Music

CMJ 2009: Day 2 - The Bodega Girls + Bang Bang Eche + These United States

Jonathan Kosakow

The CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival invades New York City this week. Here's the latest from PopMatters' writers on the beat. Words and Pictures by Jonathan Kosakow

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.

Bang Bang Eche

Piano’s, New York City

New Zealand’s young dance punkers may at first seem like they lack structure--the absence of a set list perpetuates this perception--but give them a closer listen and you’ll find some method to the madness. Heavy distortion and multiple vocal effects coupled with a driving bass-and-drums combo are all Bang Bang Eche needs to get a crowd moving. Watch out though because more than one of these thrashing kids is apt to fly off stage at any moment in a musical fit. But don’t worry, you WILL get an apology if you get knocked over.

These United States

Piano’s, New York City

These United States knows the value of pairing solid music with a good performance. If you couldn’t tell by lead singer Jesse Elliott gasping for breath after only the second song, then perhaps the dozen roses thrown on stage by adoring fans provided a clue. But ask for vanity roses they do not: these guys are on stage only for the music, and it’s the music that keeps them rolling. Though rooted in southern rock their myriad influences (e.g. country, blues, gospel, psychedelic) may sometimes lack consistency. Once they find their path, however, expect to see These United States in higher places.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

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60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

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Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

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