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CMJ Music Fest: Indie's 'next big thing' bands do NYC

Updated

CMJ’s Music Marathon wrapped up late this Saturday night, marking a soggy end to a thrilling week that featured hundreds of up-and-coming indie bands playing the New York City concert circuit.

Britain’s minimalist pop quartet the xx were the reigning buzz champions of the festival, and their live shows did nothing to quell the fervor surrounding them. This group of lovelorn 20-year-olds specializes in a quiet brand of pop that eschews typical indie sonics in favor of quiet storm R&B production sheen. The co-ed lead vocalists— Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim—straddle the line between lo-fi breathiness and Top-40 soul.

In spite of the softness of their music, the xx’s unexpectedly gorgeous genre-alchemy is one of the more exciting things on the scene today and audience reactions backed this up: the crowd’s whoops of approval easily exceeded the volume of anything on stage. Check out some fan footage of the xx playing the Music Hall of Williamsburg below (as well as more CMJ coverage after the jump):

There were several terrific shows I caught, but retro-futuristic dance outfit Shout Out Out Out Out bears mention. The Canadian band’s two drummers took command of the audience’s feet while the others pumped the room full of twitchy techno, laser lights and robo-vocals. The impression was that you had been transported into an ’80s B-movie, maybe something by the name of Electric Robot Disco A Go-Go. Which, generally speaking, is a good thing.

After any worthy multi-day music fest, your brain starts melting. If you’re like me, instead of trying to salvage it, you feel the need to knock the remaining bits out and dance them into the ground. Nashville two-piece JEFF the Brotherhood were just the antidote to my ennui—one of the best mind-mushing hard rock bands I’ve seen in a while.

JEFF the Brotherhood brings a garage-rock attack to ’70s stoner metal, sounding something like Queens of the Stone Age if they recorded a tribute album to the Standells or some other Nuggets rock band. The venue they played Saturday night fit their fuzzy noise fest like a greasy glove—it was an empty parking garage above an auto parts store in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, lit just enough to see the band and the small but dedicated audience thrashing around on the cold concrete. Call it parking garage rock—and if you’re bored and in NYC, consider it a cure for what ails you.

Check out JEFF the Brotherhood’s “U Got the Look” music video (no, not a Prince cover) below:

More from EW’s Music Mix:

Them Crooked Vultures: Here the supergroup’s first single now

Warpaint: The Music Mix recommends

‘Once’ more: The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Chuck Klosterman book gets the screenplay treatment — from Hold Steady frontman

Leonard Cohen at Madison Square Garden: The master at 75

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