In any case, my big CMJ night was last Tuesday, when I had tickets to the showcase at Irving Plaza headlined by Jenny and Johnny. But I'll get to them in a minute, because there were four bands that led off the evening, and I feel that they're all worth a mention at the very least. So here we go.
A sweet-sounding all-girl band, whose lead singer Katy (of the Vivian Girls) channels the hair of Jenny Lewis and the adorable factor of Zooey Deschanel. Their sound leans more towards a dreamy/fuzzed out/reverb-filled pop act. Their album doesn't come out until 2011, but their single Never Come Around has been floating around the internet pretty well.
A four-person band, this time with an aesthetic that remind me of some of the people I knew in high school. Let's say if they were on Freaks & Geeks, they'd be out back chillin' with Daniel and Nick and Kim. Their sound is considerably happier (poppier?) than I would have guessed (I know, I know, don't judge a book by its cover, blahblahblah). Regardless, they're signed by Sub Pop which is solid and awesome, and I'd say they live up to that particular notoriety.
Times New Viking
I would like to pause here to mention talk about how I like some bands purely based on their name, whether or not I listen to their music. I'm actually hesitant to ever listen to Casiotone for the Painfully Alone because what if I don't like it? Then my favorite rhyming and yet emo-sounding band name will have been a let down. But back to Times New Viking, whose allusion to a boring font is made way more awesome by inclusion of those Nordic warriors who just (unfortunately) happen to also have been by high school's mascots. Speaking of the Midwest, these folks hail from Ohio and give that state more credibility than, well, anything else I can think of. They're not exactly new (I mean, they're signed to Matador, which is a "real" label much like Sub Pop...), but their energy was intense and frenetic, and their pace from song to song was handled like the bus was going to blow up if it stopped for even a second. Their drummer deserves a major round of applause.
There are always those bands that have so much freaking hype and play a million CMJ showcases and I always wonder to myself if they deserve it. Wild Nothing was totally on that list this year (along with the likes of DOM and Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr), which meant that I was somewhat skeptical leading into their set. As it turns out, they sing songs that sound sincere and gentle, in an 80's John Hughes sort of way. They will steal your heart, both musically and well, aesthetically. Funny story, though: they opened for Freelance Whales and the Morning Benders this summer at Governor's Island. "Weren't you at that show?" Why yes, yes I was. But: we were in line/eating food for their whole set. Oops? Better late than never.
Jenny and Johnny
Ok, a million years later, here we go: the main act! I've already discussed my love of Jenny Lewis, but any of the criticisms I had for Scissor Runner the song have since been dispelled by the rest of their album I'm Having Fun Now which is choc-full of sweet-yet-sultry Jenny Lewis vocals which mix quite nicely with her boyfriend's. I still hear "Losing My Religion" whenever I listen to the beginning of "Animal." On stage, she's a petite little thing that you'd never suspect would proclaim a fondness for the strip clubs of NY because "everyone needs a little smut" - but it's that LA-tinged grittiness that I love about this former Troop Beverly Hills-star-turned-frontwoman. Their set was solid, and included an acoustic number sans their backing bandmates, but no encore.
And now I will share some crappy pictures and momentarily whine about how I need a better camera!
Katy of La Sera (see what I mean?)
Times New Viking
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the whole band!