Dec 12 2014

CMJ Music Marathon 2014: Day 5 (AM Aesthetic, George Maple, VÉRITÉ, BØRNS & Jamaican Queens)

CMJ2014

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!

am aesthetic cmj 2014

AM Aesthetic

Fresh off the release of their latest album, Future Tense, AM Aesthetic was building the heat with their single, “I Can Tell.” The standout element in this indierock trio was the percussionist, whose vigorous drumming was clearly the driving force behind the performance. Despite the dark, poignant nature of their music, lead singer Rob Sucheki’s boyish charm kept their stage presence lighthearted, and their fans begging for more.

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George Maple
Mostly a well known name because of her collaboration with Flume, it was exciting to see George Maple as a solo act. Wearing some gold beading in her dark brown hair and perfect bangs to match, she graced the stage looking like Cleopatra, and lowered the energy for some laid back indie R&B. With a thumping bass under her sultry vocals, she lured her audience in with fresh new tracks and her popular single, “Fixed.”

VÉRITÉ

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Plenty of acts at CMJ fall under the title of “internet sensation,” and with a couple of Hype Machine charting electro-pop tunes under her belt such as “Weekend,” and “Strange Enough,” VÉRITÉ of course fit the bill. Unfortunately, she gave a very generic performance. There’s nothing more boring to me than a band that never goes off-script. Not to say this was a bad performance, I just wanted more from this clearly rising star.

borns cmj 2014

BØRNS

Easily the best band I saw throughout all of CMJ would have to be BØRNS. With California indierock vibes emanating out of their music already, their look and general aura matched their sound impeccably. Lead singer Gregory Borns dons long curly hair with the relaxed vibe of the 70s and a pair of skinny jeans painted onto his body. Second in command was very clearly the chick on keyboards handling the shimmering synths while also providing dulcet vocal harmonies. This band has solidified their sound, while still maintaining unique tracks, playing with a cappella intros, just as much as synthpop beats – I cannot wait to hear more.

jamaican queens

Jamaican Queens

Detroit trio Jamaican Queens are a band that bases a lot of what it does both lyrically and melodically on shifting highs and lows. Backed by synthesizer fed beats frontman Ryan Spencer multitasks while singing in his own unique style. The results tonight are often quite beautiful.

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Words by Amanda Jabes and Boaz.

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doublecougar


Dec 11 2014

CMJ Music Marathon 2014: Day 4 (Gossling, Frances Cone, Skyes, Single Mothers, Dorine Levy & Twin Peaks

CMJ2014

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!

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Gossling

Watching Gossling, AKA Australia’s Helen Croome, is always a welcome change of pace. Hot on the wave of last year’s ‘Harvest Of Gold’ debut Croome has had plenty of time to get these tracks road ready and her display today was remarkably composed . Expertly switching between guitar and keyboard the singer/songwriter shone throughout with “Challenger” being a particular highlight.

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Frances Cone

Frances Cone‘s lead singer though small in stature, had powerful vocals with a touch of sweetness, and eyeliner as heavy as her lyrics. Armed with simplistic melodies and two male guitarists who can sing, the gorgeous 3-part harmonies on “85” were simply delicious. Indie rock with twangs of country that shine brighter on certain tracks, this band was a nice divergence from the typical CMJ sound.

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Skyes

Fronted by a girl on vocals, who intermittently tossed her blonde mane during musical breaks while dominating the keyboards. From the haunting “Burden” to the more dance-worthy “A Girl Named Jake,” this four-piece band kept their level of intrigue high with such a genre-bending sound. Born from Brooklyn indierock, with an experimental dash of metal and synth, and a touch of Stevie Nicks prowess, Skyes kept their listeners at Rockwood on their toes.

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Single Mothers

Canadian punk-rockers Single Mothers hit the stage for what is supposed to be their sole CMJ performance this year (they step of stage inviting the audience to see them later in the night which puts that claim to shame) and for a day show they have a boatload of adrenaline to burn. Crammed on the tiny stage there is an explosion of facial hair and sweat on display with frontman Drew Thomson screaming like a man possessed throughout. With the brilliant and underrated Murder City Devils no longer performing this was as close as anyone has come to replicate that incredible explosive live set.

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Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks offer an endearing youthful and exuberant performance on stage not least because the band are all 21 years of age or younger. Clearly enjoying playing their repertoire the 4-piece literally bounce off of eachother banging guitars and limbs seemingly without missing a note. On a personal note it was refreshing to see a band with actual guitars and drums playing CMJ. Their fuzzy indie pop is the perfect antidote to the numerous “man + computer” artists showcasing this year.

Dorine Levy live CMJ

Dorine Levy

Exactly one year on from when we last caught Dorine Levy in New York she back for another CMJ performance. This time her showcase was at the slightly out of the way Coco 66 and perhaps the low turnout was a result of this. Still Dorine gave one hell of a show clearly picking up a trick or two over the past 12 months. Flanked by her trusted drummer her set was cherry picked with all the highlights from last year’s ‘Underwater album and even had time to drop in a couple of new numbers including the euphoric “Wasted”!

the world is a beautiful place

 

It’s fitting that the epically named The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die are spearheading some sort of emo comeback. Having heard some good feedback about their live shows we got ourselves to the late night show at Cameo Gallery just in time to see the band storm off stage. The audience can’t quite believe what’s going on as it transpires that there has been some sort of altercation with security. This was either the most petulant or most rock n roll moment of the festival.

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Words by Amanda Jabes and Boaz.

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doublecougar


Dec 10 2014

CMJ Music Marathon 2014: Day 3 (Fractures, Snir Yamin, The Kills, Cathedrals, Made In Heights & Seinabo Sey)

CMJ2014

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!

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Fractures

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.

snir yamin cmj 2014

Snir Yamin

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

the kills cmj

The Kills

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.

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Cathedrals

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 cmj

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.”

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Seinabo Sey

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.”

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Words by Amanda Jabes and Boaz.

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doublecougar


Dec 9 2014

CMJ Music Marathon 2014: Day 2 (CYMBALS, SKYROADS, Secret Someones, Saint Pepsi & Kokoro

CMJ2014

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!

CYMBOLS Cake Shop  NYC, CMJ 2014

CYMBALS

Overcoming some minor technical setbacks London 4 piece Cymbals crammed onto the tiny stage underneath Cake Shop and performed their infectious synth rock tracks. The energy from the stage was infectious with not a single person standing still in the attendance. Special praise goes to frontman Jack Cleverly whose stage manner definitely helped win his band more fans.

skyroads cmj 2014

SKYROADS

Considering their only show at CMJ was on one of the tiniest stages available, SKYROADS still brought a serious crowd to the LES’s Leftfield. The energy of lead singers Ami and Tamar was exploding off the stage and had the whole venue dancing and clapping along. Two DJ’s, one male guitarist on lead vocals, a sexy female singer sharing lead and handling simple percussion, and live drums hidden in the back is apparently the perfect recipe for a breakout indierock band.

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Secret Someones

Packing Rockwood’s Stage 2, Secret Someones put on an awesome pop-rock performance. The most remarkable part, was that each of the three ladies took turns on lead vocals as each song was performed. Additionally, they all played guitar. As it turns out, the band actually formed after all 3 were singing harmonies for each other’s individual solo careers on tour together – not the worst idea to combine and conquer.

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Saint Pepsi

DJ sets at CMJ are few and far between, but we were fortunate enough to find one at Mercury Lounge for a late night party from Saint Pepsi. Throwing in old school gems from Mariah Carey, the young 20-something played solid original remixes. Integrating his own electronic tunes as well, he danced around behind his laptop while the crowd grooved and sang along. It was a standard dance party, and a perfect way to end Day 2 of CMJ.

the kokoro cmj

Kokoro

It was worth returning to Pianos in the wee hours of the night to catch the absurd yet captivating show from israeli frontwoman Kokoro. Following some technical issue at her earlier showcase the excitement on stage was evident. Flanked by a drummer and a blonde keytar player and dressed in racy leotard this was a show that packed a punch while showcasing her unique vocal talents.

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Words by Amanda Jabes and Boaz.

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doublecougar


Dec 8 2014

CMJ Music Marathon 2014: Day 1 (Saskwatch, Madison LST, Moses Sumney, Shirley House & Cold War Kids)

CMJ2014

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!

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Saskwatch

We kicked off our CMJ experience with an early 1pm visit for Piano’s Kick Off Party to see Saskwatch play what was the first of several of the band’s appearances over the week. Playing numerous tracks from their 2014 “Nose Dive” release the Australian multi-membered behemoth offered highlight after highlight with frontwoman Nkechi Anele commanding the spotlight throughout. The timely horn interjection made the performance soar in spite of the early hour.

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Upon hearing about SoFar Sounds, I immediately submitted my name and crossed fingers that I would be one of the lucky few selected for their highly coveted guest list for any one of their five secret CMJ shows. When I was approved for Tuesday night’s showcase located “somewhere on the LES,” I blindly abandoned my CMJ schedule for the night, without knowing who I was seeing or where I was even seeing them. After receiving my email with the location, I arrived 20 minutes early, bounding up the stairs to the 3rd floor apartment with the excitement of a little kid getting a new puppy. I entered the vast living room on the Bowery, and found the artist list and set times hanging on the refrigerator on the kitchen. I did not care that I had never heard of any of the 4 bands performing, I was too awestruck over the enormous size of the apartment, and the one man (Moses Sumney) sound checking soulfully, playing his electric guitar, and cooing into the microphone. As if I hadn’t already known, once I plopped down on the couch right next to the “stage,” I knew this was going to be an unforgettable night.

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Madison LST

Immediately explaining that LST stands for Light Skinned Trouble, Madison took the attention of the living room of 50 people, with his drummer playing a cajón, and an acoustic guitarist at his side. Madison started spitting clever and gripping raps about life, love, and everything in between. The highlight of his set was when SoFar veteran Kiah Victoria joined for “The World,” to lend her dulcet vocals for background fill-in, punctuating his best lines, and of course a dangerously catchy hook.

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Moses Sumney

While perched on a stool behind the microphone the soft-spoken Moses Sumney lured his audience to float away with him, lured by his angelic falsetto.
Mesmerizing the tiny audience with his vocals as rich and smooth as molasses, Moses‘ sound filled the entire apartment with an incomparable magic. His quick fingers picking at the electric guitar were such a sight to see up close, and it made the whole experience that much more fascinating.

shirley house

Shirley House

Still on the high from the SoFar Sounds set, we wandered over to the Bowery Electric just in time to catch Shirley House and see yet another truly unique performance. Lead singer Samuel Smith doesn’t only command the stage with his powerful falsetto, but he also dances with the swagger of a pop-star. It’s practically unheard of to have backup dancers at CMJ, but with their electro-pop afrocentric beats à la M.I.A. Shirley House left an impression on their entire audience, and it was more than good.

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Cold War Kids

It’s amazing to think that Californian’s Cold War Kids have been around for close to a decade. Seeing them on stage they look like a band who are just starting out having the time of their lives. With a setlist that sounded more like a greatest hits set, peppered with tracks from the freshly released “Hold My Home” album. With a packed Brooklyn Bowl all screaming the lyrics to “We Used To Vacation” things could indeed be much worse,


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Words by Amanda Jabes and Boaz
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doublecougar


Apr 9 2014

Brooklyn’s Inky Jack drop “Freedom” single

inkyjackfreedom

The Brooklyn beat madhouse that is Inky Jack just dropped a new track, “Freedom“.

This is the first taste from their new EP ‘Infrared‘, coming out in June, and if last year’s self titled release is anything to go by it’s going to be pretty special.

Mixing everything from dub and reggae to synth and rock, the Inky Jack boys put on quite a show. We’ll be keeping an eye out for upcoming tours and more goodies from this duo.

TRACKS:

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Jan 9 2014

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013: Run The Jewels – ‘Run The Jewels’

Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels (albums of 2013)

When El-P and Killer Mike combine there is very little than they can do wrong. The eponymous ‘Run The Jewels‘ album was released for free online and seemed like the total antithesis to the previous year’s big Kanye/Jay-Z‘s ‘Watch The Throne‘ collab  proving that if you had any hip-hop aspirations you should have probably sat 2013 out. Case in hand the video for their ‘A Christmas Fucking Miracle.

In a year that saw high profile releases from Kanye, Jay-Z, J. Cole, Drake, Earl, & Tyler & more, it’s El-P & Killer Mike who outclassed them. 10 Tracks of straight bangers, each one as lively as the last, filled with tough-talk, brash call outs of the status quo, and beats that make me have to give hip hop producer of the year honors to El-P for the second straight year“. – Daniel Benny

Cougar Microbes Top Albums of 2013

TRACKS:

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Dec 25 2013

Merry Christmas from Run The Jewels and Cougar Microbes

The epic combination of El-P and Killer Mike dropped what was undoubtedly one of the hip-hop releases of the year with their eponymous ‘Run The Jewels‘ album.

The duo drop some fearsome lines on what is already a tense beat in the new video for “A Christmas Fucking Miracle” released just in time for the holidays and complete with seasonal sweatshirts, Scrooge references and a slightly creepy Killer Mike as Santa Claus.

Wishing you all happy (fucking) holidays whatever you celebrate.

Run The Jewels‘ is available now for free via Fools Gold.

TRACKS:

doublecougar