This year’s CMJ was nothing short of spectacular for Cougar Microbes. Braving the cold weather and the rain, we meandered through the downtown Manhattan and East Brooklyn areas to see as many of the new up and coming artists as possible. From the coveted SoFar Sounds showcases and The Kills, to the late night dance parties with Made In Heights and Saint Pepsi, to catching the promising performances by BORNS, we covered it all. As always, we were left tired, happy, and wanting more, thanks again CMJ!
We kicked off our thursday over Bloody Mary’s at Pianos watching Mark Zito’s ever expanding project Fractures. Offering layers upon layers of atmospheric music the small stage is a perfect fit for this performance to take flight. There is a subtle intelligence to these tracks that made us human the melodies long after Mark and co left the stage.
Israeli troubadour Snir Yamin made his CMJ debut in the, admittedly underwhelming, surroundings of Carol’s Place. Armed with just his acoustic guitar there is a charming innocence to Yamin which makes him instantly likeable. This was a throwback to a time when this city was home to some of the best singer songwriters in history and the young crooner even found time for a crowd singalong
Of all the “big” acts playing CMJ The Kills were the one I most wanted to see and boy was it worth it. Whereas most bands are content with having one extrovert on stage both Allison Mosshart and Jamie Hince are genuine prima donnas, in the best sense of the word, battling for the spotlight and feeding of each other’s energy. Tracks like “DNA” and “Black Balloon” are instant live classic and the capacity audience made sure to show all their appreciation.
Kicking off their set by live looping the harmonies of the intro to “Harlem,” Brodie Jenkins silenced a packed Santos Party House with her resonant voice. Baring her soul (and her midriff,) Jenkins delivered an unforgettable performance alongside the other-half of Cathedrals, Johnny Hwin on guitar. Backed by one drummer, the two defined how easily less can be more. The seductive “Want My Love” easily at the forefront of their minimalistic tracks, and also one of their best. This was clearly one of CMJ‘s breakout bands of 2014.
Made In Heights
Conquering the stage a full hour later than their scheduled set time, by no fault of their own, Made In Heights delighted their fans with a brief taste of the Sufjan infused “Skylark Interbang?!” and quickly skyrocketed the energy with their latest track “Ghosts.” The indietronica duo complemented each other with Sabzi dropping beats alongside Kelsey Bulkin‘s resonating sweet vocals. After cheers for an encore from the sublimely happy crowd, they closed the night out with “All The Places.”
Further proving that the next wave of artists is coming over from Sweden, Stockholm-based Seinabo Sey gave a phenomenal performance. Meandering through afro-centric beats, and darker bass-heavy pieces, with her soulful voice, her music was mesmerizing to hear. As if she didn’t have enough of a stage presence, she continuously held her arms outstretched to show off the sleeves of her bright red kimono. Closing her set with “Younger,” reminded everyone to keep living it up for CMJ, because “you know you ain’t gettin’ any younger.”
Words by Amanda Jabes and Boaz.