BitCandy's Best of CMJ 2012
That time of year when the New York City music scene cannibalizes itself and throws some bones at the lower east side of Manhattan and Brooklyn has passed (October 16-20). Touring bands that made it out alive can be found on a blog near you. Like we diligent folks here at BitCandy, who witness the ear carnage, arranging the finest best-of menu the CMJ Music Marathon had to offer, in ten tasty finds. No appetizers. Straight entrees, and a hyperbolic blurb about where we caught them and why you should be listening to them now, damn it:
You Won't; "Fryer"
Kicking off the very first day of the festival, Massachusetts duo You Won't played an upstairs set at Pianos, all David Byrne-quipping and doing to folk what the Dodos did to prog-rock - layering refreshing texture after texture with just two dudes, sometimes sharing harmonies, clattering into the space where Clap Your Hands Say Yeah left off.
Opossum; "Blue Meanies"
Though we only caught the tail end of their set, New Zealand's Opossum seemed to be out for blood, with a command center 'round their drummer, elbows always at his ribs, taking this whole reverb-washed vocal fad into actually threatening territory. Threatening in the sense of the kind of threat one would ride a surfboard to. If one wanted to listen to something that wasn't Odelay-era Beck.
Matthew E. White; "Will You Love Me"
Corralling a good dozen musicians from his Virginia 'hood under the cover of the BQE, Matthew E. White foraged a slow-burning blend of soul and gospel, taking a good four minutes to reach a brass-section punched epiphany, and always just breathing in his sentiments about hanging on to that dirty thing called love. At one point he made a point to thank the fact that he was merely alive.
King Tuff; "Bad Thing"
Kings of the Sub Pop showcase, King Tuff tore through a beer-soaked set of free-wheeling power pop that'll make you forgot Wavves ever had a moment. I mean, three of four of them had real-deal Burt Reynolds mustaches. No hipster bullshit here.
By the time we could explain the sheer amount of distilled gnar early Nirvana fuzz that came forth from these dudes' PAs, you could already be kicking a hole in your parents' garage door. Guess what "Wasted" is about?
Thrashing out a 20-minute set in the new warehouse area of Brooklyn, as gentrification pushes artistic minds towards the coast, proper, this NYC trio apparently will play any room you throw at them, from living room to basement. Click the four-track and spit the whiskey punk rock that doesn't care for snarl or crazy guitar tones. So goes the song called "Seriously," the band not even turning toward the crowd, just enjoying themselves.
Eula; "Dirty Hands"
Though this female fronted art-punk trio tried to district us with leotards and ass and tits, there was no denying another burgeoning punk set that, again, just doesn't give a damn about bells and whistles, rather knife-drag bass lines and genius unadorned sentiments about "dirty hands."
MNDR; "Feed Me Diamonds"
You may remember MNDR from Mark Ronson's club-banging collab, "Bang, Bang, Bang," in which Amanda Warner cemented her position in LA's art-synth scene. We caught her like a caged animal at a taping of WNYC's Soundcheck, in which she killed the title track of her recently dropped debut, Feed Me Diamonds. Want the Grimes touch without her shitty voice -> MNDR.
Mykki Blanco; "Join My Militia"
Whatever title this dude or girl or trans-whatever wants to go by, Mykki Blanco had us at the operatic announcement of his name, wailing like some deranged goth sub-sector of Saul Wiliams brain. Shock rap, yes. But immensely talented, frothing, "this shit make me mad when they doubt my potential/Talking so much shit but their opinions consequential."
Daughn Gibson; "In the Beginning"
Another gold nugget from Sub Pop, this Pennsylvania soundscaper is kind of like the Mark Lanagan of DIY sounds, warbling out these baritone voyeurisms about "reaching into the fire" and making promises to his mother. Sometimes harrowing. Sometimes pastoral. Always refreshing.
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