From hissing lawns contributor Kayne Lanahan:
Peter Robaudo and I spent last week up in NY at the annual CMJ Music Marathon. This is the 2nd year we’ve gone up as part of our scouting for Savannah Stopover, Revival Fest, and MusicFile Productions. It makes such a big difference when you get to see an up and coming band live; it changed our minds on several and opened up our ears and hearts to many new ones. We also love that on any given day, we will run into Stopover alum bands in venues and on the street, all who say how much they love and miss Savannah, and that always puts smiles on our faces.
Over the course of 5 days we saw over-hyped bands and under-hyped bands and even a band with the regrettable name Harmonica Lewinski. We got over that one and moved on. After some hand-wringing and narrowing down, here are our 10 favorites from CMJ:
Courtney Barnett – Barnett, from Melbourne, Australia had never left her homeland before CMJ but her first exposure in the states felt BIG. Her slightly aloof slacker-folk explodes in her live, sludgy, guitar- driven shows and we left muttering these words: Unlikely. Rock. Star.
GEMS – Washington D.C. Synth-droned ethereal, dream pop duo that will have your head in the clouds and your heart thumping the ground. You can sense the darkness in their lush sound and heart-breaking lyrics but it’s that same grim romanticism that keeps the dreaminess uplifted from being a nightmare.
Dan Croll – Liverpool, England. Folk-pop at heart mixed in with some electronics and a splash of summer embodies the music of the loveable Dan Croll. With only a handful of released singles to his name, he has already garnered quite a following and his debut album will be highly anticipated. He is the architect behind all his songs, writing the lyrics and composing the music, which in turn earned him a sit down with the legendary Sir Paul McCartney during college.
Elizabeth & the Catapult – Brooklyn, NY. I hadn’t heard or seen Elizabeth in several years and I’d forgotten what a gem she is. She absolutely wowed a packed house at Rockwood Music Hall with charming piano banter, killer vocals and a warmth and realness that is rare in the industry. Excited for her new record, her first in 3 years, due in January 2014.
King Dude– Seattle, WA metal musician turned neo-folk songster T. J. Cowgill is King Dude and his dark, apocalyptic songs recall an early, dark, Johnny Cash at half speed. If ever a band belonged at The Jinx in Savannah, this is it. Grab a straight shot of something dark, sit back and enjoy.
Le Trouble– Montreal band that write songs that will leave you with a big ‘ol smirk on your face. With an emphatically electric Australian singer, their energetic live shows will have you clicking the soles of your shoes away.
Magic Man– Boston, MA. With only a 5-song EP to their name their dance-y, synth-pop have definitely resonated with the masses. What started off as a laptop lo-fi, bedroom pop project between two friends they decided to grab some real instruments and started churning out exuberant, fist-pumping tracks. They’ll clutch you with their joyous guitar & keyboard hooks and keep you in their grasp with their chanting anthems.
Wild Cub-Nashville, TN. Wild Cub’s debut album,Youth, is about to be re-released in December via newly-signed-to-label, Mom & Pop Records. Their electro-pop sound has you scratching your head while you jump up and down. How does a guitar-driven band manage to sound so dance-like? Throw in a few songs where the percussion involved 3 of the 4 members and they had the crowd at a fever pitch. Fresh off of their appearance at ACL and with multiple shows at CMJ, we were really glad we caught their show in the tiny front room at Pianos.
Misun– Washington, DC. Imagine Amy Winehouse DJ’ing with Florence & The Machine on a beach in Ibiza. They call it aqua-wave, emo pop. We called it ‘goes down easy with cold beer!’. Misun Wojcik’s energy and live vocals are off the charts. Already picked up by a major booking agent; Misun’s star is on the rise.
Psychic Twin– Erin Fein is the mastermind behind this loop-pedaled, live-sampling, hallucinatory gem of a musical endeavor. Her booming, vibrant voice immediately stands out over her kaleidoscopic beats that shine with colors if you close your eyes hard enough. Recently picked up by Polyvinyl she has nothing but a bright future ahead of her and when we spoke with her she instantly admitted her immense fondness for Savannah and went on about how she even recorded a music video right here in our fair city.
Woodkid– Lyon, France. Moved to Brooklyn. Packed in 1500 to a sold out Webster Hall show. Wowed the audience with his modern blend of rousing, orchestral,neo-folk backed by plenty of horns and drums. We’re guessing he’ll be on all the big US festival lineup next year, and rightly so.