Bad Cop opened the showcase, a young band from the garage rock capital of the south, Nashville, TN. Their city has emerged as a breeding ground for stoned garage punk with Southern charm (JEFF The Brotherhood, Turbo Fruits, PUJOL, Natural Child, etc.) and the quintet are a welcome addition to the pack. Their music sizzled through the small room as their upbeat guitar jangle intertwined with steady bouncing rhythms and frantically yelped and howled vocals. The guys played a good deal of new tracks including the most rifftastic "Kick It Out," tempo shifting stoner jam "Maniac," as well as the punchy frenzy of "Wet Lips," from the recently released split single with Turbo Fruits. While their set focused on new music (at times channeling Nashville's own music ambassador Jack White), the guys played "Control," the fuzz soaked stand out and shout along closer from their full length debut Harvest The Beast. Frontman Adam Moult (the founder of Jeffery Drag Records) danced across the small stage, knocking over multiple drinks (who cares... it's a punk rock show, dammit), filling their set with physical energy that matched their musical output. Eventually Moult picked up a guitar, joining Alex Hartness and their second guitarist for an unexpected but always welcome three guitar attack. Bad Cop make that kind of music you can shake your ass too, in other words... go see them.
Sleepies were next, a band that has quickly become an absolute favorite here at Exploding In Sound. Their name has been everywhere leading up to CMJ, championed by SPIN and the national media, and for good reason. Sleepies' contortion of punk, grunge, and indie rock is a sweltering good time, snarling and roaring from start to finish while consistently diverging their sound in different directions. Bassist Josh opened the show by introducing themselves as Surfer Blood before launching into their latest single, "Combat". The trio erupted into their chaotic storm of fast paced yet slow building post-punk party anthems and the energy level never dissipated. Drawing heavily from the recently released Weird Wild World (one of the year's absolute best records) the band played "Got A Way," "Strange Feelings," "Cool Boy," and the mighty "Terra Nova," before closing with a blistering version of the sludgy noise freakout "Seriously". The band play loose and loud, rarely staying in the same place for too long, exuding that "we don't give a fuck what you think, we're having a great time" kind of punk attitude.
CMJ has a tendency to bring you to some of your least favorite venues in the city, and this year was no different as I made my way to CMJ Union, a makeshift venue set up in the Union Square Ballroom. The room felt like a corporate mixer more than a rock show. I arrived just in time for the Slimstyle Records showcase, kicked off by Chicago's favorite grunge duo, Local H.
The years of grunge have been gone long enough that a resurgence has already began, yet Local H have remained strong throughout. Lucas has become an elder-statesman of sorts for the sound, wise and knowledgeable, with a calm demeanor that still explodes in aggressive moshpit inducing glory. With flannel and a shirt that read "What Would Neil Young Do?" Lucas is keeping the spirit of grunge alive one show at a time. Generally a band to play at least twenty songs a night, the guys closed out their ridiculously short set with "Another February," crowd favorites "High-Fiving MF" and "Fritz's Corner".
The Life And Times took the stage to deliver their distinctly Midwestern post-hardcore bliss. Allen Epley (Shiner) and co. have been touring non-stop this year in support of their latest and greatest record to date, No One Loves You Like I Do. Their sound floats somewhere between post-hardcore riffs and post-rock ambiance, creating a space age sense of wonderment. The guitars are massive and the rhythms equally booming. The trio played a short set of songs from this year's album, including highlights such as the deep boogie of "Day Nine" and the epic slow burning "Day Twelve". Their dreamy sheets of guitar and intricate rhythms were the perfect ending to the day, I only wish they could have played a bit longer (and a bit earlier).
THE LIFE AND TIMES: