Tag Archives: jjamz

CMJ 2012: Day 2 – JJAMZ @ Bowery Electric

I remember a time when I would be headed out to a show around 9 or 10 and someone in my family would say with exasperation, “I can’t believe you’re going out this late!” and I would kinda scoff and roll my eyes and think, “OMG, IT’S NOT EVEN LATE!” as I rushed out the door to meet my friends.

Today, as I was putting on my Chucks in my apartment at 8:50pm in preparation to head over to Bowery Electric to catch a 9:20 set by JJAMZ for CMJ, I found myself thinking, “OH MY GOD it’s so late! I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M GOING OUTSIDE.” As I made my way over to the venue this was the running loop of commentary:

“Why are there so many people outside?”

“How can that girl walk in those shoes?”

“Aren’t those girls cold? They’re not even wearing jackets!”

“Are those people eating ice cream? Should they be eating so close to their bedtime?”

“That girl looks like she’s on her way to a nightclub!”

The reason I found myself asking those questions has one very simple answer: I am old and never go out, so the idea that other people are out when I’m normally in bed watching last night’s “Daily Show” on Hulu is kinda a foreign concept to me. (BTW – The answers to those questions are: “Because it’s not even 9 o’clock.” “She can’t.” “They are drunk.” “Their bedtime is nowhere near.” “I believe it’s called a ‘bar’.”)

Anyhoo, as I approached Bowery Electric, I noticed a mass of people outside: people in bands, people who looked like groupies of bands, people who looked like they might be from LA — yup, I was in the right place.

I headed down the stairs and up to the front of the stage just as JJAMZ was starting. Perfect tardy timing!

What can I say about JJAMZ that I haven’t already said? As predicted, the band was a pop-tastic experiment in peppy, toe-tapping tunes. That’s the great thing about supergroups — you’re pretty much guaranteed a solid time — these people have proven themselves in other musical outfits, and you kinda know what you are getting.

I’ve known about The Like for quite some time, but have never actually seen them perform, so much of my observation was focused on Elizabeth “Z” Berg, lead vocalist of The Like and more relevantly, of JJAMZ. It wouldn’t take a genius to make comparisons between the physical likeness that Z Berg has with rock icon Debbie Harry, but I’m going have to go on record right now as noticing because it is a bit uncanny.

The chin-length blonde hair, the defined cheekbones, the perfectly pursed lipsticked lips, the lone lady in a band of dudes — all the pieces are all there. Wearing a pair of fire engine red hot pants, a snug fitting short-sleeved sweater with a bicycle printed on it, and a pair of deadly stiletto boots, Z Berg seemed to unabashedly be playing the part of indie rock pin-up girl, which for some reason (justified or not) seemed to me to be appropriate “LA” of her.

With a girlish voice, that got rough around the edges during the end of phrases, even vocally Berg seemed to be channeling her patron saint of music. (My assumption that Debbie Harry is someone she looks up to is not without proof — earlier this year she told Harper’s Bazaar that her personal style is “somewhere between Twiggy, Debbie Harry and Cher Horowitz.”) I’m not sure if her onstage pouts, frequent hair tousling, satisfied just-woke-up-from-bed stretches were designed to give me a clear indication of what Berg must be like in bed, but that’s what they achieved.

At one point a dubious beer-bellied character wearing no shirt, got on stage between songs and soy bombed the JJAMZ set with a plug for a booze for charity event he (or someone) was running at the upstairs bar, after which Michael Runion quipped, “Hey Z Berg, someone who is wearing less clothes than you on stage!”

There set was over after 7 or so songs — their time was up, and they were headed to Santos for another gig. I was headed towards the door as soon as the last chord was strummed by Alex Greenwald.

CMJ 2012: Who’s On My Hot List to See This Year

Believe it or not, this will be the 11th CMJ I’ve attended (yes, that’s right, I started going to CMJ when I was 11 years old. Amazing, I know). During the time I first started attending the annual event, things were very different. CMJ felt really really important to me at the time — this was the age of Napster, and the Velvet Rope message board, and loads of other stuff that will make me feel old to remember them. This was before SXSW blew up and Coachella was a two-week affair. It was where I was introduced to bands like the Walkmen, Interpol, Ida Maria, Hospitality, and more recently, bands like Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Grimes, and Purity Ring, so it will always hold a special place in my heart.

So every year, without fail, I dust off my old lady body and try to stay up late with the kids for a few nights. Here are the bands worth me dragging my lazy behind out the door and into the brisk NYC fall weather:

Opossom

I’ve been keen on this Kiwi outfit since catching their album, Electric Hawaii, on the Rdio new releases list. The collaboration between Kody Nielson and Bic Runga has produced some wonderfully beachy, laid-back tunes that in their poppier moments remind me of the opening credit soundtrack for a 1960s screwball romantic comedy.

10/18 – Pianos: 9pm
10/20 – Pianos: 4pm (Free Bowery Presents CMJ showcase)
10/20 – Cakeshop: 9:45pm

Sky Ferreira

My knowledge of Sky Ferreira extended to her being some model who somehow always seems to end up in Terry Richardson’s photos, so I was honestly surprised to find out that she also (apparently) has a budding music career, with an EP coming out on Capitol Records this week. I was even more amazed that the single “Everything Is Embarrassing” is actually very very good — with its seductive ’80s sensitive pop ballad throw-back vibe.

10/18 – Bowery Ballroom: 8pm
10/20 – Pianos: 5pm (Free!)

Psychic Twin

This two-person songwriting team (Erin Fein and Brett Sanderson) produces music that leans synth-mysterious (I realize that’s not a real musical genre). For some reason they sound like Warpaint meets Neon Indian.

Night of 10/16 – Pianos: 1:20am
10/20 – Pianos: 9:45pm
BTW, the CMJ schedule is totally wrong, they are on at 1:20am according to this tweet from Lefse Records:

Little Green Cars

This group of Dubliners have got a pleasing toe-tapping quality to their fellow Glassnote Records labelmates, Mumford and Sons. Their pedigree is impressive, having worked on recording their debut album this summer with producer Markus Dravs (who has also worked with Mumford and Sons, Coldplay). This month will be the first time they will be performing in the US. Looking forward to see them live!

October 16: New York, NY – The Living Room (WFUV Presents)
October 17: New York, NY – The Slipper Room (Glassnote Official Showcase)
October 18: New York, NY – Openhouse Gallery (GOOGLE MUSICIANS GALLERY)
October 20: New York, NY – Pianos (Bowery Presents)

TOPS

Fellow Montreal native GRIMES is a fan, so I think you can imagine what they sound like. I saw somewhere on the internet someone describe them as the XX, but happier, and it’s a pretty fair assessment.

10/17 – Shea Stadium
10/19 – Arlene’s Grocery
10/20 – Death by Audio

JJAMZ
What would a CMJ be nowadays without a superband performing? This time the collage of talent comes from a California base — comprised of Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes), James Valentine (Maroon 5), Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet), Michael Runion (solo) and Z Berg (The Like). Their resume’s are impressive. Expect solid pop music to please your ears.

October 17 @ The Brooklyn Bowl (The Hype Machine Showcase) – 7 PM
October 18 @ The Bowery Electric (The Audio Perv Showcase) – 9:20 PM
October 19 @ The Studio at Webster Hall (CAA Showcase) – 10 PM (headlining)
October 20 @ Spike Hill in Williamsburg (Baeble Music Showcase) – 9 PM