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The eight best bands I saw @ CMJ 2009

The eight best bands I saw @ CMJ 2009



Fanfarlo – the first band of my CMJ 2009 experience at The Music Slut Party at Piano’s, Ludlow St, Manhattan, NYC.

The last ten days in NYC have been amazing. The food (Aoife’s got that part covered), the bars, the hotels, the people, the buildings, – I’ve consumed what the city had to offer but still want more of it. Of course, the real reason I was there was for CMJ 2009 – a showcase of 1300 bands taking place over five days in Brooklyn and Manhattan. I missed so many bands I wanted to see but here are the 8 best bands that I did catch at the festival. You can also read my piece on CMJ buzz bands from the Indo here.

  1. Fanfarlo

    The first thing we hit at CMJ was The Music Slut’s Day Party in Piano’s and the first band we saw were Fanfarlo. Having absolutely fallen in love with their album Reservoir, I was delighted to see their live show is just as good. Swooping indie-folk music in the vein of Beirut and Arcade for sure, but strong enough to stand on its own two feet. Hopefully, they’ll hit Irish shores in the new year as I’d love to see them again.

    MP3: Fanfarlo – I’m a Pilot

  2. Surfer Blood

    These Florida boys played 12 gigs at CMJ but it was actually a small Monday night show in Williamsburg post-CMJ where I caught them. Promising indie-rock (with a surf-rock tinge, a “more cowbell” attitude and plenty of catchy tunes to boot. Their sound is reminiscent of early Weezer with Wilco hanging around skulking in the background. One of this year’s palpable CMJ buzz bands. The footage below is by Abbey Bradden of Sup Magazine and was taken at the gig I attended.

    MP3: Surfer Blood – Floating Vibes

  3. Suckers


    I love Suckers’ mix of psychedelia, harmony, nuance and atmospherics. The main vocalist sounds like David Byrne and there’s a sense that this band are a little less normal than most which intrigues me a bit more. I caught them at the IAMSound showcase in the Bowery Poetry Club where Apache Beat (forgettable), New Villager (disappointing – full of theatrics, very few tunes and they didn’t play or I missed ‘Rich Doors’), Fool’s Gold and Golden Silvers also played.

    MP3: Suckers – Afterthoughts and TV

  4. Chromeo

    Photo by Vincent Cornelli for the indispensable Brooklyn Vegan.

    The most anticipated gig of the entire trip took place in a Bowling alley/venue in Brooklyn on a Saturday night at the Green Label Sound showcase in the Brooklyn Bowl. Solid Gold, Theophilus London (see below) played and Holy Ghost! DJed in between with the execrable Amazing Baby also playing (please just stop lads, you’re awful).

    Chromeo were as was expected – brilliant. The duo played all of their hits – ‘Tenderoni’, ‘Fancy Footwork’, ‘Bonafied Lovin’, ‘My Girl is calling Me a Liar’ and new single ‘Night by Night’. Chromeo are all about the fun times. The bow-ties, synth-lines, percussion and cheesy smiles say it all. Did you know: the dude on the left is A-Trak’s brother?

    MP3: Chromeo – Night By Night (Skream remix)

  5. Crystal Antlers

    Photo by Dig the Well @ The Cake Shop.

    One of the busiest bands at the festival, Long Beach’s Crystal Antlers were also the only band I caught more than once. Live, their psych-noise organ rock sound is even more frenetic. In their percussionist Damien, they have a magnetic live character who spent his time sweating and jumping around, banging and spinning cymbals like a proper rock star. He was also one of the nicest, funniest people you could meet. Big shout out to Ian and Paul who run The Go Go Radio Show in Montreal who were catalysts in rekindling my love for this band.

    MP3: Crystal Antlers – Tentacles

  6. Duchess Says

    Photo by Eats Dirt.

    See Also

    DS play bonkers pop-electro-rock from another planet (well Montreal) and their lead singer Annie Claude is a proper engaging mentaller. At the Brooklyn Vegan day party in Piano’s, she spent most of the time in the audience, jumping on people (she rugby tackled me to the ground), getting up in their face and gesturing to each note. She finished the set by walking out into the audience as far as her microphone chord could reach before giving us a “Ciao” and walking out of the venue’s front door. Absolutely brilliant and much more suitable than their Irish show a couple of years back.

    MP3: Duchess Says – Rabies (Baby’s got the)

  7. Theophilus London

    More photos of the Brooklyn Bowl party.

    This boy is getting better and better. His style is totally his own – hip-hop based yet touches of dance and R&B with plenty of hooks. A great dancer and he can sing too. His This Charming Mixtape is a must and judging by the new songs he played in the Brooklyn Bowl, he’s on the up.

    MP3: Theophilus London – Enjoy The Sun

  8. Rain Machine

    Rain Machine
    Arriving at the Fader Fort Party at the Ace Hotel (we stayed here for 2 nights – excellent young and hip hotel with record players, a guitar and a huge SMEG fridge in the room – recommended), I had already missed The Temper Trap, MNDR, Chaffeur (Mark Ronson’s new band with Theo London and Sam Sparro) but managed to catch the end of Florence and the Machine who was doing an acoustic set.

    The special guests who closed out the night turned out to be TV on the Radio Kyp Malone’s solo project Rain Machine. It was an engaging set that suggested that this is more than merely a side project. Live, Kyp is backed by another vocalist and keyboardist, bass, drummer and another guitarist but the focus is really all him, particularly during the solo song he plays towards the end. ‘Give Blood’ (in the video below) is the self-titled record’s standout track by far for its boisterousness and is lifted by the girl on backing vocals. Occasionally, it feels like a project in its infancy but it’s Kyp Malone and he’s a badass so you’ll listen.

    MP3: Rain Machine Smiling Black Faces

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