BlackBook Tracks #29: Sucks to be Anyone in Music Who’s Not Justin Timberlake or Destiny’s Child

I know you’ve probably been in a Justin Timberlake and Destiny’s Child K-hole for the past day, but if you feel like crawling out, here are some other songs for you to listen to.

We Were Evergreen – “Leeway”

There are plenty of things that can go wrong in life, but We Were Evergreen get twee-pop right. Alongside launching a Kickstarter for their debut album, the London-via-Paris trio has released charming new single “Leeway.”

Drop The Lime – “No Sleep For The Wicked”

The retro/electro wizard’s new video boasts more zombie cheerleaders than an episode of Misfits. His penchant for horror and killer beats serves as a reminder that there are all kinds of things that go bump in the night.

Anna Calvi – “The Devil”

If that last track wasn’t evil enough, remember that Anna Calvi must have made a deal with “the Devil” to become such a skilled guitarist.

Housse de Racket – “Aquarium”

Clocking in at close to seven minutes, Housse de Racket’s latest single is a slow burner that’s worth every second. Those who have seen the Parisian electro-rock duo live know this as the striking closer to their show.

Sharon Van Etten – “People Ain’t No Good”

I’m jealous of people in Australia, because it’s summer there. Also, Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten is on a sojourn down under, where she made a stop at Triple J radio to cover future tourmate Nick Cave.

Caitlin Rose – “I Was Cruel”

Singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose tells a familiar story of love gone sour on this cut from her forthcoming album The Stand-In. Her voice manages to be both vulnerable and matter-of-fact, and there’s the hint of steel guitar that you might expect from a Nashville artist.

Palma Violets – “Step Up For The Cool Cats”

London rockers Palma Violets are on track to be 2013’s It Brits, and this 60s-inflected track hints at what’s to come when they release their debut album in February.

Gold Fields – “Dark Again” (Diamond Rings remix)

Australian up-and-comers Gold Fields are plenty charismatic on their own, but Diamond Rings punches up the original to make it a little more dancefloor-friendly.

Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe” (Dan Deacon remix)

By “remix,” I mean that this is the a capella version layered 147 times. It’s strangely compelling, hearing “Hey, I just met you” repeated ad infinitum.

Lessons Learned From CMJ Music Marathon

Ah, the CMJ Music Marathon. Ahead of the circus of buzzbands, open bars, and impractical swag that took over NYC last week, I made a list of goals for myself that included things like “no puking,” “no crying,” and “no professions of love or hate.” (I like planning on having dramatic public meltdowns so that I Murphy’s Law my way out of them actually happening.) I’m proud to announce that I did not do any of these things, despite the stress induced by three different good bands playing at the same time in far-flung locations and having only consumed caffeinated beverages all day (#musicbloggerproblems). In between hating Pianos and mourning the closure of Brooklyn DIY venue Delinquency, I saw everything from Philadelphia rockers Free Energy to British YouTube comedians the Midnight Beast.

Five days spent away from being hunched over my laptop and interacting with the music industry in real life meant putting a microscope on what it is, exactly, that I do. I finally met a band that I’ve written about after seeing them for the fifth time in three months, and one of them said that he was aware of me “as an internet presence.” Several days later, I still have absolutely no idea of what this means, but if I’m memorable on the internet, that theoretically means I have some distinct viability as a blogger, right? For both of our sakes, let’s hope so.

In meeting so many new people, there’s also the pressure to qualify what you like and why you like it. I’ve taken to boiling my taste down to “French dance music and internet rappers,” though obviously I listen to music that goes beyond that. I’m trying to pin down why I’m so excited about Team Spirit when I thought my garage rock phase ended years ago; they have a higher production value and stronger pop sensibilities than some of their peers, and nothing can replace genuine good energy. That being said, it was also a pleasure to catch Gallic electro-poppers like Yan Wagner, Owlle, and Housse de Racket.

Other highlights included Citizens!, Avan Lava, We Were Evergreen, Conveyor, and the amount of grievously unhealthy food that I justified consuming. Gold Fields must be a very special band, because I stayed conscious for their 2:30 a.m. set on the last night of the festival. As much fun as CMJ is, it’s also pretty exhausting, so I’m going to keep working on recovering.

Anyways, here’s to the pursuit of vibes. Maybe you’ll catch me vomiting on Ludlow Street next year.

Miscellaneous other notes:

– Why did so many people ask me if I saw Skaters? (I wasn’t able to, though they were one of my picks for the week.)
– I also did not see Foxygen, one of the more hotly tipped acts of the festival. Based on their name, I’m going to keep assuming that they’re sort of glam rock and wear a lot of neon.
– Seeing Le1f at The Westway while it was packed with drunk bros was the second most uncomfortable I have ever been at a rap show.
– If someone figures out how I can join Icona Pop if I’m not Swedish and can’t sing, please let me know.
– Spotted so many dudes with great eyebrows. Keep up the good work, boys!

 

Follow Katie Chow on Twitter and Tumblr.

BlackBook Tracks #18: Ten Acts To Catch At CMJ 2012

It’s that time of year, when the music industry flocks to New York City for the CMJ Music Marathon. (It’s definitely not a sprint.) If you’re in town for the week, here’s a selection of acts to check out. Pace yourself.

Slam Donahue – “I Turn On”

A couple of Brooklyn everydudes put honest, relatable lyrics in weird pop contexts. It’ll make you feel better.

Avan Lava – “It’s Never Over”

These masters of futuristic funk put on an unforgettable show. Everything’s better with confetti cannons.
 

Le1f – “Yup”

Still going strong from the success of “Wut” this summer, the New York rapper has been continuing his upward trajectory on a tour with Das Racist and is set to play a number of high profile showcases this week, including MTV Hive’s and Pitchfork’s events. This song contains the line “The fabric of my life is a sexy fucking textile.”

Team Spirit – “Teenage Love” 

Team Spirit, led by former Passion Pit keyboardist-turned-garage rocker Ayad Al Adhamy, just signed to Vice Records–in blood. (They’re otherwise not particularly comparable to Joy Division, though.)
 

Skaters – “Fear Of The Knife” 

Skaters’ debut EP Schemers serves up some damn fine lo-fi rock. “Fear Of The Knife” suggests something bigger and brighter, a beach day song that still sounds good in the off season.

Osekre and the Lucky Bastards – “Why Are You Here?” 

With an energetic live show, the Afropop outfit has become a fixture on the Brooklyn scene. New single “Why Are You Here?” is catchy and immediately memorable.
 

We Were Evergreen – “Baby Blue” 

This London-via-Paris trio effortlessly charms with plenty of hooks and sweet harmonies. Indie pop doesn’t get much better than this.

Yan Wagner – “Forty Eight Hours”

This Parisian singer/producer punches up new wave influences to make sharp, resonant electro pop delivered with wit and wisdom.
 

Gold Fields – “Moves”

The rising Australian band makes driving electro-rock that’s set to take them far. The frenetic “Moves” showcases their sound.
 

Local Natives – “Sun Hands”

You loved this in 2010 and you still love it now, right? The LA indie rockers are back, and hopefully better than ever.

Follow Katie Chow on Twitter.