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La Rocca - Four Irish Boys Find A Home In Silverlake
Nick, Alan, Bjorn and Simon are four friends from Dublin who named their band after their favorite watering hole, the La Rocca cocktail bar. Last friday, they performed as part of the Dangerbird Records showcase at CMJ and, for lack of a better term, blew me away. Though born and raised in Ireland, these four boys create music that sounds all American. Sort of like The Thrills, but instead of a Beach Boys-esque, surf-inspired sound, La Rocca take their inspiration from America's heartland. Mix John Cougar, The Boss, Wilco, Ryan Adams, a tad of Widespread (when they're playing actual songs and not jamming), Jesse Malin, etc. and you'll have some sort of idea of what La Rocca sound like. Their forthcoming album is produced by the amazing Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, Supergrass). I was lucky enough to sit down with the Dangerbird records crew to hear some of these tracks. They sounded great, but the band's live performance is "where it's at", as they say. Following their gig, I heard a number of people chatting with the band, asking them where to find music, when they're playing next, etc. etc. These guys are ready for the big time right now and were one of the best surprises of this year's CMJ. (MD)
Lake Trout - Hipsters Can Jam Out Too
On Saturday at The FADER [adult swim] Project, Baltimore's Lake Trout played to a packed crowd. I was curious to see what the new sound was like live. In case you didn't know, in the past Lake Trout was more of a jam-type band and did not have a vocalist. Now, on their newest CD, they added one. Listeners were delighted to hear that the band's sound didn't vary too much from the new CD, it was just louder. The Radiohead meets Oceansize group opened up with my favorite song on the new album, "Riddle", and finished up their 20 minute set with "Shiny Wrapper". Unfortunately, they could only play about four songs due to the time constraint, but if these four songs are an appetizer of things to come with the band, then we are all in for a treat when they go on a proper tour with The Pixies. (EC)
Living Things - Giving New Meaning To "Rock Out With Your Cock Out"
The Living Things are from St. Louis, MO. That doesn't exactly make one think about in-your-face rock & roll with a punk rock sensibility, but don't tell that to The Living Things. They might kill you. I was lucky enough to spend some time with the band's sophomore album, Ahead Of The Lions, prior to their CMJ performance at The FADER [adult swim] Project, but with this kind of music and with hit maker Steve Albini behind the boards, anyone can sound good on record, right? Well, thankfully, The Living Things are the real f-ing deal. The brothers Berlin (Lillian, Eve, Josh) were attracting stares from the Project crowd even before they took the stage with their skin-tight pants, leather vets (sans shirt underneath) and wild hair. "Who are they?" a number of people asked me when Eve and Bosh walked by. When they took the stage, that question was quickly answered. Lillian set up his mic in the middle of the floor, while the rest of the band were poised, waiting up on stage. As Lillian ran out, the rock assault began. Like a wild man, he challenged the audience to get involved, getting in their face, pulling a girl from the crowd (Yep Roc's Lilly Olive), and basically going all out bonkers. How bonkers, you ask? Well, try this on for size. At one point during the end of the set, Lillian realized that his skin-tight pants had sustained a tear in the crotch region, and pointed it out to the crowd. About three minutes later, the larger than life frontman was rolling around on the ground, when... oops! His... uh, "junk" was revealed to the masses, giving new meaning to the phrase, "rock out with your cock out". Now THAT is rock & roll! (MD)
The Morning After Girls – Rock Killed By Cops
I made it to Brooklyn just in time to catch about 1.5 songs from this band. After hearing their EP, I really wanted to see them and the fact that they were playing some random loading dock with free beer seemed too much to pass up. From what I saw, they were fantastic. The similarities to Brian Jonestown Massacre are undeniable, however they are much prettier to look at and won’t frustrate you by jamming on the same song for two hours straight. I was incredibly sad that the cops came to shut it down after I had just gained a glimpse, but fortunately they are playing this Wednesday at Rothko before heading back to Australia. (CH)
The Most Serene Republic - Canadians Love Company
The Most Serene Republic are a new signing to Canadian indie label Arts & Crafts (Broken Social Scene, Stars, Jason Collett, etc). Like their fellow labelmates, their band utilizes an oversized line-up of quirky yet beautiful pop masterminds. However, before you ask, NO, they are one of the few bands on A&C that are NOT members of Broken Social Scene. Overwhelming the stage with their sheer mass, TMSR filled the Project with layer upon layer of sound that barreled forward like a steaming locomotive. Red-headed frontman Adrian Jewett acted as the conductor, stoking the engine's fire with his leaps, bounds and frantic hand gestures. Like their labelmates, TMSR build and release tension many times over the course of their performance - lulling the crowd into a dreamlike trance and then slowly building, building, building the intensity until they just can't take it anymore and must unleash their indie pop explosion in an orgasmic fury of dancing, bouncing and rock kicking. It's no wonder that A&C mastermind Jeffrey Remedios scooped up these Toronto-based indie pop superstars-in-the-making with the quickness. Their debut, Underwater Cinematographer is out now. (MD)
Nouvelle Vague – Your Favorite Songs Only Sexier
My first official CMJ experience of the week began at the Nouvelle Vague show at the Canal Room on Wednesday night. I’d really been looking forward to it because the record is absolutely incredible and I had heard of their rowdy over-sexed stage antics. The place was completely packed to see the French new wave sensation, especially the front row which was jammed with indie yuppies making out. I guess three drunk French girls singing your favorite Clash song really is quite romantic. The girls played a slew of songs, many from the record, many not, strode across the bar, stole a bottle of gin, poured it down themselves, poured it down others, and splashed it about the stage before handing it over to one very happy audience member. Of the three girls, Cami, by far stole the show. Her voice is amazing, her presence is alluring and I really wish she could have sang every song. Her rendition of "Guns of Brixton" was by far the highlight of the evening. (CH)
The Rakes - The Future Of Rock & Roll?
For an in depth report on The Rakes from Friday, click here.
Rye Coalition – Jersey City Rocks Hardest
Next I was off to catch the Rye Coalition show at Tonic. I have a large place in my heart for this band. The music’s cool, the dudes are cooler and I really wanted to check out the new songs off of their still unreleased, Dave Grohl-produced record. Rye Coalition are seasoned balls to the wall ambassadors of rock. Since I don’t have the new record, I don’t know what songs they played, but it was all classic R
ye - great bass lines, awesome solos, stellar Ralph stage presence. I can’t wait till that record finally hits the streets. They also played one of the most fun songs to sing along too off of the Karp 7” split they did way back when. Straight up awesome good times. (CH)
Silversun Pickups - Los Angeles' Finest Prove All That Glitters Is Silver
The Tripwire had the pleasure of watching Silversun Pickups twice this week. The first show was on Thursday at the Dangerbird Records showcase at Ace Of Clubs, in which La Rocca, Sabrosa Purr, Peter Walker and The Vacation played. The second set was at The FADER [adult swim] project on Saturday. It has been about a year since I had seen the guys (and girl) play live so this was arguably one of the biggest CMJ Marathon highlights for me. On Thursday, the four-piece started out a little later than expected, but that was OK. They ripped through a set covering most of their Pikul EP, some newer tunes, and also managed to break some of their equipment along the way (including the amp from The Vacation). Front man Brian Aubert proved to be quite the performer during this show as well. Falling on the ground, flailing like a fish out of water, and then jumping into the crowd to hug people because he didn't have anything else he could do without his guitar. Saturday was no different, except they spared the amp. It was great to watch the crowd really get into their set; and next to The Rakes, SSPU, was the most well received band of the FADER space. There was one point when the whole room was bobbing up and down to drummer Christopher Guanlao's massive drum beats. One thing is for sure, Christopher is little, but he becomes an animal when he is behind the drums. Brian Aubert was rocking out all over the place and at one point during "Lazy Eye" had his guitar go out. All was well again when a fan stepped into rescue the equipment just in time for the loud and boisterous wall of noise to commence at the end of the song. SSPU definitely made fans on both nights and if you know what is good for you, you will go and see them when they come to a town near you. (EC)
Test-Icicles - Their Name May Look Like Balls, But Their Music Kicks Ass
Calling London's Test-Icicles a buzz band would be an understatement. Their performance at the Project was packed. Their showcase the night before was on the tips of more than a few tongues around the Cornerstone Offices. Are they punk? Rock? Hip-hop? Hardcore? Nope, they're all of those. Samuel Dangerr, Devente Hynes and Rory Aggwelt took the stage with no drummer, a drum machine provided the beats. Aggressive to say the least, these youngsters stood on the monitors, yelled shit at the crowd and meandered around the stage like they had a wicked case of A.D.D. They weren't exactly tight. A bit sloppy would be a better description, but it's all part of the act for Test-Icicles. Their "fuck you, who gives a shit? attitude" is all part of the package. So what if they stop a song after 10 seconds cuz one of them fucked up. Who cares if they all trade instruments and have two different singers and jump off the stage like wild monkeys? That's the whole point. They're fucking crazy. Their shows are crazy. You never know what you're going to get, and that's part of the fun. (MD)
Tom Vek - London Youngster Plays To Packed House
24 year-old Tom Vek's debut album, We Have Sound, has been creating a stir in the UK for some time now. With an edgy, danceable sound, it's the type of record that can make even the cool kids move their buts. He recorded the whole thing himself, filling it with thoughtful lyrics to offset the catchy melodies and booty-bouncing bass lines. It seems the the CMJ crowd was just as eager to see how Vek would pull off his debut in a live setting, as his performance at Scenic for the StarTime Records showcase was filled to the brim. Vek spent the night on guitar, but didn't hesitate to direct a few of his bandmates as they broke out his well-scripted solos. Dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, Vek seemed to enjoy himself and find the stage a comfortable and inviting place. As the fans shook their buts, he smiled with glee, not exuding the ora of arrogance that can typically be found with most "hip", up and coming acts. His album won't be out in the States until October, but once it drops, you'll be sure to hear it at all the cool house parties and club nights (if you haven't already). (MD)
Voxtrot – Sparkling Pop Endearment
Friday began at the Loose Record showcase which featured a killer line-up. First was Voxtrot who are like the Smiths if the Smiths were happy and humble. This was the second time I’d caught them live. They’re absolutely adorable and “The Start of Something” is one of the most perfect pop songs I’ve heard in along time. They definitely bring a smile to the face while making the body sway. These Austin cuties need to release a full-length. (CH)
Peter Walker - Dangerbird's Singer/Songwriter Warms Up At CMJ
Though Peter Walker's backing band had only been together for two weeks, it was the songs that shined through at his CMJ performance this year. Playing only a 30-minute set, Walker ran through a number of songs from his forthcoming full length. It wasn't the most polished or precise set I saw last week, but it's the lyrical beauty and melodic structure of Walker's songs that makes me think with more than two weeks of practice, this guy is going to be something really special. That same Dangerbird sit down mentioned above also yielded some valuable time listening to Walker's new album, Young Gravity. Keep your eyes peeled for this one, as Walker had some help behind the boards from Aaron Espinoza of Earlimart and Jim Fairchild of Grandaddy. If the tracks I heard were any indication of the full length, it's going to be something very special. (MD)
We Are Scientists - Dude, Even Amy Poehler Digs Them
Right before New York's We Are Scientists took the stage at The FADER [adult swim] Project, a very cute little blonde reached over and touched my arm asking me to move so she and her girlfriends could get through. It was none other than Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live fame and she was there to see one band and one band only, We Are Scientists. Not knowing much more about them other than hearing the massive amounts of good word of mouth press, I was anxious to see what they had to offer. I was pleasantly surprised with the group and it was possibly one of the better shows during the whole marathon. Granted on first look the trio looked more like they should be the members of Eagles Of Death Metal (looking in the direction of Chris Cain's porn star mustache), but once their set stared they got down and serious like mad scientists. They had the whole crowd eating out of the palms of their dirty rock-driven hands. (EC)
Wolf Parade – Ape for the Wolf
I am bat crazy ape shit for this band. They are my new boyfriend. I come home after a long day of work to the Wolf, I wake up and get some good Wolf in the morning before heading off to work. The record is a beam of shining light in an otherwise shady world. Saturday of CMJ I got to see them twice and I was sure it was the best day ever. At the AAM showcase, they got off to a bit of a rocky start. The set was riddled with technical difficulties, but none of it detracted or distracted from the amazingness of this band. It was a good warm up for their Sub Pop performance later that night where they absolutely killed it. They played nearly every song off of the new record as well as one new one. Between Dan’s spastic maneuvering and the rest of the band’s undiluted intensity it doesn