CMJ fever

The best band we took in on Wednesday night is the same band that we ran a story on earlier this week, where the guitarist said he has only recently learned how to play and  doesn’t even play chords.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, The Drums ruled the second night of the College Music Journal Music Marathon. At a surprise 1 a.m. appearance at Santo’s Party House, this New York four-piece was in top form. Guitarist Jacob Graham and singer Jonathan Pierce are the centerpiece of the band; the former dances like a malfunctioning C-3PO and the latter looks and sounds the way Kenneth from “30 Rock” would if he knew who The Smiths were.

It makes sense that if you Google “The Drums” and “singer” (as we did to double-check Pierce’s name) the first result that comes up is from a message board where a writer posts, “I think we just found our new ‘most punchable man in indie.’”

But regardless of the fact that this band just learned how to play and they look silly on stage, the music is simple and singable. Whether or not you choose to affect Pierce’s odd voice is up to you.  

Here are a few of the other highlights we took in.

Iron Age
This metal five-piece from Texas effortlessly change tempos from breakneck speed to funeral dirge. They brandish kick-ass guitar-monies that don’t rely on that weird medieval sound that most metal bands seem to love.

Headless Horseman
This duo, originally from Allentown, Pa., faces each other with a set of stand-up drums between them — an odd lineup we’d see more than once this night. Their voices sweep in pretty falsettos, holding together songs that you’d think might fall apart as they switch instruments mid-tune. If you like Sigur Ros and tUnE-yArDs, but want to see something slightly messier, this is your band.

Diamond Rings
Like a latter-day Boy George in full makeup, John O’Regan’s indie-pop one-man-show manages to encompass an entire stage and make it look easy. The bouncy sweetness of his Casio beats puts him in line to be another Sam Sparro or Dan Black — but, of course, with eyeshadow.

The Knocks
This NYC duo could be filed under “just starting out.” They do a bunch of remixes of other people’s songs, including The Killers and The Jackson 5, but they also have a few of their own stellar party tracks. Group members Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson, outfitted in white sport coats with glowstick lapels, had the aforementioned drums-between-them setup as two fierce dancers flanked them.

Apache Beat
Lead singer Ilirjana Alushaj twisted her microphone cord around her neck and pranced around the stage while digging into the groove of “Another Day.” She was backed by jangly guitars that recall their contemporaries in indie-pop: Real Estate, Beach Fossils and The XX.

These electronic pop-rock guys from Worcester, Mass., shot to fame instantly over the last year; and judging from their CMJ show, it’s largely in part to their technical skill. Their single, “Living in America,” was flawlessly recreated all while lead singer DOM whipped his long hair around to make it seem like chaos. But it was perfectly crafted, exuberant madness.


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