Tuesday, November 02, 2010

NYC & CMJ (October 21, 2010)

  No Joy @ Knitting Factory, NYC: photo by Michael Ligon

Update [Nov 5/2010, 12:18 am]: Review now up for day 3 of my NYC and CMJ trip. Day 4 and 5 still to come and apologies for the delay.

Day three of five in NYC started out on a bit of a goose chase with me planning on checking out the the vinyl records overflowing thrift store The Thing. The only problem was that after googling its Manhattan Ave address I inadvertently pulled up the Manhattan Ave address in Harlem just south of 125th Ave not realizing that the Manhattan Ave I wanted was actually in Brooklyn. So while in Harlem I strolled along 125th Ave taking in some of the sights like Apollo Theater, and the Adam Clayton Powell State Building Plaza, checking out H & M, buying counterfeit Casio G-Shock watch on the street for $10, and stumbling upon some street art just south of 125th Ave which looked like a Banksy but apparently isn't. Subsequently I did venture out into Brooklyn and found The Thing and while there is a tremendous amount of vinyl in it, a lot of it was inaccessible, dusty and or damaged, nothing was in order, and much of it was garbage - still worth it just to see that much vinyl in one thrift store. Quaint part of town Manhattan Ave was as I hopped on the bus to explore the street by transit rather than foot and ended up getting off at a stop near McCarren Park[I didn't see the pool though] before getting back to the subway to catch the L train back to Manhattan. Time to hit a day show.

While I was running a bit late, I was fortunate that the NYCTaper CMJ Day Party at Cake Shop in the Lower East Side was running a little off schedule and therefore I was able to get to the venue before Toronto's own Diamond Rings started his set. On the other hand, because things were running late, apparently due to some technical difficulties with Mr. O'Regan setting up his equipment, he only got to perform four songs[which NYCTaper recorded the set and is offering for download]. A surprisingly full crown was on-hand for the day set and the all-too brief set went over well, but it would not be the last time I saw him during CMJ.

Cake Shop is located on Ludlow St. in Lower East Side, with a variely of restaurants, shops, bars and venues nestled in this hip neighbourhood and as such, another venue Pianos which I wanted to visit was only steps down the street from Cake Shop. Next up on the agenda was to catch Silver Lake, California pysch pop trio Pepper Rabbit at Pianos playing the second floor stage of the I Guess I'm Floating CMJ Day Party. Half the time I hear the term 'psych-pop' and I'm hoping it's not too dated-sounding, but thankfully Pepper Rabbit weren't of that ilk, instead reminding of a band like The Shins who play pop music that's at least subtlely infused with psychedlic or folkier elements. Pepper Rabbit utilized drums, keyboards, and bass and at times used ukelele and clarinet. The band had apparently played Toronto at The Drake Underground earlier in October so I hope to catch them if and when they come back to town.

It was time to start the evening portion of the evening which meant back to Brooklyn for me to catch No Joy at the Knitting Factory where the band would be kicking off the Brooklyn indie record label, Mexican Summer, showcase. This 200-person capacity venue at once felt spacious and intimate. Spacious it was prior to No Joy kicking off their set because there weren't that many people there yet, but it filled up just a tad by the time the band quickly strolled onto the stage and launched into their setlist. Bathed in blue light, No Joy's Jasmine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd were joined by two guys on drums and bass respectively, and proceeded into a set of tunes which have been described as 'doomgaze', merging the hazey, melodic sensibilities of shoegaze bands like My Bloody Valentine with perhaps a tad sludgier touch. The vocals were virtually buried beyond recognition and while I could discern the vocals enough I wished they'd push the vocals higher up into the mix. It was a set made for earplugs which I thankfully had and I'm looking forward to catching them live another time, the soonest opportunity which will be November 17 in Toronto at Parts & Labor. I haven't been to that venue yet but I've heard it's small.

The walk from Knitting Factory to my next stop Music Hall of Williamsburg(for a CMJ Brooklyn Vegan showcase) turned out not to be too bad nor long, and although I'd been on my feet for much of the last few days, I soldiered on and got to the venue as Montreal outfit Suuns were already a little into their set. Previously known as Zeroes, a band I'd first seen live at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto in January 2009, I honestly don't remember what they sounded like back then although I'm reminded after reading my old review that the band reminded me of Clinic. That's probably not an accurate comparison but in any case Suuns do seems to have a somewhat proggrish approach to their indie rock, with melodies not quite so obvious, occasionally droning keyboards, a rhythmic quality, and a bit of discordance at times. The band's most recent album "Zeroes QC" was released through Secretly Canadian.

Jersey's Screaming Females were up next and seemed to be the first act that the crowd were really interested in seeing. The band name is somewhat of a misnomer given that the trio only features one female but at least that female is the frontperson, the pint-sized Marissa Paternoster on guitar and vocals. Marissa was a double threat proving the band's name in spades as her somewhat Janis Joplin-esque vocals assaulted the audience while at the same time Marissa shredded licks on her guitar. Musically, there was a little bit of a riot-grrl influence mixed with some garage-y punk attitude but there were also poppier moments as well. Of all the bands of the night they(well Marissa) definitely gave the best photo opps with her expressive, explosive vocals.

The Blow were up next. Previously a duo but now only featuring vocalist Khaela Maricich, I'd heard very little of this project's music in the past but was quickly won over by the minimalist beats and girlpop vocals. With a good arsenal of playful tunes, several which were as Khaela described were about her experience with a one unnamed lesbian Hollywood celebrity (which many of us had guessed was Lindsay Lohan although Khaela confirmed it with us), khaela danced around somewhat ironically, bantered humourously with the audience and ultimately won us over with her songs. I was particularly fond of the lilting "Come On Petunia" and the way she integrated part of The Police's "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" into it. A very entertaining set in deed, if not for the music, but at least for her humourous, storytelling. The Blow will be in Toronto for a show at the Horseshoe on November 17 so check it out, which I may just do again.

Rounding out the showcase was Brooklyn's own Pains of Being Pure At Heart. It's been almost 14 months since I'd last seen them live when they played the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on September 7, 2009. Simply, the band excel in what they do which is sublime guy/girl sung indie pop such as the most excellent "Young Adult Friction" which is very well the best indiepop song of the last 10 years. Outside of that, the band don't have much presence although as a guy I must comment that lone female member keyboardist Peggy Wang has an infectious smile and is cute as a button. As difficult it might have been to get anyone to dance, I must say that Pains Of Being Pure At Heart definitely got the audience to at least crack a smile.

Brooklyn Vegan covered its own showcase and has two photosets to share.

Photos: NYC & CMJ (October 21, 2010)
MySpace: Diamond Rings
MySpace: Pepper Rabbit
MySpace: No Joy
MySpace: Suuns
MySpace: Screaming Females
MySpace: The Blow
MySpace: Pains of Being Pure at Heart

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