In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.
You know how Hugh Hefner has to have sex with fifty women and an endangered panda at once in order to feel anything at all? I went into this year’s CMJ Music Marathon feeling similar, and hoping to find something that would give me the shivers all over again. I haven’t quite found it yet, but folks are trying, and I appreciate that.
Debbie and I decided to spend the evening at a showcase put on at Santos Party House by music site Noisey, the latest jewel in the crown of the ever-growing Vice empire. The first band we caught was Pujol, a buzzy garage act from Nashville that released a Jack White-produced seven-inch about a year ago. Perhaps due to the venue’s excellent sound system, their bouncy tunes were a bit slicker than I’m used to my garage rock being, but Daniel Pujol’s raspy voice and tastefully applied distortion kept it rough around the edges. Hints of seventies metal virtuosity could be heard in his solos; this influence suits the band’s sound surprisingly well, so I hope it continues to creep in.
Next, the much-ballyhooed Caveman played the first of the approximately ten dillion shows that they have scheduled this week. I was a little disappointed they weren’t more evil-sounding considering their bad ass name, but drummer Stefan Marolachakis did pound the skins pretty hard, so at least there was that. With a loud, punchy rhythm section, atmospheric synths, and gorgeous walls of reverberating guitar, they do the shoegaze revival thing about as well as any band to hit the scene since the early ’00s. However, most of the songs they played lacked an emotional center, and a few felt like one long intro to… oh, I guess that was the whole thing. Singer Matthew Iwanusa’s falsetto is pleasant but bloodless, and if you’re going to have vocals at all with this type of music, they need to stand up to what’s going on around them. People might clean their houses, smoke bowls, or even fall in love to Caveman, but I don’t know if anyone’s going to fall in love with Caveman in their current state.
As a fan of Jessica and Jennifer Clavin’s old project Mika Miko (R.I.P.), I was eager to see Bleached. Unfortunately, they seem to have ditched most of their former band’s yelping, frenetic weirdness in favor of the better-traveled road of punky, 60’s-tinged garage. (I’m pretty sure they’re even dancing cooler than they used to.) If Mika Miko was a sugar-crazed slumber party full of ghost stories, prank calls and Pixy Stix, Bleached is what happens when the attendees of that party get to high school—they dye their hair and start cutting class to hang out with the bad boys. It’s great to see a female-fronted band stake out turf in a male-dominated genre; it just seems like a shame that these particular musicians have matured into sounding more like other bands, instead of more like their own thing.