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:
One night after Dan Deacon metaphorically brought the house down, the Bowery Ballroom played host to another anticipated CMJ showcase. First up on the bill were the Tiny Masters of Today, featuring two siblings, thirteen-year-old guitarist-vocalist Ivan and eleven-year-old bassist-vocalist Ada, and a father-figure-like man on drums (yes, folks, we know it’s onetime Jon Spencer Blues Explosion kitman Russell Simins). The wear-and-tear of CMJ showcases seemed to drain the youngsters, as the duo seemed lethargic throughout their performance, like they’ve been staying up way past their bedtimes. When they were on, they sounded like pre-teen Ramones playing Paddy Cake, especially on songs like “Hey Mr. DJ” and the Ada-sung anti-George W. rocker “Bushy.” The band closed out their set with a Kidz Bop-esque version of House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” Yeah, they were cute, but hopefully this band’s sound continues to mature or they might grow up and no one will like them anymore, like Frankie Munoz.
Next up was the decade that spawned the Tiny Masters, the 1990s. While their name conjures up images of grunge and Bill Clinton, the Glasgow trio is more indebted to the late Seventies/early Eighties, especially given the Buzzcockish riffs and Elvis Costello bounce of their songs. Singer-guitarist Jackie McKeown, who was once in a band called the Yummy Fur with Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, delighted the steadily-increasing Bowery crowd with songs from debut album Cookies. U.K. single “You’re Supposed To Be My Friend” and “Enjoying Myself” (with a Modern Lovers’ “Road Runner” tease) even had the cross-armed in the crowd swaying before closing out their fast eight-song set with “See You at the Lights.”
After a spirited set by Pela, British Sea Power took the stage at half-past midnight to introduce American audiences to songs off their upcoming album Do You Like Rock Music? If your answer to that question was “Yes,” then BSP’s set didn’t disappoint. While the band seemed more restrained during this visit than at their Bowery visit in 2005, the band still had the full attention of the crowd, especially a contingent of die-hards in the front. Some fans were singing along with new songs like “No Lucifer” and “Lights Out For Darker Skies,” even though those songs won’t be released until January (can someone say “album leak?”) Guitarist Noble was especially on point, eviscerating his guitar strings on new tracks like “Atom” and “The Pelican.” While the older material lacked the urgency it used to pack on previous tours, the band and the crowd surged to the next decibel level on the set-ending performances of “Carrion” and frequent stage-demolishing closer “Rock In A.” While British Sea Power didn’t bring the Bowery down like Deacon, they still did their fair share of damage.