CMJ’s over for another year, and now that we’ve finally gotten a decent night’s sleep, we’re in a better position to look back over a long and crazy week of drinking, queuing and gig-going. As ever, this year’s CMJ played host to a ridiculous number of bands, and while we know you can’t see everything, we did our level best to see… well, pretty much everything. So here’s a selection of our favorite bands from CMJ 2011 — both new discoveries and established names who put on particularly impressive shows — as chosen by our highly trained and highly caffeinated Flavorpill contingent. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go and slump on the couch for the next week or so.
Zola Jesus (Ace Hotel, 10.19 and Le Poisson Rouge, 10.19)
When we saw Zola Jesus a year ago during CMJ, the powerful voice backing the dark songs of existential peril was there, but tiny Niki Danilova’s stage presence wasn’t. Pacing the stage of Brooklyn Bowl, she seemed as though she wanted to get every song over and done with as quickly as possible. Something changed between then and now: Zola Jesus has become a rock star. From the cramped Ace Hotel lobby to Le Poisson Rouge, Zola Jesus’s epic Conatus songs shook with a live fury that was replicated in Danilova’s feral, hypnotic stage presence. — Russ Marshalek