Check out this great live review in
Friday night at Cameo Gallery, the Norwegian band Razika played its inaugural American show. Its members have yet to turn 21, though the music the quartet specializes in is straight out of 1981's seven-inch singles bins. Their feather-light guitars, simple harmonies, and ska-tinged beats recall heroes of early twee like Orange Juice and Dolly Mixture; the single "Vondt i hjertet" is bittersweet and bubbly, its Norwegian title translating to "pain in heart." They were absolutely charming during their brief set, splitting their lyrics between their home tongue and English and discussing how excited they were to be in the States. During one bit of between-song banter, frontwoman Marie Amdam excitedly recounted how, while snatching up fashions at Topshop, a song of theirs had come on over the in-store radio. Razika formed when their members were 14. Their discography right now consists of an album (Program 91, out on the Norwegian label Smalltown Supersound) and a couple of EPs. That they'd already graduated to in-store-play status for a multinational fast-fashion chain shows just how fast the hype cycle can be these days—a band can soundtrack a shopping experience for people in countries its members have never set foot in. Even in an era where making money as an artist can be a dicey proposition—thanks to factors both endemic to the music industry (the decline of the record industry, the massive amount of competition for attention spans), and the world at large (the global economic meltdown, etc.)—the currency of coolness still holds quite a bit of cachet. Razika's single New York–area show happened before the CMJ crush, which was a pretty savvy move. Cameo Gallery was pretty packed, and it might not have been had there been dozens of showcases competing against it. (No offense intended. The show was certainly one of the more glee-inducing I've attended in recent weeks.) But the rush to be the evanescent success of CMJ (or its warmer springtime companion, South By Southwest) still exists, and the competition is ever fiercer. One wonders what the Florida act Black Kids, which went from having its ramshackle demo bestowed with Pitchfork's Best New Music tag to becoming the buzzband of CMJ 2007 to becoming a whipping boy for all that was wrong with the hype cycle of four years ago, would have to say about all this. (They were even renounced by the outlet that crowned them: Their debut album was panned via a 3.7, a sad emoticon, and two bummed-out-looking pugs.) Last week, their breakthrough single "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You" served as a key plot point on the grating "adventures in still-ungentrified Williamsburg" sitcom 2 Broke Girls. The episode's airing so close to the CMJ opening bell seemed to close the book on that band's fractured fairy tale, and maybe serve as a glimpse into the future for whatever artist closes out this week as its "winner."