“Is everyone discovering their favorite new music!” First day of CMJ talent repeats: “Is everyone discovering their favorite new music!” So went the humor-laced scrappy folk energy of Massachusetts upstarts You Won’t at Pianos last night, a double-dozen LES crowd full of smirks. Straight on to the twisted point, frontman Josh Arnoudse had a few quips up his David Byrne-esque sleeve about ‘how ridiculous we all were, being bloggers and artists, united and such’, but otherwise clicked a foot-pedal and was off down a clattering troubadour road very worthy of that David Bryne mention, a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah-throated train of rhetorical Americana howling “It’s a delusion, babe,” over and over on a power-chord-laced shake called “Three Car Garage.”
None of which would’ve had the rolling textures it did without other half of the duo, drummer Raky Sastri, donkey-punching high-hats with his bare knuckles, yanking harmonica fills, thousand-yard staring a 10-yard room, and coming in right when the harmony needed another soul, making a realization like “it always ends the same,” from a lone debut LP called Skeptic Goodbye a little less lonely. Ah, CMJ, united the joke we may be, You Won’t cut right through to the truth of it.
Two Delaware glistening pop nerds recently upped to three, Mean Lady are most definitely far away from anything mean, and sometimes, resembling a lady, upon citing lead singer, Katie Dill, obvious ladyness. At least from the handful of tunes they lofted at an opening CMJ midnight set, there were some streaks of black in omnichord-speckled songs like “Little Face,” Dill parlor-smiling “why do I get worse as you get better.” Self-loathing stuff. Nothing vindictive and skuzzy all-dude guitar gnar like you’d suggest from a band with a moniker like so.
A dreamy pill, though – we could see Dill and her meditative bass counterpart occupying a brighter, cleaner sphere than their reverb-heavy brethren. Her voice, equal parts Ani DiFranco and Feist, was a sweet molasses drip of a lure last night, aside from a few tech issues. Here’s to hoping they don’t drown it in indie bells and whistles before they get signed.