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Running the CMJ Marathon 2012 - Day 1 - by Josh S. Johnson
Blonds, Laura Stevenson, The Nightmare River Band, Sean0Sean, sami.the.great, Brainstorm, Everest Cale

The second best part of CMJ, after of course the opportunity to see tons of great bands for five straight nights in the greatest city for music, is the process of sorting through the seemingly endless list of bands in order to meticulously plan your personal schedule down to the minute. That feeling of invincibility concerning the laws of time and space is an awful like the one you get when you develop grand plans to start exercising and working out.  That brief sensation of euphoria lasts right up to the minute you told yourself you were going to start. Then you realize you already walked something like three flights of stairs that day, so really there’s no need to exercise.

Similarly, that confidence in a CMJ strategy lasts for the all too brief period between the schedule’s release and when the first band you see doesn’t start or finish on time. Suddenly those hours of planning turn are for naught as you blindly choose a venue to visit next. Yet the chaos of CMJ is part of its undeniable charm. As my uncle once said to me while my dad tried to figure out how he forgot to turn the lights off in the now-non-starting rental car we were driving through the middle of Alabama: “It’s part of the adventure.”

My CMJ adventure started with an example of the aforementioned scheduling hassles. I arrived at The Rock Shop around 7:30 with the intention of catching Brooklyn’s Howth, who released a solid indie-rock album, “Newkirk” earlier this year, at 7:45.  However, I soon learned that the band that was supposed to play at 7, Sean0Sean, was just beginning their set. Not wanting to leave Brooklyn empty handed, I stuck around and declared Sean0Sean, led by Brooklyn-born Sean Kiely, my first band of CMJ 2012.

Not only did Sean0Sean’s Rock Shop gig break the band’s CMJ virginity, it was their first gig, period. Hearing that, I felt that there wasn’t a better way to begin my week of researching upcoming bands than with a band that has never played a show before. When I arrived, the band consisted of only a guitarist and a bassist, but I was optimistic since I love the Flight of the Conchords. Well, Sean0Sean weren’t quite as entertaining Bret and Jemaine (and Murray, present), but they did bring a sort of straight-out-of-the-garage charm. Eventually a drummer joined the duo, and the newly formed trio banged out some solid garage-rock tunes.

brainstormAfter a brief excursion in Brooklyn, I made my way back to the East Village, where I spent the remainder of the night. First up was Portland, Oregon trio BRAINSTORM at the Lit Lounge. BRAINSTORM was certainly fun to watch and listen to, mostly due to the drummer/singer’s energy and the guitarist’s oscillation between psych distortion and the fluttery cleanliness of indie-rock. Also, the guitarist frequently put his instrument aside to grab a tuba, so that was neat.

nightmare river

I then made a quick walk to the Bowery Electric, where I caught the last couple songs of pop artist Sami Akbari, aka sami.the.great. Sami’s performance of Cyndi Lauper-like pop songs was enjoyable to watch and listen to, but it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea. However, the next act up at the Electric, The Nightmare River Band (pictured), was right up my alley.

The Nightmare River Band is the most aptly named band I’ve seen so far at CMJ. Many of their songs possess that sort of romantic notion that if the boat is sinking, then fuck it and party while you still can, specifically “Last Goodbye.” Ironically, they opened with “Last Goodbye,” which, at least by looking at its title, would seem like the perfect closing song. Instead, the band closed with an inspired cover of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers, which was somehow an even bouncier version than the original. The dueling guitar and bass solos certainly helped. Overall, the Nightmare River Band a great set filled with some rather awesome rock n’ roll songs.

Returning to my home turf, I set up shop at the Delancey to see Blonds (top of page picture) perform at the Deli's Rootsy showcase. I had high expectations for the duo, who performed as a five-piece live, and they were undoubtedly exceeded. Singer Cari Rae began the show with her smoky, sultry vocals. Just as you start to view Rae as an angel from heaven, the instrumentation, led by guitarist Jordy Asher, knocks you off the side of the earth down into hell. Rae’s smile turns to a snarl, and her swagger rises as the controlled chaos builds around her. Every song took on new power live. While the studio version of “Mr. E” embodies the suaveness of James Bond, then the live take sounds like what happens when you replace 007’s martini with an assault rifle. With their commanding take of an already strong catalog, Blonds proved to be the highlight of CMJ Tuesday.


After a misguided attempt to squeeze in seeing a band at Fontanas, I returned to the Delancy just in time for the tail end of Laura Stevenson & the Cans. Stevenson commanded the packed room with her confident folk-rock.


After Laura, I ended my first night of CMJ 2012 with Everest Cale The strength of Everest Cale’s debut EP, “Beast,” comes from Brett Treacy’s fantastic voice, which, at times, sounds like the late, great Layne Staley. While Treacy did howl like the eponymous beast, the star of the band’s performance at the Delancey was guitarist Jeremy Kolmin. Kolmin would rip off blistering solos while bending notes to new heights. With Treacy’s vocals and Kolmin’s guitar, Everest Cale delivered a high-quality performance. Plus, they won the coveted “Best Line of Stage Banter Award” with this gem: “You drunk assholes go fuck yourselves” (said jokingly, of course).






The Deli's CMJ Shows 2012





Deli readers in bands,

Every year, The Deli's Year End Polls highlight hundreds of the best emerging artists in the 11 local US scenes we cover - and reward them with prizes from our sponsors.

As you may know, the winner of the NYC poll will grace the cover of the spring issue of The Deli.

Now established artists like Local Natives, Yeasayer, Twin Shadow, Vampire Weekends, Vivian Girls, Ra Ra Riot, Girls, Kurt Vile, Baths, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Blank Dogs, Buke and Gass and many others won or did well in our polls months if not years before getting international recognition.

The end of the 2011 is quickly approaching and we are ready to go through the painstaking 2 month process involved in selecting the artists and processing the various votes. We are already asking our local jurors (mostly venue promoters, bloggers, record store and radio personnel) to cast their vote for their favorite local emerging artists. But of course, our polls are open to all bands who want to be considered: free submissions are open from now until December 4th HERE - after that date we'll have $5 submissions through SonicBids for another couple of weeks. All these submissions will be grouped by genre and filtered by The Deli's local editors and some Deli writers.

To submit for consideration and for more info about our year end polls please go

Good Luck
The Deli's Staff



At The Delancey on Tuesday 10.18 we'll have a truly fantastic bill with 9 NYC based electro-pop bands - and it's going to be free!. 21+ - $8.
Full listings of the Deli's CMJ shows here. See below for the Dream Pop and Alt Rock stages that same night in the same venue (downstairs).

P.S. If you are into Pedal Effects, don't miss The Deli's STOMP BOX EXHIBIT at CMJ on Friday and Saturday!!!


7.00 - The Casualty Process

7.40 - Illuminator
8.20 - Tiny Victor ies
9.00 - Mitten
9.40 - Computer Magic

10.20 - Psychobuildings

11.00 - Pretty Good Dance Moves

11.40 - Caged Animals

12.20 - Slam Donahue


Raavi presents their ode to "no bodies" for Hardly Art Singles Series

Interpolating from the artist’s own stated declaration of creative intention, Raavi’s “no bodies” is a song about the ontological insecurity commonly experienced by artist types who on the one hand seek self-actualization and authenticity by means of their artistic expressions and on the other seek some measure of ego-sustaining and career-sustaining public approbation and how these two goals can sometimes be antithetical to one another…

…or put into plain English it’s a song about “measuring one’s own worth” in cases where there's a little voice in your head saying things like “If I’m giving everything to this music career (or whatever), and I’m not succeeding, then where am I? And what even is success?” and where reaching the top of one figurative ladder merely leads back to the bottom rungs of the next ladder…

…thus making it “incredibly difficult to recognize where you are on your own path” in the words of band frontperson and songwriter Raavi Sita who as a self-defined queer desi may know a thing or two about what's it like not fitting into socially-imposed prefabricated categories…

…and granted you’re not gonna get all this from this lyrics alone which are more evocative than descriptive and bully for that—tho’ lines like “you hear what / they say bout me / off-kilter / the f#ck that mean?” clearly put across this gnawing sense of lack-of-fit whereas the song’s title playfully plays off the anxiety of being “a nobody” plus the denial of bodily autonomy afforded to The Other—but it’s the music of “no bodies” that to these ears communicates the theme most hauntingly…

…with a pleasingly off-kilter (whoops, sorry!) and quite catchy melodic hook and a musical arrangement that vacillates between the earthbound and the ethereal--with gritty, gravelly guitar tones set against celestial harp-like harmonics, and sustained crystalline syllables set against vocal hiccups and pitch bends, alternating overall between repetitive, self-reflective verses and interludes that soar gloriously off into the stratosphere—and if this is what ontological insecurity sounds like then at least it comes with some compensatory benefits…

…and it’s relevant here to mention that “no bodies” was produced by Justin Termotto with Ruben Radlauer (Model/Actriz, Venus Twins, Dirt Buyer) co-engineering/mixing the record and also that Raavi’s rhythm section is comprised up of James Duncan (bass) and Jason Block (drums)…

…and finally also that “no bodies” is the latest chapter in Hardly Art Singles Series with the critically-acclaimed Sub Pop offshoot (La Luz, My Idea, Protomartyr, Hunx and His Punx) celebrating its 15 years of existence with 15 curated singles solicited from a selection of the label’s favorite artists which should help bolster anyone’s ontological security one hopes. (Jason Lee)


Teenage Tom Petties to play first Deli Delivers™ showcase

Maybe some of you remember seeing a show called Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies (JHMB for short) for the first time back in the day or remember just hearing the name of the show for the first time—or who knows, maybe you’re a toddler-through-tween who knows Muppet Babies from its recent reboot on Disney Junior—but either way I bet when you first stumbled upon JHMB you simply thought “yaaaaas” to yourself…

…because the concept is total perfection—cuteness and nostalgia mixed with the Muppets’ trademark snarky humor (for a kids’ show, at least) but no less sincere for it and overall rough-hewn charm (not to mention the DIY-style felt puppet construction) plus I’ll bet that any one of the Muppet Babies could kick Baby Yoda’s ass all the way to Dagobah and back like Lou Groza on a good day and, I mean, Gonzo or Animal or even the Swedish Chef would probably inadvertantly rip the little backwards-taking, fortune-cookie-quoting green globule to shreds which would keep both of Jim Henson’s hands very busy.

But I digress. The real reason I’m bringing this up is because there’s a good case to be made for Teenage Tom Petties (TTP) being basically a modern-day equivalent of JHMB to the point where the band could legit be renamed Jim Henson’s Gen X Grunge Babies except I do like the mental image of Tom Petty’s lanky frame, center-parted hair, and hangdog face in adolescence with a mouthful of braces and a face full of acne bleating out “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with his laconic voice breaking on almost every syllable alongside a similarly adorable Teenage Stevie Nicks back when she still had a septum

But I digress. Much like Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies, Teenage Tom Petties was hatched from the mind of a single individual, namely, Tom Brown of Rural France fame, who despite the Gallic name are actually from rural England. And if you’re asking yourself “why are a bunch of Britons being featured on the Deli NYC page, and why aren’t they at home sobbing quietly whilst laying a wreath for the Queen?”

Well it’s because the TTP’s are on the road and they’re gonna be playing the first Deli Delivers show ever on 9/30, the one and only New York City appearance by the now fully fleshed-out band making their first trip across North America, playing alongside a coterie of cool local NYC acts (The Planes, Holy Tunics, and Kira Metcalf!) at the East Williamsburg EconoLodge (EWEL) but again I digress.

According to their Bandcamp page TTP is a home-recorded garage punk project serving as a semi-autobiographical account of a 90’s teenager, growing up in suburbia, written by someone who was there looking back years later. Quoting directly: “TTP bristles with the excitement of teenage life—the discoveries, the obsessions, the failures, the mundanity—cut through with the lo-fi indie rock sounds of early Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr and even some Descendants [personally, I’d add Guided By Voices, mid-period Sebadoh, and late-period Replacement to this list not to mention Tom Petty perhaps?] capturing the grandness and smallness of teenage life.”

So ya see we’re talking nostalgia, we’re talking rough-hewn textures (felt puppets in musical form!) and fuzzy sweetness, all mashed up together DIY style just like those Muppet Babies. Take the propulsive “Boatyard Winch” for instance which opens TTP’s eponymous debut record a song that’s either about sailing winches or watery tarts—I can’t make out all the lyrics over the racket which is intended as a compliment of course...

...or the strutting “Lambo,” a song about the narrator’s sweet sweet ride or more likely the Lamborghini poster scotch-taped to his wall as a teenager (is it snarky? is it sincere? is there a difference?) with an accompanying video proving you don’t need anything more than an old VHS copy of Cannonball Run II and a green screen to create art.

Meanwhile, “Boxroom Bangers” is indeed a banger with it’s mounting tension-and-release dynamics while “Last Starfighter” is fittingly anthemic with it’s repeated “I don’t care if you love me” refrain. So, yeah, speaking of refrains I’ll refrain from spoiling the back half of the album for you but rest assured Teenage Tom Petties fully live up to their name and then some with music that’s half math club geek and half shop class greaser—like a faded ‘90s high school yearbook distilled into an airy mist and sprayed into your earholes and here’s hoping their latest single “I Met A Girl In America” proves prescient on tour. (Jason Lee)


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