Last week we highlighted some of our choices for CMJ shows that you would not want to miss, because if you did, your music-savvy friends call you silly for missing them (in five years when it matters). Don't say we didn't warn you (because we did). However, today we spin a different yarn; one of fantasy and wishful thinking, and favoritism. CMJ has long been known for its taste making selection of music in pinpointing small, notable upstart bands before they blow up all over the place, but in today's blogocentric universe, the tide of popularity is often purely digitized and much, much softer. It certainly isn't predicted by college radio charts. We are then left to ponder; where are some of the bands we've been chasing down this year? The lineup of CMJ 09 isn't as exciting as it's been in recent years (the digitized tide has been agreeing, generally), and it seems to be quite a shame that our biggest festival at home won't see the indie stars collide. Is everyone out of town? Does everyone quit the party after Austin City Limits and go on early Christmas vacation?
And then there are people who don't need it necessarily; Grizzly Bear, Vampire Weekend, the buzziest of the music elite who either are already big enough for corporate sponsorship, endorsed by Jay Z, or just plain made the best record of the year. CMJ is not for them and we don't care if they show up. But for whatever the reason, there are notable, topical exceptions to the lineup, some small and probably only in our opinion, some criminal! So let's discuss them. Here are five bands we wanted to see at CMJ, and the reasons behind our thinking.
Starting small: a very entry-level applicant, Bridezilla stopped by the Guest Apartment and also had a pretty killer set at Bowery Ballroom later that week. Quirky, cute, and most endearingly really into their music, this fivesome would have been perfect for the fest.
Are you kidding me? These guys put the FUN back in FUNK and the CLAP back in HOLY CLAP THIS IS AWESOME.* Not to mention NYC is their hometown, AND they are going to be at the festival doing DJ sets instead of playing. Talk about adding insult to my already broken heart that I can't experience "15 To 20" at least once.
*Not a real exclamation.
Two Dancers has proven to be a successful import from Wild Beasts, and after their killer show (which we caught) at Mercury Lounge, they seem poised to be a big buzz band for the end of the year. That is, except that they are not playing CMJ and we're not sure why. Check out their show (we just streamed it yesterday):
This one REALLY leaves me scratching my head. It is rare that any band so consistently charming and catchy and potentially radio-fodder can fly so low below the radar for so long. Camera Oscura had a wonderful record called My Maudlin Career, and it was merely the latest swoon in a decade of swoons for this Scottish gem of a band. I'm sure Camera has played the fastidious fest in the past (I'll let you do the research on that) but currently, the timing for a headlining showcase/jump into the mainstream seems particularly appropriate. They even got a mention this week on mainstream music blog Idolator, and that is when you know an "indie" band has really made it, like Animal Collective/Grizzly Bear made it. Still, Camera hasn't quite made the quantum leap, and we're sure that a headlining CMJ nudge would have helped.
Honorary Mention: The Harlem Shakes
We know they are over now, and they played two years ago, but damn dude, Technicolor Health was great, and this could have been their breakout year.
Wake up, kids, this 'aint happening. We'll just have to wait until they all come back through New York, the next time. And maybe we're really wrong about all of this... but wouldn't you love to see some of these bands play together? Maybe we should put together a Baeble showcase for next year... or maybe we should just stick to filming and leave the festivals to the pros. -joe puglisi