Monday, October 20, 2014

CMJ Music Marathon 2014 (extreme shit-show navigation and survival edition)

Hey, do you like bands? Yea? Good thing, cause they are about to invade the city like a plague of skinny jean clad locusts. I bet some of them will even have those tiny headbands that I hate. It's CMJ Music Marathon time again. I'm sorry if I sound jaded, but I think the whole thing is kinda dumb at this point. It's an outdated clusterfuck of posers trading handjobs with wannabe tastemakers for 7pm Tuesday slots at fucking Lit Lounge.

Ahh... but I guess I'm one of them.

And I do like, I mean, I LOVE, the idea; bring deserving acts from all around the country/world to NYC for a festival that puts a giant spotlight on the best and most unique new artists. This isn't SXSW, where pop stars play sold out shows to d'bag central; there's a real understanding that this is a discovery festival. There's still plenty of reasons to want to be a part of the festival too. Of course, it's just fun to roam around the city, see bands for free, maybe get a free backpack or tote bag. And despite the fact that college radio has lost a big chunk of it's taste-making power in an internet dominated media landscape, there's still a couple of acts that get a solid boost from killing it at the festival. Here's a rundown of the bands that are playing our shows, some recommendations on who to catch, and a few notes on getting around NYC.

Pumped for some Pity Sex...

Hearts Bleed Radio Unofficial CMJ Party, Hank's Saloon, Thursday 10/23 8pm

This is a FREE unofficial show that basically came together so we could get an extra show for The #1's. It's a long way from Dublin to NYC, glad we could help them make the most of it. Here are the bands:

Honduras.  These guys are local Brooklyn rockers who bring an energetic live show, some catchy tunes, and all around good vibes. At times danceable, at times mosh-able, they're a treat, check 'em out.

The #1's.  Hailing from Ireland, the #1's are a power-pop outfit that combine UK punk with 60's American garage rock. Another upbeat, catchy band (are you starting to see a theme here?), we're so lucky that they made it all the way to NYC. You need to catch these guys at friggin' Hank's. It's going to be one of those special CMJ nights to remember.

Big Quiet.  This Brooklyn trio combines 80's jangle rock hooks and 90's indie slack-ability. Their first full-length album was recorded this summer, and mixed by Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Helium, Pavement). We're all excited to hear it!

American Darlings.  Another NYC act, American Darlings are a guitar-first indie pop band. With an emphasis on songwriting above all else, they're a full on melodious fuzz attack.

Green Gerry.  A late addition to the bill, this L.A. chillwave/slowwave/sleepwave/reverbwave band plays drenched pop music with a touch of psych-rock sensibility. They kick off the night. Make sure you show up at 8 to catch them!

Hearts Bleed Radio Official CMJ Showcase, Legion Friday 10/24 8pm

GHOST PUNCH.  Pukerock? A genre or a state of being? They play late, they have a cassette, you had too much to drink... But it's like an awakening of a sort. You see things. You forget them. You wake up in the morning with the cassette in your pocket and a giant bruise on your arm. You remember where you got one of them. Which one will it be?

The Planes.  HBR's house band, wherever that house may be. You know what to expect. They have a new single coming out next month. I bet they play it twice.

pow wow!  These guys have been around the block too. HBR favorites who never disappoint. They bridge the gap between sock hop and mosh pit.

Light Therapy.  Big drone-y post rock inspired non-post rock (think about it). I was promised "The most attractive band in history." We'll see...

The Jeanies.  Well crafted songs with a touch of a throwback garage feel. I guarantee you'll be humming at least one of their songs in your head after the show.

Sunset Guns.  Who are these guys and why won't they leave me alone? No seriously. I hope they get evicted from my head.

The Black Black.  Brooklyn based post-punkers with a bass heavy groove in each song. They could pull off clean respectable dance pop if they were clean respectable people. We're thankful they're not.

All this is great, but who should I check out when I'm not at an HBR showcase? 

That's a great question, friend. Lucky for you, here are some recommendations (on mostly out towners) from the greater Brooklyn music community.

For starters, I recommend:

Shiloh.  These are the poor Chicagoans who are playing at Lit on Tuesday. But you know what? They fucking rock, and they are the perfect way to start your festival. If they bring it like I know they can, they could be one of the top 5 acts you see all week.

Honey Wild.  Sweet Brooklyn-based dream reverb-gaze/klono-pop outfit that just came out with a cassette-based EP last week. Track them down and get your hands on one, it's a limited run. They play a couple of shows.

Wildhoney.  Stumbled upon these guys while I was looking for Honey Wild. I'm happy I did. I think I love music from Baltimore. I should move there. Check them out.

Cheerleader.  A big sound from a Philly five-piece. Honestly, if you can consistently schedule band practice with five musicians, I think you deserve a write-up somewhere. These guys feel a little like the last band to get hugely popular after playing CMJ (and who kinda crashed the party last year too).

Roz and The Rice Cakes.  Proggy, math-y, but still groove-able, we almost booked these guys for an HBR showcase over the summer, but it just didn't work out. They made the trek all the way from sunny Providence, RI, just to play for all of us on Tuesday at the Parkside Lounge (note, not really near a park).

Flagland.  A Brooklyn pop-punk/power-pop band that I find exciting for some reason. I wasn't gonna mention locals, but these guys (and Honey Wild) snuck in, cause I like 'em, and I haven't even mentioned them or booked them.

Pity Sex.  A damn good band from Michigan or somewhere. The biggest band I'll recommend to you. You should check them and if the line isn't too long. That being said, they're good enough to get me to consider going to a show at Baby's. Can you tell I'm already getting burned out on CMJ? Seriously though, Feast of Love was one of the better albums of 2013.

Anna from local band Party Lights recommends Nude Beach. Generally, a name like that would turn me off (no beach names allowed anymore!), but she's right, they're awesome.

Jon from The Black Black recommends Roomrunner (another Baltimore band) and Pity Sex (but not the band; he actually recommends having sex with someone you pity, or who pities you).

Eddie from pow wow! recommends local Brooklyn act Haybaby.

Jeff from The Planes and Orca Age recommends The Point and The Grownup Noise (note, I was almost in The Point's video for "Lost Your Chance").

Incredibly talented photographer Maryanne Ventrice has published her own CMJ preview, and recommends Ballet School.

Heidi from Early Riser recommends Tigers and Monkeys.

Kate from GHOST PUNCH recommends OBN IIIs, and Sarah from GHOST PUNCH recommends Potty Mouth. I'm not sure how to pronounce "OBN IIIs," but it doesn't matter, cause I know how to pronounce "rule," and that they do.

And last, but certainly not least, Daniel from Dialogue from a Silent Film and The Planes recommends Tennis System.

OH, and make sure you duck into Glasslands to catch a band or two. One of the city's most highly regarded art/music DIY spaces is closing down on at the year's end, because society hates people like us. Check out their schedule here.

GREAT! So I'll see all these bands, but what the hell else should I do in NYC?

Ok, here's the super quick HBR NYC travel guide...

Things to do that aren't super touristy: If it's nice/ok outside, walk the High Line, take the Staten Island Ferry, picnic on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade/Central Park/Prospect Park, people watch in Tompkins Square Park or McCarren Park. Transmitter Park in Greenpoint is my favorite for a view of the city. There's a little park in Williamsburg where Grand Street hits the river. They won't throw you out at nightfall, and it's not a bad place to get high or make out. We love our parks and we all hang out in all of them when we can. Oh, and walk over a bridge if you get a chance, it's a super unique way to see the city.

If it's crappy out, there's a ton of world class museums, and if it's a weekday afternoon, they probably won't be too crowded. The super famous museums you probably already know about, (they're all great in their own way). MoMA PS1 and the Museum of the Moving Image are both in Queens; a little bit off the beaten path. The Brooklyn Museum is a pretty chill spot to kill a couple hours too. The New Museum is pretty small, but it's close to the rock clubs on the Lower East Side, and it's free from 7-9 on Thursdays.

Food is everywhere, all the time. Most bodegas (corner stores) will make sandwiches. The are fine to eat. I know there's a cat sleeping on a loaf of bread next to a dust caked box of off-brand, Reagan-era laundry detergent... BUT we all eat egg sandwiches from these places everyday. They cost like $2 and they won't kill you. Don't be afraid about street carts of any sort either. Pizza is everywhere and IMO, it's all pretty good. I like Vinnie's in Williamsburg, the place across from Cake Shop in the LES, and Stromboli in the East Village. My other late night non-pizza pig-out spots are Oasis falafel or Criff Dogs off the Bedford L, Bagelsmith off the Lorimer/Metro stop, Papaya Dog on 14th and 1st, and Pomme Frites on 2nd Ave and something I forget. OH! And Vanessa's in the LES/Chinatown and Williamsburg. Ask for your dumplings spicy. TRUST ME.

See that wonderful-ness on top of the dumplings? That's the spicy.

Now I feel bad for giving away a little bit of a secret, but if you're hanging with a crew in Brooklyn between the Montrose/Graham/Lorimer L and the Broadway G area, the after hours spot for food is Grand Morelos on Grand and Graham. It's cheap 24 hour diner that can seat a band and your buddies at any hour. Not the fastest service or best grub in town, but when you see the bill, you'll be shocked you're in NYC. It's also a block away from a strip of chill bars that are mostly open till 4am every night, just incase your crew gets a second wind from that plate night nachos.

It's not a bad idea to check the internet for info on train delays, especially if there's a show you really want to get to. NYC's subway is dependable, 24 hours, and safe. Delays, happen, and some trains don't run their full routes on the weekends and late at night. The MTA website has a lot of info on that. Check the Weekender for weekend status. Cabs are cheap if you're rolling with 3-5 people. If you're leaving Manhattan, make sure to get into the cab before you tell them. Green cabs can't pick you up in Manhattan under something-or-other street, so don't be upset if they don't stop for you. Uber works well too; get it if you're planning on moving around a lot.


Don't stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Tip bartenders, waiters, AND cabbies/car drivers ($2-$4 depending on length of the trip). Most New Yorkers give directions by the nearest cross street, not street addresses. Don't feel like New Yorkers won't/can't talk to you; don't mistake the fact that we're in a hurry for rudeness. I can honestly say that the people here are as nice as anywhere in the world, it's just that the pace of life is different. OH, and please, if you like a band talk to them! Buy 'em a beer and shoot the shit, you'll have a new best friend; every musician likes to talk about the set they just played.

OK, so that's it! There's a shit-ton of annoying crap. There's a healthy amount of gold too. The nice thing about NYC is there's so much going on, if you don't like CMJ, you don't even have to see it. Remember when we hosted that Super Bowl? Me neither.

1 comment:

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