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by Caroline Shadood

22 Oct 2009


Pete and the Pirates at Bell House, Brooklyn

Surf City
Bell House, Brooklyn
I hate to slap on labels like “buzz” or “bandwagon,” but when every song intro in some way replicates The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and then develops into a more Japandroids concoction, it’s hard not to.  The resurgence of, often over-calculated, garage music has fully breached Brooklyn boarders, and New Zealand’s Surf City is wallowing in the flood zone.  Though pleasant sounding they lacked innovation, making it harder to appreciate the soothing melodies and hints at surf rock that my ears usually welcome.

by Stephen Stirling

22 Oct 2009


Javelin
Mercury Lounge, New York City
It’s tough to perform electronic music live.  The availability of reliable, touch-sensitive MIDI interfaces has made this somewhat easier, but still, if you don’t have a Daft Punk LED pyramid or a primo sound system it’s difficult to keep people interested if they’re not moving their feet.  But when Javelin began setting up their day-glo boom box collection—which they use to amplify their music using an old FM radio transmitter—I thought for sure they’d have a shot a bucking this trend.  Sadly, it wasn’t to be.  Javelin’s 45-minute set was plagued with sound problems that muddied their infectious brand of dance pop from the start.  Couple that with a dead audience and Tom Van Buskirk feeling the need to rap-sing over several songs that had no lyrics to begin with and I had had enough.  Javelin has a few more CMJ shows this year, but I think they need to take a mulligan on this one.

by Jonathan Kosakow

22 Oct 2009


The Bodega Girls
Piano’s, New York City
The Bodega Girls know how to throw a party.  Unfortunately, that’s about all they know how to do.  While three out of five in the mostly-male-group take turns yelling catch phrases into a microphone, dancing, and playing drums on a computer, only two members play actual instruments.  The face paint and general “we only came here to party” attitude did nothing but subvert any noticeable talent these guys had, only adding to the idea that sometimes a basement party should just stay in the basement.

by Vijith Assar

22 Oct 2009


Suckers
Bowery Poetry Club, New York City
If there’s any way to graciously play 90’s alternative rock at this point, this would be it.  Kaleidoscopic projected visuals emulating quilts and snow-capped mountains give way to vaguely homosexual encounters between cartoon peacocks with harps for tails; meanwhile, the performers gradually move between emulating the Foo Fighters and the better aspects of Better Than Ezra (that last one is indeed meant as
praise.)  I’m as nostalgic for those days as anybody, but a contemporary glaze kept the word “retro” firmly at bay.  Good for them.


Fool’s Gold
Bowery Poetry Club, New York City
Driving this band is former soloist and current front man Luke Top—who recalls a young David Byrne in both looks and stage impact.  The proposition that a set like this is another example of indie-rock’s continuous co-opting of Afropop (also Byrne-like, actually) is perhaps a tenuous one in the wake of you-know-who, but it’s nevertheless pretty hard to resist.  The performance, that is, not the idea.  But yeah, that too.

by Thomas Hauner

21 Oct 2009


Mon Khmer
Cameo Gallery, Brooklyn
A quintet of shoegazers, Mon Khmer were going somewhere in their music, but slowly.  So slowly that the sometimes beautiful sounds they crafted after layering two guitars and a pedal steel guitar never materialized.  The occasional coalescence of harmonies was further diminished, however, by muddled and confused vocals.  But whenever the group did seem to hit its stride (pulsating tom-tom rhythms under blending, repetitive guitar lines) the transformative capabilities of the pedal steel stalled, the player caught looking up and just admiring his own band mates.  Hunker down and join the party already!

Photo by Thomas Hauner

Photo by Thomas Hauner

Photo by Thomas Hauner

Photo by Thomas Hauner

Photo by Thomas Hauner

Photo by Thomas Hauner

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