The weekend before the South by Southwest music festival, New York get's its own mini-version of it, with bands from Australia, UK, Europe and Canada all making pit-stops here before heading down to Austin. The folks from London indie label Moshi Moshi threw a party last night that actually felt like you were already at the fest. The crowd was littered with other bands (Bjorn Yttling of PBJ, Dev "Lightspeed Champion" Hines, members of Post War Years and The Promised Us Jetpacks) and you had to walk through a restaurant to get to the "venue." It was a fun night.
Mumford and Sons can really sing and hearing their four-part harmonies, which they hit you with immediately upon taking stage, knocks you back a bit. It's a bit like Fleet Foxes in that way, though there's more depth to M&S's voices. Musically, though, these Londoners are nothing like those Sub Pop folkies, with a soulful bluegrass/celtic bent and some really nice songs from frontman Marcus Johnstone. There was a lot of instrument switching and tuning of banjos and mandolins, which made for some downtime in between songs, and they joked about this: "This is New York," intoned banjo player Winston, imitating some record label type. "Don't fuck it up." Though harmonies are key, Marcus' voice in particular is very strong, and the Nick Drake comparisons he's probably sick of are fairly appropriate. He is also a hell of a drummer, which he used to do in Laura Marling's band, and did so here for Mumford and Sons final number of the night.
Mumford and Sons play Mercury Lounge tonight at 9:30. Definitely worth checking out, especially with the club's nice sound system. Their debut album, Notes from the Treehouse, is out in April in the UK.
Slow Club were next and pretty much charmed the pants off everyone. It will take much restraint to write about them and not repeatedly type the words "charming" "cute." But they are sooo cute. And their songs are sooo charming. The boy/girl dynamic here is just about perfect with Rebecca on vocal/drums and Charles on vocals/guitar and have more than are done in he-said-she-said style. There's also a melancholy streak (not unlike Emmy the Great) that keeps things from being, you know, cute overload. I'm not sure they've quite captured their charm on record (maybe their holiday single "Christmas TV" which they performed sans amplification) but you just smile the whole time while watching them.
Slow Club play the Delancey tonight and its a free show with fellow Brits Post War Years and We Have Band, who I also saw this weekend and are worth checking out. And if you have proof of unemployment there's a free shot of tequila waiting for you.
The band I was most looking forward to seeing was Norway's Casiokids who played my single favorite performance during CMJ 2008. But this was not Casiokids finest hour. A new club, Cameo was having some sound problems and frontman Ketil was clearly distracted by it. But the short set gained steam as it went and by the time they played both sides of their great new Moshi Moshi single "Verdens Storste Land" and "Fot I Hose" the crowd was dancing. Casiokids play tonight at the Bell House, which has a great soundsystem, so that shouldn't be a problem. They also play tomorrow at the Annex. Go see them if you can.
Cameo is located in the back of the Lovin' Cup Cafe (which used to be Anytime) and is a nice little space that maybe holds about 100 people. It was a little too dark for my tastes, and there was a discoball that was only used for about ten minutes. But it's new and they'll figure it out. It's a welcome addition to the neighborhood.