Friendships 4

22 Oct The top artists from CMJ’s ‘The Aussie BBQ’ in New York

CMJ in New York is a music week – similar to SXSW in Austin, Texas – where (mostly) independent artists from around the world come to play a series of shows throughout the week. It’s an opportunity to showcase themselves not only to fans, but also to websites, radio hosts, labels etc. It’s a great chance for Australian artists to get noticed internationally and this year 38 of them made the flight over.

The Aussie BBQ at CMJ is an annual tradition, where all the Australian artists play 25-minute sets across two stages from 2pm until almost 4am. While the sets are short and the stages are small, it’s a great way to taste-test a variety of Australian artists. At this exact event in 2012, I saw Flume play in the basement to about 20 people – you never know who is going to blow up next.


10. Slum Sociable

Slum Sociable
Photography by Jake Willis

The first thing you notice when you see Slum Sociable live is that they look like a traditional guitar band – which is surprising, because they sound like a laptop-heavy, midi-keyboard project, but in fact there are no laptops at all on stage. The band kind of ride that post-Chet Faker sound, but for the most part the songs are well written and they’re rather effective in their use of minimal instrumentation.

9. Methyl Ethel

Methyl Ethel
Photography by Jake Willis

The Perth band quickly stir up comparisons to Tame Impala‘s early work, with their psych-garage sound, but Methyl Ethel are less psych and are more about the lyrical content. The lead singer’s shy personality reminds me of Youth Lagoon and he has some serious high vocal pipes. While I’d like to hear more variety in their songwriting, the three-piece have great, intricate chemistry and memorable guitar lines.

8. The Babe Rainbow

The Babe Rainbow
Photography by Jake Willis

The Babe Rainbow don’t exactly bring much new to a sound that was mastered in the late ’60s and early ’70s, but I always find myself falling into a spiralling vortex of thought during their sets. That combination of space-psych with sunny beach vibes allows you relax into a comfortable trance. It all feels like a summer road trip, which at times turns danceable, and at other times slow and sexual. They don’t play with as many guitar effect pedals as you’d imagine.

7. Sui Zhen

Sui Zhen
Photography by Jake Willis

A member of No Zu, Sui Zhen kind of sounds like The Knife. Her songs aren’t completely fleshed out yet, but she has a vivid imagination, one that will write those songs in the future. Her Aussie BBQ set was more danceable than her set earlier in the week, and while I’d like to see her utilise the guitar player in the background more, I like the direction Sui Zhen is heading.

6. Client Liaison

Client Liaison
Photography by Jake Willis

Another band like The Babe Rainbows who are firmly lodged in another generation, yet when it comes to pound-for-pound stage presence, Client Liaison bring it every time. Even though the tiny CMJ stages are a far cry from the elaborate festivals stages they often frequent, hey don’t let it concern them. The songs have strong melodies and keyboard hooks aplenty, and the next step for Client Liaison would be to study Kevin Parker and learn how to transform an old sound into something new entirely.

Marcus Rimondini

Managing Editor & Music Editor - Follow on Twitter