Last week, KXSC gang members gathered together and huddled through the LAX airport one late night to make their way 3,000 miles away to CMJ's annual CMJ Music Marathon in New York City. Their goal? To try and find some untouched new talent, eat some Pastrami and take the wrong subways (even though GM Anya is a native New Yorker and she can be publicly shamed for this mistake). Here are their collected thoughts:
What We Found:
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan
When Yamantaka // Sonic Titan first began some of us station folk turned to each other with an "I like them, but I could do without the make up" - the five members on stage (which are part of a larger 8 piece group that grew out of a duo) were all decked out in Kiss like Kubuki face paint and traveled through ballads both old and new with an inherent sense of urgency and importance - and a complete self awareness of the boundaries they were seamlessly transversing. By the end of their eclectic set, their facial facades seemed less a nuisance and more a welcomed nuance to their act.
Y//ST sure made their rounds at CMJ playing Panache's Showcase at Kitting Factory, an unofficial Pitchfork showcase at 285 Kent and at Brooklyn Vegans free day party at new bar/venue Baby's All Right right underneath the Williamsburg Bridge where we caught their act. Y//ST, emerging from Montreal, after the release of their first self titled album in 2011 have both enthused and angered the masses with their multifarious sounds that leave genre nazi's spouting the likes of "volcanic prog-rock colored with equal parts post punk urgency, stoner metal heft, and psychedelic pop whimsey," (with love, Pitchfork). Unlike most of the acts at CMJ this year, we were all pleasantly surprised with the matured and confident sounds of Y//ST that didn't seem to be missing anything in their sound. Check out both of their albums, the new UZU a new add to the KXSC databases.
Kirin J. Callinan
Kirin J Callinan is weird but that's OK because the weird is what is awesome and if he were anything else besides weird then the tsunamis would consume the earth and the solar system would melt into nothingness and Freddie Mercury would grace the iced-over world with a champagne glass full of deep fried beer. Baby's All Right, new Brooklyn venue (apparently, it's new; I'm not going to pretend I'm familiar with the 'hood), celebrated their opening day with Brooklyn Vegan's curated showcase that featured an array of kitchen sink artists. Kirin shined liked the stunning beer name adoption he undertook. He wore extremely fashionable track pants, which was a plus for his avant-garde rockabilly. Also, his selection of tattoos is rather refined and suited the Sailor Jerry's promotional offer of free tattoos. These have nothing to do with the music but the facts serve as an integral part of understanding the wizard's brew behind the Australian act. If you still harbor a skeptical view on this lengthy write up, just ask Pitchfork. They like him, too.
There’s nothing quite like stumbling into an Omar Souleyman set in medias res. After a frantic D Train (or was it the F?) [might have been the M - says Anya] journey into Manhattan, we power-walked several blocks to Baby’s All Right, a new venue that played host to a Brooklyn Vegan afternoon party. From the entrance, we could hear the muffled sound of an over-driven kick drum and spidery reed lines. Once inside the stuffy club, the scene was rather surreal: Souleyman, dressed in his traditional red keffiyeh and aviators, prowling around a stage also occupied by keyboardist Rizan Sa’id, who stood behind a bank of unwieldy synthesizers. A few hundred badge-wearers crossed their arms and observed as Souleyman shouted mantras over Sa’id’s intricate keyboard patterns. After a condensed version of new track “Wenu Wenu,” the set ended abruptly – less than half an hour had passed since the posted 4:15 start time. It seemed that only a handful of CMJ artists were bringing fresh and unique sounds to the table; the festival was dominated by Dinosaur Jr. sound-alikes and stereotypical “college rock.” Although we didn’t get to hear very much of it, Souleyman’s fusion of Middle Eastern dabke and Western dance music was nearly as refreshing as the open bar in the back.
IN OTHER NEWS
CMJ wasn't just about the music -- no, us KXSCers have other priorities on the brain. We felt it was necessary to augment our music discovery with some exploration of the culinary variety.
After a long, cramped overnight flight, Mikayla and I needed sustainence, and 71 Irving Place was just the spot. The vegan options were plentiful -- I got the "California Bagel" with tofu cream cheese, onions, tomato, and cucumber -- and Mikayla got a yummy-looking quiche. Most importantly, this place was literally a block from Anya's apartment so needless to say, we were back for seconds later in the weekend.
Later in the day, we headed for Gramercy Cafe, one of Anya's most beloved spots. It wasn't much more than your average diner food, but that's just what we needed. Mikayla's Eggs Florentine was a hit and I had some crunchy onion rings that satisfied my craving for grease. All seemed good until Zach got a muffin on the way out. After tasting that abomination, we decided to move onto bigger and better things.
Friday, we survived on a mostly liquid, mostly alcoholic diet. The morale in our group of 5 intoxicated, famished college kids was dangerously low -- that is, until we walked into Bliss Grand. Some of us (myself not included) were admittedly sheepish about having a meal at an all-vegan restaurant, but after taking a look at the menu, there were no doubts this would be good. Once our plates arrived, all was silent save for the clinks of fork on plate and the moans of pleasure that we were all finding hard to suppress. Once we licked our plates clean, there was no question that dessert was to be had. One order of apple crisp, chocolate mousse, and raspberry chocolate cake later, we were happy and ready to continue a night of debauchery.
The star of the show, however, was the meal prepared for us by the lovely Karen Marshall -- Anya's mom. We were lucky enough to stay with Anya's parents for the weekend, and the dinner we had at their Union Square apartment was the cherry on top. We wined and dined, feasting on pasta (both gluten free and regular!), baked tofu, and some of the most delicious roasted veggie's yours truly has ever had. We couldn't have asked for a better finale to our weekend -- one where I'd say the food quality often trumped that of the music.
Basically - we really like this Baby's All Right Place and Brooklyn Vegan had a solid line up and were dressed to impress (in case you missed it they were giving away free rum and nautical themed tattoos). And we ate food.
BONUS: If you want to hear the music KXSC made on their trip, here is some ambient illegal, recordings from boarding our (delayed) flight out of Newark. This shit is fire.