CMJ: Reviews of the shows - Metro US

CMJ: Reviews of the shows

The College Music Journal Music Marathon is the Northeast’s biggest assembly of performers. Is it worth $150 and an NYC?road trip? We think so! CMJ isn’t just indie rock anymore! Yes, that’s En Vogue.


This sweet coed five-piece temper their world music flavor with charisma, distortion pedals and electro-nic undertones. And, when they jump up and down on stage, their energy is contagious. Just make sure you don’t get the beer of the guy behind you all over your clothes when you start pogo-ing. If you don’t make the NYC trip, you can catch them at the Middle East on Sunday. If you do go to NYC, get there early, because the lineup includes Metro faves like Free Energy, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Gotye. The latter is a Belgian-Australian songwriter who has a really great knack for matching up catchy tunes with the right off-kilter instrumentation.

An Horse

This Aussie duo plays a punky sort of indie rock that recalls the glory days of bands like Superchunk and Sebadoh. Drummer Damon Cox and singer-guitarist Kate Cooper wail on their instruments with a focused agitation. Guitars are fuzzy, melodies are pretty and Cooper is a wo-man who knows the nuances of a well-delivered cuss word. If you missed them at Royale last night, get thee to NYC!

Yellow Ostrich

It’s easy to get distracted by the unique instrumentation and cool gadgets that Alex Schaaf surrounds his songs with. Even though it’s amazing that utility guy Jon Natchez is playing a huge sax and sampling himself several times over to sound like a horn section, and Schaaf is sampling his voice as many times to sound like a choir, none of it would really matter if the songs weren’t so sturdy. Best lyric: “Mary, you are doing drugs/Don’t you think we know?/You’ve always seemed a little too happy, Mary.”

Action Bronson, Chris Webby, Kid Ink, Dom Kennedy, French Montana, Machine Gun Kelly

This is the best rap-for-your-buck show. Machine Gun Kelly, a self-described “little white boy from the Midwest” spits words so rapidly that his moniker is well-deserved. We can’t get enough of Dom Kennedy’s “2mph” song, and Kid Ink is probably the only rapper with enough guts to sample Survivor, Cyndi Lauper and Queen. And we’re not talking “We Will Rock You” Queen, we’re talking Freddie Mercury’s last album with the band. Against these ambitious samples, Kid Ink raps funny rhymes like how he’s “walkin’ like a giant, fee-fi-foe-in’” and “runnin’ like I’ve got the legs of a centipede.” Whether he’s walkin’ or runnin’, it’s clear he’s going some­where.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper

Local gal Aly Spaltro sometimes sounds like a heartbroken old lady, weaving lyrics so wise you’d swear they were written by a poet laureate. Oh, and did we mention she’s only 22?

She plays her reverb-drenched guitar fluidly and has mastered a dynamic where she will be shouting passionately one minute and gently cooing and cradling listeners’ hearts the next, all while stringing phrases together that surprise with each new unveiled word.

En Vogue

En Vogue? Aren’t they, like, from the ’90s? Free your mind! You may think they’re not as un-touchable as they once were, but what part of “You’re Never Gonna Get It” did you not under-stand? These funky divas are back and are as bad as they ever were. It’s definitely odd they’re playing at an event with the word College in it though.

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