CMJ 2005: Everything You Need To Know (Part 1)

With CMJ 2005 now over, those of us who attended are likely still trying to recover from the long nights, lack of food and exorbitant amount of alcohol, not to mention the schmoozing... ahh, who could have known that schmoozing could take so much out of a person. The Tripwire had a number of contributors out and about for this year's CMJ, so rather than having each do their own wrap up, we've decided to compile one massive CMJ spectacular. Below you'll find all you need to know about this year's festivities.

Against Me! - Pack 'Em In, Knock 'Em Out

There is one thing that I have to credit Against Me! for, which is that they have one mighty big buzz right now. This was obvious at The FADER [adult swim] Project, which was packed to capacity as they closed out the festivities on Friday evening. Their popularity easily stems from the fact that their own brand of rock appeals to a broader audience, bringing punks and indie kids together. Ripping through tunes from their new album Searching For A Former Clarity, there were plenty of fists in the air as the group blew the doors off the room. These boys from Gainsville put on one hell of a show, leaving the crowd soaked, exhausted and totally satisfied. (CA)

Arcade Fire – Setting Fire To The Trees

 Post-Living Things I hopped in a cab to run up to the Arcade Fire show at Summerstage. They sounded beautiful and performed with amazing intensity. My only complaint was that it wasn’t loud enough, but perhaps my ears were just shot from all the previous rock of the day. I’m still kicking myself for never catching this band somewhere smaller. They definitely lived up to their reputation and then some. As many anticipated, Bowie joined them for the last two songs performing his own “Queen Bitch” before singing the first verse of “Wake Up” with Arcade Fire. (CH)

Army Navy - Keyboard Troubles Can't Stop These LA Pop Tarts

Los Angeles' Army Navy, as in "surplus store", were the first band to perform at The FADER [adult swim] Project. You'd think a Thursday at 4:00pm time slot might not be the best, but surprisingly, a pretty decent crowd turned out. Army Navy played mostly songs from their new EP, produced by Red Kross' Steve McDonald. Earlier that morning, the band found out that the keyboard that they rented didn't work properly, or wasn't the right kind, or something of the sort, but long story short... where there's normally a keyboard, there was nothing. Amazingly, they pulled through for what I thought was a damn good performance. This band is definitely one to watch out for. You can hear their song, "Snakes Of Hawaii", on the latest Cornerstone Player and I think it was even on one of the new episodes of The OC. Though still unsigned, they can be heard on KEXP and WOXY. If you like good, catchy, guitar-based pop music, you'll like Army Navy. (MD)

Celebration - Beggars' Newest Bring Out The Hipsters

Did you know that some hipsters are actually awake and stirring at 2:30 in the afternoon enough to go to a rock show? I guess when the band is on Beggars Banquet/4AD there is an exception in the handbook that allows that sort of behavior, or maybe it is the free Red Stripe and Sparks. Regardless, when Celebration took the stage on Saturday afternoon The FADER [adult swim] project, space was filling up quickly in anticipation. The trio quickly set up their drums and keys and without further ado, singer Katrina Ford morphed into a less scary Karen O. Marching, jumping into the crowd, beating her tambourine and shouting, Celebration sonically filled the room along with the crazed out Circus keys. Celebration was in essence, a celebration of sound and a sensory overload that left the audience wondering what was going to happen next. Be sure and check out their new self-titled CD when it hits the shelves on October 11. (EC)

Bril - Save The Best For Last

Having a showcase late on the final day of CMJ is pretty tough. Music fans have been drinking and watching band after band for four days straight, so any new group needs to have some serious talent (and some big balls) to put on a show late on Saturday. With their polished sound, mixing elements of American alternative and British rock, Bril proved that they are the real deal. This up and coming band from San Clemente, CA, stood out as one of the few bands this past week with tons of potential. Strong tunes such as "Far Away" and "Whenever You're Gone" have crazy radio potential, in the vein of Keane, Ours, Coldplay and U2. We all dig a good pop tune now and then when it is done correctly, which Bril have down to a science. At times, they even remind me of the slicker work of Remy Zero, for those of you who remember that overlooked gem of a band. I've got a feeling that Bril will be performing at spaces much larger than the Bowery Poetry Club before long. (CA)

Cribs vs. Bowie - Cribs Win

I’d been counting down the minutes to see the Cribs and it was finally time. I’m surely sacrilegious for thinking of this as the first huge highlight of CMJ, but the Cribs kick Bowie’s ass any day of the week. They just do. This was my 3rd chance to see the Cribs in the past couple of months. Each time they play primarily the same songs but I could never get bored. They opened with the hipster ridiculing hit, “Hey Scenesters.” By the time the third song kicked in, “Mirror Kisses”, which is definitely one of the best songs ever, the people in the front were in a dancing frenzy. The band and the music are just incredible amounts of fun. They make you care less what kind of jackass you probably look like while jumping around. It’s just way too much fun to give a hoot. (CH)

Dandy Warhols - History In The Making At CBGB's

Getting to see the Dandy Warhols perform at CBGB's was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Experiencing the band in a small venue these days is a rare treat, and when you combine that with the fact that it could be one of the final shows at the legendary space that gave birth to punk rock, it was truly something special. Being the first time the band has performed in support of their brand new album Odditorium Or Warlords Of Mars in NYC, fans were anxious to see the Dandys back in the Big Apple once again. It may have not been the Dandy's finest night musically, but in terms of the overall experience it was a night to remember. No fancy lights. No cool backdrop. This was an intimate evening for die-hard fans to enjoy the Dandys in the magnificent shithole that is CBGB. Courtney Taylor-Taylor picked a great variety of tunes from the band's catalog, including "Godless", "Horse Pills", "Not If You Were The Last Junke On Earth", and an a-capella version of "We Used To Be Friends". The crowd sang along with their beloved frontman, making this one of the true highlights of the evening. Halfway through their set, the band held up their drinks to cheers CBGB's. It is a damn shame that this legendary space could be closing its doors forever, but at least some of the last drinks to be spilled on its stage came from a band that embraces the "don't give a fuck" mentality in music that was nurtured for so many years at CBGB. Zia McCabe summed the night up best when she said: "CBGB forever!". (CA)

Doves - Traditional Polish Cuisine + The Doves = A Little Bit Of Heaven

It is really easy to take Manchester's Doves for granted. Consistently transcendent gigs, beards, and quality records don't get you much attention these days unless it's accompanied by a carefully cultivated detachment, a disco bea
t, and a dodgy keyboard player, but these vets roll on and on. The fact that they have played several other gigs locally this year in support of sterling LP Some Cities put me in the "should I or shouldn't I" camp in regards to whether I should take in this gig, but as is often the case, it was a wise decision to see this one out too. This gig won't make many bloggers "top 10 cmj events", mainly because Doves live outside of the hype bubble, which in their case, translates into what most bands of the moment lack: an actual fanbase that will also be at next year's gig . This was never more apparent at the packed Warsaw, which was stuffed with a diverse set of fans that went way beyond the normal slew of ambulance chasers...."Are those dudes wearing white baseball caps?" Yes they are. The coolest thing for me (beyond the cheese blintzes pre-gig) was the inclusion of the storming B-side "11 Miles out". On record this one is an ear-prickler at best but tonight it was devestating. Of course the familiar album tracks were there..."Snowden" providing the opening bombast...."Black and White Town", "Cedar Room", "Sea Song", "Pounding".....and the absolute show stopping "Here Comes the Fear" ended the proceedings. In a just world this tune would be a terrace-shaking arena anthem but then again the world has enough of those right? (DN)

Favourite Sons - Add To Their Family

The best part of the CMJ Music Marathon is occasionally discovering a few new bands. Although this seems to happen less every year that I attend, I did find a few. For me, Favourite Sons were one of those rare moments during this year's festivies that turned me on to a new group. The band performed early on Saturday afternoon at The FADER [adult swim] Project to a crowd that grew in size as their set went on. Although currently holed up in a Brooklyn recording studio, their sound is soaked in the UK rock of I Am Kloot and Starsailor. With mind-blowing songs like "Down Beside Your Beauty" and "No One Ever Dies Young", I expect to see big things in this band's future. (CA)

Fruit Bats -- Extremely Tasty Nocturnalites

The Fruit Bats are kind of like the Shins with a sense of humor. They’re songs are slightly folky, mostly poppy and sort of make you feel warm and tingly. This, apparently, was the first NY show they’d played in two years. Fruit Bats played a ton of songs off of their new record as well as some older ones interspersed with EJ’s extremely endearing wit and stories about nearly getting jumped in State College, PA. For some dumb reason I think I was somewhat meh about the band before I actually saw them. They have definitely won me over. It better not be two years before they come back. (CH)

Gang Of Four - The Band That Started It All

By now, even if you didn't know them before, you should know that Gang Of Four were the music innovators that were at the forefront of the whole dance/rock, punk/funk movement. Everyone from LCD Soundsystem to The Rapture to Bloc Party owe a debt of gratitude to Gang Of Four. They had a special invite-only performance at the new Hard Rock in Times Square last week. The scene was slightly weird, with tourists peeking their head in to see what the deal was, initial sound difficulties and a mistimed leap that left frontman Jon King looking only mildly goofy (he made a good recovery). Though the band looked over the hill, they didn't sound it. They filled their set with the same intensity and charisma that put this band on the map and influenced generations of young musicians so many years ago. King was as rowdy as ever, seeming like a man possessed (especially when he smashed the shit out of a microwave on stage). By all accounts, Gang Of Four impressed both older fans who saw them in "the old days" and the young hipsters who turned up to see if these geezers still had it in them to create a little bit of modern magic. (AH)

Holopaw – Sub Pop Knows Their Shit

I think that Sub Pop definitely wins the award for best label showcase. I was sad to have missed the first couple of acts, but Holopaw into Fruit Bats into Rogue Wave into Wolf Parade into the Constantines? I mean, really. So amazing. I hadn’t heard much Holopaw previous to seeing them. A few random songs were my only previous exposure. After seeing them, I am thoroughly impressed. They definitely have a different sound and I appreciate their slight hints of country now and again. They’re songs sound full while gentle and are the kind that just sort of wash over you as you stand entranced. Good stuff. (CH)

Kaki King - Lap Steel Anyone?

Rumor has it Kaki King used to play on the NYC subway platforms. Someone else told me she used to work at Mercury Lounge. What I know for sure is that she is one hell of a guitar player. Using a boomerang (or some other looping device), she laid down layer after of instrumental magic. She worked in percussion, solos, rhythm guitar and all sorts of other swirly, inspiring, musical genius-type shit. How one little person could fit so much passion and talent inside herself is beyond me. But she does it with ease. (MD)

King Of France - Loyal Subjects Abound

After seeing the King Of France twice during the CMJ festivities, I know get what all the fuss is about. Frontman Steve Salad is one hell of an entertainer, who keeps the trio's sets interesting before, during and after each song. His semi-psychotic lounge persona looks back to the early days of the Violent Femmes and Pavement, with a cool art-rock vibe. Unlike so many of the overly-hyped bands that flooded NYC this past week, King Of France performed unique, intelligent tunes that remind us that there are no real boundaries in pop music. With their piano-driven alt-pop, songs such as "Mexico" and "Moon" are completely irresistible. During their first set of the week, which was at Scenic, the crowd was treated to the full lineup. This was not the case with Friday's performance at the FADER / [adult swim] Project, as the group was one man down with drummer Michael Azerrad missing in action. We hope that he resurfaced at some point later in the day! Great songs and a good sense of humor made King Of France one of the most entertaining acts of this year's CMJ. Nice job fellas. (CA)

By: Chip Adams, Erin Chandler, Matt DuFour, Cara Heller, Anthony Holland, David Natoli

Source: The Tripwire

CMJ 2005: Everything You Need To Know (Part 1)