First day of CMJ: check. We stuck to our guns and holed up at the Living Room for the afternoon, treating ourselves to the best Paper Garden Records has to offer.
We caught the very last song from Iceland’s Dad Rocks!, entering the cozy back room as Snævar Njáll Albertsson enthralled the audience with an a capella serenade. He followed his ethereal coo’s with an impressive display of fingerpicked guitar that recalled another guitarist from the cold North, The Tallest Man On Earth. Snævar’s tunes have more energy and bombast though, most often accompanied with enough bells and whistles to make Sufjan Stevens blush. His live show was the opposite affair, stripped bare to an acoustic guitar and voice. A handful of hours in to CMJ, and we already regret missing a full set.
In between nonstop interviews, we caught half of Tall Ships‘ set. Hailing from Brighton, the trio spent their first NYC visit juggling electronics and live instrumentation to an engaged crowd of fans, press, and label friends, all equally excited to see them. The raucous set had a hiccup or two due to no stage monitors, but that didn’t bring the boys down. Barely missing a beat, they pushed the decibel limit in the Living Room and practically cleared the room when they stopped playing. We’re not necessarily the kind to feed the internet hype machine, but if we were, we’d be placing bets on Tall Ships.
Last up came Washington, D.C.’s Pree, a foursome with a penchant for household percussion. Some kind of metal slab, a steel chair, a violin bow and a saw – these and more graced the stage as all four members took turns playing various other instruments. As live performers, they have room to grow, their sound not quite coalescing. The songs demand your attention, and we stayed for the last notes of their last song even as most of the room had already trickled out.