CMJ Saturday Highlights, 10/23/10
The CMJ Music Marathon drew to a close on Saturday, with the day’s performers getting one more chance (or two or three, in some cases) to grab a piece of the spotlight.
Detroit duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has emerged as one of the breakout bands of CMJ 2010 thanks to the undeniable charm of songs that blend breezy pop melodies and strong harmonies with lush, layered instrumentation and drum machine grooves (live, they play with a drummer, who helps take the songs to a whole different level). It should probably be noted that they play wearing NASCAR jumpsuits, use a telephone as a microphone and somehow manage to tote around a giant light-up “J” and “R” to put onstage–but they certainly don’t need any gimmicks to draw attention to themselves, as their songs accomplish that on their own.
Australia’s Crayon Fields played delightful Belle and Sebastian-style indie pop with bouncy bass lines, jangly guitars, and lovely harmonies courtesy of their three singers.
It’s tempting not to give Cults too much credit, as the young Brooklyn band has received an almost unbelievable amount of attention based solely on a 3-song 7″ posted online a few months back. It seems like a little more work should be required for any new band to get a 9 (or any rating, for that matter) on Pitchfork and gain the attention of NME, MTV and The New York Times. Having said that, Cults certainly know their way around a catchy, ’60s-influenced pop song, and show versatility with songs that have a darker edge than the xylophone-laden sunshine of the ubiquitous “Go Outside.”
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is pretty much the gold standard for Brooklyn indie pop right now, with a sound that strikes a perfect balance between rocking, dreamy and catchy, and pays just enough homage to classic bands of the ’80s and ’90s without ever sounding derivative. Their set included some material from the forthcoming follow-up to their excellent 2009 self-titled debut.
Titus Andronicus got cut off after three songs during their afternoon set, much to their fans’ dismay, but played again that night to an enthusiastic reception at Brooklyn Bowl. Their fantastic second album, this year’s The Monitor, blends Civil War analogies with fiery New Jersey rock goodness, complete with glorious guitar solos and epic sing-alongs. Their extremely high-energy, almost ecstatic live shows win them new fans every time they play.