Yukon Blonde at Webster Hall (Photo credit: Laura Wasson)
For the second night of CMJ, I traipsed over to Webster Hall for two reasons. One, it’s close to my apartment; and two, it was filled with wall-to-wall music. Go this way for indie rock, that way for throbbing electronica. It was a musical buffet for the easily bored and the in-the-know.
First, I visited the Grand Ballroom to take in Canada’s Yukon Blonde (which would be an excellent name for a crisp IPA). The group opened for The Jezabels with plenty of amp-busting rock power on their side. Steeped in late-sixties and early-seventies goodness in the vein of Graham Parsons and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Yukon Blonde’s sound filled the vast space from the first chord to the last.
Songs like “Radio” were memorable and nostalgic without being cloying, but the well-crafted tunes weren’t what excited me the most. Not only can every single member of this group sing well, but they are also all exceptional musicians and seemed genuinely humbled by the opportunity to play a venue like Webster Hall. CMJ is a perfect reminder of how many bands there are trying to make it work. But it is a rare thing to be truly impressed by musicality, especially since rock music doesn’t require real talent for success. Yukon Blonde proves that ability is sometimes much more important and valuable than buzz.
Country Mice at Webster Hall (Photo credit: Laura Wasson)
I fled the scene as quickly as I could and made my way to the Marlin Room for a visit to Surprise Attack! Management’s day-long showcase. I was lucky enough to catch a quick set from Brooklyn’s Country Mice, a band I’ve never heard of but am very happy to have discovered. Front man Jason Rueger has the guitar-slaying chops of a young Peter Frampton or Duane Allman with a suitably floppy haircut to match. The set was filled with swampy blues melodies and exceptional solos, which are becoming a rarity for classic hard rock fans these days. If you're in the neighborhood, you can catch their second CMJ gig at Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan on Saturday.