Music

CMJ 2009: Day 5 - Imaad Wasif + Violens + Sharon von Etten

Stephen Stirling

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 Stephen Stirling

Imaad Wasif

Bowery Ballroom, New York City

Imaad Wasif is chock full of two things: Hair and love. In case you weren’t certain of the latter half of that combo, Wasif took the time to remind the crowd at Bowery Ballroom... after every song: “I love the city. I love being insane. I love being insanely in love.” Though Wasif was somewhat awkward while trying to make conversation with the crowd between songs, he was at home while performing his brand of classic rock. All of his songs, all of which he was quick to point out were “love songs,” were well-crafted and well-performed. Wasif was the star of the show, but would have been helped if he had a more animated supporting cast -- his bassist and drummer seemed disinterested no matter how much Wasif thrashed about the stage. I’m not certain I really felt the love like Wasif, but perhaps if I find the man he awkwardly hugged at the end of his set, he could shed some light.

Violens

Bowery Ballroom, New York City

I think perhaps the worst thing that can befall a band at CMJ is to be average. Over the years, the extremes of CMJ are what are cemented in my mind -- the misery of the worst and the joy of the best. I don’t think I’ll remember Violens show a few years down the road. They weren’t bad. But when they went through their set of ethereal pop-rock fairly seamlessly, it just didn’t leave an impression. When all you’ve got is 45 minutes in a sea of hundreds of bands, you better make some waves. Violens just went through the motions, and in doing so stepped back into a large crowd instead of out in front of it.

Sharon von Etton

Bowery Ballroom, New York City

“I hope you guys weren’t expecting a metal band,” Sharon von Etten said meekly after performing her first song. “It’s not going to get much louder than this.” That was just fine, because for the 45 minutes she took the stage, the Bowery Ballroom stood in captivated silence. As a small woman standing along on stage with a hulking red hollow-body guitar, von Etten isn’t exactly the most powerful figure. But her voice is so penetrating, and her delivery so effortless that her southern ballads soared easily over the rest of the evening’s lineup. As von Etten cooed, a survey of the crowd showed many -- including TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone -- weren’t watching. Rather, they stood with their eyes closed, necks gently cocked back, swaying slightly as they let von Etten’s silky voice take them away.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Music

The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.

Music

'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.

Music

​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.

Music

Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.

Music

Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.

Music

Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Music

Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.