Review and photos by special guest correspondent Matt Thomas
First off, let us give a brief history of what CMJ (College Music Journal) is. CMJ is like Billboard for college/indie music, and acts as a gauge of who’s who and what’s hot for the unsigned and up and coming. It is a weekly magazine aimed at the music industry and college radio station.The CMJ Music Marathon is an annual festival in NYC. Over 1000 musicians play in various small venues throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan, it has been called the SXSW of the North/Northeast.
My coverage was unfortunately limited just to one day. My initial planning had me scheduled to see Phony People. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch their performance, so it was on to Pillow Talk.
Next up it was Pillow Talk at Lit Lounge. I’ve only listened to a couple of tracks so far in the dank and narrow performance space nestled in the bowels of NYC’s Lit Lounge, but Pillow Talk is a surprisingly good alternative band with a country flair that works well. Full review to follow. You can also see their set list below.
Next up was Sick Sea. Even though the abrasively loud Sick Sea opened to a small crowd while Lit Lounge staffers retrieved cases of beer from an inconveniently placed storage room, the group has excellent energy, effectively capturing the audience, and an ear for engaging melodies. Full review to follow.
Gemini Club’s new wave/dance tinged sound provides an upbeat, and quite welcome, respite from the emo-framework of many of CMJ’s acts. The crowd is extremely active within the open yet intimate space provided by the Club at Webster Hall. Even though the vocals require both bolstering and polish, the group’s energy more than makes up for these benign inadequacies.
With a cacophony of seemingly superfluous sound and light,it’s not surprising that French Horn Rebellion has been met with mixed reviews (including a needlessly scathing one from NME). One will either dig this group’s audio experiment that blends traditional alternative with up-tempo dance beats laced with, yes it’s true, a french horn or find it detestably artsy. Whichever side of the debate you land on, the band is, without question, both engaging and entertaining.
Matt Thomas is a freelance writer based in New York City. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, CBS NY.com,Volume Magazine (UK), and many others. His debut novel, A Breach in Death, will be released by Boxfire Press in March, 2013. You can learn more about Matt Thomas by visiting his blog: http://mattthomastown.