Sam’s CMJ “Must-See” Shows of 2013
Once again, it’s that magical time of year when I jet off to good ol’ New York for everyone’s favorite college-radio-equivalent-of-SXSW, CMJ. As always, the roster of bands is absolutely massive. Though keeping an itinerary can be helpful, sometimes it’s better to just ride the wave of free shows without clenching onto a schedule for exactly when and where I need to be. Everyone needs a bucket list though, and throughout the next week these seven acts are what I’m seeing at all costs.
Eleanor Friedberger – As half of the brother-sister duo Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor Friedberger has spent her career building miniature indie-prog opuses, but her newest solo outing reveals a surprisingly happy-go-lucky side to her work. Bursting with sun-pop anthems, Friedberger’s new album Personal Record is carefree without losing the stark, instantly recognizable vocals that Friedberger’s established over the years, making for fun music that still comes off as incredibly focused.
Jonathan Rado – The guitarist for the already drama-filled psych duo Foxygen has just released his solo debut, and compared to the the modest delights of The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, it’s one of the most manic, balls out singer-songwriter records of the past few years. Rado is capable of emulating everything from Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra’s duo ballads to the furious riffage of the Stooges, so his solo appearance should be a fascinating racket.
Au Revoir Simone – This Brooklyn trio of Casio-wielding cooers make some of the most pleasant, wistful music one could make with such a humble setup. Their new album Move in Spectrums is a serious step up in sound from their earlier releases, blending in some heavier beats to complement the barrage of keyboards. Also: vocalist Erika Forster is a Boulder native.
Fuck Buttons – The Bristol noisemakers returned this year with the enormous sounding Slow Focus, and their appearance at CMJ is sure to be one that strikes a balance between slow building dance music and overwhelmingly distorted electronics.
Courtney Barnett – Fresh off the release of her new kind-of album, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, Barnett makes music that feels consumed by the oddities of everyday suburban life, conveyed through the lens of jangly lo-fi singer-songwriterisms. Only 24 years old and hailing all the way from Australia, Barnett has a simple approach that yields funny yet powerful results.
Yamantaka//Sonic Titan – As the second half of their name implies, this Canadian trio make towering anthems of distorted noise rock, blending abstract soundscapes with climactic post-rock choruses. This show should bring enough riffs to keep the city’s ear’s ringing for a few days.
Scott & Charlene’s Wedding – Silently building up a catalogue of marvelously consistent releases, this New York-via-Melbourne group make garage rock that isn’t afraid of restraint over chaos. With witty lyrics and a highly melodic approach to fuzz rock, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding seem like they’re on the cusp of something brilliant.