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Thursday, Oct 23, 2008
Words and Pictures by Thomas Hauner

As soon as Nelo introduced themselves and their Austin origins it cemented my theory of what they would sound like. Now image is not everything, granted, but in music it is a lot of things. So when you look like you could be high school baseball teammates and you’re from a college town, chances are you’re going to sound like an amalgamation of the standard Big 12 conference college fraternity playlist: Blues Traveler, Bare Naked Ladies, Stone Temple Pilots and, last but not least, Dave Matthews Band.


As the six-piece eased into their laid back grooves, I couldn’t help but feel like I should be tapping a keg somewhere. The group showed some flair by adding saxophonist David Long and the lead vocalist, Reid Umstattd, seemed to alternate cues from Scott Weiland, Glen Phillips, and Eddie Vedder. The band was mostly listless on stage, needing at least four songs before showing any emotion. It was an opening slot, and they did profess a love of beer, but still, it’s your first gig in the Big Apple, make something of it!


Sounding very much like “Southern Cross” on their last song, the group could easily follow down the career path of successful alt-country rockers like Pat McGee. But their lack of bite and preference for easy smiles may just make them a West Texas name.



Tagged as: cmj, nelo
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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2008
Words by Vijith Assar

I’m a latecomer to what is arguably New York’s most hyped band at the moment, and despite a perfectly competent set of delightfully incompetent messy punk-lite, there’s just no way they could have possibly lived up to the hype. Guitarist and lead singer Cassie Ramone riffed around as much as she could get away with in less than two minutes while sandwiched between fuzzy washes of guitar and equally fuzzy harmonized vocals. Whether the latter was deliberate or an unfortunate casualty of the house sound system, I can’t say; that’s one of the perils of the lo-fi world. Drummer Ali Koehler was the most intriguing of the bunch, head down and appendages smashing away with just a hair more precision than the tunes seemed to demand, sometimes able to drive things forward against all odds but sometimes overcome by the tangled power chords. I’d probably have found the apparent on-stage jitters perfectly charming were it not for my nagging suspicion that they’ve had a little too much buzz for a little too long for them to be genuine. I guess it’s not fair to hold the band members responsible for the weight of expectation here, but I was underwhelmed. Maybe it’s my fault for waiting so long to get around to them. I had the same problem when I finally went to see Shrek.


Tagged as: cmj, vijith assar
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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

This is what CMJ is all about: A band I’d been hearing about for a few years that hadn’t really captured my attention… until now. Jagjaguwar’s Parts and Labor are bound to make an extremely lasting impression going into 2009. Their sound was dense and intelligent, not banking on a bunch of imitations to create a solid sonic aesthetic, but based on noise built around brilliantly written songs. That’s the problem with a lot of the so-called “noise” bands today. They don’t stand for anything. Their sound is shallow, but Parts and Labors’ sound had depth—and there’s a clear demarcation between the two.



Tagged as: cmj, parts and labor
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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

Kicking off their tour in proper fashion, Brooklyn’s Flying was a relief to say the least. Based around off-kilter synth with guitar parts that are reminiscent of their upcoming touring partners, Deerhoof – their set was a pleasant surprise and a band I will keep an eye on in the coming months. Some moments reminded me of Akron/Family, while others featured harmonies constructed around very structural riffing interplay. Not exactly taking on the role of the Brooklyn hipster, this trio looked like the music was the only thing they came to deliver—part of the appeal for me as soon as they walked onto the stage. My friend even looked at me and said something along the lines of, “these guys (and girl) look like they actually know how to play their instruments.” Well put.



Tagged as: cmj, flying
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Wednesday, Oct 22, 2008
Words and Pictures by John Bohannon

Lawrence, Kansas noise-rockers, Boo and Boo Too were a bit overambitious to kick off CMJ musically for me. Trying a bit too hard to sound like the band whose venue they were playing (A Place to Bury Strangers), their songs came off as a watered down wall of noise. As the set went on the music gained more composure, and the rhythm section held it down while the guitars and vocals relied on the high end for an unpleasing static freak-out. Don’t get me wrong—that sound is right up my alley (I plan on attempting to withstand the brutal assault of Psychic Paramount later this week), but this music had no life to it.



Tagged as: boo and boo too, cmj
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