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Running the CMJ Marathon 2012 - Day 1 - by Josh S. Johnson
Blonds, Laura Stevenson, The Nightmare River Band, Sean0Sean, sami.the.great, Brainstorm, Everest Cale

The second best part of CMJ, after of course the opportunity to see tons of great bands for five straight nights in the greatest city for music, is the process of sorting through the seemingly endless list of bands in order to meticulously plan your personal schedule down to the minute. That feeling of invincibility concerning the laws of time and space is an awful like the one you get when you develop grand plans to start exercising and working out.  That brief sensation of euphoria lasts right up to the minute you told yourself you were going to start. Then you realize you already walked something like three flights of stairs that day, so really there’s no need to exercise.

Similarly, that confidence in a CMJ strategy lasts for the all too brief period between the schedule’s release and when the first band you see doesn’t start or finish on time. Suddenly those hours of planning turn are for naught as you blindly choose a venue to visit next. Yet the chaos of CMJ is part of its undeniable charm. As my uncle once said to me while my dad tried to figure out how he forgot to turn the lights off in the now-non-starting rental car we were driving through the middle of Alabama: “It’s part of the adventure.”

My CMJ adventure started with an example of the aforementioned scheduling hassles. I arrived at The Rock Shop around 7:30 with the intention of catching Brooklyn’s Howth, who released a solid indie-rock album, “Newkirk” earlier this year, at 7:45.  However, I soon learned that the band that was supposed to play at 7, Sean0Sean, was just beginning their set. Not wanting to leave Brooklyn empty handed, I stuck around and declared Sean0Sean, led by Brooklyn-born Sean Kiely, my first band of CMJ 2012.

Not only did Sean0Sean’s Rock Shop gig break the band’s CMJ virginity, it was their first gig, period. Hearing that, I felt that there wasn’t a better way to begin my week of researching upcoming bands than with a band that has never played a show before. When I arrived, the band consisted of only a guitarist and a bassist, but I was optimistic since I love the Flight of the Conchords. Well, Sean0Sean weren’t quite as entertaining Bret and Jemaine (and Murray, present), but they did bring a sort of straight-out-of-the-garage charm. Eventually a drummer joined the duo, and the newly formed trio banged out some solid garage-rock tunes.

brainstormAfter a brief excursion in Brooklyn, I made my way back to the East Village, where I spent the remainder of the night. First up was Portland, Oregon trio BRAINSTORM at the Lit Lounge. BRAINSTORM was certainly fun to watch and listen to, mostly due to the drummer/singer’s energy and the guitarist’s oscillation between psych distortion and the fluttery cleanliness of indie-rock. Also, the guitarist frequently put his instrument aside to grab a tuba, so that was neat.

nightmare river

I then made a quick walk to the Bowery Electric, where I caught the last couple songs of pop artist Sami Akbari, aka sami.the.great. Sami’s performance of Cyndi Lauper-like pop songs was enjoyable to watch and listen to, but it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea. However, the next act up at the Electric, The Nightmare River Band (pictured), was right up my alley.

The Nightmare River Band is the most aptly named band I’ve seen so far at CMJ. Many of their songs possess that sort of romantic notion that if the boat is sinking, then fuck it and party while you still can, specifically “Last Goodbye.” Ironically, they opened with “Last Goodbye,” which, at least by looking at its title, would seem like the perfect closing song. Instead, the band closed with an inspired cover of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers, which was somehow an even bouncier version than the original. The dueling guitar and bass solos certainly helped. Overall, the Nightmare River Band a great set filled with some rather awesome rock n’ roll songs.

Returning to my home turf, I set up shop at the Delancey to see Blonds (top of page picture) perform at the Deli's Rootsy showcase. I had high expectations for the duo, who performed as a five-piece live, and they were undoubtedly exceeded. Singer Cari Rae began the show with her smoky, sultry vocals. Just as you start to view Rae as an angel from heaven, the instrumentation, led by guitarist Jordy Asher, knocks you off the side of the earth down into hell. Rae’s smile turns to a snarl, and her swagger rises as the controlled chaos builds around her. Every song took on new power live. While the studio version of “Mr. E” embodies the suaveness of James Bond, then the live take sounds like what happens when you replace 007’s martini with an assault rifle. With their commanding take of an already strong catalog, Blonds proved to be the highlight of CMJ Tuesday.


After a misguided attempt to squeeze in seeing a band at Fontanas, I returned to the Delancy just in time for the tail end of Laura Stevenson & the Cans. Stevenson commanded the packed room with her confident folk-rock.


After Laura, I ended my first night of CMJ 2012 with Everest Cale The strength of Everest Cale’s debut EP, “Beast,” comes from Brett Treacy’s fantastic voice, which, at times, sounds like the late, great Layne Staley. While Treacy did howl like the eponymous beast, the star of the band’s performance at the Delancey was guitarist Jeremy Kolmin. Kolmin would rip off blistering solos while bending notes to new heights. With Treacy’s vocals and Kolmin’s guitar, Everest Cale delivered a high-quality performance. Plus, they won the coveted “Best Line of Stage Banter Award” with this gem: “You drunk assholes go fuck yourselves” (said jokingly, of course).






The Deli's CMJ Shows 2012





Deli readers in bands,

Every year, The Deli's Year End Polls highlight hundreds of the best emerging artists in the 11 local US scenes we cover - and reward them with prizes from our sponsors.

As you may know, the winner of the NYC poll will grace the cover of the spring issue of The Deli.

Now established artists like Local Natives, Yeasayer, Twin Shadow, Vampire Weekends, Vivian Girls, Ra Ra Riot, Girls, Kurt Vile, Baths, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Blank Dogs, Buke and Gass and many others won or did well in our polls months if not years before getting international recognition.

The end of the 2011 is quickly approaching and we are ready to go through the painstaking 2 month process involved in selecting the artists and processing the various votes. We are already asking our local jurors (mostly venue promoters, bloggers, record store and radio personnel) to cast their vote for their favorite local emerging artists. But of course, our polls are open to all bands who want to be considered: free submissions are open from now until December 4th HERE - after that date we'll have $5 submissions through SonicBids for another couple of weeks. All these submissions will be grouped by genre and filtered by The Deli's local editors and some Deli writers.

To submit for consideration and for more info about our year end polls please go

Good Luck
The Deli's Staff



At The Delancey on Tuesday 10.18 we'll have a truly fantastic bill with 9 NYC based electro-pop bands - and it's going to be free!. 21+ - $8.
Full listings of the Deli's CMJ shows here. See below for the Dream Pop and Alt Rock stages that same night in the same venue (downstairs).

P.S. If you are into Pedal Effects, don't miss The Deli's STOMP BOX EXHIBIT at CMJ on Friday and Saturday!!!


7.00 - The Casualty Process

7.40 - Illuminator
8.20 - Tiny Victor ies
9.00 - Mitten
9.40 - Computer Magic

10.20 - Psychobuildings

11.00 - Pretty Good Dance Moves

11.40 - Caged Animals

12.20 - Slam Donahue


Proto-grunge ‘80s underground rockers Das Damen set to re-release debut EP in reworked/remastered/expanded form

As recently announced by Dromedary Records, iconic underground rock band Das Damen is reissuing their eponymous debut EP, retitled 1986: KEEPS ME WILDalongside a new issue of drummer Lyle Hysen’s fanzine, Damaged Goods (also the name of Hysen’s record label) featuring a comprehensive timeline of the band, show flyers, oral history, and words from Thurston Moore, Tom Sharpling, and more.

The reissue includes a few new demos and reworked tracks featuring a few other rock legends: Dez Cadena of Black Flag, Thalia Zedek of Come, Gary Lee Conner of Screaming Trees, The Fluid’s John Robinson, and A Girl Called Eddy. After being out of print for decades, these tracks will be back in action on September the 8th, 2023.

The first single off the project, “Trick Question" is available for streaming now, along with an official music video (see above). Listening to this song is about all you need, while walking around the city—especially if pumped through the 'phones of a portable CD player—to feel like it’s 1986 again and to pretend the East Village hasn’t become a bit of a frat house. It was in this legendary, filthy scene, that Das Damen got their start as little punk NYU students, back when NYU students could be punk. Listening to this record smells like the streets of the 1980’s downtown scene.

“Trick Question” is among the six songs found on the original EP, expanded to a whopping 17 tracks for 1986: Keeps Me Wild. To this day, the original EP represents a vital piece of the downtown NYC underground music scene—a sound that got built upon and built upon until today, when the indie scene has evolved greatly, but is very much still alive and kickin’. Basically, they walked so later bands like the Strokes could run.

In other words, this collection of songs is truly a time capsule into the history of New York’s downtown music scene, a scene with which I personally am involved, and a scene, I presume if you’re reading this, that you care a bit about! Let the history lesson begin...

“The six anthemic songs contained therein remain as fist-pumpingly huge and evocative as ever, dripping with the grit, grime, chaos, and sludge of the 1980s downtown scene where the band members first converged as fledgling teenage punks attending New York University. But while Das Damen certainly shared an affinity for jacked-to-11 amps and ear-busting volume akin to peers like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., songs like “Trick Question,” “Slave Bird” and “How Do You Measure” stand-alone with otherworldly singalong harmonies, tasty hooks, monster riffs, and miles and miles of paisley-draped, hair-exploding style.” publicist, Ken Weinstein

Das Damen was conceived of in 1984 when singer/guitarist Jim Walters, guitarist Alex Totino, EIGHT-STRING Bassist Phil Leopold Von Trapp (what a name!), and drummer Lyle Hysen joined forces, playing clubs in the East Village and absolutely crushing crowds with their hardcore mixture of punk, metal, and alternative rock. 

“When we got the tapes baked several years ago, upon listening to them we discovered we had a few unfinished alternative takes from the original EP sessions,” says drummer Lyle Hysen. “We didn’t feel we could bring the same ‘1986 enthusiasm’ to finishing the tapes but by bringing in a few people who we respect or are pals from back then, the re-imaginings would have a new energy of their own.” – quote grabbed from BigHassle Press Release

This band, and in particular, this body of work, represents a moment in time, a pillar of NYC music, having been originally recorded with noted noise-rock producer Wharton Tiers (Sonic Youth, Glenn Branca, Pussy Galore), in his famed Fun City Studios.

“The EP’s ecstatic maelstrom expertly mirrored the tension, frenzy, and white noise…earned Das Damen a reputation as a mind-blowingly epic live band, as heard on tours alongside Nirvana, Soundgarden, Black Flag, Green River, Screaming Trees, and DC3, amongst other like-minded luminaries.” The upcoming remastered EP, augmented from the original Ecstatic Peace! Tapes will add a little bit of glimmer and shine to their trademarked grit. Sean Glonek at SRG Studios made sure of that when he took a stab at the tapes, overseen by Walters, Hysen, and best-selling author/producer Tom Beaujour.

And as if that’s not enough, the East Village Punk OG’s have announced their first live date in over three decades at the Drom30 Festival on September 16th, 2023, which will take place in the picturesque, magical place that isthe  Hudson Valley. The EP arrives digitally through Dromedary Records the week prior, on September 8th, followed by a Vinyl release in October. 

In conclusion: A little nostalgia never hurt nobody, and I, for one, enjoy a little mood curation courtesy of some mid 1980’s punk rock music. And if you do too, be sure to check out Das Damen in 2023…



Reggie Pearl explores the power dynamics behind a not-so-straight-forward request to "Paint My Nails" on new single

Photo by Carson (Gigi) Milstead

Here at the Deli we’re admittedly big fans of Venn diagrams and one of our fave VD’s is the one where you have one concentric circle representing rough-hewn indie folk with string-band instrumentation complete with acoustic guitar and viola/violin and banjo, and another circle representing formal jazz-based, conservatory-trained musicianship that balances virtuosic proficiency with tasteful restraint…

…and another circle representing confessional singer-songwriter alt.pop featuring misty-eyed, world-weary romantic yearning á la Sharon Van Etten/Angel Olsen/Weyes Blood/Phoebe Bridgers, and another circle representing confrontational punk singer-shouters known for sharp-tongued, full-throating takedowns of the patriarchy shot through with "nasty woman" wit, including a fair helping of self-lacerating wit as well, á la Lydia Lunch/Lunachicks/Kathleen Hanna/Kat Bjelland…

…cuz any artist who can fit within the not-very-sizable sliver of intersectional space between the above-listed concentric circles is something akin to finding a pearl in a random restaurant oyster and so it’s appropriate that conservatory-trained, no-punches-pulled, singer-songwriter Reggie Pearl fits this bill…

…given her ability to put across lines like "are you going to tie me up / but you won’t even spit in my mouth / in my mouth / spit in my mouth / spit in my mouth / you won’t spit in my mouth" declaimed over homespun banjo 'n' viola 'n' violin (or "fiddle" if you prefer) in a manner that’s at once humorous and disturbing and wistful and yearning as R. Pearl does on “Paint My Nails,” a single they released earlier today…

…a song self-describedly described as being “about physical dominance in a relationship without any emotional depth…being intimate but only for a performance of gender roles…about how accepting your queerness can liberate you from the imposed roles within your relationships and how you relate to the world” or for another example check out their preceding single "Get Low" released just a month ago (almost to the day and both will subsequently be included on Twilight Zone (Ugly Cave Records), a 7-track EP set for a September release)...

…featuring some of The Deli’s fave lyrics of late which again address toxic masculinity but this time as manifested in an episode of erectile dysfunction (“was it the beer, or the Lord, or the lesbian porn?”) with a catchy-as-hell vocal melody/guitar progression enhanced by pinprick pizzicato strings culminating in eerie microtonal glissandi trills over a creeping bassline, mirroring an emotional tenor that's unsparing one moment and empathetic the next (“was it guilt, was it shame / maybe you took blame / first be honest with yourself / then honest with me”) that in either case could save the addressee months (if not years!) worth of therapy bills…

…so naturally we wanted to know more–especially with Reggie Pearl set to perform live here in NYC a couple days hence (on 7/20/23) at The Windjammer in Ridgewood as presented by Footlight Presents–and fortunately she was willing to oblige in the form of sharing some insightful insights over the course of an in-depth phone convo spanning a range of topics, excerpts of which can be found below. (Jason Lee)


Recorded by Hot Take Recording Co
Mixed by Justin Termotto 
Mastered by 1m0rewinter 

Drums: Ryan Katz 
Bass: Gabriel Lazaro
Viola: Noah Leong 
Violin: Claudius Agrippa


On geography:

I moved to Boston a few years ago to attend the Berklee College of Music. Since then I’ve moved back to St. Louis, though I’m currently back in Boston for an East Coast tour. It’s been nice to be back in the Midwest to give some love to my family and friends. When I left for school my grandma said, 'You’ll get famous and never come back” which was sweet for her to be worried about.

I didn’t graduate from Berklee. I knew I wouldn’t. It’s too expensive. My goal was to find the best musicians I could possibly play with, and collaborate with, and that’s what happened.

Later this year I’ll be going to the Philippines for a couple of months with a side trip to Japan. My partner is from there and their family is there. One of my goals has always been to be able to travel and play music. It’s nice to have some people willing to help me out. I’ve also got a show lined up in Japan...could call it a tour if I wanted to be all fancy. 

On early musical development:

My mom always said I started singing before I could talk. I’d be humming melodies and my older sister would say “tell this kid to shut up!” It never felt like I chose to sing. Now it’s a choice. But when I was a kid it’s just what I did. 

I started playing in a band at 10 years old at a music center. Early on I was into soul music, Motown...lmusic people around me weren’t listening to. Holy shit, there’s so much good music out there! I’ve dedicated myself to finding music that I “shouldn’t” have access to. Not to mention music from other countries, music from around the world.

For me making music is in a way of trying to honor this legacy of musical creativity, and those who have come before me. And to add to it. It's a never ending thing. You can study music your whole life and never come anywhere close to being an expert.

On evolving musically: 

I went to regular high school, and then performing arts high school to study jazz. It felt like a sport in a way...the only sport I’ll ever play. There’s complexity, vocal gymnastics, always something new to try and master. Singing jazz is how I practice and get better. I have a lot of appreciation for it now.

I’ve always written songs, but somewhere along the way realized I can say whatever I want to say in them. On the Twilight Zone EP I’m addressing things I never thought I’d want to put in my music. It feels like singing about some of these things frees me from their reins–using music as a means to release pain and stress, negative emotions but positive emotions too. 

I’ve given myself the freedom to try new things...don’t think I could do this before. Before I was “I’m an indie singer, My songs have to sound a certain way.” It used to worry me, sounding ugly and not pretty, sounding “bad.” When I released [2020 EP] Regicide I realized “oh, I can sing however and whatever I want.” 

It’s been so much fun to release myself from that. But uncomfortable at times too...letting my voice free to exist in these new spaces. I’ve realized I can make screams beautiful, heart-wrenching, an outlet for the stress and some of the BS we all deal with.

The only concern is to do it in a healthy way. I can drink some tea, take a throat lozenge when I need to. Being formally trained there’s this attitude you need to sound like"this." Use your head voice, etc. But I’m going to do what feels good and make each performance different, its own unique in-the-moment thing. It feels good to put all that stuff somewhere.

Collaborating is a big part of it too. Like I said, I found my musical soulmates at Berklee. I can go to them and say, "here’s the bones of the songs. You know how to play your instruments. It’s up to you what to do." They’ve really brought the songs to life. String instruments can express more feelings, more emotion, than a voice and words can. Or at least in a different way. 

On the creative process:

I have to write what I want to write. "Here’s this thing I need to understand things better." It’s a little strange being asked to explain my songs, because I write a song about something so I don’t have to talk about it. My favorite thing about music is where a song explains just how I’m feeling on its own terms. And I love that it may be able to help someone who needs help, helps them to know they’re not alone. 

When I wrote “Get Low” it came from getting into a perfect flow state. I didn’t really *write* that song. It just came to me. Some spiritual being came to me and said, "here’s this song, just write it down." I think it was reacting to things that have just been thrown in my face so much. It just came out. 

On music as a therapeutic form of expression:

I grew up a closeted queer person in Missouri, around a lot of "Republican" guys for lack of a better term, many of whom were homophobic and sexist. The song deals with feeling "Catholic guilt" in that setting. It all circles back on myself. 

The opening lines ("said the preacher, to the priest, to the firearms / One hell of a man, but you can't get hard") confront this. The fear and insecurity. There's a tendency for preachers and other male authority figures to pass this shit around. And then someone will take up arms based on what they've said about some group of people.

On “Paint My Nails”:

I’ve always been obsessed with hands. There’s so many things you can do with hands. You can cause so much harm. You can literally punch a baby. Or you can do so much good. 

The opening line “Sleep is recommended” is like when you’re thinking about a difficult situation so much… just go to bed, go to sleep. Think about it later. 

The song is about a relationship that was super dominating, but not in a way I was into, not in the fun way. And thinking I need to get out of this, but I'm stuck. Paralyzed by pain and fear and asking “are you going to tie me up.”

It’s also about queerbaiting. About men who will paint their nails but they’re not queer. About people wanting to be a part of queerness. I can’t speak for them, but some people want to come across in a certain way when they’re not really that way behind closed doors. 

We all know a person who had their nails painted but they’re a piece of shit. Using these surface signs to be involved in a certain space where you can actually cause a lot of harm. The one consolation is that maybe, because the straight dudes are wearing nail polish, it makes it safer to be queer in Missouri. 

Final thoughts:

I’m excited for people to hear this music. I’ve been holding on to some of it for 4 years. “Floor Dweller” was written about a year ago. The entire record’s been done for about a year, just waiting to get everything in order. I’m ready for it to be out so I can move on to the next thing. 

Me and my friend, Frances Baker, we were like "we don’t wanna deal with a label."
 So we started one ourselves. It might turn into a full on production company doing photos, set design, videos and other concepts. It’s great having ADHD, and being creative, and having time on your hands.


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