I decided this year that if I was going to have any sort of peace of mind that planning out my CMJ days as much as possible was a necessity. If day one was any indication of how all my pre-planning will pay off this year, I think this is going to be a really fun few days of music.
Day one was mostly a lot of things I took chances on without doing a TON of research beforehand. After grabbing my badge the first band of the day was Dallas band Valise, who of all the newcomers for the day I had listened to the most (and this was mostly because they got added to my research playlist earlier than the other bands and you know how I feel about shuffle). For haphazardly setting up and starting a little late, it was easy to tell that they'd easily kill at Pianos or Mercury Lounge outside of CMJ.
There was slight change to the days schedule. I'm not sure if it was a glitch in the CMJ app or human error on my part, but Holiday Mountain apparently weren't playing at Pianos anymore because I accidentally starting snapping Crooked Colours from Perth, Australia. Even after re-announced their name and I realized what was going on, their blend of melodic moody synth-rock made me stick around for a couple of songs. In fact, despite it officially being fall now I enjoyed their cover of MGMT's "Electric Feel" quite a bit.
I cut my time with them short to go meet up with my new Aussie best friends Good Morning for a quick interview before their set at Cake Shop. We had a nice chat about the Melbourne scene, records we were into, etc., all of which you'll be able to hear on this week's special edition of #skoaradio. Again, hadn't spent as much time with all the music I was seeing today as I had wanted, so I was happy to discover that they were
It's not a CMJ day without stressing yourself out by attempting to go back and forth between Manhattan and Brooklyn, so I decided to see what sweet Britches ("Britch" is a term I coined to call Shey which is a combo of British and bitch") were playing at The Living Room for the Music Is Great showcase thrown by the British Consulate.
First up was thrash pop band Garden of elks, who hail from Scotland in Great Britian (hence why music is GREAT, get it!?). Anyway, I noticed the singer/only member of the band kept referring to himself as we, which I noted on Instagram. I didn't learn until after the set that apparently about 48 hours ago the band was actually a trio but there was a falling out of sorts. Not gonna lie, what dude was able to pull together in the name of "the show must go on" was pretty impressive even if there were a couple of rough moments. I hope this is not the last we hear of this project.
Next up was the upset of the night, London's new national treasure Jake Isaac. I had briefly sampled him prior to heading out for the day and apparently he's been in my musical blind spot because a ton of my friends like him on Facebook already. Honestly though, anything you hear recorded won't be as good as the energy and pure charm that oozes out of his body. Accompanied by just a kick drum and his acoustic guitar, Isaac delivered a string of heartfelt tunes, one more powerful than the next. At one point he decided to experiment by leaving the mic and kick drum behind to perform in the center of the crowd, making a point to sing and strum in every direction throughout.
I can't recall the last time I saw an opening act at CMJ get begged for an encore, so I'm going to just say he's the only one I've ever seen get called back out for an encore. He selected what I thought was an ironic cover, Bonnie Rait's 1991 classic, "I Can't Make You Love Me". As he sang out that exact phrase I felt like any second the crowd was going to swoon back, "TOO LATE! WE ALREADY DO! YOU'VE ALREADY WON US OVER!" I know I was certainly smitten. So much so that I grabbed him as soon as I could squeeze my way through the people who lined up immediately to meet him once the crowd allowed him to finish. We had a nice chat on the rooftop of The Living Room. Side note: if you've ever wanted to hear me flustered by a new band and also unapologetically fangirly simultaneously, this week's #skoaradio is a must listen for this interview. He also said he was playing Rockwood the following night. I may have to duck out on Magic Sword a little early to experience that, although they may have to carry me out afterwards from all the swooning.
I ended the night by cabbing back to Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3 to be a good friend to my fellow sandwich lover Jesse Ruben, who I learned after our official interview doesn't really like Reuben sandwiches all that much. The songs were great, as usual. The banter in between was better than usual. Apparently there was a lot of coke in the bathroom outside of Rockwood Stage 3 and he just had to share how humorous that was to him. This marked his fourth CMJ performing. I feel like with the new music he's prepping to release to the masses coupled with slow build of opportunities he's been getting lately in the form of placements that he may grow out of his Rockwood home sooner than any of us might realize.
Make sure you check out this week's #skoaradio on TheEnd.fm on Saturday from 12pm -2pm EDT for the special CMJ edition featuring live interviews with as many of the artists that I saw this week as I can get to hold still for a few minutes. You can check out all the photos from yesterday via the gallery below!