This past Roctober, New York hosted its yearly CMJ (College Music Journal) Music Marathon. As the name indicates, The CMJ Music Marathon is a massive concentration of 100s of bands that descend on NYC like locusts and swarm every NYC venue over the course of a week leaving hangovers and ringing ears in their wake. There are those out there that like to believe that it is an indicator of the stylistic forces that will drive major musical themes for the coming years. In years past, themes included the obligatory turntable in every band (Faithless, Bis, Whole Grand Royal Catalog, etc), the return of 60s garage rock (Strokes, White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs), neo-folk resurgence (Bright Eyes, Joanna Newsome, Devandra Banhart), etc. This year, based on the bands I saw, seems a continuation of the new ‘wave’ of keyboard driven synth pop that is already fairly prevalent these days.
The most notable bands caught at CMJ 2010 are: Savoir Adore, Alex Winston, Octant, Candy Claws, Kisses, Titus Andronicus, Holy Ghost!, Mathew Dear, Dean and Britta, Crocodiles, The Blow, and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Other bands caught were: Invisible Kid, Eklin, Samuel, Buke and Gass, Gold Panda, and a few others. We are in the middle of a 10 part CMJ series featuring the highlights of CMJ 2010 so check the archives and be sure to check back daily!
Other than the slew of keyboard fronted bands, the other trend, or mini-revival if you will, is the continued return of the shoe-gaze sound. In recent years with bands like A Place to Bury Strangers and Film School the genre has been given a good dusting off and been subject to a modern day reboot. Crocodiles, Candy Claws, and Dead Leaf Echo, who all performed at CMJ2010, are making a point of keeping the shoe-gaze torch going. Crocodiles have clearly studied Psycho Candy Jesus and Mary Chain enough to note that Phil Spector-era doo-wop is a huge part of the JMC DNA. Crocodiles clearly took this intell. and decided to run with it. I suspect that some will find Crocodiles a bit too referential to early JMC but they certainly make for a good live show. I, for one, look forward to hear what they come up with next.
Download: Crocodiles: Hearts of Love (Live)
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