First up, I headed over to Rockwood Music Hall, the very same venue/stage where I saw Elle King rock out during CMJ last year, to catch some of Effective Immediately PR's Weekend Bender lineup. The venue is small with three separate performance space (think living room sized) that cater mostly to singer-songwriter/acoustic-esque artists.
Mainly, I was there to see Nalani & Sarina, identical twins from Jersey with a floor-stomping genre-bending sound, who played first. The ladies moved effortlessly between guitars and keyboard as multi-talented instrumentalists (in heels, no less) which is an impressive feat in itself but what really caught my attention -- and should yours, as well -- was how vocally talented both ladies are. They've released a handful of EPs, the latest of which -- called Scattered World -- was out the day after my birthday (June 18th). They're playing NYC again soon at another of my favorite venues, The Bitter End. Might need to be there...
Following Nalani & Sarina was Angela Perley & the Howlin' Moons, from Ohio. The group is fab rootsy jam band led by Angela, rocking an sparkly guitar, a floral dress, and a big floppy hat. The entire band is great but her guitarist in particular deserves a raise for how hard he was shredding -- mesmerizing.
After The Howlin' Moons, came Michelle Xen -- an ethereal, disco-inspired presence from Down Under (read: Australia, mate) dressed in a robot-esque bodysuit, white platform shoes, multiple shawls (one teal with distressing, one multi-colored), and light blue powder eyeshadow. She was flanked by her keytarist (you read that right), in a sequined black top, also with blue eyeshadow. Her brand of Bowie-esque spaceship electronic dance pop was exaggerated and super fun; it was hard not to dance. Bonus: she somehow covered Kendrick Lamar's "Swimming Pools (Drank)" and it was electric and glorious.
After that, I left Rockwood and headed out a few blocks away to The Delancey, another multi-small-performance-space bar for the annual CMJ Sounds Australia #AussieBBQ, featuring all Australian artists playing all day long via each performance space. Last year, I caught Kate Miller Heidke and Phebe Starr there during the same event.
I was there soley to see Avaberee, a trio of gals from Brisbane. Later that night, they opened for BØRNS at Music Hall of Williamsburg (other fave venue) but I opted to see them at The Delancey instead -- knowing the space was smaller and more intimate.
Avaberee is a fun act both to see live and hear recorded simply because while they can be classified as synth or dark disco, their calling card is vocal harmony layering into the synth itself, creating a unique soundscape to play in. They played the vast majority of the tracks from their debut EP, In your arms I found my secrets, including "Lover of Mine" and "Doubt" but my personal favorite was the closer, "Can't Get You Off My Mind". I haven't been able to get that opening loop harmony off my mind since I first heard the song a few weeks back.
And with that, CMJ 2015 is officially a wrap! I had so much fun, saw 17 phenomenal artists in small, intimate settings, and met a lot of great people! For more photos/coverage, follow me on Instagram via: @melismaticdiva!