CMJ: So many shows (about 1,300), so little time (5 days). Poring through the schedule, separating the wheat from the chaff–and sorry, there’s lots of chaff every year–and figuring out a plan of attack is time-consuming and headache-inducing. So to help you out a tiny bit, we’ve picked out 10 acts totally worth a shit at this year’s fest. Yes, that’s a mere .076% of the total number of gigs this week, and there’s certainly more than 10 bands worth catching, but we’re about 93.7% sure that these particular acts are gonna slay (or, at the very least, suck in a totally memorable way). Happy marathoning!
Lessee, there’s some Joy Division, Wire, Killing Joke, Gang of Four, Suicide, PiL…ah, fuck it: ALL the post-punk bands are in the caustic, coal-black London foursome Savages–maybe the most hyped U.K. band of the moment–which makes its first incursion on U.S. soil this week. Prior to forming the band a year ago, frontwoman Jehnny Beth (aka French actress/singer Camille Berthomier) had already spent some time exploring her inner (late-period) Siouxsie Sioux in the indie-pop outfit John & Jehn. In Savages, she unleashes early Banshees shrieks and caterwauls, and an emotionally blistered persona, while the rest of the quartet wreaks riveting havoc with primal-fury rhythms and riffs that slice like garrottes and explode like landmines. The tradition is familiar but the assault feels fresh; they’ve Frankensteined all those bits of post-punk’s hallowed history into a brand-new beast.
Glasslands Gallery, tonight (8 p.m.) and Mercury Lounge on Sat., Oct. 20 (midnight).
In a rap game recently flooded with first-rate female rhymespitters–one of the most welcome developments in music over the past couple of years–NYC-via-Detroit rapper/singer Angel Haze is rocketing toward the top of the mountain, rightfully taking her place alongside Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks. Her new EP Reservation is a revelation: Dauntless, ferocious, unbelievably prodigious flow showcasing the 20-year-old’s ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind–talking mad shit on her foes and lyrically disemboweling herself–at the same time and still retain the ability to not only function, but dominate. Haze is a must-see.
Gramercy Theater, Fri., Oct. 19 (8 p.m.).
Chicago avant-metallists Yakuza have mixed brains and brawn to potent ends since ’99, maybe never better than on their new Beyul, which dropped yesterday. New track “The Last Day” (check it out above) nicely encapsulates the approach: Hit ’em with a chugging, walloping power-metal riff and devil-horned bellow, quickly downshift into a doleful, cello-streaked dirge, rev it up and shred ’em again, then make ’em sad again. Plus: saxophone! Brooding singer Bruce Lamont’s occasionally skronky horn brings great texture and trippiness to the band’s brutal assaults; elsewhere, Turkish melodies and Swans-like noise-drones adds depth and intrigue to the lightning rides. If you’re planning on catching Yakuza, hope for a live version of the stunning new “Fire Temple and Beyond,” which very well may destroy your world in breathtaking ways.
Saint Vitus, Sat., Oct. 20 (7:30 p.m.).
Early last year, singer-guitarist Lindsey Troy–once upon a time half of the alt-folk sister act The Troys–dropped by The Little Knittery in Los Angeles to take a crochet class run by store proprietor (and drummer) Julie Edwards. Dunno if Troy came away with a scarf or a blanket, but she and Edwards bonded over a mutual appreciation of the White Stripes, Zeppelin and Janis Joplin and formed the ramshackle trash-blues duo Deap Vally. It’s the sound of sweat, Schlitz, too many cigarettes and not enough love. Sure, you’ve been down this road plenty of times before, but it’s loud and convincing enough to make rollin’ in the Deap worthwhile.
Bowery Ballroom, Thurs., Oct. 18 (10 p.m.).
Cemeteries is the nom de dream-pop of Kyle J. Reigle, whose debut album, The Wilderness, is a gorgeous, plaintive gem crafted alone in his Buffalo apartment over half a year. With its reverbed guitars and vocals (which has traces of David Gilmour in it), pillowy organs, spectral melodies, and somber pacing, the album’s the distant, fragile cousin of Real Estate’s sepia-toned beach-pop; the seashore in winter, maybe, when the boardwalk’s deserted, cold winds brush the sky and sand, and you’re all alone to contemplate your longings and regrets. Brought to the stage via the wrong hands, this stuff could get boring in a hurry, but we suspect Reigle will cast a melancholy spell over the room and transport you to his haunted domain.
Pianos, tonight (1 a.m.).
Weed. Waffles. Gold-fang fronts. The ghost of ODB. Grinding horror-rap beats and synthy creepouts inspired by Houston rap, Goblin and Portishead. Syrup (both kinds, probably). The “bath-salts zombie.” More weed. “Eventually I have a fortune/That’ll be awesome/Gettin’ hand-painted portraits of me gettin’ my balls licked.” Weird shit. Flatbush Zombies, ladies and gents.
Santos Party House, Thurs., Oct. 18 (midnight).
Following a few years of droning tribal-psych mysticism inspired in part by their upbringing on a Hare Krishna commune, Prince Rama sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson have eased up a bit on the shamanic tendencies and moved toward the pop. They’re still weird as shit, though, as evidenced by their forthcoming concept album Top 10 Hits of the End of the World. From what we can gather, the duo shapeshifts into 10 different fictional acts (Guns of Dubai, I.M.M.O.R.T.A.L.I.F.E., The Metaphysixxx, etc.) that supposedly perished during the end-times; sort of a post-apocalyptic Now That’s What I Call Music! compilation. It’s kind of a clever conceit, allowing Prince Rama to escape their trippy-dippy box and embrace dancier synth-pop, glam-rock, and other styles mostly foreign to their previous oeuvre. Might be worth going to see if they can pull it off, or if it’ll be a colossal disaster.
Cameo Gallery, Fri., Oct. 19 (1 a.m.) and Knitting Factory on Sat., Oct 20 (9 p.m.).
If you’ve ever hungered to hear Hope Sandoval fronting a psych-rock combo just as hypnotic as Mazzy Star but much heavier and murkier, Brooklyn’s Heliotropes fit the bill perfectly. There’s definitely whiffs of old Seattle grunge–though maybe the darker, more obscure edges of that scene–and SoCal desert-stoner rock, but these Brooklyn ladies also look to Spacemen 3 and MBV for drone, noise and texture.
Knitting Factory, tonight (11 p.m.) and The Paper Box on Sunday, Oct. 21 (midnight).
Is any band at CMJ arriving with more hype and burden of expectations than Sacto’s Death Grips, whose chaotic punk-rap splatterfests have blitzed the nation this year? Does any band at CMJ give less of a fuck about all that? Doubtful. We fully expect the trio to napalm the stage, as always.
Le Poisson Rouge, tonight (9 p.m.).
There’s really no other way to say it except that the Philly/Bethlehem combo Pissed Jeans is one of the two or three best live bands on the planet right now, and every single opportunity to see them is one not to be missed. Tip: The drummer WILL puke, likely early and probably repeatedly, so maintain a safe distance.
Knitting Factory, Fri., Oct. 19 (12:10 a.m.).