One of those magical “I GET TO STAY HERE ALL DAY?!” moments happened at CMJ yesterday completely on accident. I had started my run of shows at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall for Joywave’s early evening set, and despite a brief run over to Brooklyn Bowl to catch the first set of the Hype Machine showcase, the rest of my night consisted of a solid bill in the main ballroom of Webster Hall and one of the storied venue’s smaller stages, the Marlin Room.
JOYWAVE (Rochester, NY)
Maybe it’s Dan Armbruster’s pencil-thin mustache or his strong falsetto, but either way, there was something delightfully Passion Pit-buys-Queen-a-pint-in-a-dive-bar about Rochester’s Joywave. They’ve got a half-dozen boys up onstage pounding the shit out of their respective instruments, and they’re right to do so as the result is a paradoxically finessed jam that transports you to the kind of loft party you’d only see on Girls. They’re streaming their latest release, Koda Vista, on YouTube, so give it a go here.
YUKON BLONDE (Vancouver, BC)
The first band of CMJ 2012 that made me immediately dub them my favorite of the festival (so far). There’s a delightfully vintage vibe on Tiger Talk, out now on Dine Alone, with a barrage of boisterous riffs and heady solos strewn over the course of the record that recalls the glory days of alternative radio and the secret shows you’d hit in college. The Yukon Blonde live show is just as sharp as their recorded tracks, making this one of the tightest, superlative-worthy sets of the week. (Also, Jeff Innes wore one of the most fantastic Hawaiian shirts I’ve ever seen, and he gets points for that.)
Rock and tube socks: Yukon Blonde’s video for “Stairway.”
HEY ROSETTA! (St. John’s, NL)
I walked away from Hey Rosetta!’s set failing to remember a single song, just a lot of beautiful noise. This is both a good and a bad thing, I suppose: they’re indisputably fantastic musicians who’ve tapped into a fist-pumping fanbase (which seems strange as “fistpump” and “violins” don’t go hand in hand for me, but whatever), but nothing struck gold for me, and no standout moment occurred where the justification behind the hype was clearly defined. If anything, I thought “Hey, someone into Dave Matthews or O.A.R. would be really into them!” and I think that says enough.
THE JEZABELS (Sydney, AU)
“This is a sad song! No patriotic chanting!” Hayley Mary—the leather-clad siren fronting The Jezabels—laughed off the scores of “AUSSIE! AUSSIE! AUSSIE!” rippling through the room as soon as they took to the stage, but it was clear that the Australian pop powerhouse wanted to get lost in their ballads along with everyone else. The contrast between the earnest indie alt-folk of earlier to stadium-ready pop rock was one that merited a head scratch, but the heightened drama of The Jezabels made for a smooth transition into an arena-worthy set. Seeing as their debut record hit the Aussie charts at #2 just beneath Adele’s deathgrip on the #1 spot, it’s no surprise that they’re talking hold in foreign territory with ease.
GENERATIONALS (New Orleans, LA)
You know that bounce you feel when the balls of your feet serve as springboards for your every move weights and you’re using your knees feel practically elastic? That’s basically how a Generationals song goes, each beat punching your nervous system in the best possible way to elicit a physical reaction in the form of a light-footed romp. The New Orleanian outfit recently self-released their Lucky Numbers EP, and starting tomorrow, they’ll be lapping the country on a month-long tour behind it. Want to feel like you’re smack in the middle of the romantic arc of a romantic comedy starring Molly Ringwald and enjoy every minute of it, but in the future? Give Generationals a go.
Case in point: “Ten-Twenty-Ten.”
TURF WAR , GA)
John Robinson has a JAWS tattoo, a rad eagle/stars n’ stripes truck stop t-shirt, a voice that can sustain and a band that can do right by all of these things. While we were shuffling around the floor at their set last night, a friend of mine mentioned to me that the band’s great friends with Deer Tick, and the image of a love-child band born of the two that can write a great tune in four minutes flat with well whiskey for blood came to mind. John McCauley and John Robinson, make it happen, guys.
Check back throughout the week as we continue to recap CMJ 2012. For of-the-minute show updates from New York, follow Hilary Hughes on Twitter at @hilmonstah.