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

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.

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.

Over the Rainbow: An Interview With Herb Alpert

Music legend Herb Alpert discusses his new album, Over the Rainbow, maintaining his artistic drive, and his place in music history. "If we tried to start A&M in today's environment, we'd have no chance. I don't know if I'd get a start as a trumpet player. But I keep doing this because I'm having fun."

Jedd Beaudoin
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