Best of CMJ 2012

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From Blog Contributor Nassir Nassirzadeh:

There’s a reason they call it the CMJ music marathon. I was close to cramping several times, covering over 26 miles and 50 live shows, walking/running/biking between boroughs from venue to venue all over NY. I felt privileged but also extremely fatigued. Here’s my own little wrap-up of the best showcased from all over the world.

Best Rising Star – Nai Palm

Although I saw her on the eve of CMJ, I have to mention the North American Debut of Nai Palm of Australia’s Hiatus Kaiyote at Rockwood Music Hall. As usual, I have KCRW and Anthony Valadez to thank for introducing us to this incredible artist. The poetic wonder counts ?uestlove, Erykah Badu, and Miguel-Atwood Ferguson among her fans. She has a voice like Adele and brings a great poly-rhythmic and world/jazz sensibility, patching a new fabric in the New Soul genre. Her set showcased an amazing cover of her favorite song of all time, Stevie Wonder‘s “My Cherie Amour” and Jimi Hendrix‘s “Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)”. Here is a beautiful take on her own hit “Nakamura“.

Most Entertaining Band – Foxygen

Without a doubt, Foxygen put on the best show of the entire week.

Imagine the mashups of Girl Talk but with a full live band and strictly 60’s classic rock. Like Girl Talk, the music is given a fresh twist and alarmingly sound and seemless transitions. Lead singer Sam France is a creative genius and at times you question his sanity but I think his maniacal mind is just moving a lot faster than ours. I actually talked to Sam’s aunt and grandmother who were visiting from out of town and gave them several copies of the latest issue of Deli Magazine, with Foxygen on the cover. Apparently Sam and his songwriting partner Jonathan Rado grew up in the valley and are Agoura High School grads. Represent!! You can catch them live in a venue near you when they begin their appropriate support for Of Montreal. Here’s a snippet of one of their performances so you get an idea.

Sleeper Hit – Royal Canoe

You hear a lot about the great music coming out of Canada. It’s usually Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, but the only thing that ever came out of Winnipeg, Manitoba is the professional Hockey team. That is until Royal Canoe sailed to NY this week. I was so surprised to see these six lads cram 2 drum sets, 6 keyboards, tambourines, guitars, bass, and effects pedals in a tea house. Their super-inventive sound is unbelievable rich and catchy. They’ve put out an EP and single earlier this year that gets better with each listen on the headphones.

Most Confident Band – Savages

Savages is the very appropriate name for this all-girl London band who by most accounts were the takers of CMJ. They seemed like the female version of The Lord of the Flies after they fail to govern themselves in the deserted island. Although I’m not entirely captivated by the songs, the live performance speaks true volumes to the buzz generated by these gals.

Best Special Guest – Divine Fits

On the last evening of the festival, I stopped by the always hip and edgy Fader Fort to see what they had cooking as their was a mystery special guest headliner TBA. I was so excited to see that the supergroup Divine Fits were announced to play. I was just a few feet away from Britt Daniel (Spoon) and Dan Boeckner (Wolf Parade/The Handsome Furs). They put on a flawless set and I actually like it more than their other previous affiliations. They share very similar vocals so they both can support each other and lead on different tracks and it feels very fluid. They are one of those bands that sound best live as well. They’re playing the Fonda Theater in LA on November 4.

Other notable faves from their regions

LA – Line and Circle

NY – Skaters

Chicago – The Orwells

Delaware – Mean Lady

London – Daughter

France – Isaac Delusion

Germany – Fenster

New Zealand – Opossom

Australia – Jinja Safari

China – Turtle Giant (But they didn’t play unfortunately due to an injury)

Missed Opportunities

Santah, NO, Labyrinth Ear, Zulu Pearls, DIANA, Duologue, Emma Louise, American Royalty, Gabriel Bruce, Wildcat! Wildcat!