« CMJ '08: Murphy's Law | Main | CMJ '08: All Over But The Shout Out Out Out Out »

CMJ '08: Workin' For The Weekend

Crop Another CMJ Music Marathon is in the books, and sadly, actually listening to live music this week was probably only the fourth most enjoyable thing about the experience. Besides a band we're about to discuss below, we just weren't blown away by anything, and there was a general feeling of apathy about the event permeating the proceedings. As usual, it came down to spending time with close industry friends more than wedging in to see the flavor of the week at 1:30 in the morning at a crappy venue.

It took until Saturday for us to see hands down our favorite thing of CMJ, the fresh-faced Oklahoma-based sextet the Uglysuit (pictured) during a day party at Music Hall of Williamsburg. One of Thrill Jockey/Overcoat Recordings vet Howard Greynolds' first signings since starting in on A&R at Touch & Go, the band sounds absolutely nothing like any other band that has ever recorded for the famed Chicago indie: there's a three-guitar majesty to their sprawling epics, which have the emotion of Sigur Ros and the grin-inducing riffage of Built To Spill.

Two seven-minute jams book-ended the set. "Everyone Now Has a Smile" set the tone with powerful downstrokes and moments of piano-enhanced calm, while "...And We Became Sunshine" brought it all home with an insistent chiming guitar motif and a melody that never faded despite the lengthy running time.

The band was genuinely chuffed to be playing its first shows in New York this week, especially since it had gotten to see and open for Annuals, whom frontman Israel Hindman told us later were his favorite band. The members were also unafraid to flail their My Morning Jacket-length hair while rocking out, or tell the audience that "Brownblue's Passing" was about a flying whale. The Uglysuit have come out of nowhere to produce a delightful new form of psychedelia. We give them our highest endorsement.

On Friday, we stumbled into a true treat: a solo acoustic from Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan as Portastatic, in front of no more than 50 or 60 people at the KCRW/Paste party room in Soho. When McCaughan began releasing this kind of music in the mid-'90s, he was a lone acoustic voice in a sea of distorted, lo-fi indie rock. Of course now, every emo kid wants to play acoustic ballads and Dashboard Confessional has taken this style to the bank many times over. But Mac still does it best to our ears.

The set included originals like "The Summer of the Shark," "Isn't That the Way" and "I Wanna Know Girls," plus two excellent covers: Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark," which was completely un-ironic and a definitely "holy crap" moment, and Edison Lighthouse's one-hit wonder "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)," which McCaughan said he'd learned after hearing it on the radio while driving his daughter to school.

We went to see Portastatic again Saturday night at Mercury Lounge, and although some of the songs were the same, this time they were enhanced by a second guitarist, violinist and, for "Sweetness and Light," two guys from the audience on shakers. But at a certain point Saturday, our brain's ability to hear any more music shut off, and CMJ was dead to us. Until the resurrection ... -- Jonathan Cohen

October 26, 2008 in CMJ | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference CMJ '08: Workin' For The Weekend:


I have heard "The Uglysuit". Wow, great new sound and songs. Us Oakies know they will go far.............
Get er done Israel
Joey Hollingsworth

Posted by: Joey Hollingsworth | Nov 12, 2008 6:45:50 PM

hey cuz your doing awesome!!!!

Posted by: Brandy | Nov 16, 2008 2:22:41 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

© 2010 Billboard. All rights reserved.
Terms Of Use and Privacy Policy.