Echoes of girl-group pop reverberate through the music of Montreal singer and songwriter Kate Cooper (known for her work with An Horse and Iron On), especially "Flood," with its contemporary wall-of-sound production and bracing chorus.
When I asked the members of Middle Class Fashion how involved they felt they were in the St. Louis music scene, most were hesitant to answer. "I guess we're pretty involved," bassist Brian McClelland said apprehensively. "Yeah, I guess so," singer Jenn Malzone added.
Somewhere between the Velvet Underground and the Pretenders (notably in singer Nina Donghia's Chrissie Hynde-esque sensuality), Coke Weed puts its own seductive spin on guitar-chimed indie pop.
Hooks come in all manner of shapes, sizes and sounds. They could be an organ line, a clicking pattern of drum sticks, a thrumming bass line, a single vowel, repeated. The Crookes undestand that, and on "Afterglow" they pull out all the indie-pop stops.
Hopping club to club mainly throughout Lower Manhattan, N.Y., save for a handful of shows in Brooklyn, is the only way to absorb the CMJ Music Marathon's seemingly endless array of music. And if not taken in stride, one might easily fade before the finish line.
Juxtaposition can be a risky move in music, but San Franciso band the Visibles make it work, contrasting Justin Goldman's barbed-wire voice with a giddy, playful, guitar-pop arrangement on a catchy single called "Clarendon Hills."
There's no getting around it: "On the Wings of a Bug" by Borrowed Beams of Light (Adam Brock and friends of Charlottesville, Va.) sounds a lot like vintage Lindsey Buckingham; there's also no getting around how enthusiastically Brock channels that influence into something fresh and fetching.
Best Coast took the stage to Toto's "Africa" (as the crowd, most of whom younger than the song itself, cheered frenetically and clapped along), though the momentum was briefly interrupted by sound problems.
With a deceptively spare arrangement of piano, bass, horns and drums, "Four Months to Kill" by Finnish singer and songwriter Astrid Swan has a tempting sound to match its story of love gone darkly wrong.
"The surf's up, the colors are bright" goes the refrain of "The Thames & the Tide" by the High Wire. The London band isn't just musing on an ocean vision; it's a fitting mantra for the flowing, highly-harmonized pop sound as well.