CMJ 2009: Day 4 - Slang Chickens + Surfer Blood + Crystal Antlers

[26 October 2009]

By Stephen Stirling

Slang Chickens
Cake Shop, New York City
No frills here. Slang Chickens bathed the cavernish Cake Shop in sleepy southern harmonies lifted by a charmingly confident frontman Friday night.  The four-piece was stripped to the bone-–with three-part harmonies drifting across country guitar lines—but the group injected occasional shots of caffeine that kept it from dragging. Nothing awe-inspiring, but by the same token a solid set from a group worth checking out.

Surfer Blood
Cake Shop, New York City
From the outset Surfer Blood commanded Cake Shop’s full attention.  The Floridian five-piece strikes a chord that’s seldom played these days, finding that razor thin balance between being accomplished but not polished, catchy and heartfelt but not candy-coated.  They flew through their set with gusto, keeping the packed house captivated from sound check to signoff.  While it may seem like less of a complement these days, a comparison to Weezer seems unavoidable.  But in listening to Surfer Blood’s sincere rock, doused in a coastal breeze, I couldn’t help harken back to a time when Pinkerton and the Blue Album reigned—and that’s by no means a bad thing.  Keep an eye on these guys.

Crystal Antlers
Cake Shop, New York City
Maybe it’s the fact that there are a lot of similar outfits floating around the indie scene these days, but there always seemed to be something missing during the Crystal Antlers 11:30 set.  They left it all on the floor, and at times their discordant, synth-tinged tone coalesced perfectly.  But just as it did, the group would take a sharp turn everytime, taking with it the potential for a truly moving concert experience.  Glimpses of greatness yes, but Crystal Antlers ran from it, not towards it.

Arcturus - Crystal Antlers

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