‘Set It Off’ came through, I’d shot some test footage of a friend pole dancing, and loved the look of it… there was definite sexiness to it, but the potential to add a bit of class to the depiction of beautiful, strong women showing off their skills.” – Ryan Staake, Director
Every year, CMJ Music Marathon lives up to its nerve-wracking name by offering showgoers an array of shows at a huge number of venues across New York City. But unlike some events that follow a similar model, CMJ is still a great place to begin scouting out up-and-coming bands before they make it big. With enough room to stretch their wings and enough competition to want to work hard, bands playing CMJ are forced to put on put on some of their best shows in some of the tiniest spaces. In our complete CMJ guide, we highlight an array of shows, mostly in the pop and electronic realms, and provide easy listening stations for the best ones so you can decide within seconds if a show is right for you.
Tuesday, October 16th @ Piano’s
I was lucky enough to catch this duo last year at CMJ by happy accident. The duo was charmingly lo-fi but they had enough spark to electrify the jaded Brooklyn crowd with their sweet Mates of State-influenced tunes. - JUDY NELSON
Wednesday, October 17 @ Public Assembly
Physical Therapy, aka producer/DJ Daniel Fisher, released EP Safety Net to positive reviews in June. Distilling old rave beats with jazz and ambient percussion, and sometimes adding floating samples or vocals, the sound he creates addictive and impressive. - DEVORAH KLEIN LEV-TOV
Saturday, October 20th @ Gramercy Theatre
The band basically spells out relaxation with their name choice. Their music videos and album art reiterate that fact; the video for their song “Slow Down” is perfectly California cool. - JUDY NELSON
“Pop music shouldn’t always get a bad rap,” says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Today, what I consider two very exciting projects get the spotlight: Midnight Magic and Memory Tapes (Dayve Hawk of Hail Social! And Hail Social get some old-school love, too.
Midnight Magic are one of the few bands from 2012 that have been on regular rotation in my listening queue. Earlier this year, they released their What The Eyes Can’t See EP and Holy Ghost!’s fucking amazing remix of “Drop Me A Line” (which, next to the Gui Boratto remix of Battles’ “Wall Street”, remains one of my favorite remixes of 2012). “Diamonds” from their upcoming LP, Walking The Midnight Streets, both mellow things out way hard by keeping all of the nine-piece’s usual brass and electronic elements and removing the consistent house beat, and “Same Way I Feel” gets lethargically dubbed out, disco-style (see full post). They self-release their debut full-length on November 13th, and it’s ridiculous that the album will be their debut.
Midnight Magic tour dates coming soon, including a Halloween date with The Miracles Club at Mississippi Studios, with Litanic Mask…!
“There are things I’ve seen and experienced in this world – things they don’t talk about in too many books. I’m not even talking about psychedelics, I’m talking about true experience, on this plane of existence…” – Steve Ellison of Flying Lotus
A reminder that the world wide web is a wonderful, indulgent piece of technology, you can now stream all six episodes of the television series Marc. Originally airing in 1977, Marc is the pop music show of Marc Bolan, the famed glam rocker whose life was taken in a car crash in the same year the series ran. Featuring a rather glossed over Bolan lip syncing and dancing around stage to his own tunes, it’s a sort of macabre look at an artist not only entering the final days of his career, but of his life too. Marc’s final episode, which features guest star David Bowie performing “Heroes” and a duet with Bolan, actually failed to air until after Bolan’s funeral. The super low cut jumpers, the leopard print, the neon. It was glam rock at its finest, and topped off with backup dance troop Heart Throb, this UK tv show was the epitome of rock and roll at the time. Other guest performances found throughout the episodes include Thin Lizzy, Roger Taylor of Queen, Generation X and The Jam. In a lot of ways, viewing Marc in a contemporary setting employs the sort of twisted voyeurism that plagues the internet, but the show is a fascinating project that would never be greenlit in 2012, and for that historical perspective alone it’s worth diving into. Oh and the music isn’t half bad either. View all episodes via Youtube user VenusDeBurgio.
Ambient, dub, psychedelic, minimal, and experimental tracks, with reference points in the global and otherworldly, will submerge listeners in a hypnotic world that stresses meaningful listening experiences over mindless fleeting ones.
Belgium’s Kabul Golf Club sound like a less frenetic version of The Locust combined with a less sassy version of The Blood Brothers. This isn’t meant in a bad way on either account. The band pulls in some grimy sludge that The Locust can’t take the time to create and The Blood Brothers were too polished to want around. It is an oddly approachable jam that has a perfect low-cost music video to accompany their sound. They’ve recently released an EP called le bal du rat mort, and you can check them out further on Facebook and their website.
With their debut album Instinct recently released in the US, Niki & the Dove were an apt opener for Twin Shadow. Lead singer Malin Dahlström is reminiscent of a modern Cyndi Lauper, while also showing serious deference to fellow Swedish indie star Karin Dreijer of The Knife. Gothic and quirky in the same beat, Dahlström had strong stage presence and a powerful voice to back up what might be construed as overly dramatic dance moves. Keyboardist and guitarist Gustaf Karlöf was a solid but quiet presence, contributing the occasional vocal and any extra instrumentation, ranging from the Maracas to the rarely-seen-live Chinese hand drum, the Bolang Gu (波浪鼓).
On recording, I absolutely adore Beach House, but every time I see them in a live setting, I find myself disappointed by the lack of emotional output and dynamism from husky-voiced lead singer Victoria Legrand. Her performances always feel disingenuous to me, and seem to perpetuate a vapid and shallow sense of drama that may look beautiful — in fact, an intense light display setup heightened that sense this evening at Roseland Theatre — but holds no lasting value beneath its surface.
So though I had initially been more excited to give Beach House a chance to redeem themselves, it was show opener and Ponytail member Dustin Wong who actually delivered. He was eye-catching the old-fashioned way: by sheer feat of artistry alone.