Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CMJ 2007, Night 1: Looker, Wormburner, Vegabond, Teenage Prayers, Mixtapes and Cellmates, John White

Unlike other multi-gig reviews, we're doing this one in chronological order, not the usual reverse.

John White
@ Cake Shop
New York, NY - October 16, 2007

Sonic Parthenon's CMJ Music Marathon coverage got underway with a stop-in at the free show going on at the Cake Shop. New Zealander John White offers delicate acoustic folk in the vein of Iron & Wine. Gentle, mellow, but also ethereal and a bit spooky.

Teenage Prayers; Mixtapes and Cellmates
@ Arlene's Grocery
New York, NY - October 16, 2007

The Teenage Prayers began their set with a bit of bar-band rock and it was looking good but they were foiled by sound problems. Another problem for the New York band, was that some of the better tunes were sidelined by the cluttered, noisy ones. The band sounds better when it is organized. Their 70's pop-rock inspirations work better than their Grateful Dead and Band inspirations.

The Teenage Prayers
Mixtapes and Cellmates, a young quartet from Stockholm opened the CMJ festivities at Arlene's with their own sound problems and they thought for sure they had played a trainwreck. But surprise, surprise, they sounded alright and maybe more importantly their overall sonic template is really good. A bit Britpop, this band sounded familiar but was hard to define. If anything, their synth backbeat leads to something on the order of Coldplay meets VHS or Beta. They make good, thinking music, but you can move to it, or just let it wash over you. This is music ripe for a good soundtrack. This may be one of the better discoveries at this year's marathon.

Mixtapes and Cellmates

Wormburner; Vegabond
@ Midway
New York, NY - October 16, 2007

Last time (the first time) I saw Wormburner I was really drunk. Incredibly, and needlessly, drunk. And I liked what I heard. Wormburner had to pass the sobriety test and the band passed it with flying colors. Glorious power rock, at times pop, at times all out rock n roll, Wormburner blends the needless rock labeling system and spits out something incredibly catchy and fun. They are having a great time up there and they bring it out in the audience. Stay tuned, this is going to be one of New York's best.


It's not often, if ever, an overtly hostile review of a band is put on this blog. I try to go out of my way to not overtly criticize a band beyond the flaws that I, as an average listener with no personal musical expertise, may see. But then there are times like Vegabond. I am sorry, guys, I really am. I don't mean to be a total insensitive ass about this but...this was awful. Utterly awful. It's not that Goth-metal can't be my thing at times - anything can be good at some point - but this was just trite, uninspired, shlock rock.

@ Pianos
New York, NY - October 16, 2007

By a stroke of luck, I caught the last 2 and a half songs by Looker for the fourth and final gig of the night. The sound at Pianos was much kinder to the band than the set-up at the Lucky Cat's, showcasing the quartet's knack for pop hooks and rock n' roll. The sizable crowd was really into it. A great nightcap to end a packed first night of CMJ 2007.


SPTV: CMJ Music Marathon 2007


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