CMJ 2011 Highlights: Tuesday and Wednesday, 10/18-19

October 20. 2011 | By Kiri

The first two days of CMJ brought us some old faces in new bands and the opportunity for some heartfelt singalongs.

Brooklyn’s Diehard kicked off Tuesday evening at the Rock Shop. They rocked out in a friendly, slightly nerdy, ’90s-influenced sort of way, with a sense of humor (“Die hard – there is is again!” went one lyric) and some sweet guitar solos.

Then, local favorites Palomar charmed the audience with their sparkling, low-key pop songs, interspersed with singer Rachel Warren’s wry stage banter.

The Lonely Forest
Hailing from Anacortes, Washington, The Lonely Forest made their CMJ debut to a packed room at Mercury Lounge, inspiring impassioned singalongs to their catchy, honest and legitimately moving anthems.

Wednesday:

Radiation City
At the Big Hassle day party at Piano’s on Wednesday, Radiation City showed off powerhouse girl-group vocals that sounded equally great on jaunty rock songs and smoldering ballads.

Gospel Music
Black Kids bassist Owen Holmes also fronts Gospel Music, whose debut LP comes out on Kill Rock Stars next week. His songs draw influences from the Magnetic Fields, the Modern Lovers, and classic country, with Madeline Long’s lovely backing vocals contributing twee-rific touches.

Cloud Nothings
Cloud Nothings impressed with a fast, loud, and incredibly tight set. Some of their songs have strong vocal melodies and sometimes they just rock the instrumental jams (and rock them hard)–in both cases, they’re a blast to watch.

Aficionado‘s set was a highlight of the Kind of Like Records/Property of Zack showcase at the Acheron in Bushwick. Their passionate post-punk has relentless energy, big sing-along choruses, the occasional flute solo, and plenty of dramatic flair courtesy of charismatic frontman Nick Warchol.

Candy Hearts
Candy Hearts plays sweet and incredibly infectious pop. Mariel Loveland sings in a charmingly laid-back way about the little moments that define life’s ups and downs.

TS & the Past Haunts
Travis Shettel of Piebald recorded an EP with the members of The Duke Spirit under the name TS & the Past Haunts and recruited a bassist and drummer to play the songs live. This project gives him the opportunity to rock out super hard and play guitar solos with a wah-wah pedal, but he seems to have retained his trademark whimsical lyrical style. “This song is about when your scooter breaks and you have to take the bus home from the bar late at night and there are zombies,” he said excitedly at one point, “…and they won’t kill you, but they are half dead.”

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