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

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.