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Q&A With Senses Fail

Having been a constant presence in the modern rock scene for nearly a decade, post-hardcore band Senses Fail have refused to conform to current trends on and off the stage. Their fifth studio record, The Fire, a testament to the bands evolution and experiences grappling with self-doubt, anger and forgiveness, was released on Tuesday. We got the chance to speak with frontman Buddy Nielsen about the new record, the first-ever Senses Fail DVD and being on tour with Bayside.

OS: Senses Fail recently returned from touring Australia. How did the crowds there react to seeing you live for the first time in four years?

BN: It was awesome! I had a great time. Everything went really well and I thought the shows went great. I can’t wait to go back. Australia is really my favorite place to go.

OS: The Fire is the first Senses Fail record with Zack Roach on guitar. How has the lineup change affected the band and the writing of the record?

BN: Zack didn’t really do a ton of writing, it was mostly the three of us. Heath (Saraceno, former guitarist) had a lot to do with the writing, but he was kind of a guy who came in after the fact and added to it, he didn’t really write the bulk of the stuff. Not a lot has really changed, as far as the writing process. Garrett (Zablocki, guitarist) usually wrote the bulk of it and he and Dan (Trapp, drummer) arranged it, then I would come up with the melodies and lyrics and help arrange it. I think people would expect that there would be a change, but there really wasn’t.

OS: Senses Fail’s music seems to get heavier with each release. Is this a conscious decision or has it happened naturally?

BN: It just happens. It’s hard to explore different avenues, going a poppier route. It’s very linear, what you can do with something that’s catchy, as opposed to taking a different vibe and taking a different feeling and taking a heavier route. We try to write songs that we would like to play, ultimately…stuff that isn’t too out of the box for us. I think a lot of bands tend to jump the shark sometimes in trying to be experimental. Sometimes it works but I really think most times it doesn’t.

OS: There’s a way to progress without going too far.

BN: Yeah. You’ve got to know who you are as a band and who your fans are, too. You can’t just abandon what made you popular. You can’t get ahead of yourself and what you think are.

OS: That’s something you show on The Fire. You guys have definitely come a long way but you still sound like Senses Fail.

BN: Oh, awesome, thanks! That would be what I want to hear. I don’t like when my favorite bands decide to do something stupid and change their thing. It’s like, “Why? You just ruined it. I liked you for this reason but you decided to mess up what was good about it.” I think bands that have been around for a long time feel a sense of urgency to keep up with what’s going on or out-do what’s going on to stay relevant. It’s hard not to go, “This is what’s popular, should we do this? Do we need to have all these breakdowns and then a techno part? I hope it’s not what we need to do.”

OS: Tell us about the title track of the new record.

BN: “The Fire”… that song, to me, just opens up the record to what the record’s going to be. “The Fire” is about going through a process of change in your life with uncertainty, but ultimately telling yourself that you’re at the right place at the right time and that everything’s pretty much happening for the right reasons. It’s kind of a bipolar song where part of it’s positive and then at the breakdown it goes back to reflecting on ways that I have chosen to deal with things and ultimately want to change. Walking through the fire; walking through a time of hardship leaves you stronger and better off.

OS: Your lyrics have have always been extremely personal, but varied, in terms of their themes. What would you say are the lyrical themes of The Fire?

BN: Self-exploration and working up a lot of self-doubt and anger…definitely anger towards relationships that I’ve had within my family and coming to terms with them. I think forgiveness is definitely a theme on the record…and just trying to figure out what to do when you’re 26 and in a band. The same things that everyone else is trying to figure out.

OS: You’re releasing a live DVD with the first pressing of The Fire. What was the concert shoot like?

BN: We did it last Halloween in New Jersey and it came out great, I’m happy with it. It was our first time that we did a live DVD and it’s a pain in the ass (laughs). The whole process is just kind of a pain in the ass. But it came out really good, I’m psyched. People have been asking for it. We’re not the kind of band that’s going to put on a Nine Inch Nails kind of a show where it’s very visual and stuff, it’s more the kind of show that you need to go to, you know? It’s just a band playing music and it’s kind of hard to sell that on its own, nowadays, with people not buying records and people just not buying things, period. I think it’s better off that it comes with the record, because it’s an added bonus, like, “Hey, here’s a live show, if you’ve never seen us.” You can’t ever really get what it’s like to be at a show, unless you’re there…or unless you’re watching a Muse DVD and it’s just hundreds of thousands of people and a crazy stage show and lights. That’s visually entertaining and you can sit there and watch.

OS: You’re touring with your friends in Bayside. What are you most looking forward to while on the road with them?

BN: I’m just excited to finally be on tour with a bunch of bands that I don’t think suck. We tried, with the last record, to bring along bands that were doing well and that didn’t work. We’ve been a band for nine years now and a lot of our fans are a little older and they go to the bar…they don’t want to see some of the shit that’s going down now. We made some decisions in underestimating how much our audience has grown and what they would like to see. I think that they would probably like to see stuff more along the lines of what we’d like, which is great. I think this tour is going to do really well. I don’t know how much the crossover is between Bayside fans and Senses Fail fans, but I definitely know that Senses Fail fans do like Bayside as well.

OS: And the other two bands…you were saying on Twitter that people should definitely listen to them. What are they like?

BN: Oh yeah, they’re great bands. Title Fight is punk rock, hardcore band. Like Good Riddance, kind of. Balance and Composure sounds like a mid-90s Midwestern emo band. They’re very spacey but heavy, not in a breakdown way…like Deep Elm Records kind of stuff, which is really cool. There are times when they sound like older Recover. They’re doing very well so it should be fun.

OS: In addition to providing vocals for Senses Fail, you also front a punk band called Bayonet. Are there any recording our touring plans in the works for 2011?

BN: We have a bunch of stuff recorded and we have a bunch of stuff we’re still writing, it’s just in between having to write this whole record and then record it, I haven’t really had any time to do anything with that. But I think our full-length will come out next year on Vagrant.

Check out Senses Fail on tour with Bayside at these upcoming tour dates:

10/28 – Omaha, NE at The Waiting Room
10/29 – Denver, CO at The Summit Music Hall
10/30 – Salt Lake City, UT at In The Venue
11/01 – Seattle, WA at El Corazon
11/02 – Portland, OR at Wonder Ballroom
11/04 – San Francisco, CA at The Regency Ballroom
11/05 – West Hollywood, CA at Troubadour
11/06 – Anaheim, CA at House of Blues
11/07 – San Diego, CA at House of Blues
11/09 – Mesa, AZ at The Nile
11/10 – Albuquerque, NM at Sunshine Theatre
11/12 – Dallas, TX at The Door
11/13 – Austin, TX at Emo’s
11/14 – Houston, TX at Warehouse Live
11/16 – Jacksonville Beach, FL at Freebird Live
11/17 – St. Petersburg, FL at State Theatre
11/18 – Lake Buena Vista, FL at House of Blues
11/19 – Atlanta, GA at The Masquerade
11/20 – Charleston, SC at The Music Farm
11/21 – Greensboro, NC at Greene Street
11/23 – Towson, MD at The Recher Theatre
11/24 – Sayreville, NJ at Starland Ballroom
11/27 – Philadelphia, PA at Electric Factory

Soul Searching: Daryl Black

In our quest for soul, it’s not uncommon for us to run into an artist who got their start by singing in church. Gospel training tends to lend itself well to the soul genre. Daryl Black came up on our radar and we knew we had to feature him as this week’s Soul Searching artist. Yes, Daryl Black is someone who first trained as a singer in the church, but Daryl is more than a great vocalist. This artist is both a talented writer and producer as well. These three skills combined create original music that gives the listener a deeper sense of what the artist is trying to portray. Daryl hails from California, and works to prove himself as a serious artist everyday. He’s most certainly has some impressive accomplishments to add to the resume including opening and or performing for Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Coko, R. Kelly, Marvin Sapp, Daryl Coley, Prince, Shirley Caesar, J. Moss, Tonex just to name a few.

Daryl’s music has heavy pop influences that makes it ready for the mainstream market. Listen to his song “Radio” and you’ll see what we mean. We’ve added the song below for your convenience. Let us know what you think in the comments section and, as always, if you have suggestions for who we should feature next, let us know!

The Good Kind: How Big Name Artists Are Giving Back

It seems that lately famous names, especially those with musical talent, are all about doing good. Musically inclined individuals are readily inspiring warm fuzzies. Maybe I wear rose-colored glasses when viewing icons responsible for my longtime love of audible bliss. No matter. I’m comfortable with this analysis, content to single out a handful of mention-ables for their meaningful efforts to make a difference for those less fortunate. Or, in some cases, their willingness to lend a hand (err, track) on behalf of the greater good by making their art both part of the conversation and solution no matter the cause.

Recently I had the great pleasure of attending the fourth installment of SPIN Magazine’s Liner Notes, a series that highlights the influence of literature on music, promotes literacy, fosters a love of reading among music fans and raises money for organizations. In this instance, Ben Folds and Nick Hornby shared the stage, co-headlining this special gig, where music and literature intersect. The two discussed their collaboration on recent release Lonely Avenue and performed select songs from the record—the audience couldn’t be more pleased by the intimate engagement. The event, held in New York, raised funds—and awareness—for Housing Works, a non-profit that strives to ensure homeless and low-income people living with HIV/AIDS and their families have adequate housing, food, social support, drug treatment, health care and employment.

While neither singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist nor novelist touched much on the charitable basis of the benefit, their brand names brought fans that packed snugly into the Crosby Street bookstore and café. The sold-out event was attended by 250 people and raised over $10,000.

Trees!--Moby.com

Producer (and so much more) Moby took a different approach by lending his tunes to a powerful documentary film that is sure to turn heads; Director Lucy Walker’s Waste Land is a transformative exploration of the human spirit. The movie chronicles the everyday lives of poor trash pickers who make their way collecting recyclable materials at the largest landfill in the world, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

Moby, who spoke about his participation in the film at the React to Film screening at SoHo House, said “I’ve never been happier to have my music used than in this film. There [are] so many messages.” His involvement piggybacks another way in which Moby is giving back. He told attendees, “I started a Web site called MobyGratis.com, which gives free music to indie filmmakers. To anybody.” He quipped, “You can even lie and say you’re an indie filmmaker.” He explained the simple process, “What I’m particularly happy about [is] now, [when] someone submits a request for a license and we don’t get back to them within two days, it’s pre-approved. Which is great. Free music for everybody!” So, while all independent projects may not align with an obvious cause, or multiple causes as Waste Land does, Moby is himself coming to the aid of struggling moviemakers attempting to convey meaning via art.

Moby’s not the only musical wunderkind with a soft spot for significant films. So too, it seems, is John Legend, who lent his vocal acumen to the soundtrack of Waiting For ‘Superman,’ a film that explores corruption in America’s education system. Says Legend, “I was really inspired by the film. I wrote a song for it. It’s the only original song on the new album.” At the red carpet premiere at New York’s Lincoln Center a few weeks ago, Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, pointed out, “John Legend has been really terrific about these kinds of issues. His voice in this is really important.”

Musicians who speak out as, well, “spokesfolks” for important issues deserve recognition too. Take John Mayer for example.  He attached himself to the Malaria No More campaign, specifically the Comedy Fights  Malaria effort, which uses laughter-inducing videos with major celebrities (Aziz  Ansari, Orlando Bloom, Jason Schwartzman) delivering hilarious lines and talking @#$% about the epidemic. In one of the videos, Mayer says, oh-so-seriously, “Mosquitoes will tell you they don’t have malaria, but use a net anyway.” It’s a clever viral tactic that aims to make an impact and garner attention—and funds—to help wipe the planet clean of this disease. One of Mayer’s songs, “Why Georgia,” also appears in one of the videos, entitled “My Childhood.” Prior to this enterprise, the organization released Indie Rocks! A Benefit Album for Malaria No More last year. This 14-track compilation included contributions from Peter Bjorn and John, Wild Light, The Walkmen and eleven others.

Whether through music or using their voices to speak up on behalf of a cause they believe in, be it animal rights (HERE, Paul McCartney) or civil rights (Beautiful Small Machines, Pink), education reform (Lil Mama, John Legend) or the environmental crisis (Green Day, KT Tunstall), curing diseases (Coldplay, John Mayer) or fighting poverty (Metric, Madonna), musicians are ready to be heard for more than just music. From the U2’s of the world right on down to more underground outfits like HERE, artists are making a difference globally and locally through the medium of music or the fame that comes with making great music. So much good is going on in the face of so much mayhem and dismay, it’s almost become a necessary step to success to get involved. At the very least it instills warm fuzzies.

By Nell Alk

Nell Alk is a culture and entertainment reporter based in New York. Her work has appeared in Paper Magazine, InterviewMagazine.com, Zink Magazine and BlackBookMag.com, among others. She also contributes to NBC’s Niteside blog.

Tune Up: Caring For Your Percussion Instruments

This week, we’re closing out our short series about caring for the gear you’ve spent so much money procuring. Now it’s time for some tips on cleaning, storing and maintaining your drums/percussion instruments. Since playing drums means hitting them really hard with a stick, it’s often tough to keep them in the best working shape. Still, there are options to keep in mind for storage and cleaning.

Cleaning

First, let’s discuss some cleaning choices. In the case of the drums themselves, we’re mostly referring to polish and cleaning solutions. There are various types for every part of the drum set. First, we’ll quickly highlight some of the different types of products specifically designed to clean and polish cymbals and hardware.  There are obviously many brands of polish out there, so selecting one seems a bit arbitrary. We would, however, recommend looking at the Trick drum care line. They have a kit that comes with a spray polish/cleaning solution as well as a thicker cream. They also include a good polishing towel.

For cymbals/hardware, the name of the game is moderation. Make sure you don’t put too much solution on the cymbals or hardware because it will just need to be buffed out in the end anyway (otherwise, you will leave behind streaking and other marks). Making sure that you use a proper solution on cymbals and hardware will ensure that they stay clean, shiny and don’t rust. Keep in mind that many cymbal brands (Zildjian, Paiste, etc) often make their own polishes.

Storage/Maintenance

Another aspect of drum care to keep in mind is storage.  Much like storing your guitar in a case/room with proper humidity levels (and unlike the drier environments needed for your electronics), drums need to be stored in the ideal humidity range for wood—for our purposes here, this is typically somewhere between 30% and 50%. If the air is too dry, your drums will crack, and if the air is too wet your drums will warp.

In terms of maintenance, the most important consideration is just making sure that the accessories are changed when they need to be. Replacing heads and cymbal felts are simple ways to keep your set sounding as good as possible. While changing a head can be done easily, it’s important to tighten it evenly. By this, we mean tightening a nut, and then tightening the nut directly across from it (rather than next to it). You should continue to move around the head in this pattern as opposed to tighenting nuts in a clockwise motion. Check out this article for some more detailed tips.

The bottom line is to treat your drums much like you’d treat a guitar or a computer. Give them the proper environment, clean them and maintain their replaceable parts. Just because they are played by hitting them with a stick, doesn’t mean that proper considerations shouldn’t be taken. The better you are at these precautions, the longer your kit will last.

They Like It Live: Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers

This summer we got a chance to chat up Stephen Kellogg of The Sixers, and when Vanguard Records so graciously offered us a chance to catch their “Amazing Fall Tour” (thanks guys!), we couldn’t pass it up. Everyone we talked to in anticipation of the show had only good things to say. Let me rephrase, great things to say. We encountered lots of accidental fans at the bar, most notably that had become fans as a result of seeing them live and never even having heard The Sixers music (which isn’t to say that also isn’t great).

On stage, The Sixers have a lot going on. Kellogg himself plays guitar and harmonica, and is joined by Kit “Goose” Karlson who switches it up between keys, bass and tuba. Brian “Boots” Factor plays drums, mandolin and the banjo. Sam “Steamer” Getz joined The Sixers for the Amazing Fall Tour, lending electric guitar, pedal steel player and bass to the mix (Fun fact: Getz is called Steamer because of his Cleveland ties. Take that for what you will.). But this set up isn’t mutually exclusive. It’s a constant juggling act of instruments and musicians.

Stephen Kellogg

The Sixers establish a professional presence while not taking themselves too seriously, something that can only come from extensive touring experience. The band recently released the 2-disc collection Live From The Heart to commemorate their 1,000 live show. A well-oiled machine of audience interaction and flashy instrument playing, The Sixers make it look effortless.

Kellogg opened with the heartfelt “Father’s Day”, then ironically (or maybe not?) moved in to “My Old Man”. The audience soon got into the swing of things with an electrified version of “Start The Day Early”. Everyone loves a good song about moonshine, right? But perhaps the biggest appeal of The Sixers live is Kellogg’s brilliant story-telling between songs. Charismatic and engaging, Kellogg seems to make everyone feel like they’re the only person in a room, despite curating a serious party environment.

Kit "Goose" Karlson

The Sixers went on to play several songs from their newest album, including the title track “The Bear” and the unfeigned “Satisfied Man”. The guys navigated away from their country roots for a moment with the fun, upbeat “Shady Esperanto and the Young Hearts Club” (check out the OK Go-esque music video for the good-time track). And at one point, Goose lifted his guitar behind his head to play not one or two chords, but an entire solo.

Despite this being their first headlining tour in two years, The Sixers seem to have it down to pat. “When people ask why they should go see the show, I tell them I’ll give them they’re money back if they don’t like it. ‘Tell me and I’ll send you a damn check. I think you’re going to like it.’” We concur.

Setlist:

10/14/10 Royale Theater-Boston, MA
with Small Ponds and Roy Jay Band

Father’s Day
My Old Man
Sweet Sophia
Start the Day Early
Oh Adeline
Big Easy
The Bear
See you Later, See you Soon
Satisfied Man
Now I’m not so lost
In Front of the World
Shady Esperanto
Uninspired Gambling
Milwaukee

Encore: Such a Way, 4th of July

2nd Encore: Thirteen

Sixertown: Keep me in your thoughts, Pedal Steel


Behind the Mic: Live Performance Tips

No matter how tight your band is musically, your live show could suffer greatly if you don’t have good stage presence.

What is stage presence, anyway? Basically, it’s the way you carry yourself on stage and interact with the audience and your fellow band members.

As an artist, your goals should be: to sound as tight as possible, make sure your audience has a good time and make sure they leave with some merch and/or music. Here are some tips to make it all happen.

Remember, this is a performance...don't be afraid to go a little crazy!

When organizing your set list, it’s a good idea to consider the flow of the songs. Essentially, don’t load all your new songs at the beginning or the end of the set and don’t play similar songs back-to-back. Adding in a cover song can be a fun way to engage audience members who don’t know your original material yet. You should always end your set with your strongest song or your newest single in order to leave the crowd with the best impression possible.

Always arrive to the venue at or before the specified time. If the booking agent doesn’t tell you when to show up, an hour and a half before doors open is always a safe bet. This will ensure that you have enough time to load in your equipment and, if possible, sound check before doors open to avoid any potential technical difficulties.

During your set, remember to encourage audience participation. The vocalist should always try to be charismatic, exciting and fun. Start claps, teach them a sing-a-long part or talk directly to certain crowd members. If the audience is into your music, they will love feeling like they’re becoming a part of it.

Keep up the audience engagement and someday you may hear thousands singing back to you!

Through the set, you should try to mention your band name three times. It also helps to tell the audience where you’re from and where they can find you online. Mention that you’re on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, OurStage, etc. and encourage them to look you up. Keep in mind that the more the audience hears your band’s name, the more likely it is that they will remember it when the show is over. Of course, you should also tell the audience about your latest release and what your plans for the future are, especially if you plan on playing in the same area in the near future.

It’s also important to sell from the stage, as your merch is both promotional material and a way to earn cash from the show, regardless of ticket sales. Point your audience’s attention to your merch table and list two or three of the items you have available. As always, have your mailing list set up at the table so you can capture names and contact information.

If you’re not headlining, always try to stay for the bands playing after you to provide support. Introduce yourselves to them before or after the show—don’t forget that each performance is a networking opportunity!

Just like athletes watch footage of their latest game, filming a show and going over it with your bandmates afterwards will help you see how you appear to the audience. And if you like the video, be sure to enter it in our brand new Pro Performance Video Channel!

Which tips would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.

Teen Spirit

Alexandria Maillot

Alexandria Maillot is far from an ordinary teenager. Unless you consider graduation at 16, followed by music awards, performances overseas, songwriting credits on gold-selling records, and spot in Oprah’s Search for the World’s Smartest and Most Talented Kids “ordinary.” Think of her as a more grounded version of Miley Cyrus—an artist blessed with an equally powerful voice, a pretty face, but more likely to spend her free time volunteering with charities than trolling the streets in minuscule jean shorts. Hope and the power of positive thinking are common themes in Maillot’s songcraft. “All We Need” is a mercurial little number that segues from a doleful piano intro to a sailing power pop chorus. The message may be sappy but it’s sweet: You’re all good as long as you have a hand to hold. “Revolution” is soulful pop with a percolating bass line, where Maillot invites her fellow youth to rebuild society. If all the feel-goodness makes you queasy, put on “Confession” for a sexier, edgier kiss-off. Maillot is wholesome, sure. But she’s not squeaky clean. And in that one regard, she’s a completely ordinary teen.

GuacaMusic: Día de Muertos

Ever wished you could bring a deceased artist back to life just so you could play with him for one night? Wondered what it would be like to be part of a band that no longer exists?

Well, singing and dancing with the dead are exactly the things that Mexicans do every yearto celebrate Día de Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead. The main goal of this holiday is to remember friends and family members who have died, and honor them by putting altars with their favorite foods along with other items such as flowers, photos and sugar skulls.

El Día de Muertos is based on the pre-colonial beliefs that death is only a transition from one life to another. Therefore, this day is not a mournful commemoration but rather a joyful celebration of life.

There is no better way to celebrate Día de Muertos than to listen to great songs that are written about it. Here on OurStage, we have a variety of joyful, eccentric and colorful pieces that honor La Muerte like no other.

  • La Santisima” by Gerardo Beltran, a corrido about the millions of people that pay tribute to the “saint called death.” Corridos are narrative songs or ballads that often speak about the history and tradition of the local communities.
  • El Canto a la Muerte” by RA Amaro, a song about what the artist describes as “the silliness involved in people taking death for granted, instead of enjoying life to the fullest.”
  • Tres Calaveras“—also by RA Amaro—speaks about the intricate task of learning how to live with the loss of a loved one. The word calavera means skull, the ultimate symbol of death in many cultures.
  • “No Voy a Morir” (feat. Natasha Perez & Fernanda Karolys) by Palenke Soultribe, an Afro-Colombian piece with electro touches that has been in OurStage’s Top Ten Charts and talks about how a person is not going to die from a broken heart.
  • Lecho de Muerte” by Exterior Interno, a profound melody about how love can sometimes be a deathbed or lecho de muerte, where a person can speak with the phantoms of the past while being consumed by fear.

There is no better time to enjoy Latin music and culture than during the celebration of Día de Muertos, a perfect excuse to sing, dance and write about death without being afraid. Enjoy this playlist. ¡Provecho!

Calling All Female Musicians In Need Of A Makeover

Here at OurStage we like to keep the pot stirring with a mixture of fun and beneficial opportunities for our community. So, when a major cable network came to us looking for help in finding female musicians in need of a makeover, naturally we were on board. Do you know someone in the New York or New Orleans areas deserving of an apparel overhaul? Want to submit your mom, sister, aunt, friend or co-worker? Email TVFASHIONPOLICE@GMAIL.COM with the information below and your nominee could be on their way to fabulousness. Make sure to get your submissions in before October 31st in order to be considered.

Your Name

Your Contact Details

Your Nominee’s Name

Her Age

Her Size

Her Height

Her Marital Status

Her Occupation(s)

Her Location

Describe Her Personality

Describe Her Style

*Please include two photos that illustrate her lack of style

Wrapping up CMJ 2010

Taxi rides from east to west side; uptown todowntown, overlapping forty- to one-hour set times in Brooklyn and Manhattan, droves lined up to see the next big thing, open bars and deeply-discounted beers—this was the daily agenda for attendees at the 2010 CMJ Music Marathon.

Things moved expeditiously and, for the most part, the tightly-knit sets stayed on schedule from Tuesday through closing in the wee morning hours on Sunday. Wide-eyed by the first day and nearly trudging from venue to venue mid-way through the week, attendees and artists had their work cut out for them. This year, the CMJ Music Marathon was jam-packed with some of the most buzzed-about artists—most from New York—who had more multiple spots than last year, easing some of the timetable anxieties.

Courtesy of Patrick J. Eves

Bursts of electro and new wave pulsated throughout the five-day event. New York trio, BRAHMS, made the room dance from the moment they helped kick-off CMJ Tuesday night at a Piano’s showcase. Singer Eric Lyle Lodwick darkly thumped through each track like Dave Gahan making BRAHMS a melodious addiction. The name Oberhofer could be heard here and there. Fronted by Brad Oberhofer, the subtle guitars, meshed with keyboard  have a few chiming hints of Vampire Weekend in tracks like “AWY FRM U,” off the band’s debut, o0O0o0O0o, produced by Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock. Sydney’s Cassette Kids, who now reside in Brooklyn, didn’t fail to make patrons stir in and around their standing-room spots as vocalist Katrina Noorberger, like a willowy Terri Nunn, commanded the stage with her dirty dance-rock beats.

Courtesy of Patrick J. Eves

Out-of-towners brought as much hype to the daily time slots. Boasting five CMJ gigs under their belts, Newport Beach, Calif.’s Young the Giant offered their soul- and synth-fused set with tambourine-slapping Sameer Gadhia evoking some murmurs of Brandon Flowers vocals. A New Zealand Showcase presented an electronic beat down from Bowie-loving, petite powerhouse Zowie and the more Scissor Sisters-ridden Kids of 88 while Robert and David Perlick Molinari  of French Horn Rebellion filled Santos Party House with whimsical, electro beats (French horns included) as one of the last to perform Sunday morning at 1:30 AM.

A mix of dance, rock and DJ sets took place the final two days at the FADER Fort, reminiscent of a rave house, and some surprises filled in the week, including Phoenix, housed in a packed Madison Square Garden with surprise guests Daft Punk. A rumored turned confirmed appearance by Kanye West with new artist CyHi Da Prynce at the Brooklyn Bowl Fool’s Gold Records Anniversary Party heightened the end of the fest by Saturday night. Here’s to CMJ 2011.

Kanye West Live at CMJ via TimeOutNewYork

By Tina Benitez

Tina Benitez is a contributing writer, who covers music, wine and pop culture from her New York home office for publications like NY Press, Royal Flush, amNY, Men’s Fitness, Venus Zine and Wine Spectator.

 


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