CMJ 2007 Day Two| Bella | Knitting Factory Old Office

BellaBest stage accoutrement ever: a tiny little table lamp with the Bella logo stitched into the shade that was perched on the guitar amp. I tried to take a picture of it (you can see it under the KF logo in this picture) but the white balance makes it to bright to really see it in all its darling glory.

Bella are cute like that. But not twee. The Canadaian-American trio mix the sweet and salty: boy-girl vocals full of "bah bahs" and harmonies, but also crunchy guitars and a healthy dose of attitude. Their debut, No One Will Know, is fairly slick but live, Bella are messier and loud with the three members switching instruments every few songs.quite a lot over the last couple months.

The Knitting Factory Old Office, where the Mint Records showcase was happening, is nobody’s idea of an ideal venue, but it felt more like a party than most gigs. CBC beverage cozies and decorated bags of candy were tossed into the crowd. You could tell most of the audience knew the bands. (They were likely the other bands on the bill.) I had to dash off to the Music Hall of Williamsburg after their set, so I didn’t get to see the other bands (maybe I would’ve stayed if they’d brought Novillero and the Bicycles back this year) but my second night of CMJ definitely started on a good note.

MP3: DBella – Give it a Night
(Buy it)

Bumpershine was there too, and pretty sure I saw the Modern Age, but no posts by her on it so cannot confirm or deny.

CMJ 2007 Day Four | Ida Maria | Galapagos

Ida_mariaThis year’s CMJ was generally lackluster, from the variety of performers to the performances given by those I did see. But there was at least one wow-worthy show — Norwegian-via-Sweden singer Ida Maria.

I wasn’t all that familiar with her music. I knew her mainly from her duet with Pelle Carlberg on his album In a Nutshell, "I Love You, You Imbecile," which is typically poppy Swedish jangle. But my friend Toby was really high on her and sent some MP3s my way, urging me to go see her. Her new single "Oh My God" is definitely more "rock" than Pelle’s stuff. So I was expecting a pleasant, if sedate show.

Diminuitive, and dressed in a mint green school marm top, a dark teal leather skirt, purple tights and bright blue boots she looked pixie. But when she strapped on the guitar and opened her mouth, she transformed into a whirling, wailing little powerhouse that you could almost compare to early PJ Harvey (more Dry than Rid of Me) though her voice definitely has a certain Bjork-esque quality that is hard to deny. There were about 15 people watching when she first started but soon everyone (maybe another 20) filtered into the back room of Galapagos to watch her.

Idamaria2Ida Maria is a magnetic performer, pouring every ounce of energy and emotion into her songs to the point where she seemed lost in them some of the time. Mikes were knocked over, drums stumbled into and more than once she dropped to the floor onto her back where she continued to sing and play guitar. (About halfway through the show I also noticed her boots were off but I don’t remember her removing them.) And though her presence was intense, it wasn’t all anguish (though there was some of that). You also have songs like "I Like You Better When You’re Naked" that are downright joyous and she beamed throughout that one.

Her band was ace too, skilled players who also got into the act though it was never anyone’s show but Ida’s. The set was average CMJ length, maybe a little more than 30 minutes but it was the only time I really wished anyone that week had played longer.

MP3: Ida Maria – Oh My God

: Ida Maria – Queen of the World

Ida said her debut album would be out in April. Saturday, was in Williamsburg shooting a video for "Oh My God" with director Andreas Nilsson, the man behind all those creepy Knife and Jose Gonzalez clips. Speaking of…I also shot some video of Ida  doing "Stella & God," though it turned out to be one of her more restrained performances. Still pretty great. Please ignore the annoying early-90s Tony Hawk skate video they insisted on showing behind them throughout.

CMJ 2007 | Yeasayer | R Bar + Fader Sideshow

I’ve now seen Yeasayer three times. The first was at the "none shall blog" show at Cake Shop. The other two were back-to-back day shows at CMJ — Friday at Brooklyn Vegan’s thing at R Bar, and then again at the neverending Bud Select and Soco-n-Lime schmoozefest ski lodge that was the Fader Sideshow. I hadn’t heard them before seeing them at Cake Shop, but had been told that they were "like TV on the Radio meets Talking Heads meets Animal Collective."

Which is utter crap. Yeasayer are, pure and simple, hippie music. Not wanky jam band hippie (though they would’ve been embraced at Bonaroo ’99), no, this is vintage 1969, flowers-in-their-hair hippie music… albeit with modern technology. If Randy California had had access to samplers, Spirit might’ve sounded a lot like Yeasayer. As someone who came of musical age in the 1980s, I have a deep-seated Eric Cartman-like hatred of hippies — even those that went to RISD. (Eric would especially hate YS’s bassist, whose awful jacket, side ponytail and mustache are pretty much indefensible, though he’s undeniably skilled with his fretless instrument.)

As much as I want to despise them, however, I don’t. Songs like "2080" and "Sunrise" are kind of undeniable singles, they nail the harmonies (sometimes four-part) and the band are engaging performers. I especially like guitarist Anand Wilder, who also wears an ugly jacket, but has an intrinsic grooviness that cannot be denied. (I also like drummer Luke Fasano’s crash cymbal, that looks like it’s been through a couple wars.) Dammit, I like them. 1989 Me would be appalled, but he’ll get over it in 18 years.

MP3: Yeasayer – Wait for the Summer (Buy Yeasayer’s All Hour Cymbals, out 10/22)

For those who live here in NYC, Yeasayer are having a record release party on Tuesday at Glasslands Gallery in Williamsburg. They’re not performing, it’s just a dance party, the prospect of which seemed to excite the band more than the idea of playing another show.

CMJ 2007 Day Four | Black Kids | R Bar

Blackkids_rbarHaving been given the Best New Music tag in Pitchfork for four songs on their MySpace page, Black Kids‘ CMJ shows were some of the most anticipated of the week and this show, put on by Brooklyn Vegan at the garish, stripper-themed R Bar on Friday afternoon was Media and Blogger Central. (The free bloody marys went a long way to ignoring this.) Singer Reggie Youngblood was well aware of situation they were in. "I’m sure you’ve heard the hype… about how good looking we are." The crowd roared.

It was a great way to break the ice, as word of their show from the previous night was bad. Real bad. The only good review was Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan… and he was the guy who wrote the 8.4 review of the EP, so it seemed like he was saving face. I don’t understand the Cure comparisons (to me, they’re more Prefab Sprout or even "Whole of the Moon" era Waterboys, that heart-on-sleeve thing ’80s bands did so well) but I gotta admit I love all their songs… you know, all four of them. I expected the worst, which is maybe why I liked them so much.

I’m not saying they killed. They didn’t. But they were pretty good for a band who has only been performing live for two months. And fun. They’ve got the songs. They’ve got the enthusiasm. The rest will come with time.

MP3: Black Kids – Hurricane Jane

Heart on a Stick, who barely survived a sneak stage-diving attack earlier in the day, also didn’t hate themEar Farm, Stereogum, and others were there too.

CMJ 2007 Day Three | 1990s | Bowery Ballroom

Ida_mariaNot sure why I’ve seen Glasgow’s 1990s three times this year. Their debut, Cookies, is loaded with champagne-and-coke big riff rock songs but it’s not the stuff that normally compels me to repeat viewings. But they have been fun every time I’ve seen them, and the crowd was definitely into their party-it-up vibe, especially three girls who were singled out by official show videographers to be the sole audience members seen. (They also got interviewed downstairs after the show by MTV weenie John Norris). Singer John McKeown still seems generally chuffed that people are there enjoying themselves but it’s drummer Michael McGaughrin — whose kit is still wisely positioned at the front of the stage — who makes them so much fun to see, even after three shows.

CMJ 2007 Day Three | New Young Pony Club | Studio B

Ida_mariaThe last chord of British Sea Power’s set at Bowery Ballroom was probably still ringing as we jumped in a cab to Studio B to catch New Young Pony Club at Studio B. It had been a long day already and at 1am I was seriously fading. But I loved NYPC when they played at Williamsburg’s White Room last December and was really looking forward to seeing them at what I thought would be the perfect party house venue for them.

For nearly everyone in the room, it was a total dance floor stormer. The place was going mental even without the near constant cheerleadering of singer Tahita Butler and the unexpected note-for-note cover of Technotronic’s "Pump Up the Jam" sent the crowd over the edge. For me, the muddy sound (could not hear Spence’s guitar at all, though it could’ve been my ears, damaged by Biffy Clyro’s set at the Fader Sideshow earlier that day) and my waning energy level had something to do with it. There was also the pervasive, putrid smell of vomit — provided, I’m guessing by the passed out girl by the railings — that helped to sour the evening for me. But even a year later, "Ice Cream" was still pretty sweet.

MP3: New Young Pony Club – "Get Lucky" (Buy NYPC’s Fantastic Playroom)

CMJ 2007 Day Three | British Sea Power | Bowery Ballroom

Ida_mariaBritish Sea Power are responsible for one of my favorite gigs of the last five years (NorthSix, August 2003) but it was not exactly their night on Thursday. It was still better than most of the shows I went to that week. Singer
Noble has a mesmerizing voice that my friend Kate says "is like a
cocoon." And their abbreviated set meant we only got a greatest his
set (plus two new songs, one of which being the Wedding Present-esque single "Atom"), short but satisfying. So where did it all go so-so? CMJ audiences are not the most attentive — there was a group of fratty dudes up front who would not shut up. This probably wouldn’t have been a problem if BSP were playing at their normal volume but for whatever reason the amps were below the band’s normal gale force. It definitely knocked the wind out of their sails.

CMJ 2007 Preview | Saturday Picks

Merge Day w/ Imperial Teen + Ladybug Transistor + The Broken West @ Soundfix (Free, day show)

Brooklyn Vegan Day Party w/ The King Left, Tiny Mastgers of Today, Georgie James, Drug Rug, Turbo Fruits, Foals, The Maccabees, Dave Godowsky, Orba Squara, Marla Hansen, Scott Matthew, Julia Kent, Doveman, Erick Friedlander, Craig Wedren, Tim Bracy @ Pianos (Noon, FREE)

Justice @ Terminal 5 (9pm, SOLD OUT)

Stylofone + Tigercity +
The Harlem Shakes +
Professor Murder +
Georgie James (ex. Q & Not U) +
Dragons of Zynth @ Mercury Lounge (7:30, $12)

I SAY: And CMJ goes out with a whimper with the weakest night of the fest… apart from Justice, which will be near impossible to get into. There’s also the Sub Pop show at Bowery Ballroom and Spoon at Roseland, and but those are going to be almost as difficult. My suggestions… the BV day party (again) to see Foals, Maccabees, Tiny Masters of Today and Georgie James. OR go to the Sound Fix Merge party to see Imperial Teen, Broken West, etc… plus "special guest" (I’m guessing his initials are BD). I will probably head to Mercury Lounge that night for Professor Murder and Tigercity (aka indie Hall & Oates), and hang out in the bar during Harlem Shakes (not my thing). Then maybe the BV afterparty. Though I have a feeling I’ll be dead tired by that point.

MP3: The Broken West – On the Bubble

Justice at Coachella pic swiped from Caesar Sebastian’s Flickr photostream.

CMJ 2007 Preview: Friday Picks

Brooklyn Vegan Day Party w/ iLIKETRAINS, Fatal Flying Guiloteens, Other Passengers, Health, Mika Miko, Yeasayer, Black Kids, Saturday Looks Good to Me, Islands, Yo Magesty @ R Bar (12:15 – 8pm)

After the Jump w/ The Antlers, Nous Non Plus, The Silent Years, The Pendeltons, Cary Ann Hearst, Dead Confederate, Morning State @ the Annex (1pm – 6pm, FREE)

White Denim +
The Broken West  +
Polytechnic (w/ former Smiths bassist Andy Rourke) +
The Shaky Hands @ Mercury Lounge (7pm, $12)

The Spinto Band + Sons And Daughters + The Maccabees + Alberta Cross + Sahara Hotnights + The 1900s + Drug Rug @ Bowery Ballroom (7pm, $16)

Crashin' In party w/ Shock Cinema, Miss Alex White & The Red Orchestra, Foals, Foreign Born, The Holy Hail, Chairlift, The Deadly Syndrome, Fatal Flying Guillotines, Blackstrap, Soft, Cadence Weapon, Ida Maria,  The Coast, Le Loup, Picastro, Cale Parks, Spirit Marines  @ Galapagos  (2pm – 2am, $5, no badges)

: Though I find vocalist David Martin a bit on the silly melodramatic side, I like iLIKETRAINS' music a lot, so I figure I'll check them out at the Gothamist House or the BV day party and, if they're good there, again at Mercury Lounge. Actually, again, Brooklyn Vegan outdoes himself with a killer bill of iLT, Yeasayer, Islands and Yo Magesty. But then there's the Crashin' In show, which I am definitely going to to see Swedish singer Ida Maria who my friend Toby is super high on. (She's on at 7pm.) Also worth checking out — the After the Jump Fest's North Vs. South show. I'm especially anxious to see the South bands the Pendeltons, Dead Confederate and Morning State. Nous Non Plus and the SIlent Years are good too. As for the evening shows…. the Bowery show is tempting. I really like the 1900s and want to see the Maccabees, and Drug Rug do the Let it Be style (Beatles not Replacements) retro-rock.

MP3: iLIKETRAINS – Twenty Five

MP3: Ida Maria – Oh My God

iLIKETRAINS pic swiped from stellabrightlight's Flickr photostream.