Yes, another year of CMJ Music Marathon, 1300 bands converge on NYC for 5 days and nights
of merriment, musical marauding and entertaining escapades. Jefe aka Johnny Chiba dons his
vitamin C-cap, gets caught in band clusterfucks, misses shows and generally chases down
artists who play 9 or 10 shows
in a short week of madness...

The Living Room
(Paper Garden showcase)

very cool band who flew across the pond for a number of shows. very impressive guitarist
who worked his loop pedal/computer to great effect... drummer took his snare into the
audience, and bassist joined him for audience comraderie amongst the sweet artwork.
good show mates, and a good start to CMJ festering...

click here for a live ship clip from the living room... the living... room


here's a band I did not expect to see, and was impressed by their serious all-out, balls-out
business-like attitude. All 3 members rocked their instruments and vocals full-on. We be barbaric!

Piano's - upstairs

I dug this band, digging a folksy indie sweet un-indignant sound... at times so ethereal,
I could barely make out the singer... ya dig? nan?



Okay, these solo musicians did not actually meet or play together, I just caught the back end
and front end of their sets in between a meal at Katz's Deli (turkey and brisket). speaking of
turkey and brisket, UK's Chad Valley's meaty synth riffs laid the groundwork for his pleasant vocals,
whilst Luxembourg's Sun Glitters crouched over his electronics display and flayed some Boards of
Canada-isms. I enjoyed both keyboarders and their respective pianos @ Piano's...

Death By Audio

This was NOT a CMJ show, as The 400 Blows only "official" CMJ gig was a 2AM showcase in a couple days,
and I did not want to take a chance of missing them; so I paid my way to Death By Audio for one of the best shows I've seen
in a long time. Having been turned onto the band via their myspace songs, I was revved to hear them live, and disappoint
they did not, young Luke! Led by Kevin, Ex-Circle Jerks drummer and Scott, the current Big Business and Crom guitarist,
this band rocks hard and heavy in an effortless post-punk frenzy. Skot the vocalist sounds a bit like Circle Jerks'
Keith Morris meets Jello Biafra dressed in black. Mega-pound for poundage, this band is so tight, so right!
The guitar sounds like a bass locked in tight with double tom drum, and then kicks in with distortion and contortion.
The drummer more or less passed out at the very end, coming inches away from a face plant, and then
popped up to take down his cymbals, as if he planned it all along. PHENOM!!

ultra cool animated logo

3 youtube videos to give you taste of 400 Blowjobs

let the lightning strike
black tie affair
down the hatch


Party @Fontana's

(from Islands)

a gifted songwriter is a person who can pick up a guitar, create an atmosphere,
entertain an audience. Nick Diamonds from Islands did just that at Pirate! Promotions annual partay.
Using a computer for backing tracks presented a unique situation, as he got a facebook message
in the middle of his performance with corresponding "beep". Nick read the message, inviting him to a
party in Montreal. He mentioned the next band is from Montreal, he's going to punch them in the face... funny!

young Canadian whippersnappers feature amusingly snarky vocalist/guitarist, and
excellent telecaster-shredding lead guit (Nixon Boyd, great name). good audience interaction
with obvious friends/fans, and overall rocking show. unfortunately, only song that stuck in my
head was a sloppy cover of Queens' "Fat Bottomed Girls"... damn you Canucks!

CMJ Marathon features the annual College Day gathering, complete with college radio panels,
awards, free food, musical guests, etc, and this year it was hosted by Sounds Australia, featuring
you guessed it, bands from Australia! I caught Bleeding Knees Club, Wim, and the remarkable Art vs Science!

gangly Aussie teens on the garage band tip, the well-named
Bleeding Knees Club Teenage Girls video is well worth watching...

Wim were introduced as Rufus Wainwright fronting Grizzly Bear, maybe if it was a real grizzly bear
from Sydney, I can see it, but the band had a good clean sound; on the second song the guitarist busted
out a violin bow and the band got their Aussie on. The WIM logo looks the same backwards and forwards,
kinda like an Australian palindrome! judging by their sexy manager, Alex, they have good taste in Wim-en.

A perfect name for an electronic-cum-rock band, with a full sound and great songs. Art vs. Science performed 2 hits,
"Parlez-vous Francais" and "Magic Fountain", during which the mustachioed keyboard-turned-guitarist played a scorching
shrimp-on-the-barbie lead as he ran around the Kimmel Center auditorium. Fun! got to see a full set from these down underers.

Rockwood Music Hall

initially, I thought of Cosmo Jarvis as a one hit UK wonder, with his fabulous "Gay Pirates" video,
but seeing him perform, I realized he is a cut above the rest, being an excellent guitarist and songwriter.
A crew of gay pirate fans drove up 100's of miles to see him, and when he broke out his teeny tiny
tele-guitar (aka mando-caster) I too, felt like a fan who'd walk the plank to hear him play... arrrr!



is this herr disco? Torpedo Boyz hail from Berlin, with 2 Japanese singers(?), including Ken-Tastic on guitar/vocals...
T-Boyz are hi-energy, fun, funky and electro-beat friendly, wearing astronaut-like matching outfits and jumping all
over the place. lets go with extremely funky break beat alarm! hai!


Knitting Factory
(Distiller Promo Party)

recently signed to Saddle Creek, Daniel Pujol leads his rag-tag trio through
fast ditties in a garagey kinda rocking frenzy w/good guitar work and cool songs;
I particularly liked "Mayday" live and on record... another smart musician who took advantage
of CMJ Marathon by playing 8-9 shows in 5 days... Pujol IS the king of me!


Puma Store

talk about a rock guitar band, sandwiched between the PUMA store's
shoes and shirts and sexy mannequin looking on, Gary Clark Jr and crew
blew the shoes off the shelves with a short set of guitar goodness

Fader Fort
UMO are EMO shoe-gazers, led by a talented singer/guitarist who tends to sing along to his snappy plectrum guitar lines,
and occasionally break into a lead guitar flourish that made it all worth while. The free whisky at the Fader Fort (by Fiat)
helped the listening too. The song "FFunny Friends" is a kkeeper.

Metal Sucks / 1000 Knives Showcase
Featuring Kvelertak/Skeletonwitch @ Europa

most excellent tour poster!

what is a CMJ Marathon without THE metal showcase of the year?
Skeletonwitch and Kvelertak are on tour together, melting faces and conjuring mosh pits across the country.
As we arrived late for Skeletonwitch, who were already reigning blood and guts from the stage, I could
only see the rhythm guitarist, who looked like Grizzly Adams, and the singer who looked like a bear,
and I couldn't get that thought out of my head. Skeletonwitch's drummer, who I could not see, was
super fantastic speed metal triumphant, leading the band through breaks and beats and wallops.
Songs about death and satan rule! where's Beavis and Buthead when you need them? oh yeah, in da pit!

Other than The 400 Blows, the one band I had to see this CMJ Marathon were Norway's Kvelertak
("Stranglehold" in english),a super heavy, rock and roll metal spectacular, with 3, count 'em, three guitarists
who shred!! Metal is the universal language, and the crowd ate it up, as did my ears, eyes and camera.

a fun buncha Norwegian wood

a couple of fond Kvelertak memories include the beefy singer throwing his mic in the air and getting it wound around a ceiling pipe,
where it swung for the rest of the show, and he had to sing thru it like a carnival barker; the rhythm guitarist walking smack into the
middle of the pit towards the end of the frenzied show, and the young photographer putting down his expensive camera
to do a stage dive, all in the great spirit of metal, respect and rock and roll! Oi!

vere's valdo? oh shit, he's in da pit!

Props to Europa for providing short stage area next to performers for photographers, and props to the audience for respecting
the camera folks and their equipment, although a few waves of the mosh pit did filter through, along with some stage diving arms and legs.
I left this gig half deaf, but wholly happy! Metal!

amazingly! a live bootleg (c/o 1000 Knives)
of THE SHOW!! Kvelertak @ Club Europa!


Public Assembly

electronic, ethereal, and bjork-like, Purity Ring rang true to my still-ringing ears from last night's metal showcase.
the song "ungirthed" is available everywhere as a free download and well-worth gobbling up...


Walking down 6th street in Williamsburg, I came across artist Tom Bevan selling his
fantastic superhero chaos collages...supercool

Props to Fader Mag, the Fader Fort, and of course, Fiat, who provided tiny
sportscar shuttles to and fro Union Square to West 18th street party central

Fader Fort
Awash in echoey, projecting vocals and a kickass drummer (who makes great use of electronic drums)
Gauntlet Hair was another of those bands who played 8 or 9 shows over the course of CMJ Marathon
week, and we kept missing them! we made it a point to catch them at Fader Fort (by Fiat) and loved
every echoed beat. ...dig the song "I Was Thinking..."

Fader Fort

another band I did not expect to see, but after imbibing some free whiskey and cookies (thank you Fader!)
we stuck around to watch the double drummer, female vocal-led wispy wonder of Polica. Sans guitarist,
I had doubts, but backing tracks provided a strange melange of twisted synth riffs, over which the
zebra striped-clad clannad-esque voice wafted. velly interesting... and two drummers are always better than one!

uh-oh! Johnny Chiba and goddess gal
made the Fader Fort by Fiat Foto Wall


Cameo Gallery
As we only caught half of Gauntlet Hair's short set at Fader Fort (by Fiat), we decided to head to
Brooklyn's Cameo Gallery for the PopGun CMJ party, where we could also catch a full set by Art Vs. Science.
Good plan, Stan! The interesting flow of the hanging background light display added to the echoing madness
of the 'Hair. The guitarist broke a string, and could not replace it, so he continued on sans string, and as we found out
later, sans the 2nd guitarist, who had a wedding to attend... is that not cool or what? c'mon man, CMJ!!!
Performing without string or guitarist, at the last of 8 or 9 CMJ shows proved to be trying to singer/guitarist,
who proclaimed, "this is weird... fuck", but strove through the hairy gauntlet of sound with aplomb! thank you!

very nice cd artwork from
self-titled debut on Dead Oceans

Trash Bar

trekked a few blocks to Trash Bar (Negra Modelo and a shot for $5!) another band we had to see
after hearing myspace songs, The Tamborines hail from the garages of the United Kingdom,
to sing short love songs with feedback and ferocity. loving Lulu on the tomtoms, providing a
simple beat for simple songs that break your heart. awwww... right!

vs Chiba
Cameo Gallery

back to Cameo Gallery for a full set verses those crazy Australians from Art vs Science!
the place was packed, but we ambled and scrambled to the front to catch the electronic sweat
and vibe and utter brilliance of the triumvirate trio. so much gear from the 2 keyboardists,
amazing how their sound is so rich, so full, so Australian! Once again, Magic Fountain
and Parlez-vous Francais turned out to be the dancing hits of the night, the whole audience
bounced and sang along. check out the Mime battle video for Parlez-vous.... hilarious!

Public Assembly
Panache Party

I didn't know what to expect with Vockah Redu, the Club/Pop Punk/Rapstar,
it started promising enough with his spiffy sunglasses, shiny robe, lighting up a blunt(?),
but once he got onstage and started rapping along to a pre-recorded tape, and his
slightly saggy model dancer started rearing her cheesy rear, we kind of lost interest,
which was a shame, being our final show of CMJ, and kind of liking Vockah Redu's music.
the horny white college kids seems to like it, and all is fair in CMJ Marathon of music and war.

Jefe aka Johnny Chiba
jefe <at> testpress (dot) net