CMJ 2012: Radical Dads, Butter the Children and lost boy ? Gracefully Finish the Music Marathon
Last night, Williamsburg bar Legion hosted a party for a roster upstart bands in their shoulder-to-shoulder show space. The packed list of groups -- 11 in total -- displayed more than any other show we attended at CMJ 2012 how important it is for groups, many of which play five or six shows in four to five days, to distinguish themselves from similar-sounding bands.
To some degree, the bands at last night's Legion showcase all played a variation of swaying, guitar-driven pop rock. Given the volume of groups, it got a little tough to keep track of who was who, and the fact that a few of the bands shared members didn't help. Still, thanks to tight chemistry and great songs, a few acts managed to stand out. We found three worth highlighting.
We liked Butter the Children, one of the first acts of the night, almost against our better judgement, since their name is kind of gross. But they struck a chord (or three). Their straight-up punk songs -- which remind us of Warped Tour-style California punk bands like Tsunami Bomb, if that's OK to say -- are about dramatic things like packing up and leaving and taking a hard look at one's surroundings. The best of those tunes is a song called "Earthbound," which the band breathlessly ran through as a handful of listeners filed into the a back room that, sadly, was mostly empty. We hope we get to see them again soon.
lost boy ? had a thick, practiced sound, deeper and more controlled than the recordings posted on their MySpace page. They peeled off little heavy metal phrases amid their bouncy tunes -- they have a song called 'Enter Sandman' that, save for the name, shares nothing in common with the Metallica super hit -- and at their sludgiest, their phrases bowed down at the middle like Sabbath riffs while the drums bounced along underneath.
The fuzzy rock sound accompanied lyrics surprisingly simple and sweet ("Where do you come from?/ Where do you go?/ When I'm lonely/ I think of you"); like teenage boys, all of whom are lost, the band alternated between moments of angst and painfully earnest declarations of love and loneliness.
Radical Dads (pictured above) were the best band of the night. They were easily the crunchiest and most likely to jostle the limbs, with a little bit of, dare I say, Thurston Moore jangle on the guitars and a practiced competency most of the other bands only had in pieces. Lindsey Baker was powerful on vocals; guitar player Chris Diken was fluid and balanced. The band stayed together through the most professional-sounding musical breakdowns of the evening. The gig at Legion was one of two shows the band played last night alone, and they proved how important it is to keep the stamina up through the final laps of the Music Marathon.