Arriving late, I unfortunately missed the Howlies, but got there in time to catch Sister Suvi, a weighty-rock threesome from Montreal/Toronto, consisting of bass, drums and either ukulele (!!) or guitar. All three members pitch in on singing from time to time, but the chesty/throaty voice of frontwoman Merril Garbus is really what adds the final blow to their punch.
Drink Up, Buttercup were as ridiculously fun as anyone could imagine a band with that kind of name would have to be. Hint: it included a garbage can, a melodica, and a closer with handclaps and a performance in the audience. Their percussive, choral, perky pop reminded me of fellow Philadelphians Papertrigger. If these two went on tour together it would be so FUN. It would be the shout-a-long, pound on whatever you can find event of the year. Please, someone, make that happen.
Taking the stage suited and with projector screen, Project Jenny, Project Jan played speedy, aggressive electronica, demanding to know, “Why are you so paranoid?” but if anyone was feeling paranoid, it could very well have been because they were the perfect soundtrack.
Sam Champion and Takka Takka were yet to come – but even music journalists need to relax and eat, and during CMJ, it’s impossible to take a breath without wondering what you’re missing.
Resurfacing re-energized, I skipped over to the Red Bull space to catch Women. Sounding simultaneously math rock-ish, proggish and dream pop-ish, they also sounded rather sloppy, though that may have been because it wasn’t a venue so much as a stage in the middle of a swanky loft. Word of mouth reports of their other CMJ sets have been mixed, so perhaps they’re ultimately inconsistent.
Arriving at the Living Room just in time, the place was seriously packed for Norwegian singer-songwriter Ane Brune. She’s got some of Regina Spektor’s wobble, but her voice is deeper, her music folkier. The lyrics alone are pure poetry (“I walked into love / I walked into a mine field,” she sings on “The Puzzle”), and even more exquisite in song.
Shortly thereafter, St. Louis’ So Many Dynamos played to a young, excited audience at the Bowery Poetry Club. Flinging themselves around like grenades about to go off, their stage presence matched the bombastic nature of their electro-spastic-dance-math-rock. They shared three new tunes from their upcoming album, due in Spring: “Glaciers,” “New Bones” and “The Novelty of Haunting,” all of which sound even darker than the material from Flashlights, which was plenty dark and doomsdayesque in its own right.
For more CMJ pictures, see here (continuously updated).