Ramblings of a Redhead Music Snob

Life & Music in New York, My City

Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

CMJ Begins…The Good And Not So Good…

Posted by xneverwherex on October 19, 2011

CMJ – 10/18/11

So many bands, so little time! It seems its the same thing year after year with CMJ. Ive got a complete schedule that ends up useless in the first 5 minutes. Bands either fail to deliver or theyre so great – I end up seeing other bands on the showcase I might have passed up. Unfortunately, there are also times when you’d rather just shoot yourself and call it a night when disappointments continue.

The Good:

The Duke Spirit

The Duke Spirit – technically, they shouldnt even be included in this. Theyre established and damn good! Of course, they were the highlight of the night – and I fear if I continue to see them not much else will compare. Liela looking smokin’ hot as usual is always great fun to watch. She has so much energy when she performs and she commands the stage. Its hard to take your eyes off of her when she moves as she glances around the room. Her voice is perfection as she growls through the songs.

Surprisingly, they played their older songs instead of playing newer songs. Perhaps it was due to a really tight schedule in which they were needing to be in Brooklyn. They played a way too short set of about 8 songs but it couldnt have sounded better. The dirty, muddy sounding guitars were a great complement to Liela’s voice. The garage rock psychedelic sounded great in the posh Bowery Hotel. It couldnt have been a greater set.

Hands, from LA, took the stage prior to The Duke Spirit. They had a pretty big turn out with what seemed to be lots of friends (or maybe girlfriends) from Cali.

Hands

They sounded incredible and much better than I could have expected. The backing of the psychedlic, lush sounding keyboards and guitars filled the air, with a similar sound to Sun Airway. The vocals are strong and it seemed like if Division Day (another LA band) had continued and made their songs a bit more dancey this is what youd get.

The drummer, playing barefoot naturally, keeps the beats going. The keyboards nearly swallowing the lead singers voice on some songs works out beautifully. The music, the vocals and the guitars all blend so perfectly well together it gives such a complete sound.  If youre not sure of who to see during CMJ, this band is definitely not to be missed. They have a show on Thurs afternoon at Pianos which should be great.

Alamo Race Track – who I actually saw on Monday (pre-CMJ) are also a band that you dont want to miss. Hailing from The Netherlands, it seemed the Dutch contingency came out in full support for them. I had never seen so many insanely tall people in my life. The band started off a bit shaky, and its hard to say whether or not it was the band

Alamo Race Track

or the actual songs they chose, but as their set continued the music definitely got better. They have some great melodies and their voices play off each other’s quite well.

“The Northern Territory” which they ended with was easily one of their best songs and definitely more popular. A lot of people were singing along and its catchy and fun. It sounds so much better live, that its worth seeing them just to hear that song. Its a punchy, fun toe-tapping awesome song. “Black Cat John Brown” was also another highlight. The other band members broke out with other instruments during the song. It seems they’re all quite talented players going back and forth on instruments.

They’ve got a free showcase on Thurs over at The Delancey with some other Dutch bands. If youre not doing much – its worth checking out.

And the well — not so good and you might walk out on bands.

Marcellus Hall – now if youre quite into country music, youd probably find the band quite good. They had a good sound and the lead singer was pretty amusing – so this alone made it better. As Im not a fan of country music – this was pretty painful and it seemed each song kept getting longer. Thankfully when soon there were only 3 songs, it became 2. And naturally, they’re all about love and relationships. The woman on violin did sound pretty awesome and it was her birthday – so cheers to that!

The Silent Comedy – which has such an awesome band name – so disappointed. I couldnt wait to get out of the show and it couldnt happen fast enough. Sounded like some sorta folky-bluegrass jangly type thing with banjos and all. Maybe they should have played after Marcellus Hall insteaad of spacing it out so oddly. Perhaps that was the original set- but with The Duke Spirit having to be in Brooklyn lots of things were changed. Either way – meant an early night.

And oh New Zealand – I had such high hopes for you. Andrew Keoghan, who was oh so nice to look at, was a little underwhelming. The guitar and drum thing had so much potential, but it was more of just a singer-songwriter act. Not bad sounding all, just a bit boring.

Princess Chelsea was interesting. The women had good voices and the way the band mixed it up on instruments was pretty cool. Their first song, which I knew from online, was very catchy, but then it just sounded like more of the same. It really seemed like 2 girls on their computers, mixing it up with sounds and beats and 2 guitars who added a bit more, with a drummer occasionally filling it in. Not a bad thing, just a bit slow and was near sleep inducing. Prob a great band to end a night with.

Heres to Day/Night 2. Hoping for some great things!

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CMJ 2009 from NZ to UK to Iceland

Posted by xneverwherex on November 2, 2009

10/20 – 10/24 – CMJ Music Marathon

Tuesday: New Zealand Showcase @ Red Bull Space – SOHO

The first night of CMJ was almost a failure. Thankfully some friends of mine who get off of work earlier managed to get a great place in line. Unfortunately, so many people werent able to get in. The great thing about this was once you were inside, it wasnt painfully crowded. There was so much alcohol (thank you 42below!) flowing. Better yet, they created their own drink concoctions which were beyond potent. The vodka was insanely delicious but the redbull combination was enough to do anyone in. Oh and free food all night long! All in all – easily the best CMJ showcase I attended (and it didn’t hurt that it was free). 🙂

Now – lets get to why we’re all really reading this. The music. New Zealand never disappoints when it comes to bringing in bands. Think: Cut Off Your Hands. And this year, there were a lot of great bands from there.

First up at the ridiculously early hour of 6:30pm was Surf City. They were beyond insanely hyped and were playing everywhere at CMJ. I have to say it was unreal how many shows they had. Unfortunately for the band, their first night they had a lot of sound issues. Vocals were non-existent and everything was so insanely loud and muddy. It just sounded like 30 mins worth of noise and it was not pleasant. (not to fret – I saw them Wed night too and they killed it!).

Motocade was up next and they were the band that I was really looking forward to. Very catchy hooks and that oh-so familiar britpop sound had me really excited. And they were good and catchy and the lead singer was charming. They were fun. I would definitely see them again.

At this point, with plenty of drinking going on, it was a great time to have Bang Bang Eche come on. Hard to believe that the band is comprised of what seems to be teenagers. I cant imagine they’re more than 17 years. But didnt matter. They played their hearts out and were jumping around all over the place, into the crowd and really had the energy. A sort of synthy-electro sound with lots and lots of keyboards and guitars. Nice to see the guys of Die Die Die in the crowd supporting them.

Ive decided that Kingston is my new Electric Touch. Indie-power-pop music at its finest. A lead singer that is very charismatic and has the personality and looks to engage everyone. All the women wanted to be near him and touching him. Their music is very catchy and will have everyone dancing along in no time. The lead singer managed to climb up on top of nearly everything from the bar to the speakers and even did some crowd surfing. Very cool and not something you see all the time. With songs like “You Want It”, youll definitely be singing along in no time…. You want it, You got it! Kinda sums them up. Theyre playing at Pianos in a week or so, so dont miss them. Will be a fun show if anything.

Last up for the night was Die! Die! Die! They definitely continued on where Kingston left off, in a total different direction. Their music is definitely not nearly as pop-sounding as Kingston’s. But their brand of electro-experimental-punk definitely had people moving and jumping. Soon enough a pseudo-mosh pit broke out featuring a lot of Bang Bang Eche. Lots of keyboards, heavy guitars and nearly shouting for vocals was a great way to end the night. Everyone was involved and walked out a sweaty mess.

I then ventured onwards to The Suffolk and had regrets about my last vodka/redbull. I was beyond wired and jittery and it was an awful combination. I was so irate with The Suffolk people who pretty much knew nothing when they told me The Lovemakers was not going to be free. So I ended up taking me and my buzz home for the night.

By far the New Zealand showcase killed it! Overall it was the best group of bands that actually remotely sounded like they should be on one bill. Most other shows were so many random bands it was easy to walk out after just a few.

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CMJ 2007 Recap (in a nutshell)

Posted by xneverwherex on October 23, 2007

10/16 – 10/20 – CMJ 2007

CMJ as always seems to be a clusterphuck and it always seems that you are missing someone. It never fails; but then you catch that one band that sticks out that wasn’t even on your list, and you realize that this is why it is so worth it. CMJ is 5 days of shows throughout NYC showcasing some of the newest, hottest bands out there that you have never heard of. It also manages to get some top names that you can also catch in tiny venues.

This year CMJ was a bit of everything for me. I caught some hyped up names and some bigger names and then the names that are unheard of. I rely heavily on word of mouth (thanks Hannah) at shows to know who are so worth seeing. We all have our favorites, but my friends picks are usually so right on – that once I hear I *have* to see a show, inevitablly I see the band.

So lets waste no more time and begin. Tuesday night the festival began and knowing I had an insane week of shows I ended up foregoing who I had wanted to see. Surprisingly it was ok as most the bands I had just seen. The highlight of that night was to be Hot Iqs which I ended up catching on Wednesday. All hope was not lost.

Wednesday was Day 1 for me. I started out by catching a free show over at Club Midway Hot IQs. What a way to begin the festival. Catchy songs that are so danceable. A lead singer with a quite low voice in the realm of The National. A female drummer who is kick-ass who plays barefoot and looks like Lana of Smallville (Kristin Kreuk). I was so glad that I got to catch this band as they’re from Denver and only had a few shows. After the set the band invited me to Brooklyn with them and I had wished I could go. They were also handing out free CDs, so I plan to give them a listen or two. As you can’t go wrong with catchy pop melodies.

After that it was off to The Delancey. I was hoping to be catching Five O’Clock Heroes, but at some point it got switched up (is all I’m guessing). Instead I got to hear BM Linx not once, but somehow twice. They sound quite OK on myspace, but live I just wasnt so into them. They definitely had the New York vibe going on looks wise with a guitarist who looks like he just stepped out of a new wave video. Cant comment much more on them, as they were easily forgettable, which in my book is never a good thing. After that was The Wildbirds from Wisconsin. The lead singer has a sexy, sultry voice and the band has the classic rock/bluesy sound. I basically would describe them as sexed up rock, which was all I could think of during their set. 4 guys with longish hair that have the typical rocker look, with tight jeans that are oh so hipster. But their music is far from that which is indeed a nice change. Finally was the band that had a lot of hype that I had been waiting for. Cut Off Your Hands is from New Zealand, which apparently is the ‘it’ place to be from right now as far as bands go. They had about 8 showcases (if not more) that they were playing. Nick Johnson, lead singer of the band, has for one the best haircut in the bands playing these days. But regardless of his indie hipster look with tighter than tight jeans, has this amazing voice – reminiscent of Morrissey’s from The Smiths days. He’s beyond spastic when he sings and dances, and goes from standing to falling to the floor to hanging off beams in clubs and climbing on things. He’s got so much energy that their 25 minute set is the most intense set that could be seen at CMJ. Its fast, bouncy, post-punk rock at its finest. If you liked The Smiths, I dont think there is any way you can not like them. Likeable guys in the band who were so excited to be there, proved that this is what CMJ is about. And if thats not enough, any lead singer who can go through 3 bottles of water – pouring them down his back and over his head – should give you an indication of just how much heart he puts into each set. Besides, anyone who shoves a cameraperson away gets extra points with me.

After that it was off to The Canal Room. I caught Air Traffic from the UK which put on a good, tight set. Its a little too Coldplay-lite for me and too much like all those other bands from the UK. This is not a bad thing as I love Coldplay, Travis, etc. but I find that I wont remember them from anyone else, especially at a festival. I would add that if you can see them on their own, it’d be worth it. After Air Traffic was the band I was super excited to see. I caught Division Day from LA. The last time I had seen them was at CMJ a year ago with Birdmonster. I’m a huge fan of Division Day so this time I knew nearly all of the songs. Great catchy hooks, sing-along-choruses, and keyboards that will get you on the dance floor. Each song is seemingly different from the prior one, yet each has its own hook that will get you dancing. Rohner has an amazing voice and their new album, Bear Trap Island, is as catchy and as great as their prior one. So definitely go out and buy it.

And finally the continuation….

Thursday was a bit of craziness with friends coming to town, and trying to coordinate everything. I started the day off by catching Division Day at the former Mo Pitkins (sadly it closed that Saturday for good). Division Day now has a reputation for playing places that somehow end up closing soon after (it was sin-e for them last year). Again, another great show.

After some wandering around the Lower East Side I ended up catching some stuff at Pianos. There was a DJ set with San Serac that was quite entertaining. After that set, I think I caught some of someone else but cant remember. I met up with Hannah and it was off to the Fader party and get some food! The Fader party was good but but it was only open for those who rsvped. They had DJs between sets and free drinks. Always a good thing. I caught Cut Off Your Hands again and it was as good and as out of control. So loved this band! After they finished up – I rushed over to Club Midway to catch The Warlocks. Really no need for rushing as they were behind schedules. The lights went down (near pitch black), with the only glow from the neon lit floor. The guitars kicked in, the noise filled the room, swirling, lush sounds. It was hard to stay awake (surprising with how loud it was), but I was dead tired, and in the near pitch black with just guitars it was pretty peaceful. I should say that The Warlocks were on my bands to see list. Being a fan of the Dandy Warhols, nearly everyone who likes them, are huge fans of The Warlocks as well. And they did not disappoint!

After all this I headed uptown to Town Hall to see Stars. This was not a part of CMJ. Stars, from Montreal, put on an incredible set. Amy Millan’s vocals were right on and she sounded amazing. Torq sounded great also and had such a bubbly personality. They played a set consisting of songs from all the different albums. People were in front of their seats dancing and it made for a great time to get away from CMJ for just a bit. Their set was nearly 2 hours or so and it made for a great time. One of the highlights was when Amy messed up the lyrics to the song, and they went into a big production over having to restart the song. It was even better the second time.

After their set, I rushed back to the LES, and caught the end of Wintersleep‘s set. It was so loud is all I can really remember, and the vocals were near impossible to hear. Fat Baby was having a Canadian night with all bands from Canada. I was there to check out the Toronto band Uncut who I keep on managing to miss. It was a good thing I got there, because Im not sure Derek would have been happy with me anymore 🙂 Uncut put on a really great set. Their new-ish stuff is sounding really great. Ian’s vocals were right on. Their new guitarist Chris fits right into the band. If you like your music with heavy guitars, very loud, great songs this is the band to check out. “Kiss Me” sounds like something that Jesus & Mary Chain would have put out sometime ago.  And that rounds out my Thursday night.  

Its hard to imagine that those were only 2 days. Next day it was onto work (barely functionable), and then after work it was time to rush back down to the LES and catch more bands. I made it down to the Fader Party to catch yet another band from New Zealand. The Checks who were so full of energy and had some very catchy blues rock. They were definitely a band not to miss. And it was quite dancy as well, which made for an even better time. After that, it was over to Fat Baby for probably the biggest let-down of the festival. I honestly think though something happened when I listened to the bands, because I really thought they were supposed to be good. First was The Alarmists from Minneapolis. Now they were fine – but a little boring. Didnt do much on stage, but the music held its own. Catchy indie pop, but nothing out of the ordinary. The next set went even more down hill which was Spouse from Northampton, MA. Way boring indie pop that the band barely seemed all that into. It seemed they were bored on stage, which definitely didnt help. Next was Minneapolis’ The Melismatics. Now I really like the way they sound online, but live I was mostly appalled with the scene. I felt like they were trying so hard to be just another indie hipster band. Which is unfortunate, because they did seem to have some talent. Their music wasnt bad, but just seemed like any other band you could see in Williamsburg (and no – this isnt a slam on Williamsburg – but when youre seeing a ton of bands, youre hoping for something at least memorable). On their own outside of a festival, I think theyd be damn good.

About this time I got really worried about who I was seeing. My only consolation was – I had RSVP’ed to Crash Mansion and was on the guest list and could get in for free. Now their show would not disappoint. First – Crash Mansion is an amazing venue. It is huge and it is _very_ swanky. Its basically a place to go to be seen. Hardwood floors, stone walls, minimal lighting, tables scattered throughout the place and a DJ spinning in the corner of the main room. Plenty of bars with great drink specials, and acoustics that are amazing.

The first band we caught was Zambri. Mostly women in the band playing rocked out dance type music. Its quite likeable music until the woman singing goes off-key and is hitting notes she should have never tried to hit. Its ear pitching screams would make me never want to hear them again. Thats fine – I had no clue who they were and werent there to see them. Next up was House & Parish that I was looking forward to. And they were nice guys to look at, with a really good guitarist, and some good crowd interplay, but overall a wee bit boring. Just didnt seem so into the show. I was worried tonight was a big bust. UNTIL…  WILD LIGHT. 4 guys make up the band and the great thing about them is the 3 guys (minus the drummer) rotate instruments throughout the set. They all take turns singing lead vocals, but mostly there is a lot of harmonies that shows off their truly impressive vocals. Very catchy indie pop songs that even without knowing the words – will have you singing along in no time. They were easily one of the most likeable bands that were playing. It was great when at the end of the set – they said that they had some very good news. They were just asked by the Arcade Fire to come on tour with them in Europe. I recommend checking out Red House which shows off their amazing harmonies.

My night had been saved by these great guys from New Hampshire. And after that I had the great fortune of finally catching Foreign Islands. I have been a big fan of this Brooklyn band for quite awhile, it was just more amazing that I had never seen them live. Foreign Islands tore it up – had the crowd dancing within seconds and a band that was as wild on stage. They played a pretty revved up 25 minute set that ended with the singer throwing his mic straight at a lamp that went shattering everywhere. Needless to say, whether the show was meant to end at that moment or not, the show was over for them. Damn intense!

And finally, we reach Saturday. Im just tired remembering all this and typing it up – I dont know how I did it all. Saturday started out with some day shows. I caught a bit of The Pierces who were way behind schedule at Club Midway. I dont understand how you can be behind schedule after only one band. I guess nothing started on time. A pity as I was going to catch Foreign Born. Instead I ended up heading to Pianos to catch Turbo Fruits. I had heard that they were friends with The Checks and it makes sense (musically wise). They both play similar music with bluesy rock music. A great set with some catchy stuff, although I found The Checks just a tad more appealing. Im now getting strange looks from people that I work with over the music.  Next up was Foals – from the UK. They put on an amazing dancy set that just kept going and going. They really worked the crowd up – with the guys jumping into the crowd with their guitars. Lots of keyboards and lots of fun. I really cant wait to catch a full set from them, as 25 minutes was not nearly long enough. After that was The Maccabees who I had been longing to see after I saw them several months back. They seemed a bit tired, and it was only fitting with all the shows they had been playing. Their music was good, but not as good as they were previously. Catchy, British-post punk rock in the same genre as The Rakes. Still love the band – will just have to wait till they can play a full set.

After that it was back to The Fader party. Im not even sure who I was trying to see there, but I know I had missed them with the problems that Foals were having. I did end up seeing Yeasayer (and another band that I dont even know who it was). Yeasayer played a good set but I really wasnt so into the music and was getting tired.

From there I had to head back uptown to check out the new Terminal 5. The name doesnt lie – and it has the coldness of a terminal feel to it. The club isnt yet finished and the walls are just stark white and smell of paint. Sightlines are atrocious, so it helps to go up to one of the other floors to have a perfect view. Midnight Juggernauts opened the set and unfortunately with the sound problems they didnt sound that great. Some of the songs sounded really good, while others were horribly muddled. 70’s prog rock sounds, spaced out sounds, with amazing vocals (when properly heard) and you get a really great band. Electronic rock is here to stay. Cant wait to see them at a smaller venue (which Im hoping will one day soon happen). Unfortunately this great band is from Australia, so who knows when that will happen.

They opened for Justice – who claim that Midnight Juggernauts is one of the best albums. Justice put on a DJ set for over an hour that was pure dance party crazy. I was upstairs and watching the crowd flying back and forth – everyone moving with each other I was pretty surprised. I expected it to be wild, but I wasnt expecting what I saw. It was an amazing view, and it was a great set. A real pity that they didnt come out for a 2nd encore after the crowd was chanting “We are your friends, Youll never be alone again, Well c’mon”. Its hard to imagine with a whole club singing along, that there wasnt another encore. The band did come out upstairs to acknowledge the crowd. Overall it was a great set – but unlike their fellow countrymen Daft Punk – they just didnt blow me away in the same light.

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