CMJ 2011 Day 2: Tanlines + King Krule + Little Red + Teengirl Fantasy
The True Panther Sounds / PopGun showcase displayed a wide range of talents, from Tanlines's emotive synth-pop, to Teengirl Fantasy's epic house revival, to King Krule's street-smart guitar-pop.
Expert partystarters Teengirl Fantasy kicked off the True Panther Sounds / PopGun showcase at Glasslands on Wednesday night. The duo performs with giant floodlights turned toward the audience -- that is to say, they’re expecting you to respond to their stimuli. And it’s almost impossible not to. Teengirl Fantasy plays a style of contemporary electronica rooted in class house music -- keys, huge 808 beats, and emotional crescendos -- that never feels merely retread. Melodies pop up over the beats and worm their way into your ears for a few bars, then slowly shape shift into new hooks. It’s a process of evolution, and Teengirl Fantasy keep figuring out new ways to get your hips moving.
Little Red play a pleasant brand of radio-ready pop. In fact, it’s difficult not to talk about the band without just saying that word over and over -- pleasant, pleasant, pleasant. Every song featured “oo-ah” backing vocals or three-part harmonies. Every song moves from verse to chorus to verse to chorus to brief guitar solo and out. Every lyric sticks to simple banalities (“I keep waiting, / I keep waiting…”). Pleasant is nice, but it isn’t much.
British upstart King Krule (Archy Marshall) has been making waves for his style of lyrics-driven, jazz-inflected rock. Most of Marshall’s words were unintelligible at tonight’s set, buried in reverb and a thick South London accent, but snippets stood out enough to compel (“I can’t escape my own escape”). Musically, his band sounds like a high school jazz ensemble who got heavy into equal parts the Streets and the Jade Tree-Polyvinyl catalogues of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s: clean, staccato Telecaster; snappy drumming with plenty of quick fills and variations; steadily locking bass licks. Marshall’s mom was in the crowd, shouting her lungs out for her son. The crowd didn’t even need her encouragement.
Tanlines took to the stage to an uproarious welcome from a home-town crowd. The duo plays zeitgeist synth-pop with an emphasis on repetition for the dance floor. The mixture of looped beats and synth lines combined with live guitar and percussion often recalled Junior Boys, while Tanlines’s ability to expertly segue between synth hooks and guitar hooks had echoes of New Order. Crucially, though, Tanlines is nowhere near as chilly as either of those groups. Jesse Cohen’s bongos-and-crash setup brought the same charisma to Tanlines’s shows as it did for percussive pioneers Liquid Liquid. Tanlines work the crescendo to great effect, much like the similarly minded Cut Copy. That’s a lot of name-dropping to prove one major point: these dudes are onto something, and crowds outside of New York City will likely be giving the same high-energy love soon enough.