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CMJ 2009: Wild Yaks, Still Flyin', The Black Hollies, Title Tracks

Music Features Wild Yaks
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CMJ 2009: Wild Yaks, Still Flyin', The Black Hollies, Title Tracks

Today’s CMJ Music Marathon tip jar is tied up with a piece of elastic, gold lamé ribbon for absolutely no reason at all. After spending Tuesday’s post mostly covering Paste’s showcase in lower-east Manhattan, your correspondent hit shows closer to home in Brooklyn last night. That’s right, the borough where dudes stow their orange lanyards for fear of snagging them on their unkempt beards.

The Ernest Jenning label showcase at the Knitting Factory’s new Brooklyn location was ambitious, serving up eight bands ranging from Title Tracks’ throwback Costello-fused pop to the Black Hollies’ throw-waaay-back Brit-rock to Still Flyin, a party band with so many members onstage that no amateur photographer had any hope of capturing the whole of the brass section. The Brooklyn-based Wild Yaks’ reminded this writer of an observation he made the first time he saw Man Man; the fiery performing, facepaint-wearing collective never slowed their roll to play any of their supple, tear-jerkers. Conversely, nearly all Wild Yaks songs lean on the heartfelt hard, complete with tasteful saxophone lines, on record. But the shaggy fivesome turns each one into an unbridled bellow-fest onstage.

After checking the setlist scribbled on his arm, lead singer Rob Bryn, whose close-cropped hair, suspenders and square-framed glasses intimate a man three times his age, requested that the house lights be lowered before they began, which made his charging around the stage even more disorienting. The band’s name is awfully accurate, by the way. While departing guitarist Zack Davis (allegedly playing his final show with the group) was muscling through his fretwork, Bryn tangled with the microphone cords often took his guitar off to hold it more like a club than an instrument. “Angel Eyes” is not on their forthcoming album, 10 Ships (Don’t Die Yet), but you can watch a video clip of the Yaks laying their souls bare, and ideally get thee to a Wild Yaks performance stat.

There’ll be some more about Saratoga Springs, N.Y., electro-pop stylists Phantogram tomorrow. A little teaser about the the duo, who release their debut on Barsuk next year, because I caught them playing sooner than I thought: Sample-triggering was on point for black-clad keyboardist Sarah Barthel and guitarist Joshua Carter during their set at the cramped Public Assembly. Carter let a little clever smile loose, and he occasionally experimented with stage posturing: pointing out to the crowd, or a mini moonwalk. Stay tuned, and you might discover if it was Nelly or Trick Daddy who inspired their infectious “Mouthful of Diamonds.”

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