Monday, October 27, 2008

Gold Sounds at CMJ: Part 2

Wednesday afternoon, Terrorbird Party @ Cake Shop: The next afternoon, Cake Shop played host to many frequently covered, blogged about, up-and-coming artists (again, the best performances have an asterisk preceding them).

*Starfucker: Now here's an example of a band I had heard absolutely nothing from before I saw them live and loved after seeing them live. Their songs ranged from more traditional sounding rock songs to short keyboard/electronic freakouts, and this wide variety kept me guessing throughout their whole set. Along with the music, it looked like the band were having a lot of fun playing, especially their singer (though I wasn't close enough to take any good pictures). Good songs + enthusiastic performance = one of the best shows of the week.

Shugo Tokumaru: Japanese singer/songwriter Shugo Tokumaru recently released his new album, "Exit," here in the states. The album is a pleasant, slightly melancholic affair, something one might listen to while trying to relax or sleep. In short, his music is beautiful. However, most of the songs Shugo Tokumaru and his band played fell flat in this live setting. Perhaps with other like-minded musicians it would have been enjoyable, but the music was too quiet and reserved compared to that of the other artists playing that day and I mostly found myself patiently waiting for the next act to come on.

Faunts: This Canadian foursome only had time to play four songs, which ranged from standard mid-tempo chilled-out rock numbers to more drawn out, largely instrumental songs (sort of a mix of jam band stuff and post-rock). The music, while not very original, was pretty good and the band's live antics kept the crowd interested.

*Tobacco: Tobacco, member of Black Moth Super Rainbow, was up next and turned in a short set of his spazzy brand of electronica. He got most of the audience grooving, providing woozy beats accompanied by a very, very strange video. While it was revealed that the video also contained the majority of the performance's audio, this realization didn't take away anything from his performance; it just proved how great his music is and how enjoyable his live performance was. His new album, Fucked Up Friends, is out now.

Women: Up next was Women, a recent Jagjaguwar signing and a group that's pretty hard to categorize except as perhaps loud and dirty rock. Their songs sounded much different live than on record, but they were still very good. The band had a certain cocky swagger not often seen in such young artists, and indeed the group seemed very comfortable on the stage. Also, if you look hard enough, you can see Marnie Stern watching them in the back.

Takka Takka: Honestly, this just didn't click for me. I watched and listened to the band's set and can't remember a single aspect of it less than a week later. Maybe I missed something, or maybe they just weren't that good. Another product of the hype machine? Possibly.

Marnie Stern: Finally, the woman most of the crowd were waiting for stepped up to the microphone with her band. A lot has been made of Marnie Stern's impressive guitar skills, but the thing that struck me most about her live performance was how shrill and high-pitched her vocals were. She made innocent jokes in between songs in her normal, Alvin and the Chipmunks-esque voice, and then would go into a song and scream like a banshee. The sonic assault experienced as a result of the shredding guitar and vocals was very, very intense, and made for a good show. Just make sure to bring earplugs if you ever see her live.

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