Photos + Recap: CMJ Music Marathon - Day Five

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Photos + Recap: CMJ Music Marathon - Day Five

Saturday. Day five. The last and final day of our CMJ Music Marathon, we gave our critical listening ears a break with noted favorites like Caveman and Father John Misty while still taking time to discover potential new favorites like Ski Lodge and Misterwives. Check out our final recap below.

Caveman wasn’t exactly a new discovery, particularly since their psychedelic track “In The City” had been the soundtrack to my summer, but something about seeing these guys pack out Pianos before the sun even set had me falling in love with the band all over again. In what felt like a homecoming for the New York based band, lead singer Matthew Iwanusa commented several times during the set about how good it was to be back at the tiny venue, and his echoing vocals soared above distinctive drum beats for the perfect kick-off to CMj’s last exhausting day. If you haven’t seen Caveman live, hurry up. —Dacey Orr

Ski Lodge
Ski Lodge is a name we’d heard floating around a lot before CMJ, so when the opportunity to finally catch the guys live came up, we promptly added them to our must-see list, and we’re glad we did; their set at Rockwood on Saturday was one of our favorites of the week, delivering tunes that sounded like if The Smiths were a little janglier and slightly less morose. —Bonnie Stiernberg

The Black Cadillacs
The Black Cadillacs are one of those bands I’d heard about for ages and never really gotten around to checking out, having been known as a rowdy local band around my adopted home state of Tennessee for several years now. A few notes into the first song, and I saw why—the bluesy, Southern-rock style instrumentals fronted Will Horton’s riotous vocals and flighty moves with the tambourine had the whole room unable to sit still. Fans of The Black Crowes or Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers would do well to give The Black Cadillacs a listen—preferably in a live setting. —Dacey Orr

John Murry
Sometimes a setting just isn’t right for a particular artist, and that was unfortunately the case with John Murry’s Saturday night set at Skinny Dennis. The bar—a noisy honky-tonk where it’s not uncommon to observe your bartender doing a 10-second pour while making your sweet-tea bourbon—wasn’t the proper atmosphere for the singer/songwriter, whose darkly personal lyrics about substance abuse and other struggles shouldn’t have to fight with crowd noise for your attention. As a friend said, “If you’re William Faulkner’s second cousin [which Murry is], I want to be able to actually hear what you have to say, because chances are it’s pretty good.” —Bonnie Stiernberg

The Defibulators
Skinny Dennis may have been the wrong venue for John Murray, but it was damn near perfect for The Defibulators. The Brooklyn cowpunks, who describe their sound as “Grand Ole Opry meets CBGB,” lived up to their name, providing a jolt of electricity straight to the hearts of anyone who would listen. They were exactly the kind of band you’d expect to hear in a bar that has a stuffed squirrel riding a motorcycle as part of its decor. —Bonnie Stiernberg

Kingsley Flood
We’ve been hip to Boston’s Kingsley Flood for a while now (they recently played one of our Aloft Hotel events), but we still made sure to catch the Americana group’s Skinny Dennis set. They matched The Defibulators’ energy and kept the party going, tearing into their songs with an about-to-fly-off-the-rails kind of intensity. —Bonnie Stiernberg

I got to Bowery Ballroom on Saturday in what I thought would be just in the nick of time for HAERTS, but fortunately sets were running late and I was just in time for Misterwives’ buoyant set to steal the spotlight. Frontwoman Mandy Lee bounced around the stage like a cheerleader at a pep rally, and I was particularly struck by the fun, playful chemistry she had with the rest of the band. Most importantly, though, Lee can sing. I can easily see a musician with vocals and stage presence like this going the route of Lorde, winning critics’ hearts and simultaneously conquering the airwaves. Fans of pop radio probably did know a track in the set, anyway; the band charmed with a cover of Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home” that had everybody singing along. —Dacey Orr

Father John Misty
You’d think it’d be hard to take someone seriously when they’re standing next to a shirtless woman in a giant rabbit head, but that rule apparently only applies when the person doling out life advice isn’t Father John Misty. We don’t have nearly enough space here to talk about why J. Tillman is brilliant live—check out Shane Ryan’s excellent piece for that—but hearing the frequently sarcastic frontman pause to earnestly tell the crowd how important it is to be passionate about what you do at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday night just gave us one more reason to love him. —Bonnie Stiernberg