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CMJ 2013: 5 Lessons Learned

Kenneth Partridge

Now that CMJ 2013 has mercifully come to an end, diehard New York City music fans can stop complaining about overindulging in live music and alcohol and get back to their normal routines (of overindulging in live music and alcohol). As always, this year’s Music Marathon brought hundreds of acts to Manhattan and Brooklyn, and scurrying from showcase to showcase, listening for that all-important buzz and sniffing out even-more-important open bars and free eats, we came away with quite a bit. Here are 5 Lessons Learned at CMJ 2013.

Kenneth Partridge
Kenneth Partridge


Brothers and Sisters Can Play Nice Together



Sasha and Theo Spielberg were bound to get people talking, what with their last name and all (it comes from where you think it does), but credit this sibling duo with kicking tunes to justify the chatter. The band has a song titled ‘Call It What You Want,’ so we’ll take the bait and label this stuff sparkling doo-woppy indie-pop, done with conviction and class. Drama queen Sasha is a more innocent and approachable Lana Del Rey, and Tuesday night (Oct. 15) at Glasslands in Williamsburg, she flounced and flailed herself too sweaty to rock the badass satin jacket she’d picked for the occasion.


Kenneth Partridge
Kenneth Partridge


Psychobilly Lives, and It Has a New King



All hail King Dude, a Pacific Northwestern strummer and grumbler with seriously harrowing songs and a surprisingly pleasant disposition. Saturday afternoon (Oct. 19) at Brooklyn Vegan’s free day party, his majesty shrugged off amp malfunctions and traded merch for whiskey shots. When not making deals or wrestling with gear, he and his band did galloping, nightmarish twang-rock like shtick-less Cramps, and on highlight ‘Jesus in the Courtyard,’ Dude imagined what Buddy Holly would sound like were he trapped in the Black Lodge on ‘Twin Peaks.’


Kenneth Partridge
Kenneth Partridge


Also Not Dead: New Wave



As everyone grunges up and pretends the ’90s were cooler than they were, Australia’s Geoffrey O’Connor is getting down on some suave ’80s synth-pop. Tuesday night at Force Field PR’s killer showcase at Ran Tan Tea House in Williamsburg, the former Crayon Fields frontman turned on the fog machines and piloted his sonic pleasure-craft like an expert yachtsman.


Kenneth Partridge
Kenneth Partridge


Willis Earl Beal is a Goddamn Superhero



“The absurdity of a lifetime of futile labor,” this freakazoid loverman balladeer said midway through his Friday (Oct. 18) performance at Mercury Lounge. Then he thought about that non-sequitur for a second and put himself in our shoes, wondering how he must sound to people not wearing capes and superhero masks. “Why is he saying this?” he asked. “What does this have to do with soul music?” Maybe nothing, maybe everything. Either way, Beal proved that despite the cleaner sound of his new album ‘Nobody Knows’ — the follow-up to his “outsider art” breakthrough ‘Acousmatic Sorcery’ — he remains an R&B vigilante with enigmatic swagger.




Hope Sandoval and Bob Dylan Had a Baby…



… and they called it Courtney Barnett. Actually, this Aussie singer-songwriter is way too clever and vivacious for trite “love child of x and y” descriptions, but were you go to the lazy route, you could throw in all sorts of awesome Xs and Ys. On tunes like ‘History Eraser’ and ‘Avant Gardener,’ Barnett unfurls rambling psych-rock narratives about this and that, recalling speed-freak-era Dylan jams, as well as loveable ‘Nuggets’ knockoffs like Mouse & the Traps’ ‘A Public Execution.’


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