CMJ Day 1: New Bands Growing Up

I remember listening to nearly 1,000 songs before SXSW 2008 and falling for the music of Fanfarlo. The British band with the Swedish singer only had a few singles on a tiny label back then. Now, it's just released its new record, Reservoir, on Atlantic.

I saw Fanfarlo in Austin in 2008 at one of the worst-organized venues (as so often happens at SXSW), and despite the poor sound, the band's effervescent enthusiasm and knack for melody won me over. Last night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, it did it again, only the club sound was perfect and the band's mix of mandolins, violins, clarinet, trumpet, glockenspiel and saw, along with bass guitar and drums, was colorful and contagious.

I first saw The Antlers along with a crowd of about 45 people at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C., back in March 2009. Peter Silberman leads a fiery, potent trio. You can hear that concert and see some videos of the show on our Web site. Last night, at the The Music Hall of Williamsburg, the group hit a peak only hinted at back in March.

Sometimes it's worth a band's time to work and rework its material instead of going on to new tunes. That was the case with The Antlers. These guys are diving deep into their songs, amping up the textures and working on their trademark love of a good crescendo. Peter Silberman, Michael Lerner and Darby Cicci were simply thrilling.

Both of these bands have been playing out a lot, winning over fans. They won a few more last night.

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