“Satisfied” (Live at The Living Room 12.05.09) - Sami Akbari
I’m sure that Sami Akbari is sick of people talking about her height, but her massive voice is truly unexpected from someone who is about five feet tall. Although her supporting keyboardist was MIA and presumably lost or stuck in traffic, Sami kept the show going with her playful self-deprecation. She may sing about some dense topics in her music, but Akbari’s personality is not all doom and gloom. As much as I was impressed by Sami’s versatile voice, as well as her multi-instrumental abilities, the most memorable part of the show was Sami’s sense of humor. We’ve posted “Satisfied” here, but be sure to head on over to Standing Room for the rest of the set.
“Christmas (Beat Happening Cover)” (Live at Bruar Falls 11.27.09) - Shark?
Shark? is another band that’s been on our list to see. While some music bloggers joke nervously about starting a band, Kevin Diamond, head writer of Quiet Color, has been in several bands and is the frontman of Shark?. At a time when lo-fi bands seem to use the fuzz aesthetic to mask musical weakness, Shark?’s talent is undeniably refreshing. With impressive vocals and tight instrumentals, Shark? will restore your faith in garage rock bands. The song we’ve posted here is a Beat Happening cover that will appear on Ear Farm’s Do you EAR what I EAR?, a holiday album for the Association to Benefit Children. If you’re not a fan of uplifting holiday music, “Christmas” is for you. Head on over to Standing Room for the rest of the set.
“Nightmares from Diet Birch Beer” (Live at Bruar Falls 11.27.09) - Sentence Diagrams
We were turned onto Sentence Diagrams by Pop Jew in Brooklyn, and we knew we had to catch them ASAP after hearing “Nightmares from Diet Birch Beer.” Gerard of Sentence Diagrams says that the band is about having a good time and not being pretentious, and this was true at the Bruar Falls show. They played their irresistible pop tunes with a certain carefreeness that I’ve come to miss seeing onstage. Sentence Diagrams even performed their own rendition of “Linus and Lucy,” marking the beginning of the holiday season. How did they know that A Charlie Brown Christmas is my official December soundtrack? Genius. Be sure to head over to Standing Room to hear the rest of their set.
A song presumably made up of gibberish lyrics to make it sound like English, written by an Italian.
“Bad Lover” (Live at Cake Shop 10.20.09) - Small Black
Small Black was also the buzz during CMJ, and they seemed to be at every happening party. Like Dinosaur Feathers and Motel Motel, Small Black also played a set at the Pop Tarts Suck Toasted showcase. Rounding out the day with warm, hazy electro sounds, Small Black had an impressive performance at a venue that isn’t known for its acoustics. As a live act, Small Black is more than just laptops and samplers, and they certainly have the potential to get a mellow dance party started. We’ve posted “Bad Lover” here, but you’ll have to see and hear their “minimal Casio noise pop” in person.
“Panda” (Live at Cake Shop 10.20.09) - Motel Motel
Without doubt, Motel Motel is meant to be enjoyed live. My first introduction to the band was “Coffee Coffee,” and the live rendition was so beautiful that it sent chills down my spine. But, Motel Motel is not a one-album pony. They played mostly new songs during their short set at the CMJ showcase presented by Pop Tarts Suck Toasted, and they did not disappoint. We’ve posted our favorite here, but head over to Standing Room to hear the rest. These new songs all have working titles, so don’t be surprised if they change in the future. Go here for information on purchasing their music.
“Floating Vibes” (Live at Pianos 10.21.09) - Surfer Blood
Surfer Blood was the buzz on everyone’s lips during CMJ. Playing a total of 13 times over the course of 7 days in NYC, Surfer Blood made sure that they could be seen and heard by everyone. Standing Room was there twice, and we bring you their set from Force Field PR’s day party at Pianos. Surfer Blood is too fun to resist, and I have to admit that I’ve fallen hard for their music. These days, I rarely see bands who are really truly excited by their music and having the opportunity to play. Maybe it’s due to the overall nature of CMJ week, but the raw energy of Surfer Blood made me remember why live music is so thrilling in the first place. No worries if you haven’t been able to see this band yet. Head on over to Standing Room to hear the rest of the set.