This week saw the start of CMJ's Music Marathon 2005, one of the best music "festivals" on either side of the Atlantic. The line-up includes excellent and interesting bands some of which probably, and regretfully, won't appear in Norway. Main treats: The Hold Steady, The New Pornographers (whose latest album has grown a bit since my initial impression), The Arcade Fire, Blackalicious, much heralded African duo Amadou & Mariam, Atmosphere, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, !!! (I refuse to write "chk chk chk". Shit! I just did), and countless others. For that reason, in addition to the fact that New York is my home at heart, a couple of friends and me had initially decided to fly over, but decided not to in the end. It would have meant no Christmas presents this year.
Kelefa Sanneh, who I had some beef with earlier this year but who actually is a very good critic with a broad musical taste, wrote a good piece in the New York Times about the marathon. It's hard to disagree with his views. CMJ started as a coming-together of college radio station people, who at that time (some 25 years ago) were hugely important in bringing new and alternative (being an alternative to corporate radio profile that is) music out to the masses, or at least the student masses. In these days of blogging, pod-casting, and efficient on-line zines, their importance in presenting new artists is not that significant. As Sanneh explains, this years line-up reflects that. Most artists playing are in some way or another known to the audience. Heck, it was the reason why I intended to go.
I think the problem is similar to Norway's own by: Larm. What started as a showcase for up-and-coming Norwegian bands, they have become increasingly reliant upon established acts in recent years. In addition, it's a sickening lurve-fest for music industry people to kiss each others behinds.
In other news, I got the first taste of DangerDoom yesterday. The first impression is that it's not as eery as Viktor Vaughan and Madvillain, and it sounds more humorous than those two. Not that any of them lacked humor, but Danger Mouse's beats are somewhat lighter and helps bring MF's humor more to the fore. Promising.
Martha Wainwright comes to town next week.