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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.

l

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

Liturgy gets operatic with "Origin of the Alimonies"

If Freidrich Nietzsche were somehow alive today he would conceivably be the biggest metalhead in your local university’s philosophy department for there is no other musical genre in existence that so clearly and ably illustrates his theory of the Apollonian and the Dionysian. When it comes to the latter, heavy metal has long been notorious for its Dionysian side due to popular associations with primordial urges, raw power, and a fixation on subjects like madness and sex and unbound chaos. But equally true, if less acknowledged, is that metalheads are often unabashedly nerdy--enter the Apollonian side of the equation--and just as fixated on control and mastery and order as on sheer anarchic energy with said control expressed through disciplined instrumental and vocal mastery, elaborate lyrical conceits and album concepts, and a tendency to adhere to established conventions whether in death/doom/black/thrash/glam/power/prog metal at least until the next musical leap forward.

Speaking of philosophical concepts and musical leaps forward is perhaps as good way as any to introduce Liturgy’s latest release, a literal “rock opera” titled Origin of the Alimonies. Led by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, Liturgy established themselves out of the gate with their 2008 debut LP Renihilation (the title a neologism for the countervailing and balancing force to “annihilation”). By the time their widely lauded but also widely debated follow-up Aesthethica was released in 2011, Hunt-Hendrix had composed an elaborate manifesto on "Transcendental Black Metal" written for an academic symposium, granted one held in a nightclub and bar. This intellectualized approach to metal ruffled more than a few feathers, while the band itself stood accused of being “Brooklyn hipsters" by many in the ruffled-feathers contingent. So yeah there were some big words and big ideas in effect and a sculpted beard or two in evidence but does it really stop the rock? The clip below circa this time period offers evidence to the contrary. 

Fast forward nearly ten years and Liturgy has doubled down, maybe more like quintupled down, on their ambitious approach by releasing an album that comes accompanied with multiple YouTube lectures covering an assortment of musical, philosophical, and cosmogonical concepts relating to their new music with the promise of an accompanying full-on opera soon to follow. Building on their surprise 2019 release H.A.Q.Q., Origin of the Alimonies features a chamber ensemble playing strings and woodwinds, church organ and harp, that's just as heavily featured as the musicians in Liturgy. 

The notion of a religiously-themed opera couched in Lacanian psychoanalysis and Deleuzian philosophical concepts being released by a band that's in any way associated with black metal will come as a surprise to your average man on the street (gender choice deliberate) who likely associates the genre with church burnings and the physical desecration of deceased bandmates. The book Lords of Chaos has a lot to do with the familiarity of these images, based on some undeniably sensational real-life events, which have since sedimented into stereotype. But for a smaller group of initiates the music of Liturgy is in keeping with a New Wave of Experimental Heavy Metal (a clever play on NWOBHM) and the queering of metal and its boundaries advocated by Hunt-Hendrix and some others. 


Whatever one's perspective it's hard to deny that the music of Origin of the Alimonies effectively balances out its Apollonian conceptual grounding with some seriously Dionysian furor--as much in the quiet bits as in the guttural howling and seismic burst-beats which are Liturgy's version of blast beats. In its overture section Origin starts off not unlike that other staged musical work that got a riot going on with its depiction of "primitive" human origins, namely Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Both these works open with a vulnerable sounding solo woodwind (flute for Origin, bassoon for Rite) that's soothing for about a second but quickly becomes uneasy with its sense of lonely, aimless wondering. And then more unnerving still as more instruments enter the picture adding layers of tension-generating dissonance and you can just tell something "wicked" this way comes. 

And indeed it does when Liturgy enters the fray and by the beginning of the third track “Lonely OIOION” (you’ll have to watch those YouTube videos if you want to understand the titles, or just wait for the debut of the opera itself) we’re off to the races. Again this feels like a parallel to The Rite and the "Augurs of Spring" section in particular where likewise a few minutes into the ballet the whole thing gets blown wide open, and it does actually sound like an early 20th-century orchestral equivalent to blast beats. This is where the Parisians started really losing their shit supposedly and it didn't help that the dancers were stomping around like rabid orgy goers forming an ballerino/ballerina mosh pit on stage.


 

By the time the dust settles on Origin of the Alimonies you’ll have heard everything from violins played with screwdrivers to a very angry demon baby playing a piano (admittedly I'm taking some stabs in the dark here) to a trap music beat to a free-jazzy-ish interlude to a glitching CD player (neat trick since there’s no CD player in sight) to a fourteen-minute piano-and-metal-band adaptation of a work written for cathedral organ by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1932 (talk about literal heavy metal heh-heh-heh, sorry). In other words this opera is a great deal of fun despite the seriousness. And I figure God up in Heaven is grateful He’s finally got something new and kick-ass to listen to meaning that He can finally get rid of that Stryper cassette that's been stuck in His Walkman for the past several decades. 

One final note regarding the quite striking cover image to Origin of the Alimonies (strategically cropped in the YouTube video above) which is in keeping with the theme of binaries and their subversion in heavy metal and in life in general. This is best expressed in the words of Hunter Hunt-Hendrix herself as taken from a recent Instagram post alongside the uncensored album image in which she addresses the process of actualizing and ultimately presenting as transgender: “I came to terms with my gender over the past five years in part through the somewhat torturous development of this piece, and I was only able to turn it into an album and put vocals on it upon deciding I could play the role of the female protagonist. That’s the importance of having exposed breasts on the cover.” 

When one considers that the music of Alimonies is only one element of the overall Gesamtkunstwerk still to be unveiled, you had better prepare to have your mind blown all over again...

Climates cover version of Daria theme song

Daria - Could they make the holidays any more vulgar?
Jane - I hope so.
Daria - What?
Jane - The more debased they become, the less reason to celebrate them, and the less reason for my family to get together, until presto! I'm finally alone on Thanksgiving with a TV dinner

******

“Depth Takes A Holiday” (Daria S03/E03, aired 1999) opens with the exchange quoted above between our anti-social hero Daria Morgendorffer and her partner-in-sarcasm Jane Lane as they watch a TV ad for show-within-a-show “Sick Sad World” featuring a pitchman hyping a story about a massive Nativity scene constructed at the mall in the month of August. The half hour that follows is a surreal parody of the “very special holiday episode” (VSHE) that’s a fixture of TV-Landia around this time of year

The typical VSHE features a cast of characters—usually a biological family or a ragtag surrogate family—who together overcome a series of serio-comic misadventures on their way to a happy, heartwarming holiday celebration; or more typically for the 21st century, on their way to a disastrous, uproarious failure to meet the heightened expectations of the holiday season. Either way, what’s rarely questioned in these episodes is the sacrosanct nature of the holidays themselves, and their vision of an ideal world often based more in fantasy than anything resembling reality.

Daria, of course, breaks with VSHE conventions and parodies the heck out of them instead. A groundbreaking animated series that turned the Bechdel test on its head and set a new standard for realistic hot takes on high school (not to mention its fantastic soundtrack that'll never make it onto a DVD or Blu-Ray release) “Depth Takes A Holiday” departs even from the show’s own conventions with its wholesale flight into fantasy. Centered on an array of holidays in human form—Halloween is a goth rock chick, Guy Fawkes Day is a Sid Vicious lookalike, etc.—the plot revolves around several of them escaping “Holiday Island” through a wormhole behind a Chinese restaurant in search of fame as a hip-hop-punk-electronica band in the suburban purgatory of Lawndale. It’s up to Daria and Jane, with the help of an overgrown Cupid and a cranky Brit-baiting Saint Patrick’s Day, to restore the (very relatively speaking) natural order of things by ushering the errant holidays back to their island. Like I said, pretty surreal stuff.

True to form the episode’s Holiday Island turns out to be its own sick, sad world with its own sick, sad Lawndale-like high school chock full of weirdos and petty rivalries between the holidays. A bizarre, tossed-off seasonal affective disorder fable, “Depth Takes A Holiday” is also the perfect teachable moment for late 2020. The lesson being not to believe the holiday hype and that you're usually better off just staying the f*ck home. Besides to do otherwise is to risk the ire of a girl in a pleated skirt, combat boots and Edna Mode specs who's expert at tossing off withering disses delivered in monotone. (A question for another day: did Daria invent SoundCloud rap?)

Speaking of Daria in the present day, the Daria-loving four-piece who go by the name Climates recently put out a cover of the show’s iconic opening theme song “You’re Standing on My Neck.” It’s perfectly suited to the Brooklynites’ self-designated “glitter grunge” sound, “Seether”-style harmonies (sounds like the Breeders) and feminist politics. Their cover version can be heard on SoundCloud and on Spotify or purchased wherever records and tapes are sold (yeah better stick to streaming for now). It's lucky for all involved that Splendora bequeathed to the world those five “nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah-nyah” notes that ring out Close Encounters-style at the start, and bridge and the ending of “Standing On My Neck”--a clarion call to tribes of disaffected kids, and to girls and young women in particular who appreciate the “strongly layered female characters” on the show.

Once you’ve had time to fully take in the Climates version of the theme song and it’s source material you may want to check out this article on Splendora. Another Brooklyn-spawned-all-female band, led by two sisters who today work in Manhattan’s high powered publishing industry, they never quite received their due and disbanded soon after Daria hit the airwaves and cable boxes of America, languishing in no small part due to limited resources dedicated to the promotion of female bands at the time. It’s a shame as their one and only full album release from 1995 is a solid piece of work. One can only hope that better is in store for Climates--despite some minor obstacles like a pandemic that makes it impossible to practice or a band member relocating to Seattle--because even with just a handful of songs on record so far they’ve already proven some serious songwriting chops and an ability to command a stage. This interview with Climates from Chez Nous highlights some of the challenges still faced by female-identified bands but they appear prepared to power through. 

And finally, after ingesting every recorded version of “You’re Standing On My Neck” and watching the five-season run of Daria in full, you would be well advised to check out the Climates’ single below released earlier this year. “Super 8” is a song that has some interesting things to communicate about the nature of fantasy and reality and the porous line between the two--the throughline to my ramblings here if you're being generous--with lyrics revolving around the idea that our lives are at their most "real" when our lives feel most like we're living in a movie. Super 8 film is a consumer-oriented motion picture format that spawned the home movie explosion of the ‘60s and ‘70s--you can hear the sound of an old-style film projector in the intro of the song--technology that led directly to the videotape boom of the ‘80s and ultimately to our current show-me-your-phone-video-or-it-didn’t-happen social media era.

Maybe it's overreaching but I'm putting it out there that this song speaks to a transformation in our collective consciousness that's still taking place today where we continually narrative our very own “very special episodes” 24/7 to an adoring audience, or an ignoring audience, but who can really tell the difference half the time. Either way the song is a moodily seductive banger that’ll mash up your mind with its killer earworm chorus: “big things get in the way / we’re filming away." 

Although admittedly I sometimes hear that first line as “fake things get in the way" and don't know which is correct but maybe this sense of ambiguity and uncertainty is the realest thing of all. (Jason Lee)

 

 

“Picture this in glitter and smoke
hold the camera steady
Candy-flossed clouds, who’s the boss now
sugar on the lenses and the roses in the ground”


 

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