What isn’t there to like about a week of live music events in New York City?
Just as some people look forward to Fashion Week in the Big Apple, I look forward to the CMJ Music Marathon. The four-day event brings 1390+ bands to 90+ stages throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. You’ll go to see one band and catch about five others, whom you may end up liking, in the process. And sometimes there is free booze involved. You can’t go wrong!
Here’s a mini-round up of the bands I saw (all photos by me except for Making Movies):
L.A.’s Yellow Red Sparks at Legion in Williamsburg: As OC Weekly puts it, Yellow Red Sparks Make “Emotional Vomiting” Sound Like a Good Thing. And how. The lyrics, written by lead singer Joshua Hanson, are emotional, sweet and tailor-made for every Grey’s Anatomy episode that ever was. Check these out, from “Monsters and Misdemeanors:”
there’s a chance we could meet
under the likeness of summer
and there’s a chance we could fall
under the highlight of winter
there’s a parked car that won’t let me over
and there’s one thing i’ll regret,
but you’d be the last
This trio is super approachable and I was able to chat them up about their first time in New York City. Goldy, the band’s drummer, and Sarah Lynn, who plays stand up bass and the banjo, had a blast and it showed. Recently signed to ORG music label, you can check out their EP, “Four Steps in Corsets,” here.
Kansas City’s Making Movies at Desmonds: Bilingual indie rock? Yes, please. It’s as if this music was made for me– a kid born in the States to Colombian parents who instilled in me a love for amazing Afro-Latino music!
Founded by brothers Enrique and Diego Chi, Making Movies fuses Afro-Cuban rhythms with indie sensibilities and bilingual songs. Currently, legendary artist and producer Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, is producing their sophomore album. In the meantime, check out “Hangover Blues” off their EP (with its cool album art) Aguardiente here. Buy the EP on iTunes. Read my interview with lead singer and owner of awesome dreadlocks, Enrique Chi, at Sounds and Colours here. And check out this short video of them covering Aguanile, one of my favorite Hector Lavoe songs of all time, here.
New York City’s Pillow Theory at Bowery Electric: Kelsey Warren from Pillow Theory and I go way back, when my brother, Richie, stumbled upon one of their shows in the late 90s. These guys have been rocking for quite a while and it only gets better. I’ve had friends compare them to Living Colour (whom they opened for at Central Park’s Summer Stage) and even Bush– both bands from the 1990s. True, yet Pillow Theory finds a way to keep their sound relevant. Seriously, they get better, they rock harder every time I see them. And Kelsey sounds like Seal. (Hear his solo album here.)
Kelsey tells me their critically acclaimed EP, MELTDOWN, will be re-released November 5th via Europe’s FILTER label “with some extra spices on it.” In the meantime, check out 2007’s Outpatience here. You can watch their latest music video for Blipsters & Buppies (yep, you guessed it–black hipsters and black yuppies) here.
Also at Bowery Electric:
From Brooklyn — The Disappointment: It’s quite the opposite. You’ll be pleased with this foursome that play rock-n-roll tinged with blues and soul. Reminded me of Black Crowes with a New York edge. Listen to their EP, Damn Righteous, here.
From New York City — Man on Earth: The folks at CMJ once described Man on Earth as “Glistening, wide-open arena rock with spirited choruses and a charged romanticism.” Yet I also hear something new wave in them (listen to “Sometimes.” You’ll see what I mean.) Add to that an energetic stage show and therein lies your reason for checking these guys out. (Bonus points for the lead singer who sang right into my camera!) Check out album, Things They’d Never Believe, here.
From Brooklyn — The Last Royals: If your lead singer’s style reminds me of INXS’ Michael Hutchence at all, I’m going to listen, and chances are, I’m going to like it. This Brooklyn duo, who make “beat-laden indie pop,” had the lower level of Bowery Electric intently watching as writer/singer/producer Eric James dropped down to the floor once or three times. According to their Wikipedia page, James and drummer Mason Ingram first met in 2010 while recording a record to benefit Restore NYC, a charity focused on ending sex trafficking and restoring the well-being and independence of foreign-national survivors. For that reason alone, you should give their stuff a listen here!
From New York City — Bear Ceuse: They describe themselves as LOUD ASS ROCK. Sometimes. But I also thought frat party, and not in a bad way! A fun way. Let’s just say this band had the girls dancing right at the front of the stage. Check out their tunes on Bandcamp here.
There are so many bands who played the CMJ Music Marathon to discover!! Visit CMJ’s website for a great roundup. Their site is a great resource for music year-round.
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