CMJ Wrap-Up: The Big Guns' Coverage of South Florida Bands

Photo by Ian Witlen
Miami band Awesome New Republic at Fontana's in the Lower East Side. Click here to view more pictures.
​Just a few months ago, Awesome New Republic seemed the next South Florida band likely to strike big. But a few months is a million years in blog time, and somewhere in the last few real-time weeks, West Palm's Surfer Blood seems to have become THE South Florida hype band. They played some 12 shows in five days at last week's annual CMJ Music Marathon in New York, and ended up in pretty much every major blog. The band even garnered a mention in a "real" non-blog piece in the New York Times.

That kind of hype is both a blessing and a curse. Zach Baron at our sister paper the Village Voice even compared Surfer Blood's "coronation" at this CMJ to that of Jacksonville's Black Kids, previously. And getting one's band's hype compared to that of the Black Kids is seriously to be avoided. Black Kids are a decent band that got talked up way, way too much before the release of their debut. The record was, by the time it was released -- a million blog years after their initial buzz creation -- seen as a disappointment by all the snooty Internet types who contributed to its press avalanche.

Anyways, Surfer Blood hasn't yet suffered the deluge of press that Black Kids did, and at least in Crossfade's humble opinion, boasts more solid material. It's a long way to go before their debut record gets released on Kanine next year, though, so after the band's CMJ deluge, it may be time for a little break.

Miami darlings Awesome New Republic didn't get ignored, though. Hit the jump for a run-down on the coverage of both Surfer Blood and ANR at CMJ. Other local acts playing official showcases were Afrobeta, Pitbull, and OrganicArma, none of whose performances got much of a mention in the big-time CMJ recaps. Pitbull is, of course, swimming in his own wave of international adulation -- it was weird that he even played CMJ in the first place, considering it's mostly for the industry's next wave of breakout acts, and mostly indie-rock-centric. Afrobeta and OrganicArma's CMJ performances seem to have been overlooked on the Internet -- too bad.

Photo by Ian Witlen
West Palm Beach's Surfer Blood playing above an auto parts store in Brooklyn. Click here to view more pictures.
Here's most of the Surfer Blood hype, well, the hype that turned up in the first few pages of Google:

First, the one-off mentions. At the L magazine's music blog, writer Lauren Beck luckily found that Surfer Blood was still alive, although she compares them to Piebald -- think what you will of Surfer Blood, but a Piebald comparison is totally, totally erroneous. (If there does, however, happen to be a worthy Piebald sound-alike from our shores, please let me know ASAP.) Even Paste magazine, with its slightly alt-dad demographic, mentioned the band (and the fact that the writer takes notes on a Moleskine notebook)

At Stereogum, photos of the band made galleries of highlights from last Wednesday, Thursday, and the entire marathon overall. Side note -- another MP3 post on the blog, by Sleigh Bells, is recommended by the post's author because "past members of Sleigh Bells went on to form Surfer Blood." So we're at that point in the creation of hype family trees, folks. (Another random local fun fact about Sleigh Bells: The male half of the band, a guy-girl electro-pop duo, used to be in Poison the Well.)

Brooklyn Vegan showed Surfer Blood love too. The band appeared in this gallery of photos taken at a show at the underground venue, Above the Auto Parts Store. The writer estimated this was the band's tenth show of the week.

After their Wednesday night show, the cranks at Pitchfork remained on the fence. Writer Ryan Dombal called their song "Swim (To Reach the End" one of the best rock songs he'd heard this year (wow), but, couldn't tell if, live, the guys were "Above Average Blog Rockers or something more."

And the New York Times coverage: Jon Pareles recommended the band's "endearing melange" before their Wednesday night show, mere hours after Jon Caramanica had reviewed Surfer Blood's Tuesday night show. That latter Jon called the band's lyrics "incisive, at times heartbreaking, and almost always sharper than its music." Finally, in Pareles' overall review of the entire music marathon published yesterday, Surfer Blood starred in the first two paragraphs, with Pareles concluding "the band's CMJ blitz guarantees added recognition."

But wait! Awesome New Republic played too!

The blog The Culture Of Me featured ANR in a bunch of photos from their own event, which the band played. There are way too many pictures though so skip right to the bottom of the second page. Thetripwire reviewed ANR's Tuesday night show at the Studio at Webster Hall, and says the band "got people dancing ... at least New York dancing, which is leg-thumping and shoulder-swaying."

And finally, this blog details the entire week with ANR ... but, um, it's written by someone at Shorefire Media, their publicity company, so it's not exactly impartial. A couple of cool photos in there, though.

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Arielle Castillo
Contact: Arielle Castillo