Ah, Thursday night of CMJ: the night our brains officially start to melt down and we end up missing bands we’d planned to catch because we can’t quite figure out how long it’s going to take to get from Park Slope to Williamsburg. (It helps me feel better using the the first-person plural.) You’re no help, F train. I did manage to make it to Knitting Factory in time to catch Brooklyn-repping Slowdance and The Immaculates though. Soooo…
Slowdance — maybe you remember them from this issue here? — straddles two worlds; one romantic and elegant, the other sharp and cool. It’s done impressingly well, with chanteuse Quay Quinn-Settel dancing just enough to not seem stuffy, but just disengaged enough that she’ll always seem out of reach. Lines like, “You are not my boyfriend”… or maybe it was, “You are my boyfriend”… are sung dreamily, but with triumph, turning the set into a cat-and-mouse chase fighting for your emotions. The four-piece band glides right along with her, synths softening the corners of slick drums and jerky guitars. It’s old-world and new-world all at once.
A three-tiered powerhouse featuring the frontman of French Miami, the drummer of Sisters (here, on bass) , and the spazzy label head of Famous Class Records (on drums), The Immaculates also straddle two worlds, but in an entirely different way. They’re a throwback to 60s soul, yes, but done in a way that’s both a sincere homage and an ironic wink. So what does that means for their live show? Suits, obviously. An auxiliary fourth member hype man, making sure the audience is prepared to dance. A singer who spends equal time on his knees as his feet, with an impressive ability to arch his back in The Walkmen’s Hamilton Leithauser belting-it-out stance. His voice, too, is on par with Leithauser’s — a gruffed-up version of James Brown, ’cause, you know, he’s white and all. There’s no guitar, just consistently rubbery basslines and power-packed drumming. More entertaining than watching a chillwave band, can promise you that.