It’s that time of the year again. Hundreds of up-and-coming bands will swarm the city for this year’s CMJ showcase. Over the course of five days, there will be over 1,000 shows. It’s any music lover’s dream come true. It’s also a pain in the ass. There’s no way to catch every great show so don’t stress out. Here’s a list of the ten bands you can’t miss.
This Canadian duo brightened up my summer with their fuzzy remix of Feist’s “1234.” Their latest single “A Cheerleader” is the first from their upcoming full-length due out in November. It’s a nice tease considering the band likes to hide—this is the first new material since their 2008 release Concerning the Number 7 and Your Love. As the title suggests, this band is cute. Electro-pop meets the 80’s? Yes, please.
Where to catch them: Tuesday, October 19 at Pianos; Sunday, October 24 at Santos Party House
Just what the band’s name suggests. Their music has a lot going on. To say it’s purely experimental would be selling the band short. Man Alive, their first album, shows their huge range. Pop at times, indie at others, they not only mix genre between songs but within them as well. It’s one big, messy collage, and one that I don’t mind dancing to.
My Keys Your Boyfriend
Where to catch them: Friday, October 22 at Music Hall of Williamsburg; Saturday, October 23 at Bowery Electric
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
They started their year with an awesome Moby remix. Then they released Horse Power, a beautiful EP that displays the Detroit-duo’s songwriting abilities as well as their aptitude for creating catchy hooks. Though the R&B/reggae influences are totally unexpected, they add some flavor to the band’s kooky pop vibe. They also wear NASCAR suits everywhere—which is awesome.
Where to catch them: Wednesday, October 20 at Santos Party House; Thursday, October 21 at Webster Hall; Friday, October 22 at Mercury Lounge
Jukebox the Ghost
Enough with last year’s emo surfer rock. Jukebox is bringing back the super catchy pop tunes. It’s hard not to dance to these Philly-rockers. It’s even harder to get the songs out of your head. They’re brisk, pushed along by classic rock drums and a polished-yet-fun piano and guitar. They’ve toured with Ben Folds and his influence is definitely felt. While he can be a bit of a whiner, Jukebox never strays from upbeat.
Where to catch them: Wednesday, October 20 at the Delancey; Thursday, October 21 at Bowery Electric
These Brits have been at it for a long time. They’ve spent the past three decades trying to find a vocalist that works. With their recently released Where Did The Night Fall they seem to have found one that fits. The mix of experimental and electronic leads to a somewhat trippy, if not enjoyable, product. To get a better idea, watch the video for “Follow Me Down.” You can’t really dance, but you can try and keep up. The live show is bound to be interesting.
Where to catch them: Saturday, October 23 at Webster Hall
I’m immediately intrigued by any band that would use a real Jim Jones quote in their music. Yes, the Jim Jones. Their single “Go Outside” begins with the cult-leader’s declaration that “life is treacherous.” What proceeds couldn’t be more the opposite. The song is pure joyful fluff, like kids singing on the playground. It’s endearing, naïve and everything you want life to be.
Where to catch them: Saturday, October 23 at Santos Party House
Though the band just came together, they’re already everywhere. At CMJ, they are playing parties for MOG, Stereogum, Pitchfork and Brooklyn Vegan. It’s safe to say these guys are gonna’ be a big deal in the coming year—think Surfer Blood big. They have a “screw you” attitude that lends itself better to the disgruntled 90’s youth than the ubiquitous lo-fi scenesters. Heavy on the synth and punk guitar, they still manage a catchy chorus. Do not miss Dom.
Living in America
Where to catch them: Tuesday, October 29 at Brooklyn Bowl; Wednesday, October 20 at Santos Party House; Thursday, October 21 at Brooklyn Bowl; Friday, October 21 at Public Assembly
Here’s another band playing a million shows. I first heard of them a few months ago. They were described as a “Brooklyn-based electro-pop-dance trio.” I rolled my eyes and didn’t think of them again for weeks. Then they started popping up on every blog I read Their beats are awesome. Their hooks are killer. Think Chromeo.
Where to catch them: Tuesday, October 19 at Pianos; Wednesday, October 20 at Ella Lounge, Brooklyn Bowl and Webster Hall; Saturday, October 23 at The Rock Shop and Pianos.
They met on an island and the rest was history. They sat down and recorded the perfect summer album that’s still stuck in my head. It’s simply bliss, hazy and carefree. Road-trip music, if you will. They could be this year’s Cymbals Eat Guitars. How these guys have remained unsigned is beyond me.
Where to catch them: Wednesday, October 20 at Canal Room; Thursday, October 21 at Webster Hall and Public Assembly.
Excellent DJs with a talent for harmonizing. That’s probably the best way to describe Body Language. Their music is beat-focused, relying heavily on synthesizers and percussion. The result? Funk. They got their start doing remixes, working with the likes of Passion Pit and Toro y Moi. This summer they released Speaks. It’s track after track of dance floor grooves. Expect the same from their live act.
Where to catch them: Tuesday, October 19 at Highline Ballroom; Thursday, October 21 at Public Assembly; Saturday, October 23 at Le Poisson Rouge
Honorable mentions: The Chain Gang of 1974, Lower Dens, PS I Love You and Ty Segall, The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger.
For more please visit: CMJ Lineup
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