Oct 27, 2011

RethinkPopMusic CMJ Night 1 Recap

As CMJ week draws to a close, major media outlets everywhere will scramble to decide which acts won big and what “buzz band” is destined to be the media darling of the year. To believe that the newly crowned kings, whoever they may be, rose like cream on the merits of talent and performance alone would be akin to believing the most qualified person in the country is elected President. The former may involve the same degree of corporate interest, politics, and backroom dealing as the latter. While some past “buzz bands” like Arcade Fire have proven to worthy of such accolades, we here at Rethink like to connect with artists based on what they bring to the table musically rather than who’s in their back pocket. It was with this fan mentality that we assembled a stellar line-up of artists for showcases on back-to-back nights at Spike Hill and Bowery Electric.

We christened CMJ 2011 with an explosive performance from Virginia natives We Run. Their “foot on the gas”, guitar driven tracks grip everyone within earshot and shake vigorously. I was amazed to learn this only marked the band’s second show. Clearly they have been spending copious amounts time tightening their sound, which provides an edge similar to The Vines and a pure rock & roll spirit in the mold of Thin Lizzy—a noted inspiration according to the band. We Run have recently claimed NYC as their new homeland and I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to watch them slice their way through the Big Apple.

Little Racer next took the stage and reshaped the mounted energy with a California twist, losing none to spoilage. While actually hailing from Brooklyn, the band harkens to surf rock of the 60’s with a style similar to Weezer encompassing a wide range of sounds, from tropical to harmonic. (reference something they played)

Emily Greene blessed the Spike Hill crowd with her rousing pipes and finely tuned keyboard skills. Her backing band allows her greater versatility than comparable acts like Imogen Heap or Feist while matching them with the power of her hallowed voice. There is an incredible sweetness to her stage presence that presents a very intriguing dichotomy when she goes all Jerry Lee Lewis on the keys.

I profiled Hollis Brown leading up to CMJ and was even more impressed with what they brought to the stage in their live performance… no small statement, as I was blown away by their recorded material. Somewhat less blues based, their up-beat guitar driven brand of neo-southern rock had the crowd up and dancing for the entirety of the set. While I would usually advise bands to steer clear of Beatles covers, Hollis Brown brought the house down with a true-to-form performance of “Come Together” delivered with vocal conviction by front man Mike Montali.

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of The Yes Way. While I plan on detailing their face-meltingingly wonderful CMJ set in part II of our CMJ afterglow, I couldn’t possibly recap night one without mentioning them. Blame the procrastination on my lungs and liver which are still struggling to understand what happened over the past week.

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