by Maria Gotay
This year’s College Music Journal Music Festival- aka CMJ– is a whirlwind of free booze, strobe lights, hot indie bands, blown out amps and dance parties. I crusied through the festival, mostly going to unofficial shows (BirdDog Promo’s 3 parties, Fader Fort, KCRW, Anti-CMJ House parties, etc), and wound up seeing an unexpectedly diverse array of amazing bands. After a much thinking, here are the top 10 I saw (in no particular order), including an Mp3 from each! Spoiler altert: Doldrums, Zambri, Delicate Steve…
Doldrums, of Montreal, doesn’t only pull a name reference from Ariel Pink’s classic album, he also encorporates some of those weird L.A. retro-pop vibes, throws them in a glitch-blender, adds a solid drum machine a little bit of sped-up indie sunshowers. Fun to listen to and a pleasure to see live, Doldrums have toured with Grimes and are currently backing Purity Ring, so expect to see great things on the horizon.
2. Delicate Steve
Delicate Steve hit me hard with their uncategorizable, experimental, thoroughly enjoyable sound. To label this band is so difficult- from one song to the next they jump from instrumental Hendrix-inspired guitar songs to tropical jam melodies with tenderly mumbled vocals. Not to mention the huge array of instruments they used onstage. They recently toured with Akron/Family, who I find to be their closest musical associates with a diverse, raw, and always evolving sound. Delicate Steve produces more youthful, more unpredictable, more balanced, and less canned songs that are breathtaking and whimsical. Really a fantastic band, and a completely enveloping live performance.
3. Pat Jordache
Canadians and up-and-comers Pat Jordache hail from modern-day Montreal but musically seems not from this time. Bizarre minimal melodies, a deep and booming voice, and the occasional surf guitar picking make their live show surprisingly enthralling. On headphones, the music feels personal and lonely- earnest vocals with goth undertones- seeming like a custom-made mixtape.
4. Tiny Victories
Tiny Victories does the Brooklyn electronic duo pretty flawlessly. Switching from drums to keys but constantly manning their pedals and mic, their sound is a form of dream pop- dramatic and intricate, but still very accesible. Their live show kills people with fun, and their fanbase likes to go wild.
By far the sexiest group I saw at CMJ is Zambri, an electronic Brooklyn duo of experimental-gypsy ladies that look like they could be sisters. Sisters that make your heart beat quick and your ears hurt so good. Their music resembles a gothic Kate Bush. Having an abraisive quality that is tangibly pleasurable live, for once the level of sensuality and talent balances the scales.
6. New Moods
New Moods- This underrated Brooklyn band kinda blew my mind. They are very detailed-oriented instrumentally, not sacrificing any extra sounds for an unnecessarily noisey effect, and their vocals are heavy and sensual. Sometimes bright synths add a suspenseful element, other times the band vibes a more alternative sound. This band is certainly enigmatic, and I’d have them no other way.
7. Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt
Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt, where to begin- this is where saxophones and crossdressing meet in a musically awesome way. These guys are hipster hippies- maybe by that I just mean another ” Brooklyn art collective”- their genre-spanning music promotes simple messages of love and encouragement, while their live show comes bundled in jackets tied together in Christmas lights, a crowd dance circle, hand painted signs, and costumes for everyone in the crowd. The most fun and interactive show I saw all CMJ.
Monogold, love you guys, I’ve said it all before. “To listen is to fall into a cathartic, emotional listening experience. They blend melodic, fall-off-the-bone tender vocals with organic rhythms.” Blah, blah, blah…. but listen to the MP3 and tell me it isn’t true!
Woodsman, with dual drummers, far-off poetic vocals and atomsopheric jam sound, is probably my favorite new band I discovered at CMJ. A Brooklyn-via-Denver band, rural undertones carry through their songs. There’s a “freak folk” element to their music- they take risks encorporating less-than-poppy sound samples – but the organic nature of the loops makes even the extraterrestrial sound bytes feel right in place. Can’t wait to see them again when their set isn’t cut short by CMJ’s set-sandwiching.
Florida’s MillionYoung perfects a smooth type of chillwave that’s more suited for a beach party than a blacklight club- and that’s a good thing. With cresendoing keyboard melodies and familiar beats, his vocals glide atop lush, oceanic, feelgood rhythms. Performing alone and closing out the night I saw him at Pianos, he had everyone dancing to his mellow-but-evervescent tunes.
WAAAAY MORE PICS (of all the bands) OVER HERE