CMJ Friday Highlights, 10/22/10
Friday at CMJ, performances at the BrooklynVegan day party at Public Assembly included another diverse set of strong female-fronted bands. Elsewhere, we tracked down the best new rock bands for fans of stick-in-your-head choruses to check out.
First Aid Kit is the folk duo of adorable Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara SÃ¶derberg. They were joined by a drummer for part of their set, but it’s no secret that their voices–incredibly rich and nuanced, woven in gorgeous harmonies on almost every lyric–are all they need to silence a room. Their set included the Fleet Foxes cover that made them famous on YouTube (“Tiger Mountain Peasant Song”) as well as a cover of Fever Ray’s “When I Grow Up.”
Montreal’s The Luyas played spacey experimental pop with slight but captivating vocals by talented frontwoman Jessie Stein, who sometimes switched out her guitar for a fascinating custom instrument called the Moodswinger.
The British band Shrag played fun, bouncy pop punk with sweet female vocals that occasionally took on a bratty punk edge.
Brooklyn’s Asobi Seksu has been around for quite a while (they said the show was their first CMJ performance in maybe five years), but they still deserve to gain a wider audience for their lush dream pop that blends heavy rhythms with otherworldly keyboards and Yuki Chikudate’s high, ethereal vocals.
John Vanderslice‘s headlining performance at the BV party served as a reminder that buzz bands will come and go, but good songwriting will always prevail. It was refreshing to watch the veteran troubadour command a room with just an acoustic guitar, his voice, and his often simple but always original songs that tell affecting stories. He finished his set in the crowd, joined by a longtime bandmate on accordion and a trumpet player he claimed he had just met fifteen minutes earlier.
Boston’s Pretty & Nice almost certainly won new fans with their set of frenetic, super-high-energy rock with memorable hooks.
Florida’s Fake Problems plays superbly well-crafted, honest power pop songs that you can hear once and then sing along with the next time. Their late-night set had a small but rabid group of fans singing and dancing along with abandon; that group is sure to grow after CMJ.