CMJ 2008: Wednesday Picks

Women at Cake Shop, 10.21.2008


Earfarm presents Takka Takka; Sam Champion / Project Jenny, Project Jan / Drink Up Buttercup / Sister Suvi / Howlies @ Pianos 12 – 6PM

School of Seven Bells, Marnie Stern / Women / Tobacco / Faunts / Shugo Takumaru / Starfucker / Rainbow Arabia / Frontier Ruckus @ Cake Shop

Gothamist House w/ Emmy the Great / Gabriel Kahane / Bell / Nat Baldwin / Physics of Meaning / Pattern is Movement / Extra Life @ The Bell House


Elk City / Faunts / Mahogany / The Whitsundays @ The Village Underground 9PM – 1AM

Late Of The Pier / The Whip / Ki:Theory / Nickel Eye (Featuring Nikolai Fraiture of The Strokes) / As Tall As Lions @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Scouting for Girls, Friendly Fires, Dirty Fuzz, Radio Luxembourg, Virgin Passages @ The Annex 8PM – Midnight

After the Jump Fest w/ My Teenage Stride / The Pains of Being Pure at Heart / Ringo Deathstarr / and about 17 other bands @ Knitting Factory 8PM 

I SAY: As much as I LOVE the Bell House, you basically have to dedicate yourself to staying there, 'cause it's kind of in the middle of nowhere Brooklyn. That said, it's a great lineup and easily the best, nicest, most comfortable, awesomest place that's hosting day parties this year. But for the indie ADD rest of us, it's better just to flit around the Lower East Side between Pianos and Cake Shop. I highly recommend catching Women, Faunts, Drink Up Buttercup, School of Seven Bells and Sam Champion

As for the nighttime shows, Canada's the Whitsundays make their only CMJ appearance tonight at the Friendly Fire Recordings showcase, where they play with Faunts — Paul Arnusch plays in both bands. Mahogany, who are also on that show, are pretty great too. If you could only go one place, though, head to the Knit. Three floors, lots of great distortion-pop (Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Ringo Deathstarr) and a lot of NYC's best bands. But I will not be missing Late of the Pier's US debut at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Their record is kind of brilliantly insane — part synth pop, part Queen, part metal. So curious as to see what it'll be like live.

Some MP3s…

MP3: Faunts – M4
MP3: Whitsundays – It Must Be Me
MP3School of Seven Bells – Prince of Peace
MP3Late of the Pier – The Bears are Coming

NYC Popfest: Mahogany + My Teenage Stride + The Pains of Being Pure at Heart | Music Hall of Williamsburg | 6.14.2008

Mahogany Despite the torrential rains and a slew of other shows with potentially the same audience (including Love is All, and to a lesser degree, Vampire Weekend), night three of NYC Popfest 2008 was a whole lot of fun. The venue wasn't sold-out by any means — the balcony wasn't open at all — but people who showed up stayed for all five bands on the bill, with very few people hanging at the downstairs bar during any of the performances. Indie-pop fans are dedicated. I'm breaking the evening into two posts, lest it be 10,000 words long or something, so this one covers the first three bands — all of whom are from Brooklyn.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
were the first band of the night and I was anxious to see them, as I've been liking their music for some time, the got the hot mention in L Magazine a few weeks back, and every time I read an interview they mention how much they dig The Pastels. I seemed destined to love them.

And I did. How can you not love great pop songs drenched in distortion and reverb? My Bloody Valentine comparisons abound, but to me they are more akin to Velocity Girl, if Archie had sung lead more. Or the Ropers or early Lilys or any band on Slumberland in the early '90s.

And they are very cute. In particular, keyboardist Peggy bops around on stage like one of the dancers in A Peanuts Christmas. (I'm thinking specifically of the girl who shakes her head side to side.) A friend commented "they just use distortion because they can't sing." (You should hear them play piano.) I would disagree with the not being able to sing part, but even if that was so… so what? I could name a dozen great bands who did the same. Are TPoBPaH great? With only about eight songs under their belt, too early to say. But loads of potential.

MP3: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – This Love is F-ing Right (buy)

My Teenage Stride
are seriously fun and their songs are ridiculously catchy. Sometimes maybea little too obvious in their '80s influences (why yes, that song does sound like The Chills' "Pink Frost" and that one is like The Wedding Present covering the Bunnymen…) but frontman Jedediah Smith is a thief with good taste — and a melancholic sense of humor.

A bundle of energy on stage, the songs had more oomph than on last year's quite good Ears Like Golden Bats. The popfest show was their last with bassist Mat Patalano and guitarist Dakkan Abe (I have a feeling the lineup changes a lot) and it seemed like they were determined to go out with a bang and much jumping around. Patalano, who has his own band The Specific Heats, will be particularly hard to replace — he's a real character. They also  played a few songs off their new Lesser Demons EP, and I thought "Theme from Teenage Suicide" was particularly storming.

MP3My Teenage Stride – Theme from Teenage Suicide

Mahogany_mhowSlimming down from the double rhythm section lineup they had around the time of their stellar 2006 album, Connectivity!, the now five-piece Mahogany gave the best performance of the night and it was definitely the best I'd ever seen them play. (Much much better than their muddled set at Mercury Lounge a while back.) Aided in no small part by the great sound at Music Hall of Williamsburg (which helped all the bands, actually), they just really had it together. The downsizing hasn't affected their sonics at all, which are still a huge swirl of guitars and groovy basslines. And though you could definitely call their music shoegaze, Mahogany don't stare at the floor. They were in constant motion with more than a little posing — which made for some great photos, even for a guy with a crappy point-and-shoot. They still don't seem to be able to play more than a five-song set, though. Or maybe they just know when enough's enough.

MP3: Mahogany – The View from the People Wall (buy)

More Popfest pictures on my Flickr.

Double Bill of the Week

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this Friday’s show at Mercury Lounge featuring two of New York’s best "dream pop" bands (trying to avoid the S-word). Headliners Dirty on Purpose haven’t played, aprart from opening for Band of Horses on Valentine’s Day, for five months or so, though they’ve been plenty busy. January saw the release of their great Like Bees EP while also releasing a free, digital-only EP,Dead Volcanoes, through, albiet in drips and drabs. The latter has been interesting to hear as it really finds the band stretching out and trying new things. I’m told that the final song they’ve yet to post is unlike anything they’ve ever done before (and George takes the rare lead vocals). Meanwhile, of the three that are currently available, I really like "The Thing About Getaways" and "Hard to Tell You" which sounds a bit like Luna covering "Crimson and Clover." (Nice spot, Sung Bin.) Friday is also bassist DJ Boudreau’s birthday, so be sure to buy him a shot… after the show, please.

Mahogany, meanwhile, have been laying low since releasing the masterful Connectivity! in 2006. I don’t think they’ve played a show since last summer. Their Myspace hasn’t really been updated since then either, so who knows what they have in store for us. Maybe some more of Connectivity!, as most of the shows I saw them play for that album were only about five songs deep. But they made up for it with the two-drummer, multiple guitarists and keyboardists and vocalists attack. And "Supervitesse" has yet to get old for me.

This is kind the 2008 equivalent of Ride and the Pale Saints touring together (which they did way back a licensed driver ago). It’s just one show, but still a perfect match. Tickets are $10 and will probably sell out before Friday I’d imagine.

In other Dirty on Purpose news, "Audience in the Room" from Like Bees can currently be heard in a Virgin Mobile commercial. (And I still think their cover of "Send Me an Angel" would be perfect for Gossip Girl.) Meanwhile, drummer Doug Marvin (who sings lead on "Getaways") has a solo project, Purse Snatchers, with some help from his wife Annie who plays in Au Revoir Simone when she’s not judging potential New York Noise VJs. The Purse Snatchers album, To Feet of Snow, is full of the pretty melodies and gentle singing athat Marvin brings to the songs he pens for Dirty on Purpose. There’s just more of them. And one of them is available on

MP3: Dirty on Purpose – Audience in the Room
(from Like Bees)

MP3: Mahogany – Springtime, Save Our Country
(from Connectivity!)