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Josh's CMJ 2012 day 1: Blonds, Laura Stevenson, The Nightmare River Band, Sean0Sean, sami.the.great, Brainstorm, Everest Cale

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Running the CMJ Marathon 2012 - Day 1 - by Josh S. Johnson
Blonds, Laura Stevenson, The Nightmare River Band, Sean0Sean, sami.the.great, Brainstorm, Everest Cale



The second best part of CMJ, after of course the opportunity to see tons of great bands for five straight nights in the greatest city for music, is the process of sorting through the seemingly endless list of bands in order to meticulously plan your personal schedule down to the minute. That feeling of invincibility concerning the laws of time and space is an awful like the one you get when you develop grand plans to start exercising and working out.  That brief sensation of euphoria lasts right up to the minute you told yourself you were going to start. Then you realize you already walked something like three flights of stairs that day, so really there’s no need to exercise.

Similarly, that confidence in a CMJ strategy lasts for the all too brief period between the schedule’s release and when the first band you see doesn’t start or finish on time. Suddenly those hours of planning turn are for naught as you blindly choose a venue to visit next. Yet the chaos of CMJ is part of its undeniable charm. As my uncle once said to me while my dad tried to figure out how he forgot to turn the lights off in the now-non-starting rental car we were driving through the middle of Alabama: “It’s part of the adventure.”

My CMJ adventure started with an example of the aforementioned scheduling hassles. I arrived at The Rock Shop around 7:30 with the intention of catching Brooklyn’s Howth, who released a solid indie-rock album, “Newkirk” earlier this year, at 7:45.  However, I soon learned that the band that was supposed to play at 7, Sean0Sean, was just beginning their set. Not wanting to leave Brooklyn empty handed, I stuck around and declared Sean0Sean, led by Brooklyn-born Sean Kiely, my first band of CMJ 2012.

Not only did Sean0Sean’s Rock Shop gig break the band’s CMJ virginity, it was their first gig, period. Hearing that, I felt that there wasn’t a better way to begin my week of researching upcoming bands than with a band that has never played a show before. When I arrived, the band consisted of only a guitarist and a bassist, but I was optimistic since I love the Flight of the Conchords. Well, Sean0Sean weren’t quite as entertaining Bret and Jemaine (and Murray, present), but they did bring a sort of straight-out-of-the-garage charm. Eventually a drummer joined the duo, and the newly formed trio banged out some solid garage-rock tunes.

brainstormAfter a brief excursion in Brooklyn, I made my way back to the East Village, where I spent the remainder of the night. First up was Portland, Oregon trio BRAINSTORM at the Lit Lounge. BRAINSTORM was certainly fun to watch and listen to, mostly due to the drummer/singer’s energy and the guitarist’s oscillation between psych distortion and the fluttery cleanliness of indie-rock. Also, the guitarist frequently put his instrument aside to grab a tuba, so that was neat.

nightmare river

I then made a quick walk to the Bowery Electric, where I caught the last couple songs of pop artist Sami Akbari, aka sami.the.great. Sami’s performance of Cyndi Lauper-like pop songs was enjoyable to watch and listen to, but it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea. However, the next act up at the Electric, The Nightmare River Band (pictured), was right up my alley.

The Nightmare River Band is the most aptly named band I’ve seen so far at CMJ. Many of their songs possess that sort of romantic notion that if the boat is sinking, then fuck it and party while you still can, specifically “Last Goodbye.” Ironically, they opened with “Last Goodbye,” which, at least by looking at its title, would seem like the perfect closing song. Instead, the band closed with an inspired cover of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers, which was somehow an even bouncier version than the original. The dueling guitar and bass solos certainly helped. Overall, the Nightmare River Band a great set filled with some rather awesome rock n’ roll songs.

Returning to my home turf, I set up shop at the Delancey to see Blonds (top of page picture) perform at the Deli's Rootsy showcase. I had high expectations for the duo, who performed as a five-piece live, and they were undoubtedly exceeded. Singer Cari Rae began the show with her smoky, sultry vocals. Just as you start to view Rae as an angel from heaven, the instrumentation, led by guitarist Jordy Asher, knocks you off the side of the earth down into hell. Rae’s smile turns to a snarl, and her swagger rises as the controlled chaos builds around her. Every song took on new power live. While the studio version of “Mr. E” embodies the suaveness of James Bond, then the live take sounds like what happens when you replace 007’s martini with an assault rifle. With their commanding take of an already strong catalog, Blonds proved to be the highlight of CMJ Tuesday.

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After a misguided attempt to squeeze in seeing a band at Fontanas, I returned to the Delancy just in time for the tail end of Laura Stevenson & the Cans. Stevenson commanded the packed room with her confident folk-rock.

brainstorm

After Laura, I ended my first night of CMJ 2012 with Everest Cale The strength of Everest Cale’s debut EP, “Beast,” comes from Brett Treacy’s fantastic voice, which, at times, sounds like the late, great Layne Staley. While Treacy did howl like the eponymous beast, the star of the band’s performance at the Delancey was guitarist Jeremy Kolmin. Kolmin would rip off blistering solos while bending notes to new heights. With Treacy’s vocals and Kolmin’s guitar, Everest Cale delivered a high-quality performance. Plus, they won the coveted “Best Line of Stage Banter Award” with this gem: “You drunk assholes go fuck yourselves” (said jokingly, of course).

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

The Deli's CMJ Shows 2012

 

 
 
 

 

   

SUBMIT: THE DELI'S BEST OF NYC 2011 YEAR END POLL

Deli readers in bands,

Every year, The Deli's Year End Polls highlight hundreds of the best emerging artists in the 11 local US scenes we cover - and reward them with prizes from our sponsors.

As you may know, the winner of the NYC poll will grace the cover of the spring issue of The Deli.


Now established artists like Local Natives, Yeasayer, Twin Shadow, Vampire Weekends, Vivian Girls, Ra Ra Riot, Girls, Kurt Vile, Baths, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Blank Dogs, Buke and Gass and many others won or did well in our polls months if not years before getting international recognition.

The end of the 2011 is quickly approaching and we are ready to go through the painstaking 2 month process involved in selecting the artists and processing the various votes. We are already asking our local jurors (mostly venue promoters, bloggers, record store and radio personnel) to cast their vote for their favorite local emerging artists. But of course, our polls are open to all bands who want to be considered: free submissions are open from now until December 4th HERE - after that date we'll have $5 submissions through SonicBids for another couple of weeks. All these submissions will be grouped by genre and filtered by The Deli's local editors and some Deli writers.

To submit for consideration and for more info about our year end polls please go
HERE.

Good Luck
The Deli's Staff

   

Deli CMJ ELECTRONIC STAGE - TONIGHT, The Delancey - FREE!

At The Delancey on Tuesday 10.18 we'll have a truly fantastic bill with 9 NYC based electro-pop bands - and it's going to be free!. 21+ - $8.
Full listings of the Deli's CMJ shows here. See below for the Dream Pop and Alt Rock stages that same night in the same venue (downstairs).

P.S. If you are into Pedal Effects, don't miss The Deli's STOMP BOX EXHIBIT at CMJ on Friday and Saturday!!!

ELECTRO STAGE

7.00 - The Casualty Process



7.40 - Illuminator
8.20 - Tiny Victor ies
9.00 - Mitten
9.40 - Computer Magic


10.20 - Psychobuildings



11.00 - Pretty Good Dance Moves


11.40 - Caged Animals


12.20 - Slam Donahue

   

Trace Amount

Trace Amount isn’t a phrase you really want to hear dropped into casual conversation too much as in “your bowl of Lucky Charms contains a trace amount of cadmium and other toxic heavy metals” or “that hot dog you’re currently enjoying is just under the federally mandated limit for trace amounts of rat feces” with the implication being that even a trace amount of a poisonous substance can f*ck you up that is if it doesn’t kill you outright. 

The same goes for trace amounts of highly contagious social and/or biological viral agents, which under the right/wrong conditions (as recently verified) have the potential to spread unchecked and infect an entire body or body politic, especially when catalyzed by systemic corruption-exploitation-injustice-inequality and with the worst-case-scenario result being pervasive societal rot or even potential eventual societal breakdown.

So ok that’s all just some of my idle musings there (!) but musings that apply to the music at hand. Brandon Gallagher’s industrial music project Trace Amount takes the double-speak of “trace amounts” being unheeded until it’s too late to heart. Following up on his debut 2019 EP Fake Figures in the Sacred Scriptures with a second EP Endless Render a couple months ago, Gallagher describes the latter project as being “about all of the uncertainties and varying levels of anxiety that were felt during the times of quarantine, the feelings about the recent upsurge in police brutality and political injustice, and first hand encounters of other people’s ignorance regarding basic human rights in general.” 

So yeah that pretty much covers it. The track “Pop Up Morgues” is a good example of how hardcore/industrial music is well suited to confront these ugly truths given that the genre already has the necessary musical vocabulary in place for portraying and possibly purging extreme ugliness--in kick ass form of course otherwise why would we listen--ideally proving true that great lyric that John Lydon (who was once not embarrassing) introduced in PiL’s “Rise” years ago namely that “anger is an energy” and an energy desperately in need today if we’re gonna even hope to survive.

But that’s a ridiculous amount of pressure to put on any artist which is probably why the most unrelenting and bleak music so often comes with a Black Mirror-esque messed-up humor flipside and Trace Amount is no exception. Laughing at all this crazy shit can be a first step in realizing and exposing its absurdity. Along those lines Gallagher also happens to be a visual artist and video artist in addition to a musician and he brings out this side in his collaboration with BTKGOD where they imagine the end of the world through a classic throwback War of the Worlds alien invasion type scenario while bringing more of a synthwave vibe to the mix.

And speaking of collaborations I’d be remiss not to mention Trace Amount’s latest project which is a full and fully re-imagined remix of his first EP by Blake Harrison from East Coast grindcore legends Pig Destroyer retitled Under the Skin in its new form. And sorry but I regret to inform you that listening to the remixed EP will not conjure up Scarlett Johansson in alien form ready to f*uck you and submerge you in oily viscous goo for a future snack. But it does include a remix of the track “Scarlett Johansson” which maybe counts for something to all you craven monsters.

And finally moving in the other direction you should know that Trace Amount/Brandon Gallagher is one half of the two-piece hardcore/grindcore/sludgecore/mathcore band Coarse whose latest EP features the song “The People of the State of New York vs. Coarse” inspired by the bandmates being arrested by the NYPD in late 2018 for putting up promotional wheat paste posters around lower Manhattan and was also inspired by the Cure’s epically bleak, seminally goth LP Pornography (1982) which finally leads us to Trace Amount’s pretty awesome cover of a pretty awesome Cure track off that very same album as seen above. (Jason Lee)

   

Palberta launch Palberta5000 upgrade

There’s a certain frisson that happens when a talented collage artist juxtaposes a number of disparate elements and makes you see all the individual parts anew as a result, which serves as a kind of an expressway to the center of your skull aka the unconscious mind. 

On their fifth full-length unveiled today by Wharf Cat Records titled Palberta5000, Palberta has installed a system upgrade to the art-damaged post-punk haikus heard on previous releases. Self-reportedly digging into a buffet of Gen X alt rock and Millennial Disney pop ranging from Liz Phair to Avril Lavigne for inspiration, this instrument-rotating three-piece has written a bunch of punchdrunk new numbers that occasionally break their usual one-to-two-minute time limit and that place a new emphasis on their exquisitely shaggy girl group harmonies. 

The result is an album full of misshapen pearls of avant-rock-pop that fills the void of there being no existing No Wave Meghan Trainor or Justin Beefheart or Taylor Shaggs (please stop me before someone gets hurt) in the world up until now. Take a listen and consider your void filled.

In this blogger's modest appraisal other standout tracks include album-opener “No Way,” “Summer Sun,” and the Arthur Russell/Loose Joints quoting “All Over My Face” which is nearly five minutes (!) long. (Jason Lee)