This English trio have obviously been catching up on their early ‘90s quintessential indie rock and emo and formulating their own style upon that style. Not exactly a bad thing, but at certain times they were shooting for Built to Spill, others they were shooting for Sunny Day Real Estate type riffage. It’s fun to listen to on the surface level, but not much else. If that’s what they are going for, then they succeeded. But to provide an audience of industry folk with a formulaic sound is like sticking your hand on the stove to make sure its hot—frankly, a bad idea.
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With much hype built around Michael Angelakos’ so-called project for his girlfriend (his songs started as a belated Valentine’s Day gift), it didn’t deliver much. Granted, Angelakos and his band were complaining about their synths not working properly, and that could’ve had something to do with it—but for me the songs just didn’t carry over live too well. They couldn’t find the right balance between all their equipment and the sound was just off. Something was always louder than everything else. The EP is great, and perhaps in a not so rushed environment the songs will fare better onstage.
Walking into the Fader party I was just hoping to get one of their delightful free drinks, but actually ended up forcing myself up front to see what was coming from the speakers. Fast, uncompromising beats started off minimally and built, layer upon layer, until you couldn’t avoid the sound. With a heavy implementation of laptop rock, this Brooklyn duo also used constant guitar lines to provide their sound with more substance. Even reverb soaked vocals would wind their way in from time to time and fit the musical meld perfectly. One of the better finds at CMJ, hands down.
If I knew anything more about Pela outside of their Thursday night performance at Mercury Lounge, I’d probably hate them. Pela strike me as a glorified bar band that—as evidenced by a small horde of young girls that lined the front of the stage—has a following. They put forth a brand of unapologetic, straightforward rock led by a charismatic frontman whose ambition likely outweighs his ability. That said—these guys can play. At face value, they gave one of the best performances I’ve seen thus far at CMJ. Pela galvanized a crowd subdued by the quieter Frances, utilizing a phenomenal group chemistry to lift the Mercury Lounge from a state of suspended animation. In a city where a holier than thou attitude can often reign over a performance, the unabashed lust for rocking Pela brought was refreshing.
Frances matched my expectations almost exactly, which isn’t to say I was incredibly enthralled or disgusted by them. Heading into their set at Mercury Lounge, the only thing I knew about them was that they were an indie-pop outfit fronted by a Columbia Ph.D. So when a meek looking cat in glasses took the stage alongside a nerdy looking bassist, an energetic plaid-clad guitarist, and a pair of women who promptly picked up a violin and a melodica, I can’t say it was the shock of the century. Musically, Frances put forth a solid, albeit unremarkable product. Building tension through a minimalist string and faux-brass section served as Frances’ greatest strength, as they utilized the oft-overblown musical supplement with an artful restraint. Frontman Paul Hogan’s light, melodic voice was supported well by the cast of characters around him, who together create cohesive and pleasant tunes befitting of the college campus that birthed it.
// Notes from the Road
"Radio 104.5's birthday show featured great bands and might have been the unofficial start of summer festival season in the Northeast.READ the article