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Go to the old Top 300 charts


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Running the CMJ Marathon 2012 - Day 1 - by Josh S. Johnson
Blonds, Laura Stevenson, The Nightmare River Band, Sean0Sean, sami.the.great, Brainstorm, Everest Cale

The second best part of CMJ, after of course the opportunity to see tons of great bands for five straight nights in the greatest city for music, is the process of sorting through the seemingly endless list of bands in order to meticulously plan your personal schedule down to the minute. That feeling of invincibility concerning the laws of time and space is an awful like the one you get when you develop grand plans to start exercising and working out.  That brief sensation of euphoria lasts right up to the minute you told yourself you were going to start. Then you realize you already walked something like three flights of stairs that day, so really there’s no need to exercise.

Similarly, that confidence in a CMJ strategy lasts for the all too brief period between the schedule’s release and when the first band you see doesn’t start or finish on time. Suddenly those hours of planning turn are for naught as you blindly choose a venue to visit next. Yet the chaos of CMJ is part of its undeniable charm. As my uncle once said to me while my dad tried to figure out how he forgot to turn the lights off in the now-non-starting rental car we were driving through the middle of Alabama: “It’s part of the adventure.”

My CMJ adventure started with an example of the aforementioned scheduling hassles. I arrived at The Rock Shop around 7:30 with the intention of catching Brooklyn’s Howth, who released a solid indie-rock album, “Newkirk” earlier this year, at 7:45.  However, I soon learned that the band that was supposed to play at 7, Sean0Sean, was just beginning their set. Not wanting to leave Brooklyn empty handed, I stuck around and declared Sean0Sean, led by Brooklyn-born Sean Kiely, my first band of CMJ 2012.

Not only did Sean0Sean’s Rock Shop gig break the band’s CMJ virginity, it was their first gig, period. Hearing that, I felt that there wasn’t a better way to begin my week of researching upcoming bands than with a band that has never played a show before. When I arrived, the band consisted of only a guitarist and a bassist, but I was optimistic since I love the Flight of the Conchords. Well, Sean0Sean weren’t quite as entertaining Bret and Jemaine (and Murray, present), but they did bring a sort of straight-out-of-the-garage charm. Eventually a drummer joined the duo, and the newly formed trio banged out some solid garage-rock tunes.

brainstormAfter a brief excursion in Brooklyn, I made my way back to the East Village, where I spent the remainder of the night. First up was Portland, Oregon trio BRAINSTORM at the Lit Lounge. BRAINSTORM was certainly fun to watch and listen to, mostly due to the drummer/singer’s energy and the guitarist’s oscillation between psych distortion and the fluttery cleanliness of indie-rock. Also, the guitarist frequently put his instrument aside to grab a tuba, so that was neat.

nightmare river

I then made a quick walk to the Bowery Electric, where I caught the last couple songs of pop artist Sami Akbari, aka sami.the.great. Sami’s performance of Cyndi Lauper-like pop songs was enjoyable to watch and listen to, but it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea. However, the next act up at the Electric, The Nightmare River Band (pictured), was right up my alley.

The Nightmare River Band is the most aptly named band I’ve seen so far at CMJ. Many of their songs possess that sort of romantic notion that if the boat is sinking, then fuck it and party while you still can, specifically “Last Goodbye.” Ironically, they opened with “Last Goodbye,” which, at least by looking at its title, would seem like the perfect closing song. Instead, the band closed with an inspired cover of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers, which was somehow an even bouncier version than the original. The dueling guitar and bass solos certainly helped. Overall, the Nightmare River Band a great set filled with some rather awesome rock n’ roll songs.

Returning to my home turf, I set up shop at the Delancey to see Blonds (top of page picture) perform at the Deli's Rootsy showcase. I had high expectations for the duo, who performed as a five-piece live, and they were undoubtedly exceeded. Singer Cari Rae began the show with her smoky, sultry vocals. Just as you start to view Rae as an angel from heaven, the instrumentation, led by guitarist Jordy Asher, knocks you off the side of the earth down into hell. Rae’s smile turns to a snarl, and her swagger rises as the controlled chaos builds around her. Every song took on new power live. While the studio version of “Mr. E” embodies the suaveness of James Bond, then the live take sounds like what happens when you replace 007’s martini with an assault rifle. With their commanding take of an already strong catalog, Blonds proved to be the highlight of CMJ Tuesday.


After a misguided attempt to squeeze in seeing a band at Fontanas, I returned to the Delancy just in time for the tail end of Laura Stevenson & the Cans. Stevenson commanded the packed room with her confident folk-rock.


After Laura, I ended my first night of CMJ 2012 with Everest Cale The strength of Everest Cale’s debut EP, “Beast,” comes from Brett Treacy’s fantastic voice, which, at times, sounds like the late, great Layne Staley. While Treacy did howl like the eponymous beast, the star of the band’s performance at the Delancey was guitarist Jeremy Kolmin. Kolmin would rip off blistering solos while bending notes to new heights. With Treacy’s vocals and Kolmin’s guitar, Everest Cale delivered a high-quality performance. Plus, they won the coveted “Best Line of Stage Banter Award” with this gem: “You drunk assholes go fuck yourselves” (said jokingly, of course).






The Deli's CMJ Shows 2012




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Deli readers in bands,

Every year, The Deli's Year End Polls highlight hundreds of the best emerging artists in the 11 local US scenes we cover - and reward them with prizes from our sponsors.

As you may know, the winner of the NYC poll will grace the cover of the spring issue of The Deli.

Now established artists like Local Natives, Yeasayer, Twin Shadow, Vampire Weekends, Vivian Girls, Ra Ra Riot, Girls, Kurt Vile, Baths, Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Blank Dogs, Buke and Gass and many others won or did well in our polls months if not years before getting international recognition.

The end of the 2011 is quickly approaching and we are ready to go through the painstaking 2 month process involved in selecting the artists and processing the various votes. We are already asking our local jurors (mostly venue promoters, bloggers, record store and radio personnel) to cast their vote for their favorite local emerging artists. But of course, our polls are open to all bands who want to be considered: free submissions are open from now until December 4th HERE - after that date we'll have $5 submissions through SonicBids for another couple of weeks. All these submissions will be grouped by genre and filtered by The Deli's local editors and some Deli writers.

To submit for consideration and for more info about our year end polls please go

Good Luck
The Deli's Staff

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At The Delancey on Tuesday 10.18 we'll have a truly fantastic bill with 9 NYC based electro-pop bands - and it's going to be free!. 21+ - $8.
Full listings of the Deli's CMJ shows here. See below for the Dream Pop and Alt Rock stages that same night in the same venue (downstairs).

P.S. If you are into Pedal Effects, don't miss The Deli's STOMP BOX EXHIBIT at CMJ on Friday and Saturday!!!


7.00 - The Casualty Process

7.40 - Illuminator
8.20 - Tiny Victor ies
9.00 - Mitten
9.40 - Computer Magic

10.20 - Psychobuildings

11.00 - Pretty Good Dance Moves

11.40 - Caged Animals

12.20 - Slam Donahue


Alt Pop

Band name: 
Blak Emoji
FULL Artist Facebook address (http://...): 
Venue name: 
Rockwood Music Hall
Band email: 

The Deli interviews Twiga - live at Berlin on 10.03

Brooklyn four piece jangle rock outfit Twiga are a self-described “band of friends,” and from the top of their 2016 EP Million $$$ Dream that type of close-homie energy is immediately apparent; in four short, sunbathed tracks, the EP reads as the musical equivalent of a buddy-comedy-road-trip-to-the-beach film, made possible by the band’s classic guitar licks and front man Dave Lucas’ easygoing, occasionally melancholic lyricism. Top it off with the fact the record is dedicated to “The Million Dollar Man” (and former pro-wrestler) Ted DiBiase, Million $$$ Dream reads as an inside joke we can all get. Thankfully, Twiga promises to bring that same friendly vibe to the East Village’s Berlin on October 3rd.

We asked the band members a few questions after they won our "Expose Yourself" competition sponsored by the Music Building. - Connor McInerney (@b_ck_tt) 

Your bio mentions a love of blink 182 and I can hear a little bit of them in some of the hooks on Million $ $ $ Dream - but also a lot more than that. What are some albums from your childhood that changed the way you think about music?

Dave: I took guitar and piano lessons as a kid and had some really awesome teachers. But what I truly remember getting me hooked on guitar was spending hours at night sitting on the floor with my tab books for Sublime (S/T) and blink 182’s Enema of the State. 

It’s funny the way the stuff you like as a kid can have such a lasting impact, when at the time, you’re just goofing around watching wrestling and absent-mindedly learning some pop punk licks.

As a group that’s been around for around 8 years, what has been the biggest challenge that you have faced and what has been the glue holding you together?

I think setting achievable goals and then working towards them really helps. Being a band takes a lot of hard work, a lot of resources, money, and patience, all so we can schlep our gear around the city to make music for people. The moments when we can feel proud of what we’re doing really help to inspire us to keep writing and challenging ourselves. On top of that, staying prepared and communicating well removes friction that can waste a lot of energy.

“Phi” starts off with a catchy jangle pop tune before becoming a chaotic and abrasive jam. How do you balance the harsher and more complex elements of your music with the more accessible moments?

When I first started writing songs for this band, I made it a mission to try to make my songs dynamic. Some of our favorite bands like Pixies and Yo La Tengo play with dynamics so well, and to me that’s how you make a big, loud moment count – by surrounding it with softer, quieter moments. That can be kind of scary, because it usually means that at some point in the song you’re turning down all the distractions and the bells and whistles, but in the end the payoff is usually worth it.

On your Bandcamp page, you have genre tags that reference the WWE and the WWF and a bio referencing a love of giraffes. Whats the significance of these nonmusical elements of your music?

Finding non-musical inspirations for my music and songwriting is one of the most fun parts about this whole project. If you only want to be inspired by bands you like and other music, you’ll likely just end up sounding exactly like your influences (if you’re good enough). I think what makes bands unique is going out and trying to translate something beautiful into music. It keeps you original, and frankly keeps me from getting music fatigue.

You’ve mentioned covering Green Day’s Dookie at live shows and have referenced a love of Belle & Sebastian covers before. How does covering more established artists inspire you?

I’m pretty sure we all start out playing covers. My first band in Junior High (shoutout to Mutt) played 20 blink 182 songs, 2 green day songs, and 1 sublime song. And we loved it so much. We’re all doing this because the music we’ve heard in our lives has inspired us to work very hard, and I think that if you’ve established your group’s perspective and aesthetic well enough, bringing covers in can be a really fun reward, and a way to get the band to experience what a great song feels like. You can learn a lot from getting into the guts of a great song.

Your Facebook posts often encourage awareness about social issues like aid for immigrants and refugees - what role does raising awareness for issues play in your music?

I think what we’re learning right now is that society is fragile, and that if you’re not informed, you can easily witness rights and freedoms that past generations have fought for just slip away under the right conditions. Ultimately, social issues are part of a large group of things that influence my music, but I think sharing your voice as an artist means sharing important information when you can.

One organization that really encouraged us to get involved was Headcount.org, who reached out to partner with us a few years ago. And I hope that we and the generations who come next remember this time period and vote, vote, vote for the rest of our lives.

What other like-minded local acts do you guys like to play with these days?

True Dreams, Color Tongue, QWAM, Fat Heaven, Kissed by an Animal, Zuli. All good people making interesting and entertaining things happen.


header image: 
Tucker Pennington
Subtitle (brief and awesome): 
A conversation with one of Brooklyn's most energetic indie rock bands
Excerpt (short interesting quote from the Q&A): 
"It’s funny the way the stuff you like as a kid can have such a lasting impact, when at the time, you’re just goofing around watching wrestling and absent-mindedly learning some pop punk licks."

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