CMJ Music Marathon is upon us. Let’s talk about it, shall we? The long-running music conference and showcasepalooza takes place in New York City and its boroughs, October 21-25. It’s not easy to span the city in time to catch all the acts performing, but damn it if it isn’t fun to try.
This year will see the return of the Outlaw Roadshow, put on by Counting Crows‘ Adam Duritz in conjunction with the Ryan’s Smashing Life blog. The traveling showcase – no badges required! – has been a popular feature of the big fests from Austin to NY and features some of the best underground music in the country. If you hit this one, you’ll catch sets from our friends Mean Creek and Air Traffic Controller, as well as Hallelujah The Hills, Christian McNeil & Sea Monsters, Corin Ashley (occasionally of The Pills), and many more.
Here are a few more to check out:
We’ll have some more recommendations to come, no doubt.
#TTTATC is a “go.” Our former Artist Of The Week Air Traffic Controller is capping off this summer by hitting the road with The Tragic Thrills. The two bands will spend their August crossing the U.S. and spreading their message of melodicism and excellence. ATC are promoting their new single, “The House.” Watch the trailer below, and see tour dates below that.
Tour Dates with The Tragic Thrills:
Sat 02 Seattle, WA – Barboza’s (21+)
Mon 04 Reno, NV – Singer Social Club (21+)
Wed 06 San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill (AA)
Thu 07 Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg HiFi (21+)
Fri 08 Phoenix, AZ – Electric Ballroom (AA)
Sat 09 Las Vegas, NV – Container Park (AA)
Sun 10 Salt Lake City, UT – Loading Dock (AA)
Mon 11 Denver, CO – Lost Lake (21+)
Wed 13 El Paso, TX – Lowbrow Palace (18+)
Thu 14 Austin, TX – Holy Mountain (AA)
Fri 15 Houston, TX – Warehouse Live Studio (AA)
Sat 16 Dallas, TX – Prophet Bar (AA)
Sun 17 Little Rock, AR – Rev Room (AA)
Tue 19 St. Louis, MO – The Demo (AA)
Wed 20 Chicago, IL – Schubas Tavern (AA)
Thu 21 Pittsburgh, PA – Hard Rock Cafe (AA)
Fri 22 Arlington, VA – IOTA Club (21+)
Sat 23 New York – Mercury Lounge (21+)
Sun 24 Philadelphia, PA – Ortlieb’s Lounge (21+)
Tue 26 Boston, MA – Great Scott (18+)
Air Traffic Controller are just plain catchy. There’s no fighting that. If you’re looking for comparisons, the pop majesty of ELO with hints of Vampire Weekend‘s Paul-Simonization of modern indie rock come to mind (their track “Pick Me Up” lifts a rhythm straight from “Graceland” to great effect). But we think that combination produces a sound that’s all ATC, and the band’s new animated video for “Pick Me Up” is just further proof. It’s not easy to do the animation/live-action combo this well, and on a budget to boot, but it works in so many ways. Check it out below, and catch the band at this year’s SXSW. (more…)
Our latest Artist of the Week is Air Traffic Controller, a Boston-based pop-rock group that takes their name from frontman Dave Munro‘s stint in the US Navy as, well, an air traffic controller. Citing as a musical foundation the formidable trio of Petty, McCartney, and Springsteen, Munro and his band – including his brother Richie Munro, Steve Scott, and Casey Sullivan – expand those classic pop sensibilities into a lush orchestral wave of sound. They are often accompanied live by a string section (Alison Shipton, violin, and Kiara Perico, viola) to better represent their unique and instantly appealing sound.
ATC compliment their expansive sonic prowess with lyrical insight. In our review of their 2012 LP, NORDO, we observed:
Air Traffic Controller relates the narratives of an average life with such exuberant grandiosity that even the most monotonous aspects of a normal day seem worth celebration. As Munro sings, Sometimes you don’t know if it’s real / Or just some kind of magic show / So all you can do / Is pretend it’s all true. For Air Traffic Controller, it’s that type of magical belief in the splendor of every little moment that makes life not just bearable, but meaningful.
Now that album is getting a deluxe re-release for 2014, featuring new songs and remixes, as the band embarks on a quick tour of the UK before returning home to continue work on a follow-up LP. Check out the tour dates after the jump, along with the video for “Hurry Hurry,” an indie pop anthem that will get a UK single release on December 6th and will be heard on MTV’s Scrubbing In on 11/21.
“Thinking of You,” the final track on Air Traffic Controller’s new album NORDO begins just like any other folky love song. Bandleader Dave Munro quietly strums his acoustic guitar, languidly composing a simple song “for a lovely lady” while spending a rainy day inside. Then the orchestra comes in. Trumpets blare a regal fanfare, cymbals crash, and glockenspiels chime brightly while Munro’s falsetto climbs high above the sudden explosion of chamber pop. It’s an unexpected transition, but it works, and it’s a moment that explains what NORDO is all about.
Munro began writing songs while working as an actual Navy air traffic controller overseas, and it’s not hard to imagine him dreaming up pop tunes during the intermittent breaks in his stressful work day. Becoming the bandleader of his own imaginary pop orchestra was a way to cope with the everyday struggles that came from being miles away from home. On Air Traffic Controller’s latest album, Munro reproduces that experience for listeners, scoring the daydreams of a normal guy with a grandiose soundtrack that elevates the mundane to the sublime. He sings about rushing out for work in the morning, trying to remember the origins of a specific movie quotation, and needing to take a paid vacation just to keep himself sane. All along, he’s accompanied by handclaps, church bells, strings, and horns in addition to the standard rock band set“up. There’s even a forty-piece orchestra featured on the standout track “Blame.” These extravagant arrangements don’t so much transform his quotidian musings as embrace the beauty of their averageness. Munro knows that when you’re facing down a personal challenge, sometimes it really does feel like you need a forty-piece orchestra to back you up. (more…)
Indie pop seems to be the perfect genre to usher in April, and with it the official start of spring. Generally light and refreshing, Wikipedia defines the genre as “relatively angst-free”. And while that description makes us giggle, the fact that one artist on OurStage is going to win some serious gear is no laughing matter at all. OurStage is proud to be home to some sweet indie pop artists, like the previously MTV.com featured Junkyard Poets and Air Traffic Controller. Or if synth pop is more your speed, check out 2011 SXSW performers The Plastics Revolution and “Shout It Out With HANSON” winners ColorFire. Enter your best track into the Indie Pop Channel by April 22, 2010 and you could be winner of fifty-two sets of guitar strings and twelve sets of bass strings, along with some other choice accessories. Imagine all the spring cleaning of old gear you could do, and what a way to start off tour season. Could be a delightful season indeed.