(Note: for more highlights from this year's CMJ Music Marathon festival in New York, check out the "CMJ 2009 highlights" gallery in the sidebar.)
Who: Here’s a trio of friends (Jenny Lee Lindberg, Emily Kokal, Theresa Wayman) living in and around Los Angeles, playing music together, acting some and honing their chops since forming in 2004. And even though an early association with actress/model Shannyn Sossamon (Lindberg’s sister and the band’s first drummer) may have cast Warpaint as just another celeb vanity project, it’s just not the case—you can ask early fan John Frusciante, who helped record and mix this debut EP.
What: From the first track “Stars” through most of this six-song collection, the vibe is noticeably quiet and moody. Jammy “Beetles” switches tempos in a couple places and features Kokal’s distorted vocals—washed out and Louis Armstrong-ed. It’s a pleasantly weird effect and one of the standout songs. Spacey lead guitar lines pepper “Elephants.” But it’s the truly beautiful “Billie Holiday” that shows the band’s early promise. Delicate harmonies float over a simple acoustic lick, which build and build in a somber, jazzy tune. The final track, “Krimson,” is much more upbeat, and was highpoint during the band’s recent set at CMJ. It’s all groove and less snoozy, really. But snoozy is good! Sometimes!
Made for: Fans of fuzzy, female-fronted acts like Cocteau Twins (established) and School of Seven Bells (newer).
X-Factor: Exquisite Corpse was a game, and later theory, practiced by the Surrealist art movement in which words or images are strung together by a group of people—usually following a pattern. We can assume absinthe was involved. – MR
Who: A Philadelphia four-piece fronted by a former opera singer (James Harvey, who can indeed belt it out), Drink Up Buttercup formed in 2007 but really started garnering attention earlier this year, thanks to a seven-inch release on Kanine Records (early home to Grizzly Bear and Chairlift) and some head-turning performances at South by Southwest. They’re now signed to Yep Roc and set to release their debut LP in early ’10.
What: Much like fellow Philly rockers Dr. Dog, DUB’s music has an endearingly scrappy, lo-fi quality that disguises some serious musical chops. The bright harmonies and cheesy melodica of early single “Gods and Gentlemen” hints at a slightly punkier Tally Hall; “Sosey and Dosey” recasts the Beach Boys as leering carnival barkers, luring you in with sunny vocals so they can whack you upside the head with a hurdy-gurdy. The new stuff is a little more polished, but not too much—the amazing lead single “Even Think” channels the over-caffeinated energy of an Arcade Fire, with thrift-store organ and a bass line that cries out for a dance remix (and has already gotten one—see below). Most importantly, as seen at CMJ, the band absolutely kills it live, adding homemade percussion (including metal trashcans) and transforming these songs into delirious, ramshackle rave-ups.
Made for: Noise fans who love pop. Pop fans who love noise. Recovering Guided by Voices obsessives. Anyone who’s ever used a trashcan as a percussion instrument.
X-Factor: Andrew W.K., of all people, has given “Even Think” the electro/dance remix treatment—and we have to admit, his version, which premiered recently on Stereogum, is kind of awesome. Party hard! – AH
Who: Who says nothing exciting could come from a town called Christchurch? T’Nealle Worsley formed Bang Bang Eche in that small New Zealand city in 2007, recording a demo and eventually recruiting a full band. In the following two years, the group’s achieved big success Down Under on alternative radio and made it to these shores several times, most recently for CMJ and a tour with Har Mar Superstar.
What: Barely out of their teens, you can forgive BBE for taking the dance-rock shenanigans of White Lies and The Rapture and amping up the BPMs, guitars and, well, everything else. It’s spastic post-punk, where the guitars still dominate (“Fist Full of Dollars”) but the beats and synths nicely round out the edges (“You and Me as Thick as Thieves”). Be prepared to dance, and duck: When we saw Bang, frontman Worsley ending up singing on the bar literally a foot next to us.
Made for: Fans of the more expansive disco-rockers like the Whip and Does It Offend You, Yeah? Indie rockers riddled with ADD.
X-Factor: The band hasn’t released more than eight songs (officially) so far, so don’t be surprised to hear a few covers in concert. During the band’s recent CMJ show, they broke out a fairly decent take on the Ting Tings’ “That’s Not My Name.” – KM