LA Bands to Watch at CMJ 2012

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From KCRW blog contributor Nassir Nassirzadeh:

The great thing about music conferences like CMJ is that you start to notice the competing geographic music scenes on a national (and even international) level. There’s no doubt that Brooklyn, Austin, and the Seattle/Portland constituencies have always had great indie success. But there’s always been something unique about the diverse musical landscape of Los Angeles and it seems to be getting bigger and bigger by the year.

This year is no exception with the buzz behind the young pop diva Sky Ferreira, LA indie supergroup JJAMZ (amazingly pronounced Juh-Jamz), 80’s inspired college jangle pop act Line and Circle, Glassnotes 8-bit warrior Robert DeLong, electro pop dance rockers Capital Cities, dreamy shoegazers Tashaki Miyaki, Echo Park indie rockers NO, indie-tronic R&B trio Wildcat! Wildcat!, and Psychelectric blues rockers American Royalty.

Despite the obvious home court advantage of the conference taking place in NY, I believe LA may escape CMJ with a gutsy road victory thanks to some late game heroics from the aforementioned acts and the ones below who I’m particularly keen on seeing live.


I remember seeing these Valley girls sing and sweat the blues on a late weekday night at the Bootleg Bar when I still used to live in LA (I’m a valley boy myself) and now they are going on European tours with Muse? Speaking of which, they cite Thelma & Louise as their muse. Must be one hell of a job to be their tour manager.

If anyone is going to try and follow up the legacy of the Alabama Shakes at CMJ last year, expect Deap Vally to be one of the contenders to carry the torch…in fact they’ll probably carry it for a minute and then use it to light up a cigarette in the middle of one of their rambunctious sets. I’ll be even more impressed if they continue wearing daisy dukes in the middle of October in NY.

When + Where?
10/17 @ Rubber Tracks (Fader Party)
10/18 @ Bowery Ballroom
10/19 @ Public Assembly (Brooklyn Vegan Party)
10/19 @ Rockwood Music Hall
10/20 @ Cake Shop (Village Voice Party)


Blondfire is a Brazilian/American indie pop band composed of brother sister duo Bruce and Erica Driscoll. Their talent had been recognized several years ago when they were formerly known as Astaire. They were featured in one of iTunes ‘single of the week’ promotions and then Fred Astaire’s estate forced them to change their name. They were also dropped from EMI UK due to the Terra Firma acquisition. They went on to self release a fine album titled “My Someday in 2008 and four years later the viral success of their new single “Where The Kids Are” has led to another major label deal, this time with the Brothers of Warner. Excited to see their flame has reignited.

Where + When?
10/17 @ Union Hall – CAA Party – Set time is 11pm
10/18 @ Rockwood Music Hall – BMI Party – Set time is 4:15pm
10/18 @ Santos Party House – Neon Gold Party – Set time is 11pm
10/19 @ The Studio at Webster Hall – 7pm doors

3) PACIFIC AIR formerly KO KO

Similar to Blondfire, another SoCal band, consisting of songwriting siblings Ryan and Taylor Lawhon, is indie pop duo Pacific Air, formerly known as KO KO (which was based on the name of a boat the brothers wanted to live on before they realized it was highly un-googleable thanks to a very famous gorilla and a bunch of other bands). Perhaps Pacific Air is the name of their soon to be chartered aircraft when they crush the Billboard charts? Those dreams may become a reality soon enough. After listening to the dreamy “Long Live KO KO” EP, available just in time for the start of CMJ on Tuesday via Universal Republic, it’s easy to see that Ryan shouldn’t quit his dayjob writing jingles for film/tv.

When + Where?
10/17 @ Bowery Ballroom
10/18 @ Santos Party House (Neon Gold Party)

Download the excellent “Float” here and check out “Roses” below:

Roses by Pacific Air Music

Incan Abraham (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)


In a cabin in upstate NY, the experimental psych pop project Incan Abraham was born (no relation to Abraham Lincoln). The band has really come into their own since relocating to LA, with three EP’s stashed under their belts and I love every song on everyone of them. They are newly signed to JAXART, the influential label that has championed other local heroes likes Avi Buffalo, RACES, and The Henry Clay People. Now they’re on the Frenchkiss label and you can check out the band’s newly released 10” single “Springhouse”, which just premiered on RCRD LBL.

When + Where?
10/17 @ Pianos (French Kiss Showcase) – Set time 8:30pm
10/20 @ Living Room (BuzzChips/MFC Showcase) – Set Time 5:30pm


There isn’t much info out there on these guys but I really like all three songs I’ve heard thus far. The group features former members of a couple other solid LA acts, Mike Moonves (Chief) and Maxim Ludwig (Maxim Ludwig and the Santa Fe Seven). In a day when everyone is trying to fit as many sounds and genres into one song to keep everyone’s attention, it’s refreshing to hear a band that is just making solid songs out of just that. For fans of Dawes, Chief, Jackson Browne.

When + Where?
10/18 @ Santos Party House (Neon Gold Showcase) – Set time is 7pm
10/19 @ Bowery Electric (Cantora Records Showcase) – Set time is 7:30pm
10/20 @ Bowery Electric (West Rocks Showcase) – Set time is 10:10pm

— Nassir