Written by Patrick McNamara
So I hear you like going to see good bands at CMJ 2014? Well, if the rumors circulating in the scene about you are true, then you’re in for a real dynamically digital treat. The following are 14 bands you should see at CMJ 2014. I picked 14 because the year is 2014 A.D. Isn’t that cute? I thought so. I’m probably the first person to have ever been so cute like that on the World Wide Intra-Sphere.
Two important disclaimers. #1 I did not include any of the 5 bands (PINS! SEPTEMBER GIRLS! MANNEQUIN PUSSY! VASUDEVA! AMANDA X!) playing the Rockness CMJ show because I’m going to talk about why they are way better than any of these 14 bands (jk! i luv u!) in a separate dynamic digital article. #2 These bands are listed in no particular order - except that those bands listed first are better than those bands listed last - jk! again! - they were listed in stream of consciousness “On the Road” one scroll style - I love Foxes in Fiction just as much as Girlpool - 4 we R all 1 in the eyes of this music blob.
Let’s get the goodness started.
#1 Girlpool (but remember - not really #1 - because we're all #1)
Vocalist/bassist Harmony Tividad + vocalist/guitarist player Cleo Tucker = Girlpool. No. They don’t have a drummer. It’s just the two of them and they met at The Smell. The two play singer/songwriter punk. Now, if you’re going to pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say singer/songwriter punk, that’s fine. It’s your journey. You do you. But that’s what this is. The songs are catchy and simple (not to be confused with simplistic) and honest. Many of these jams seem wrapped in some pain. I get that. We’re all just trying to deal out here. Just trying to make it.
Detroit’s Protomartyr are a band of four (Alex! Greg! Joe! Scott!) that make bleak, punked out garage for thinking men and women and mature children. This is scuzzy. This is melodic. This is scum rising to the top of the pops on the wings of a dirty dove about to get eaten by a great feral cat in the sky.
#3 Twin Peaks
Twin Peaks (formerly known as Fire Walk With Me - ssssssike!) are four dudes (Cadien! Clay! Connor! Jack! And why you gotta screw up the C name symmetry, Jack!?) from Chicago (props, my hometown*) that make bluesy grimy glam-y power pop garage rock. They are a muscle car kind of band. The Camaro meets the Barracuda meets the Charger. Maybe Twin Peaks can be compared not just to cars but to other kinds of bands too. Like Big Star meets KISS. Or, maybe they just sound like a damn fine cup of coffee and an incredible slice of cherry pie.
#4 Future Punx
Brooklyn’s Future Punx are a merry band of four (Chris! Jake! Brit! Jason!) who make synth happy post-something fun. You should go see them. Have a good time. And then say thank you very much to the bartender Mr. Roboto as you saunter on out. As for comparisons, think that movie Electric Dreams (whose soundtrack featured this standout ‘80s synth pop jam - god I love that song - please note - Future Punx don’t really sound like Human League - at all) meets Max Headroom meets a sound bath at the Integratron meets the beeping of a calculator watch meets a time machine that YOU invented meets deja vu presently having a daydream about the future life of past memories.
#5 The #1s
Dublin’s The #1s rock the rowdy power pop that jingles and jangles its way straight to your punk rock loving heart. These four dudes (Goucher! Eddie! Cian! Conor!) have the hooks to make the whole world dance - or at least the lucky liquored up patrons of the dank basement club where these jams likely sound the best. If other band comparisons are your thing, please compare The #1s to your favorite 1977 punk band meets your favorite 1978 pop band meets your favorite current 2014 band. Hope that helps!
Brooklyn’s Beverly play distorted pop goodness that swirls towards a breezy kind of musical transcendence. Here’s what you’re going to get when you get into Beverly’s goodness. Smooth harmonies. Sweet melodies. And steady riffs that aren’t afraid to get a little dirty. It’s a bright sound that bends towards the night. Does that make sense? No? Good. Because it’s a cracked-up world. And the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. F. Scott said that. And maybe he knew a thing or two.
If you're interested in hearing good hook-heavy swirl gaze - good news! You've come to the right place. You've landed on the right band page, man. Montreal’s Heat are five dudes (Sharma! Sherritt! Perri! Neufeld! Fiorentino!) who make just that. I don't know them personally (I had to research their first names) but judging them by the music they make (always a wise thing to do), Heat seem to be super chill. In that laid back Lou Reed battitude type of way. Heat influences = Gun Club + Jesus and Mary Chain + Velvet Underground (badditude) + Guided by Voices + The Strokes + Sonic Youth + Echo and the Bunnymen + Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Recommended if you like good songs and you're the type that likes going to see good bands.
Philadelphia’s Cayetana make lo-fi pop punk folk emo. I’m serious. That’s exactly what they make. And no, I am NOT just throwing out genres to see what sticks. Just wait. The band’s decidedly DIY-sounding guitars (that’s the lo-fi part) often go that delightful jingle-jangle route (that’s the pop), but every now and then some straight power chords will crush on through to give you a good-hearted rush (that’s the punk). I also like singer/guitarist Augusta Koch’s voice. It’s kind of warble-y (that’s the folk part) and it makes me bet she’s seen some things. And when Augusta reaches way up there for some of those notes, I do believe she means it. And that, dear Rockness reader, is the emo.
#10 Prom Body
Tucson's Prom Body is a catchy fuzzy lo-fi goddamn punk delight. This started as a one-man band. That man’s name is Mike Fay. But now he’s got three other buds to shred this shit live. And shred this does. Prom Body is a sweaty fun good time and you'll come out of their shows a happier person. I know you love playing the Band Comparison Game. You want to know what other emerging alt bands Prom Body sounds like. You couldn't leave "catchy fuzzy lo-fi goddamn punk delight" alone. You need names. And you needed names yesterday. OK. You want your precious names? Here I go. Watch me spin the wheel on the Band Comparison Game. PETER CETERA MEETS FRANK STALLONE MEETS SUFJAN STEVENS MEETS SLASH MEETS HOAGY CARMICHAEL. There. There are your goddamn names.
Geronimo! are three pleasing punker rockers from Chicago (once again, go Bulls) that would like to rock you out, please. I mean, if that’s cool with you. No worries either way. So tell me, Whoa My Blobness. What does this band sound like? So glad you asked! Geronimo! sound like shredders. That’s what they sound like. And though they like it loud, Geronimo! can also throw around some pretty guitar melodies too. And I love them for it. After all, anyone can go noisy. But let's see you go noisy AND sing song-y at the SAME TIME, man.
#12 Beach Slang
Philadelphia’s Beach Slang are James Snyder + Ed McNulty + JP Flexner. And perhaps these three dudes said it best when they said on their Facebook page, “Guitar, bass and drums. Played loudly.” Sounds good to me. But I should probably add to that succinct and perfectly accurate description. Because with a great blob comes great responsibility. James Snyder was in the underrated ‘90s Bethlehem, PA sing-song pop punk band Weston (highly rated by those who rated) that sounded maybe like Misfits in a better mood. Beach Slang's triumphant hard-working "don't bullshit a bullshitter" sound is closer to something like early Johnny Cougar (seriously... I'm talking way before the “Wild Night” era obviously... god that song that gives me the howling fantods) meets Buffalo Tom meets Jawbreaker (there are singing similarities, for sure) meets another current PA fav Restorations. How's that sound?
#13 Pity Sex
Ann Arbor’s Pity Sex (singer/guitarist Britty! singer/guitarist Brennan! bass player Brandan! drummer…. Sean? Where’s your “B” name, bro?) rock fuzzy punk that will leave you feeling like life is often better than bad. Please don’t misunderstand. You won’t walk away from this with a smile plastered to your face. But you might leave with a slight bounce of betterness in your step (unless that’s just a limp - as you hobble away from a lost love that will never again be found - either one - i always gets confused with emo - it’s like am i happy or am i sad? - i just don’t know!). Pity Sex’s crunchy vs. noodle-y guitars playfully wrestle as male/female harmonies propel these noisy choruses towards something resembling contentment. But this pop comes straight from the heart - and that ain’t always a happy place. Their lyrics suggest some members of Pity Sex might perhaps be a TAD depressed. Someone done got themselves involved in some bad lovin’, I reckon. But who isn’t a little bit down these days? In this economy??? I tell ya. Zoom. Bam. Boom. Middle Class! Straight to the moon!
#14 Foxes in Fiction (LAST BUT 10000% NOT LEAST)
Brooklyn’s (by way of Toronto) Warren Hildebrand makes some of the prettiest pop you’ll hear. And believe me. That’s not faux Intra Blob authority I’m throwing down. I put the period at the end of that first sentence with authority. I straight smashed my keyboard when I said that. I’m not backing down. No way. No how. Prettiest pop. You’ll hear. Bet. Zoom. Zoom. BOOM. Foxes in Fiction has been Warren Hildebrand’s warm, synth-driven project for a few years (his full-length debut came out way back in 2010 - whoa - what was that year even LIKE, mannn?) but I’m only getting around to profile the band’s grace and beauty on Whoa My Blobness now. Please tell me not my flaws. For I already know them. Good thing it’s never too late to get into something new. Even if it’s only new to you.
There you have it. 14 Bands To See At CMJ 2014. Cute!
I luv you, bb bae bae boo boo!