Next Monday, I’ll get on a train for the long ride/move to Asheville, NC, by way of New York and Atlanta. I’ll be in New York several days, just barely missing the kickoff of CMJ 2010. So, this morning, to make up for my pending near-miss, I decided to play “Pick random bands from CMJ’s extensive artist roster and see if I can find something new and interesting.” Wanna play along?
MySpace says they’re from Boston, and consider themselves rock/indie/pop. I’d say it’s a little bit Beach Boys/Four Seasons. This song is cute, and should be in an American Apparel ad, or something. I might have it stuck in my head for the next week or so. But artistic merit? I don’t know. It’s definitely well-intentioned and quite universal. It’s bouncy; which can be either a good or bad thing. It’s too early in the morning to weigh those pros and cons, but I do like the part of the video where everyone holds up a Thank-you sign. Here’s to Aquaman!
From Brooklyn, and they sound like it. Looks like they have about 400 band members, and aim for that huge pop orchestra sort of sound. There’s a banjo in there somewhere, clunky afterthought drums, lyrics that fail to grab me, but I appreciate this aesthetic. I’m on the fence with bands like this. There are so many of them here in Seattle, and in Portland. I think they probably all listen to Wilco and the Decemberists and Radiohead and the Arcade Fire a lot. Every now and then, one of them does something really sonically surprising, or builds lyrics into the song which manage to rip at you, despite all the other layers of sound coming at you. But, it seems most of them just want to sound as big as possible. Ambitious arrangements for the sake of ambition, not necessarily to convey anything in particular. Which isn’t to say Thieving Irons don’t have a place. They’re good enough at what they do – good enough to have more than 5,590 pageviews on MySpace, in my opinion. But will I revisit them much after this morning? Probably not.
Looks like these guys have been picked up for the upcoming Paste tour, too. Really quiet, whispery stuff. At first, it kind of reminded me of Gregory Alan Isakov – the way he floats and whispers around a tune. But I think there’s more to it than that. This is quiet, grey, rainy day music. Nothing you’d take a road trip to – it would put you to sleep real fast. But there’s a certain loveliness to their songs, a simplicity that’s derivative of something, but not over the line.
I AM OAK
Yes. This is what I was looking for this morning. Perhaps I’ll end the game here. From Utrecht, Netherlands. It has that characteristic that just makes me believe they’re in it for the right reasons. Besides, the music is just pretty. As generally happens when I find a new band I like this much, I’d like to stop trying to put words to why you should hear them, and just share a video.
Here’s the full list of artists appearing at CMJ (or at least the full list they’ve released so far). If you care to join the game, find something good and post a video in the comments.