One thousand or so bands (give or take a few shaggy haircuts) hit New York City every fall for the CMJ Music Marathon, a five-day band-a-palooza where new acts get noticed (see Arcade Fire) and scores more get drunk at open-bar showcases. For the next few days, Rock Daily will be bringing you reports on the bands we consider most worthy of your time after CMJ has packed up and moved on:
Given the success of Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene, it’s no wonder that there would be groups like the Most Serene Republic cashing in on the whole “collective” thing at this year’s CMJ. But this Canadian septet came off more like an indie-rock version of High School Musical at their Bowery Ballroom gig last night. The band turned in a forty-minute set of too-over-the-top anthems, which showed off their jazz-and-classical-influenced chops (that’s good) and Broadway-ready vocals (in this case, bad). Their second record, Population, is much, much better: a thirteen-track headphones-appropriate disc that takes its time unfurling some pretty orchestra-heavy tunes. Frontman Adrian Jewett seemed to pick up on the disappointed audience. Toward the end of the group’s set, he said, “You’re all critiquing us. You all probably have a blog or a Web site and you’re going to write [bad things] about us.” That neatly summed up the vibe of CMJ: many bands like Most Serene Republic get hyped, then disappear. But thankfully, twenty minutes after they exited the stage, Dean and Britta — tireless professionals who used to front the excellent dream-pop band Luna for over a decade — came out to show the new kids how it’s done.