It’s officially Fall in New York City which brings about the 35th iteration of the CMJ Music Marathon spread all through out Manhattan and Brooklyn. It’s Speak Into My Good Eye’s fourth year covering, with tightly held customs shifting only in locales as the badge pick up moved from NYU to the beautiful Dream Hotel right near Chelsea Market.
The custom you ask? I don’t plan my CMJ until I get that program that comes with the badge in my hands. That see where the wind may take you attitude has led me to stumble upon acts like Foxygen and The Stepkids back in 2012, and The Dead Ships last year. So, where to first?
I scooted on over to Webster Hall where I floated between The Studio and the Marlin Room for the United Talent Agency and Balcony TV showcases respectively. Brooklyn-based folktronic quartet Howard took to The Studio delivering a tight set of highlights from their debut LP, Religion. I’ve seen them multiple times over the past year and they just keep getting better and better, finding new ways to add some muscle to the source material based on each band member’s virtuoso talents.
Then I popped upstairs for the festival ready party that is French Horn Rebellion. I really wasn’t familiar with their music before heading into the Marlin Room, but they had the crowd going absolutely nuts on a Tuesday, which is an accomplishment in and of itself depending on who you talk to. The brothers Robert and David Perlick-Molinari fleshed out to a full band that elevated their pop-funk stylings to undeniable new heights. As the cliche goes, if they didn’t get you dancing, you’re probably dead.
Back downstairs, London electro-soul singer Alex Vargas put on an arresting, stunning show with plenty of hushed, “this guys is going to be huge,” whispers audible throughout the room. No arguments here. Vargas has that pained, haunted voice blessed to singers like Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill, minus the southern disposition. If this guy can hit on a single, watch out.
I wrapped up my evening by checking out NJ’s own Morningside Lane who played a late night slot at the basement at The Bowery Electric. I’m not sure if I had ever run into a set of theirs personally, but I was really impressed. They bring that old school Springsteen soul with a side of Gaslight Anthem’s knack for, well, anthems that suggests they’ve hit on a sweet spot a lot of pretenders fail to make their own. Be sure to catch them at their EP release show next week at Maxwell’s on October 24th.
CMJ 2015 day one in the books, I headed for the F train and made my way back to Brooklyn, hears buzzing warmly with a beautiful cacophony of new and exciting sounds.