Stereogum Does CMJ: AAM Party @ Northsix
It was off to Williamsburg for our last day of CMJ. We really weren’t expecting many people until later in the afternoon, but when the clock struck noon, the merry makers and college radio reps were ready for indie, beers in hand (doesn’t anyone get tired?!). We feasted on veggie dogs and sat through some unending raffles (never a good idea) but also took in one of the marathon’s best bills.
Up first was San Fran’s Erase Errata. We didn’t get to hear their entire set ’cause they were insanely punctual (nothing starts on time at CMJ!). But they had a flight to catch out of JFK, so we forgive them (and say “thank you!”). The set closed with the cowbell jitter riffing of “Tax Dollar”; damn we wish we’d seen ‘em from song one.
Mac McCaughan brought an acoustic guitar and a violinist for his AAM set in the early PM. The bare boned renditions of Portastatic’s lo-fi indie pop were a great way to ease into the rest of the afternoon, but we were bummed there was no band to surround Mac’s delicate and thin vocals. Check some vid of Bright Ideas‘ “Center Of The World” (YouTube).
What more can we say about Malajube? It’s just that the band’s live show brings something out of their music you’d never expect from their records. Honestly, they burned it down once again … and you will know them by the trail of the converted. Watch a little vid of Tromp L’oeil‘s “Casse-Cou” (YouTube).
We thought we knew the Snowden live experience after their Southpaw show, but the Northsix gig was beyond (and the AAM crowd responded best to their set). Anti-Anti is one one of those records that ages unexpectedly well, and while Snowden’s mild-mannered post-punk pop tunes don’t have any of the accoutrements one expects to find in a grower, months after the album’s release, their songs remain among the most easily memorable, melodically. Maybe it’s ’cause there’s little pretense involved; they’re not trying to do too much with their music — they’re just writing some great songs.
By the time The Album Leaf (aka Jimmy LaValle) had his extensive rig set up on the Northsix stage, the crowd was densely packed. We love Into The Blue, and it was nice to see Jimmy give us many of those tunes. Singing is new to this album for The Album Leaf, and hearing LaValle live, you can understand why; while possessed of a pleasant and effective timbre for studio recording, his voice didn’t cut through the lush sounds of his experimental dream pop. But if you knew the record, you knew what to listen for, and his band of guitars, violins, glockenspiels, live drums, and keys enveloped the room and very nearly drew the attention of the most committed schmoozers. The projected images and schematics on the rear screen reminded us of the Blue Man Group and The Knife, but Jimmy won’t be dressing in blue face paint anytime soon — so don’t expect the same sort of raves. We’re just glad we got to see him before he left town.
THE ALBUM LEAF
Thanks to any and all who came out to Northsix. Next year we’ll do it up even better — which means no “invite-only” — and if we’re feeling fancy, maybe we’ll even add veggie burgers to the menu.