By Hollie Jones
This year’s CMJ Music Marathon did not disappoint, literally cramming the world’s best emerging musical talent into each and every available corner of the city for five days. We had a busy week, running across town and between boroughs to catch bands, conduct interviews and shoot new Secret Sound Shop videos (coming very soon!) but here is what Secret Sound Shop has dubbed to be the best of CMJ 2012.
New York’s own Chrome Canyon provided the perfect CMJ start on Tuesday at Cameo Gallery. Each and every note that emanated from the stage catapulted the crowd into a wild journey through outer space and then back again into the future. Chrome Canyon draws inspiration from the scores of old school sci-fi films to create a funky but wholly organic sound using a live drum, bass and guitar set up- no computers around his stage and he had the room dancing, spinning and violently hugging along to his tracks. It is not surprise that he scored a remix commission from Foster the People and even managed to squeeze a 6.3 review out of Pitchfork for Elemental Themes – no mean feat, we assure you. Keep your ears on this guy.
Secret Sound Shop were lucky enough to meet the Barcelona boys early in the CMJ week for an interview and video shoot. When minutes into our street shoot a crowd gathered to dance along to “Lesser Things”, we got an inkling that these guys put on a great show. The Seattle trio established an emotional ambience to accommodate romantic setting of Rockwood Music Hall, a venue that faithfully complimented their pensive, honest lyrics “I’m fearful of the night and the things I cannot see/ I can’t lose tonight, just watch me fall in line, for you” (“Less Than Two”). A grand piano that came out of the ceiling was the perfect platform for songwriter Brian Fennell’s lush vocals and soothing melodies and their cover of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend” was nothing short of incredible. What was most impressive about Barcelona this CMJ was their versatility; later, the band packed out Williamsburg’s Spike Hill, thrashing their more upbeat repertoire and stirring up a crowd of fans who hung on every word.
Hussle Club drew quite the crowd to the Lower East Side’s Cake Shop. Although Hussle Club is the lone project of Prince Terence, who personally recorded each instrument on the Children of the Underground EP he was joined on stage with a band. Anyone walking into the long, dark room part way through the set would have been faced with a hypnotised crowd, head banging to the tight drum beats, funky bass lines of glam/ psychedelic rock tracks that resembled a softer, more accessible version of Marilyn Manson.
Beach Day played an early set at Cameo Gallery on CMJ Friday when the sun was still bright outside. Walking into Cameo, which is tucked away in the back of Lovin’ Cup Cafe (N6 and Berry, Williamsburg) was far from a gloomy contrast to Brooklyn outside; it felt as though the girl-fronted trio brought with them a slice of Floridian sunshine. The room was brightened with surfy melodies, jangly garage rock guitars and poppy harmonies, as good as how I imagine the warm, fuzzy feeling of walking into a 1960′s California diner on a summer day.
When the newly formed ZZZ’s : three beautifully dressed, dainty Japanese women hit the Cake Shop stage not a soul was prepared for what was about to go down. What went down, was sharp lyrics delivered via unpredictable vocal styles: whispers, screams, sings and shouts; embellished with melodic repetitions, sharp contrasts, textures and killer riffs. Throughout their short set they pushed every boundary to effect a captivating take on 70s inspired punk rock. The true beauty in the trio’s performance was their committment to experimentation whilst maintaining a perfectly polished stage presence: a sign of great things to come.