The Revivalist, a new blog focusing on hip-hop and jazz culture, launched this week. The blog is a collaborative project between Okayplayer and Revive Music Group. It’s a pretty site and is covering a wide range of the New York music scene that feels a little scattered in the blogosphere. Check out their promo video for the site below.
Here is out unranked list of the best groups we had occasion to see at CMJ 2010.
1.) Bear Hands: The overall winner for me. Catchy riffs, great vocals, overall up beat music created by talented Brooklynites. I hope bands like this keep coming out of Brooklyn; it really makes my music library more attractive. -AH
2.) Dark Dark Dark: They are always a favorite of mine, but they keep growing, becoming more mature. Their sound used to have more of a punk edge for me, but they are almost growing into a chamber ensemble that focuses on haunting folk tunes. -DN
3.) The Lisps: There are few bands that look like they enjoy playing music as much as The Lisps do. It shows, and it makes watching them a whole lot more fun. Unfortunate that they only did one showcase (full disclosure: it was one I put together, but I get no points after the fact by saying that it was amazing). -DN
4.) Miracles of Modern Science: This young Brooklyn based group is just strings and drums: cello, violin, stand up bass, and mandolin. But their sound is huge, and they spend most of the set rocking out. They just finished (or are about to finish) recording their debut LP. It is quite possible that it will be awesome. -DN
5.) Royal Bangs: Driving, thumping, intricate with a dash of soul, a dollop of electronic, and a whole lot of action. This three piece takes risks and the listener gets to reap amazing musical benefits. -AH
6.) Spirits of the Red City: Playing without any sort of amplification, they set up on the floor in front of the stage, and sitting a circle, these Midwesterns played one of the most intimate shows I have ever seen. Maybe electricity isn’t needed to rock. One of the best shows this year period. -AH/DN
7.) Tape Deck Mountain: They are almost pop, almost noise, almost a lot of things. But their set vacillates between head banging, knees on the floor, walls of feedback, and mellow looped guitar and keys. They are versatile, and they’ve been doing this for a minute. They’ll probably never be a buzz band of CMJ, but they are a must see live act. -DN
8.) Young Rival: They played a straightforward showcase of rock and roll from all areas of the spectrum. the big picture take away with Young Rival: if you rock, they will come. -AH
Compiled by Dustin Nelson and Adam Hagedorn
by Daniel De Wolff
the first in a series
The flash of the camera illuminates the scene like lightning on a black night. Bathed in pale blue light, Jedi stands on a concrete ledge above me. His feet are set wide apart, his torso waves stiffly back and forth. He’s a cobra in a trance; a violinist locked in the depths of sound. There is only the hiss of paint escaping from a spray can clutched in a nimble hand, which is sheathed in a latex glove. The occasional waft of chlorine from the street above mingles with the dank smell of dirt, rusted metal and toxic-sweet paint fumes. Then I catch the distant creak and moan. Sean (our photographer) hisses, “train!”
Jedi abandons his buckets of paint and hops down from his perch, avoiding the third rail. Meanwhile Sean dismantles the tripod with the speed of a liquored gun nut practicing blindfolded with his favorite Smith & Wesson. We make ourselves thin, crowd the wall that separates our abandoned track from the rest of the rusted arteries still in use by the MTA. Bright light snaps around the corner and a few feet from where we stand, a bruised and battered J train lumbers past at top speed like a giant caterpillar, its belly laden with bored, tired passengers. Framed by scratched windows, their faces are frozen in my mind as the train thunders around the bend, all squeaks and sighs and heavy thuds ringing in my ears. Silence, darkness envelops us again, and this is the first time I understand what my two guides have been talking about. This potent sense of calm and quiet and exhilaration at participating in a world below the hum and bustle of New York City. Commuters on the train are temporary visitors, shuttled through this dream world, unseeing zombies with their eyes burned out and covered with coins. Only we are alive in this dream.
Ben Weaver played a set at Hymie’s Records in Minneapolis as a two piece – stand up bass and Weaver alternating between acoustic guitar and banjo – and this recording of the set is from Empty Tapes. Weaver is an unique singer-songwriter that refines and updates the often tired troubadour routine, throwing in a touch of Tom Waits and a touch of Eliot Smith.
Pukekos posted a fantastic bootleg-ish recording from The Rapture. It’s an InSound Tour Support short recording from 2000. There is also some pretty great video from a 2000 set when they had just moved to NYC on there.
She Keeps Bees played a set at the Rock Shop in NYC and NYC Taper made a tape.
Laundromatinee did a session with Pravada that was posted this past week.
Victory Rose, that audio blog dedicated to all things Sigur Rós, has posted one of the only solo acoustic session it sounds like Jónsi is likely to do, after he canceled his in-store acoustic tour after the first date in CA. If that’s not enough Jónsi for you Victory Rose also posted live sets from the Wiltern Theatre in LA on Oct. 17th and a timeplapse video from the same show.
Royal Bangs was the second band in the Windish Agency Showcase at Santo’s Party House on Saturday night. This three piece from Knoxville, TN started out slow but by the end of their set Sam Stratton, Ryan Schaefer, and Chris Rusk were releasing amazing energy and the crowd responded in kind. Schaefer’s gospel influenced hard rock infused vocals were expertly accompanied by the notably intricate melodies and beats of Rusk and Stratton. The complicated music and energy of Royal Bangs make they a CMJ standout band.
Late Wednesday night I found myself at Fontana’s for the Green Room Music Source Minneapolis Showcase and saw Communist Daughter. Lead singer Johnny Solomon had a larger than life presence and seemed to be enjoying himself on stage. However, six songs into the set 45 minute set, one of the seven members of the band appeared not to be having as good a time. The drummer walked off the stage, and sat in the back of Fontana’s. There was some awkward stage banter, Solomon took a Polaroid, then broke a guitar string saying, “Yeah, that just happened.” Now, I didn’t stick around to find out what the problem was. I assumed they weren’t done with the set, since they were slated to play until 9:45, and stopped playing at 9:25. I left. This is CMJ and my time can be better spent elsewhere, instead of trying to figure out whiny drummers. It’s really too bad too, the set was incredibly engaging and really rocking. I’ll make sure to catch Communist Daughter next time they are in town, but hopefully without the weirdness.
by Adam Hagedorn
Update: After our reviewer left, Communist Daughter continued their set. Our apologies to Communist Daughter, as the reviewer enjoyed the set.
Young Rival, the last band at Arlene’s Grocery for the Canadian Blast Showcase, had straight up beautiful rocking energy throughout their entire set. With guitar work reminiscent of rockabilly classics, and at other times sounding like seasoned rock veterans, Young Rival blew the roof off Arlene’s Grocery. It’s unfortunate that the late Wednesday timeslot left a smaller crowd than they deserved. But, they get extra points in my imaginary notebook for not botching their cover of “Search and Destroy.”
There is at least one Minneapolis band with a drummer who can finish a set. Disembodied systematically destroyed the foundation of the Mercury Lounge with their driving, heavy as hell breakdowns. Keeping a number in the crowd excited enough to fight the air, and slam into spectators, Disembodied proves that Minneapolis is still producing some of the heaviest music on the hardcore scene. That’s really all about Disembodied, um, Hail Satan and long live metal? Here are some metal horns \m/.