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Running the CMJ Marathon 2012 - Day 1 - by Josh S. Johnson
Blonds, Laura Stevenson, The Nightmare River Band, Sean0Sean, sami.the.great, Brainstorm, Everest Cale

The second best part of CMJ, after of course the opportunity to see tons of great bands for five straight nights in the greatest city for music, is the process of sorting through the seemingly endless list of bands in order to meticulously plan your personal schedule down to the minute. That feeling of invincibility concerning the laws of time and space is an awful like the one you get when you develop grand plans to start exercising and working out.  That brief sensation of euphoria lasts right up to the minute you told yourself you were going to start. Then you realize you already walked something like three flights of stairs that day, so really there’s no need to exercise.

Similarly, that confidence in a CMJ strategy lasts for the all too brief period between the schedule’s release and when the first band you see doesn’t start or finish on time. Suddenly those hours of planning turn are for naught as you blindly choose a venue to visit next. Yet the chaos of CMJ is part of its undeniable charm. As my uncle once said to me while my dad tried to figure out how he forgot to turn the lights off in the now-non-starting rental car we were driving through the middle of Alabama: “It’s part of the adventure.”

My CMJ adventure started with an example of the aforementioned scheduling hassles. I arrived at The Rock Shop around 7:30 with the intention of catching Brooklyn’s Howth, who released a solid indie-rock album, “Newkirk” earlier this year, at 7:45.  However, I soon learned that the band that was supposed to play at 7, Sean0Sean, was just beginning their set. Not wanting to leave Brooklyn empty handed, I stuck around and declared Sean0Sean, led by Brooklyn-born Sean Kiely, my first band of CMJ 2012.

Not only did Sean0Sean’s Rock Shop gig break the band’s CMJ virginity, it was their first gig, period. Hearing that, I felt that there wasn’t a better way to begin my week of researching upcoming bands than with a band that has never played a show before. When I arrived, the band consisted of only a guitarist and a bassist, but I was optimistic since I love the Flight of the Conchords. Well, Sean0Sean weren’t quite as entertaining Bret and Jemaine (and Murray, present), but they did bring a sort of straight-out-of-the-garage charm. Eventually a drummer joined the duo, and the newly formed trio banged out some solid garage-rock tunes.

brainstormAfter a brief excursion in Brooklyn, I made my way back to the East Village, where I spent the remainder of the night. First up was Portland, Oregon trio BRAINSTORM at the Lit Lounge. BRAINSTORM was certainly fun to watch and listen to, mostly due to the drummer/singer’s energy and the guitarist’s oscillation between psych distortion and the fluttery cleanliness of indie-rock. Also, the guitarist frequently put his instrument aside to grab a tuba, so that was neat.

nightmare river

I then made a quick walk to the Bowery Electric, where I caught the last couple songs of pop artist Sami Akbari, aka sami.the.great. Sami’s performance of Cyndi Lauper-like pop songs was enjoyable to watch and listen to, but it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea. However, the next act up at the Electric, The Nightmare River Band (pictured), was right up my alley.

The Nightmare River Band is the most aptly named band I’ve seen so far at CMJ. Many of their songs possess that sort of romantic notion that if the boat is sinking, then fuck it and party while you still can, specifically “Last Goodbye.” Ironically, they opened with “Last Goodbye,” which, at least by looking at its title, would seem like the perfect closing song. Instead, the band closed with an inspired cover of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers, which was somehow an even bouncier version than the original. The dueling guitar and bass solos certainly helped. Overall, the Nightmare River Band a great set filled with some rather awesome rock n’ roll songs.

Returning to my home turf, I set up shop at the Delancey to see Blonds (top of page picture) perform at the Deli's Rootsy showcase. I had high expectations for the duo, who performed as a five-piece live, and they were undoubtedly exceeded. Singer Cari Rae began the show with her smoky, sultry vocals. Just as you start to view Rae as an angel from heaven, the instrumentation, led by guitarist Jordy Asher, knocks you off the side of the earth down into hell. Rae’s smile turns to a snarl, and her swagger rises as the controlled chaos builds around her. Every song took on new power live. While the studio version of “Mr. E” embodies the suaveness of James Bond, then the live take sounds like what happens when you replace 007’s martini with an assault rifle. With their commanding take of an already strong catalog, Blonds proved to be the highlight of CMJ Tuesday.


After a misguided attempt to squeeze in seeing a band at Fontanas, I returned to the Delancy just in time for the tail end of Laura Stevenson & the Cans. Stevenson commanded the packed room with her confident folk-rock.


After Laura, I ended my first night of CMJ 2012 with Everest Cale The strength of Everest Cale’s debut EP, “Beast,” comes from Brett Treacy’s fantastic voice, which, at times, sounds like the late, great Layne Staley. While Treacy did howl like the eponymous beast, the star of the band’s performance at the Delancey was guitarist Jeremy Kolmin. Kolmin would rip off blistering solos while bending notes to new heights. With Treacy’s vocals and Kolmin’s guitar, Everest Cale delivered a high-quality performance. Plus, they won the coveted “Best Line of Stage Banter Award” with this gem: “You drunk assholes go fuck yourselves” (said jokingly, of course).






The Deli's CMJ Shows 2012





Deli readers in bands,

Every year, The Deli's Year End Polls highlight hundreds of the best emerging artists in the 11 local US scenes we cover - and reward them with prizes from our sponsors.

As you may know, the winner of the NYC poll will grace the cover of the spring issue of The Deli.

Now established artists like Local Natives, Yeasayer, Twin Shadow, Vampire Weekends, Vivian Girls, Ra Ra Riot, Girls, Kurt Vile, Baths, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Blank Dogs, Buke and Gass and many others won or did well in our polls months if not years before getting international recognition.

The end of the 2011 is quickly approaching and we are ready to go through the painstaking 2 month process involved in selecting the artists and processing the various votes. We are already asking our local jurors (mostly venue promoters, bloggers, record store and radio personnel) to cast their vote for their favorite local emerging artists. But of course, our polls are open to all bands who want to be considered: free submissions are open from now until December 4th HERE - after that date we'll have $5 submissions through SonicBids for another couple of weeks. All these submissions will be grouped by genre and filtered by The Deli's local editors and some Deli writers.

To submit for consideration and for more info about our year end polls please go

Good Luck
The Deli's Staff



At The Delancey on Tuesday 10.18 we'll have a truly fantastic bill with 9 NYC based electro-pop bands - and it's going to be free!. 21+ - $8.
Full listings of the Deli's CMJ shows here. See below for the Dream Pop and Alt Rock stages that same night in the same venue (downstairs).

P.S. If you are into Pedal Effects, don't miss The Deli's STOMP BOX EXHIBIT at CMJ on Friday and Saturday!!!


7.00 - The Casualty Process

7.40 - Illuminator
8.20 - Tiny Victor ies
9.00 - Mitten
9.40 - Computer Magic

10.20 - Psychobuildings

11.00 - Pretty Good Dance Moves

11.40 - Caged Animals

12.20 - Slam Donahue


Alt Rock

Band name: 
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
Venue name: 
The Bowery Electric
Band email: 

Wifeknife bring their epically heavy hard rock poetry to Alphaville tomorrow night (3/30) alongside face-melting bill of local all-stars

Video of Wifeknife performing “Blackout” live at Our Wicked Lady on 5 January 2023 recorded/edited by Daniel Moore for Deli Mag Films

If you’ve ever read Book IX of Virgil’s Aeneid there’s a good chance you’ll remember the part where the three Trojan battleships transform into water nymphs and swim away, thanks to a little intervention by the gods, when the Rutulians attempt to launch a sneak attack and set them on fire:

And all at once, each vessel snapping her cables free of the bank
they dive like dolphins…turned into lovely virgins
each a sea-nymph sweeping out to sea

…but the chapter also tells the story of Euryalus which is more relevant to our purposes here, a fresh-faced Trojan teen voted “most handsome in Athens” who bravely/foolishly follows his older man pal Nissus into battle and despite the latter’s well known skill with a spear (*ahem*) they both end up getting captured and beheaded thanks to the young soldier's fecklessness...

…and once Euryalus’s mother catches wind of her beautiful son’s head being impaled on a pike she rushes to the front lines heedless of the raging battle, her voice rising above the surrounding mayhem with wailed lamentations and recriminations delivered with such force and fury that the Trojans almost pack up and go home on the spot...


…cuz the Trojans knew just as well as the Romans there's no sound quite so devastating as a mother’s voice wracked with grief and rage wailing raw-voiced lamentations especially when it's their only outlet for emotional release and their only means of protesting the patriarchal system that burdened them with such misery in the first place (women's laments were once considered so subversive they were outlawed across ancient Greece) which debatably makes them the first riot grrrls ever


…but if you’re looking for a raw-voiced punk rock Mom in the current day and age who’s likewise capable of entrancing listeners with melodic lamentations delivered in a voice that even at its most restrained is laden with heavy emotional resonance, that is, before lashing out in unrestrained fury and nearly ripping your face off with belted banshee wails worthy of those ancient Hellenic mothers raising their voices to the heavens then you'll no doubt wanna check out Sarah Hamilton fronting the band Wifeknife first chance you get...

…and you'll get that chance soon since Wifeknife is performing live tomorrow (Thursday 3/30) at local "fave hang" Alphaville as part of a stacked lineup chock full of female-fronted sonic fury alongside recent SXSW compatriots Tetchy and Big Girl (not to mention the mighty Nihiloceros) and if Virgil were ever to rise from the dead and oversee a cinematic reboot of the Aeneid with its action moved to modern-day Brooklyn which is maybe less a stretch than you may think when you consider how crossing the raw sewage and industrial waste laden Gowanus Canal would be no less perilous than the River Styx back in the day…

…no doubt the Greek bard would be keen on assembling a kickass soundtrack for the film adaptation chock full of heavy metal bands adept at summoning punk rock levels of urgency and immediacy, and punk rock bands adept at summoning Heaven & Hell-era Black Sabbath levels of Dio-fied epic grandiosity, all of which means said soundtrack would no doubt include Wifeknife given how they check off both boxes above with music suitable for virgin water nymphs and brutal battle scenes alike… 

…all of which probably makes you wish you knew more about these fearless warriors of rock 'n' roll and lucky for you the Deli conducted an interview with Wifeknife’s Sarah Hamilton not long ago—alongside hubby/drummer Keith—a transcript of which follows below minus our own inconsequential interjections so by all means enjoy and never forget what's truly best in life…. (Jason Lee)


Sarah: We’ve been called The OWL Family Band with Keith Hamilton being co-owner of Our Wicked Lady (OWL) and with me working at OWL since the beginning too. Besides the two of us, our lead guitarist Benny Oastler ran OWL’s livestream shows during quarantine and to this day helps screen band submissions. Rhythm guitarist Ramsey Elliott (also bass/guitar/keys in ExPollutants) is a veteran OWL bartender and Marcello Ramirez (bassist in WifeKnife and Whaat) barbacks at OWL part-time.

Keith’s dad was a hippie drummer who instilled a deep love of music in him from an early age. Keith, a drummer himself who hadn’t picked up the sticks much in the last 20 years, missed the outlet and invited Benny to jam with him in his rehearsal space at OWL Studios. Benny was in a band called American Fever that disbanded after Bryan Tell (vocals, guitar) moved to Austin and Benny was also itching to make music again. 

After Keith played me a few of his and Benny’s instrumental recordings I honestly started hearing lyrics right away. I’m a long-time actor who’s always loved to sing, and sang via theater and choir, but never like this. But as a new mom coming out of a bout with postpartum depression followed by a pandemic, the intensity of this music, and just getting to go to a safe space with friends and scream once a week, was incredibly cathartic for me as an artist missing creative expression deeply.

I did book a play at Florida Studio Theater (Late Nov-early March) shortly after we first started jamming together. The band would send me instrumental tracks and I would send back vocals recorded on top via GarageBand. That’s how we began to develop our earliest songs, “Move On” and “Blackout.” The play was a great experience. I’d missed acting so much after a five-year hiatus, but honestly after a month or so I couldn’t wait to get back into the rehearsal space with the band.

I’m an introvert who became comfortable on stage after years of training and jobs and really just working through the nerves; I finally kind of learned how to turn the nervous energy into fuel. Being in Wifeknife is more daunting than acting in a big way, because these are my words, not someone else’s, and I’ve infused my experiences and truth into the lyrics. It’s more vulnerable. The goal is always to leave it all on the stage. 

Our friend Amanda Hurley knew we were still exploring band names and sheepishly proposed the name WifeKnife. We all instantly loved it. It’s sort of badass and funny all at once. Being a wife, a nurturing mother, but also having a wild side and demons to release just like anyone else, it totally clicked with me. I’m a Gemini, what else can I say?

Keith: Sarah is a really talented actress. I knew her stage presence would be there, and that she had the pipes thanks to her background in musical theater. It’s just a matter of using your instrument a little differently. 

Sarah: Yeah, really differently haha. It’s been a learning curve for sure, staying on pitch when sing-screaming like that. I do want the songs to have lyricism too. I’m still finding that balance; places where I can bring it down a notch and find the melody. I’d never want to be a one-note actor, and I don’t want to be a one-note vocalist. “Blackout” is my favorite song of ours so far. It’s the most personal and the most vulnerable for sure. 

Billy Aukstik of Dala Records has a studio called Hivemind Recording in Bushwick, close to OWL. We’ve known him a long time through the Daptone family, he’s the nicest guy in the business and tremendously talented.

We went and recorded for two days for the release of our two singles, which we called Double. It was the best experience. We got “Blackout” in like two takes. Billy really nailed it, he engineered and mixed it. We’re pretty raw and intense live and it was interesting recording in the studio (the first time for me and Keith) and having such control over sound levels and everything. 

I had to remind myself not to strive for perfection in the studio, to keep some of the rawness. At the end of “Blackout,” the very last note, you can just hear my voice cracks at the end. There was a take where it didn’t that I wanted to switch it out with but the rest of the band, including Billy, insisted that the cracked take was better–because of the intensity and the emotion there on that take. Of course they were right. 

We also recorded “Dead Ringer” also engineered by Billy at Hivemind. It came out well but we decided it needed more grit, so we shared it with our friend Rich Crescenti, drummer in Bugs in the Dark, who was Head of sound at OWL for 6 years and moved to LA a few years ago. He ended up mixing and mastering it, and he just crushed it. 

We hope to record another song or two now that we’re back from Austin and are starting to discuss some music video concepts so there’s definitely some exciting shit on the horizon!

Some other things Wifeknife would like you to know:

  • If you enjoy epic rock tunes by female-fronted and -backed bands, the Rites of Spring weekend fest to be held on 5/6 and 5/7 at OWL (booked by Wifeknife’s very own K. Hamilton) with a mind-boggling lineup of 30+ female-fronted bands from NYC. A fundraiser for women’s reproductive rights, bands will perform atop OWL’s open-air rooftop while DJs spin and tattoo artists offer cheap flash tattoos downstairs. Bands include Thick, Tetchy, The Silk War, Frida Kill, Big Girl, Nevva, Shadow Monster, InCircles, Tea Eater, Powersnap, The Rizzos, WifeKnife, Bugs in the Dark, Gal Fieri, Abby Jeanne, Catty, DJ Sarabeth of Tower and more.
  • TV Eye’s two-night series “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!” on 6/3 and 6/4 will likewise feature female-identifying led bands as well. Includes Baby Shakes, Mel Machete, The Out-Sect, The Dracu-las, Tits Dick Ass and lots more as assembled by Jen Manfredi of Fear City Presents



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