Bob Boilen's Top 10 Discoveries From the Cmj Music Marathon
Bob Boilen, host of All Songs Considered, recently went to the CMJ Music Marathon in New York and brought back 10 favorites he hadn't seen before. We suggest pulling up one of them for background music as you read. More: http://n.pr/1RkKjvW
- •WeavesThis Toronto quartet is the usual bass drums guitar but it all unfolds in unexpected, mysteriously and satisfying ways. Jasmyn Burke is their tone setting singer and though she's leading a rock band, her musical reference point lies somewhere in the 1940s (minus the schmaltzy romantic sound that might conjure up, replaced by a childish wonder I hear in someone like Joanna Newsom).
- •Diet CigNo one I saw at CMJ had the boundless spunk of Alex Luciano. She seemed a child fueled by cotton candy and Pop Rocks, leaping off drummer Noah Bowman's kick drum one moment only to short stop an inch from the microphone to tell us about her lame date to the daddy-daughter dance. Each song this New Paltz, N.Y. duo plays feels like an anthemic encore and all are eminently singable, lovable and memorable.
- •ThunderbitchI didn't know what to expect when the Alabama Shakes singer took the stage for the first time with her rock band Thunderbitch, but no one could have imaged Brittany Howard coming out in white face, sitting on a motorcycle wearing leather and donning a straight haired, short, black wig. The music was right out of the garage: no frills, all grit, nothing new, but that's the point.
- •Told SlantTold Slant is the project of drummer/singer Felix Walworth. What I love about his drumming is that it's a thunderous propellant, an essential element to the song without being up front and in the way of the voice and guitars. Felix stands behind a very large bass drum on a makeshift stand and plays organic rhythms on mostly bottom heavy drums, with arms flailing in ways I didn't know was really possible.
- •FloristWhat I love about the Epoch Collective is the way central players in one band become the backbone of another. So where Felix Walworth is the center of Told Slant, he's simply the pulse of Florist. And where Oliver Kalb may play fiercely in Toad Slant or his own band Bellows, he's more backdrop and scenic in Florist. Florist is where Emily Sprague moves from backup guitarist to central poet and singer. These songs are sweet confessional tone paintings. A lovely contrast to the volume of the week.
- •ShoppingShopping are the muscular musical children of vital '70s political punk bands Gang of Four, Delta 5 and The Slits. Having had the fortune of seeing all those bands back in the day, I can say that Shopping are every bit as good as their predecessors. The members of this East London trio trade vocals void of the usual love and self pity and filled with observations and critique of culture. A must see. Their live show trumps the recordings.
- •The Big MoonOne of the most tuneful bands at CMJ this year was a London quartet with singer and guitarist Juliette Jackson, guitarist and singer Soph Nathan, bassists and singer Celia Archer and drummer Fern Ford. Their playing is good but together the songs and their performance made for such a memorable and joyous performance. I'm looking forward to their debut album in 2016.
- •BayonneWith a dude behind a table full of gear, I was ready for a boring stare at a dial-twisting DJ set. Instead Bayonne entertained my eyes and ears with pounding rich bursts of sounds and a man possessed by electronics. Bayonne is the musical alter ego of Austin's Roger Sellers. It was one of the best and most inventive bits of sound/texture I saw this week and now I'm intrigued to hear what his 2016 debut on Mom + Pop Music has in store.
- •Stolen JarsThis staccato pop band wavers between arpeggiated guitar and electronics and a lilting, almost South African-styled guitar band at times. It's that melody between two of its members — guitarist Cody Fitzgerald and singer Molly Grund — that keeps these six musicians from being more than just another joyous indie rock band.
- •Miya FolickMiya Folick makes music that simply lulls me. She's a storyteller, a teller of tales that are personal and universal. And though I first fell for her music, I have to say that feeling her passion and presence here at this tiny venue is what really hooked me. Her performance was captivating and personal and that, along with already loving her songs made this performance one that will stay with me.