Sound Checks

Your Choices Guide to Four Nights of CMJ Music

THURSDAY 13

ADAM X+PHOENICIA+CRANES
Limelight, at 9

Brooklyn's Adam X was the first human on earth to put out two excellent albums in 2001: April's mix CD On the One and Two united Wax Trax industrial, Inner City Detroit austerity, and Central European goth beauty with Chicks on Speed and Malaria and Mr. Roboto; May's Creative Vandalism took electro back to the Phuture of acid house. Phoenicia are Miami experimenters who tinkle like Kid606 or Datach'i except not as funky. Cranes gaze at shoes. With Richard Devine, Otto Van Schirach, DJ Aura, and Gul. (Eddy)

ATERCIOPELADOS+LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES+LOS SUPERLITO+ SI SE
Roxy, at 8

If you're still running the streets ignorant of Latin music puhleeze read my literary lips: You suck (and must attend). The Colombian velvets, Aterciopelados, return with Andrea's honey vocals snatching hold to hypnotize over bass-dripping, percussion- stimulated, salsa-founded, electronic lounge. LAI are quickly becoming the Ketchup of Latin condiments wheelin 'n' dealin their arse-tantalizing dancefloor-bound cuchi-cuchis all over NYC. Los Superlito guitarist Alejo's theatrics and stage presence alone are reason enough to witness these future Super Heroes. Their Colombian rockatronica fully loaded with DJ is scrumptiously newfangled and cutting all of our edges. Also on, the luscious Si Se. (Mañon)

CHOCOLATE GENIUS+MIRANDA LEE RICHARDS
The Cutting Room, at 8

Chocolate Genius is a cheeky performer, and doubtless his sharp wit will be on "burn" at this odd showcase. His latest, Godmusic, doesn't moan quite as much as his last one, Black Music, but it still hurts in all the right places. Sweet-voiced Miranda Lee Richards is fresh off her hard-earned debut, an indie-rock nugget helped along by Jon Brion and everyone else in Los Angeles (sort of). With John Carlin, Fire in the Boathouse, and Ill Lit. (Caramanica)

MF DOOM+SCIENZ OF LIFE+SOURCE OF LABOR
New York University, Thompson Center, at 7:30

Any chance to see the man behind the mask, MF Doom, is one that needs to be taken. He's a broken maestro of the art, and his perpetually reissued album Operation: Doomsday is one of the true classics of the last few years. On stage, he's surly. Hell, at one show, he even took a swipe at his partner Megalon. Featuring Scienz of Life and Seattle's conscious fiends Source of Labor, this is a Subverse showcase, but where's Bigg Jus? Also: Second 2 Last, Trifegod, Kingovpain. (Caramanica)

MARK EITZEL+REBECCA GATES+DANIELLE HOWLE+SHANNON WRIGHT+ERIK SANKO
Village Underground, at 7

Surliness and self-involvement usually make for a chart-friendly mix, but somehow the bedsit curmudgeons on this bill have managed to avoid the spotlight. Eitzel's inexorable trek towards Rufus Wainwright territory continues unabated, but both Howle and Wright seem willing to take up his spot on the downbeat, downtrodden end of the mope-folk spectrum. Former Spinane Rebecca Gates is as spunky as ever, while art-boy Sanko has been trying his hand at formful songwriting of late, with mostly positive results. (Sprague)

'THE ELEMENTS OF HIP HOP'
B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, at 6:30

Right, so hip-hop has four elements (unless you've read KRS-ONE's book and buy into all that mess). This bill bats .750. The ubiquitous Rock Steady Crew rock the locks that pop, and the Arsonists, in between actual rap songs, dance so hard they could pass for O-Town members. Dirty white-boy rappers Smut Peddlers count Al Goldstein as a fan, while martial arts whiz Afu-Ra does not. Mix Master Mike and the X-Ecutioners will easily outshine everyone else on the bill with their finger histrionics. There's no graf, but DJ Swamp does set himself on fire sometimes. With Pep Love. (Caramanica)

BEN FOLDS+PHANTOM PLANET+MO SOLID GOLD
Irving Plaza, at 8

For those of us who are excited by the fact that pianoman Ben Folds has new material, do not miss this show. Rockin' the Suburbs is replete with song titles that call to mind J.D. Salinger stories and shows that Folds still has the chops. I know, Darren and Jesse were cute and added some rhythmic punch, and rounded out the trio-folds-five nomenclature. But I'm told that LA rock band Phantom Planet is cute too; their lead singer appeared in the recent spate of GAP ads. Come on, this is CMJ. Don't pretend you don't care if they're cute. (Havranek)

FOLK IMPLOSION+CLINIC
Knitting Factory, Main Space, at 9

Well, it's too bad that John Davis doesn't feel like hitting the stage anymore, but at least it hasn't stopped his partner, the amazing Lou Barlow, from taking their Folk Implosion on the road. Recent shows have found him surrounded by Russ from Sebadoh and Imaad Wasif from lowercase. This show should kick ass—even when Lou's off he's on. As for Clinic, their last album tops Radiohead's last two, and they're even better when they tap into that crazy rock energy from their earlier days. With Pilote and Four Tet. (Switzer)

GOGOL BORDELLO+SOMETHING LIKE ELVIS+HAPPY PILLS+ROBOTOBIBOK+PROGRAM
Warsaw, at 8

Excepting crazed Ukranian handlebar-mustache-accordion-punk expatriates Gogol Bordello, this aptly located bill showcases similarly twisted rock from Poland, courtesy of the hugely underappreciated Tamizdat Records. Give or take the Breeders-poppy Happy Pills, all these combos appear to really dig Pere Ubu, or at least Jesus Lizard and the Mothers of Invention. Though polkas may not be out of the question. (Eddy)

KNIFE IN THE WATER+AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
CBGB, at 8

Featuring two of Austin's finest: As regards Knife in the Water, forget alt-nostalgia, this is the Real Country, 2001 AD. Glassy sublime pedal-steel and chiaroscuro vocal harmonies cradle genuinely poetic lyrics of longing, loneliness, and violence. The quietude of their first record has an edgy and reckless quality that would make Link Wray proud. Trail of Dead bring the heavier ordinance, but they gots the smarts to carry off a formidable punk sound and manic stage bravado in surprising and sophisticated ways. Sources say they will lay waste, but we'll all be the better for it. With Tamar-Kali, Simi, Cathy Richardson Band, and the O. (Dufresne)

PEANUT BUTTER WOLF+MAD LIB
Frying Pan, at 9

Peanut Butter Wolf loves old 45s so much that he just decided to start making them himself. His label, Stones Throw (recently relocated to LA), is one of the reasons to still pay attention to the West. Best artist? Madlib, a/k/a Quasimoto, a/k/a Yesterday's New Quintet. The Unseenwas one of 2000's great albums—as Quasimoto, Mad creates moods like no one else. YNQ is his latest project, in which he turns jazzbo and plays all the parts himself. Also: Ese, Shiny Dayz, DJ Smash. (Caramanica)

RAINER MARIA+THE IVORY COAST+PELE+AM/FM+ALOHA
Mercury Lounge, at 7:30

Polyvinyl's sweet, pretty post-punk gets precious in places, but the instrumental Pele are this bill's only weak spot, being instrumental indie and all. The Ivory Coast and Aloha thread their sparkly slip 'n' slide post-spunk guitars with keyboard and vibraphone, respectively; Rainer Maria rub boy-girl vocals together til they're raw; and, on their new disc, AM/FM cover Leonard Cohen more faithfully than their fun, scatterbrain sound warrants. Also: Mates of State. (Catucci)

RYE COALITION+MONOTRACT+THE HOLY CHILDHOOD
Luxx, at 8

Rye Coalition's been morphing from Jesus Lizard/Drive Like Jehu-ish post hardcore into a '70s revivalist MC5-cum-Zeppelin pounding machine. They really come unhinged when they do the killer Zep I sounding druggy-blues space jams and boy can those kids play—just play! Somewhere near the kernel of Monotract's keyboard-oscillated deconstructo noise is something slightly reminiscent of songs—songs with a slight Middle Eastern flavor. For those who follow rock criticism, Greil Marcus thinks Gern Blandsten's the Holy Childhood are the shit. With Rock Coaches, Moneen, and Snails. (Bosler)

SCARED OF CHAKA+ATOM & HIS PACKAGE
Wetlands, at 3 p.m.

Frank Kogan suggests that Seattle's Scared of Chaka are the first band to convincingly resemble both Weezer and Electric Eels (he prefers the latter), which pretty much nails them, unless "what if Rocket From the Crypt suddenly turned into Richard Hell and the Voidoids" (or Viva Las Vegas's claim that they write the best breakup songs since X) helps. Atom is the technopop Dead Milkmen, sorta, only packing (even?) better jokes. With The Weakerthans and Digger. (Eddy)

UNWOUND+CLINIC+MECCA NORMAL+THE THRONES
Maxwell's, at 9

See the Short List.


FRIDAY 14

ANTICON+FLY PAN AM+TO ROCOCO ROT+MARUMARI
Brownies, at 9

This bill is too good to miss, so pay attention. Fly Pan Am is a Godspeed You Black Emperor! side project, and boy does it show—tall walls of sound, albeit thinner ones. Post-rockers To Rococo Rot scored big with their recent album collaboration with loud muthafucka I-Sound. Marumari makes quirky 'lectronics for the Carpark label, including some bizarre narrative about wolves (not joking). And the dear boys on the Anticon label will drop irregular, illogical, and often incomprehensible wisdom in their post-everything kind of way. With Alex Gordon. (Caramanica)

LTJ BUKEM+NED'S ATOMIC DUSTBIN+RED ENGINE NINE
Limelight, at 6:30

Bukem's enticing, mellowed-out grooves have always stood in stark contrast to the e's-and-whizz spastica of his drum'n'bass peers, not to mention the computer-age nerd-pop of his billmates here. The Neds were always a little too smart for their own good, but in a post-Radiohead world, they've taken on a bit more relevance: The same might be said for po-faced Jersey boys Red Engine Nine, a decade or two down the road. Also: Rialto, the Youth Ahead, Stephen Reso. (Sprague)

CUTTHROATS 9+BOTTOM
Continental, at 9:45

Cutthroats 9 is Chris Spencer (ex-Unsane)'s new band, now hailing from the left coast. Brutal drop D, early '90s sludge, not too far removed from Unsane—reports from friends in S.F. say they're pretty brutal. "Talk about mudflaps my girls got 'em," but not in the literal derriere, but in the aural-tochis sense; Bottom are chicks that faithfully take communion at the Geezer-Iommi-Osbourne trinity. Cult faves Electric Frankenstein play straight ahead beer-belly-bouncin', punkified-KISS gutter-rock and with great underground comic art to back up their boisterous name. With the Turbo A.C.'s and the X-Impossibles. (Bosler)

THE GANTS+HOLLY GOLIGHTLY+THE INSOMNIACS
Maxwell's, at 10

A garage rock show in Jersey, and it's not even hosted by Little Steven? Huh? Anyway, reunited '60s one-hit wonders ("Roadrunner") and Nuggets veterans the Gants headline, but the main attraction should be the oft-overlooked former Thee Headcoatee Holly Golightly, a woman brave enough to sneak a little bit o' country 'n' blues into the garage. With the Cavestomp!-approved Estrus records band the Insomniacs. (Phillips)

ELIZABETH HARPER+MOLDY PEACHES
Mercury Lounge, Fri at 6:30

One of the best folk-friendly females playing this silly "Corporate Music Jack-off" fest—by herself her stuff's a tad melancholy and delicate à la Chan Marshall or Elliot Smith, with her band the pop is more bubbly like a way less cheesy Edie Brickell but with slight spices of '80s Brit-pop (the Cure, the Smiths) thrown in. The Moldy Peaches have truckfuls of wackiness and cuteness, but they match the high jinks with talent and great songs. Plus they've spawned a great new genre—folk-porn! With Sound of Urchin, Kevin Tahista's Red Terror, Hopewell, Tyler Keith and the Preacher's Kids, and A.R.E. Weapons. (Bosler)

CACHAITO LOPEZ
B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, at 8 & 10:30

See the Short List.

DJ SPOOKY+DJ ASSAULT
Lunaterium, at 9

See the Club Crawl.

SKELETON KEY+FIREWATER
Village Underground, at 8

Skeleton Key have been around for awhile now, and although they got quite a bit of momentum going in the mid '90s, they still have never received as much credit as they truly deserve. They've been called experimental, and they are—they do bang on found junk and stuff—but mostly they just all around fucking rock! Think Jawbox meets Tom Waites. Firewater aren't nearly as interesting, and judging from their latest, Psychopharmacology, it would be easier to believe that Tod Ashley used to front the Soupdragons rather than Cop Shoot Cop. Think the Stone Roses meet Nirvana on an off day. Or don't think anything at all about them—I know I'm not going to. With (International) Noise Conspiracy, Zurdok, and the Detachment Kit. (Switzer)

STEREO TOTAL+EX-GIRL+MOONEY SUZUKI
Knitting Factory, Main Space, at 9

Stereo Total and Ex-Girl, from Germany (via France and everywhere else) and Japan respectively, both make their new wave as adorable and eccentric as can be. Stereo Total cover Serge Gainsbourg and Salt 'N Pepa and sing in more languages than anybody; Ex-Girl cover "Pop Muzik" and balance out their sometimes disconcerting fusion tendencies with toy frogs and ray guns. Mooney Suzuki are a decent if rather thin-sounding '60s revival band. Also: Ping Pong Bitches, Taylor Savvy. (Eddy)

THE STROKES+PEDRO THE LION+THE EXPLOSION+OWLS+STRIKE ANYWHERE+MILEMAKER+NEW END ORIGINAL
Irving Plaza, at 8

See the Short List.


SATURDAY 15

RYAN ADAMS+THE ANGEL+LAPTOP+BURNING BRIDES
Village Underground, at 8

Longtime whiskey-runner Adams (whose new Gold frequently has him thankfully abandoning alt-country for an urban-troubadour realm somewhere in the vicinity of Garland Jeffreys's Ghostwriteror very early Springsteen) is the main attraction. But distaff dub DJ the Angel, self-absorbed skinny-tie sadsack Laptop, and greasy garage gunkers Burning Brides should all have their moments, if nothing in common with each other. Also: Convoy. (Eddy)

APPLES IN STEREO+FOUR CORNERS+SUNSHINE FIX
Maxwell's, at 9:30

These three overlapping Elephant 6 bands are so ooey gooey sticky sweet you might get a cavity just from listening. Apples in Stereo's latest EP salutes the Beach Boys and the Powerpuff Girls, while the Four Corners wouldn't sound out of place at a sock hop. The Sunshine Fix's Bill Doss (formerly of Olivia Tremor Control) drags out as many instruments as he can find to play his happy hippie soul music. (Phillips)

MC PAUL BARMAN+PRINCESS SUPERSTAR+DOUBLE DONG & WYLD LIXX
Makor, at 8

Like a wedding ceremony of white dork rap, meshuggah MC Paul Barman and potty-mouthed Princess Superstar will let the uptown faithful at Makor know just how gully geeks can be. Of course, Princess Superstar offers a high sexability quotient too, something matched by Double Dong's jokey schlock rock about engorged shafts (which, to my disappointment, was not set to Isaac Hayes music). (Caramanica)

BEULAH+DAVID LOWERY+GEM+CHAMPALE
Mercury Lounge, at 6

My favorite on this bill is the California band Beulah, who sound like what a fizzy, fuzzy cocktail on an end-of-summer day tastes like. Their latest The Coast Is Never Clearis fantastic and one of the best indie-rock albums in years: Think early '90s. And that's the same David Lowery of Cracker, née Camper Van Beethoven, going solo with what he's billing as the travelling apothecary. Gem and Champale are fellow mates of Lowery's Pitch-a-Tent label. With Arlo, the Waxwings, and Viva. (Havranek)

BIG LAZY+THE FLESHTONES+HOLLY GOLIGHTY
CBGB, at 9

Big Lazy is a great twangy reverb-laced instrumental rockabilly trio that produces the real deal. A sound best described as audio mescaline. I'm not using the term lightly when I say Brooklyn-based quartet the Fleshtones have been around forever (maybe before you were born) playing Ramones/ Stones rock. And I do mean to take lightly Holly Golightly and her fun, year-2001, take on Nancy Sinatra. With the Go and the Swinging Neckbreakers. (Aber)

THE CLIENTELE+LADYBUG TRANSISTOR+THE CLEAN+SPOON
Bowery Ballroom, at 8

Don't feel too bad if you fall asleep during the Clientele's breathy, fragile lullabies or Ladybug Transistor's mellow Belle-and-Sebastian-with-American-accents chamber pop; the laid-back fuzz of pioneering New Zealand indie trio the Clean should gently bring you back to consciousness, just in time to be energized by the cynical post-punk of Spoon, who were supposed to save alternative rock in 1998 with A Series of Sneaks, but didn't. (Phillips)

CURSIVE+THE FAINT
Knitting Factory, Main Space, at 10:30

Unlike most emocore bands, Cursive possess an intelligent and creative sense of dynamics and melody, as well as a healthy appreciation for pop. They can sing, but too often the drippings from their wounded hearts seep into their throats and choke them up. They haven't entirely managed to squeeze themselves out from under the thumb of their D.C. hardcore influences, but they're well on their way toward developing a sound that's distinctly their own. The Faint are an overrated '80s-style new wave band that seem to take themselves way too seriously. With Ambulance, Son, and Now It's Overhead. (Switzer)

CACHAITO LOPEZ
B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, at 8 & 10:30

See the Short List.

MATT MANIERI, RANDY PETERSON & WILLIAM PARKER+TIM BERNE, CRAIG TABORN & TOM RAINEY+MATTHEW SHIPP & ROB BROWN DUO
Knitting Factory, Main Space, at 8

Cogent abstraction is the order of the night as the violin trio of Mat Maneri, Randy Peterson, and William Parker share space with Tim Berne's Hard Cell threesome (warning: utterly addictive) and the duo exchanges of alto saxist Rob Brown and Matt Shipp. Shipp's also the auteur here. His Blue Series for Thirsty Ear has brought outcats to the indie rock camp. (Macnie)

RAPTURE+EX MODELS+FRENCH KICKS+WALKMEN+INTERPOL
Brownies, at 9

Abstract, high-impact city-inspired sounds from local big fishes. Ex Models named their all-jutting-angle-geometry album Other Mathematics. The French Kick's went for Young Lawyer, perhaps acknowledging the whiff of vocal group professionalism in their garage sound—'60s inspired, like the Walkmen, and unlike the '80s Brit post-punk admirers Interpol. The Rapture scream and twist and shout and, among these others, truly shine. (Catucci)

TIGHT BRO'S FROM WAY BACK WHEN
North Six, at 8

Jared Warren pulls off a passably falsettoed Bon Scott (though Bon screamed with way less strain), a passably chunky riff pokes its head out now and then, and it's nice to note that their record collections include the Animals and Joe Tex (both covered on the new Lend You a Hand, but the Tight Bro's don't nearly have the rhythm section (much less the punch lines) to do dirty deeds dirt cheap. And they don't understand apostrophes, either. With Bangs, Slumber Party, C Average, and Har Mar Superstar. (Eddy)

THE YAYHOOS+TRAILER BRIDE+JOHNNY DOWD+KELLY HOGAN+ANNA FERMIN'S TRIGGER GOSPEL
Brownies, at 1:30p.m.

See the Short List.


SUNDAY 16

COLDPLAY+EMILIANA TORRINI+STARSAILOR
Irving Plaza, at 7

Coldplay are wrapping up this year's CMJ to remind us that college music, even the British kind, can still actually sell. Emiliana Torrini sounds almost exactly like fellow Icelander Björk, but from a few years ago, and that's not a bad thing. Starsailor are now being hyped as Britain's best new band, a title that went to Coldplay last year. They're also named after a Tim Buckley album, so you already know what and who they sound like. With Sensefield. (Walters)

FLYING LUTTENBACHERS+ERASE ERRATA+PANTHERS+SONG OF ZARATHUSTRA+BLACK DICE+LOVE LIFE+PARTY OF HELICOPTERS
North Six, at 7

See the Short List.
Also: Champagne Kiss, Orthrelm.

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