As music fans and college radio DJs descend upon NYC this week, those of us who are already here are taking stock on the music scene as it stands. Last year, the CMJ Music Marathon saw a heavy representation from indie bands that were making their festival debut, such as Speedy Ortiz and Hunters, who then took off in the media instantly after. This year shows great promise, with buzz bands like Twin Peaks, PAWS, Gem Club, Blue Hawaii, and Adult Jazz playing, as well as stalwarts like Obits, A Place to Bury Strangers, and Cold War Kids returning the to fray — along with the anticipated reunion of shoegaze legends Slowdive (and Low opening!). And, of course, it wouldn’t be CMJ without a slew of brand new band hoping to get their big break.
CMJ Music Marathon 2014
As always, the lineup for CMJ 2014 is diverse — but something we appreciated seeing was that there seems to be an increase of girl bands and female solo artists. It is notable to mention that this year’s CMJ has also extended its reach to large group of new venues, concentrated mostly in Brooklyn. Here are our top picks, though many more are listed on CMJ.com!

 

Tei Shi

Tei Shi

Tue, 10/21 @ Baby’s All Right – 7:30PM
Wed, 10/22 @ Pianos – 10:45PM
Thu, 10/23 @ Baby’s All Right – 12:15AM
Fri, 10/24 @ Arlene’s Grocery – 11:00PM

Buzzy NYC-based electronic R&B artist Tei Shi has not yet put out a full-length album (only 2013’s Saudade EP), but has been playing to packed crowds around the city for the past year. She’s playing at her most frequented venue, Baby’s All Right, a few times during CMJ; it will be a nice test to see if out-of-towners enjoy her synth-laden pop as much as New Yorkers do. Her Wednesday show is at Piano’s with Adult Jazz opening. Judy Nelson

 

First Aid Kit

Fri, 10/24 @ Hammerstein Ballroom – 7:45pm

Sister folk duo First Aid Kit made their CMJ debut in 2012, and we raved about it then. Since hitting North America for the first time, the Swedish group have released two records and have toured extensively. A female folk duo that hits it big in the modern age is a pleasant rarity, and their powerful, warbling voices will shine especially bright on the big stage at Hammerstein Ballroom this year, supporting their release from earlier this year, Stay God. Tickets are still available for those who don’t have a badge! Samantha Crain will open. Judy Nelson

 

Blue Hawaii

Fri, 10/24 @ Glasslands Gallery – 7:30pm
Sat, 10/25 @ Brooklyn Bowl – 7:00pm

Montreal electronic duo Blue Hawaii — Raphaelle Standell-Preston (also of BRAIDS) and Alex “Agor” Cowan — will be all over Williamsburg during the final stretch of CMJ. On Friday, they’ll be bringing their textured, ambient pop sound to PopGun’s party at Glasslands Gallery, playing alongside their labelmate Lydia Ainsworth, and the buzzed-about Ballet School. On Saturday night they play Brooklyn Bowl with UK prog-indie auteurs Adult Jazz (also the subject of recent buzz, and in between those two shows they’ll be turning in a DJ set over at the Wythe Hotel on Saturday afternoon as part of the Cascine & Arbutus CMJ Label Hang day party. Ian King

 

Potty Mouth

Sat, 10/25 @ Cake Shop – 12:15AM

Potty Mouth came out of the gate strong with their 2013 debut Hell Bent, and have been tearing up the scene with their girl-punk brand of pop ever since. Hailing from Northampton, MA, the band has begun to reach a fanbase beyond the usual riot grrrl crowd. Rumor is that their live show is a sight to behold, so it’s quite exciting that they’re hitting CMJ this year, even if they’re only playing once, at the tail end of the festival. Judy Nelson

 

S

Thu, 10/23 @ The Knitting Factory – 7:30pm

Released last month, Cool Choices is the fourth studio album that Jenn Ghetto has recorded under her S alias. That makes one more studio album than her former band, Carissa’s Wierd (sic), has released, though S has worked at a more gradual pace than those beloved sad-core whisperers. S’ current tour takes her mostly through California, but this must-see Sub Pop/Hardly Art showcase at Knitting Factory – featuring Obits, Protomartyr, Gem Club and more — is one of the few opportunities to hear Cool Choices live in the Northeast this year. Ian King

 

Doprah

Tue, 10/21 @ Studio at Webster Hall – 6:40pm
Thu, 10/23 @ Radio Bushwick – 7:45pm
Thu, 10/23 @ Left Field- 11:00pm

Representing the international contingent of CMJ performing artists, Doprah hails from Christchurch, NZ, and it apparently takes them almost 24 hours to fly here. Sharing a record label with NZ heavy weights The Clean bodes well for Doprah, whose debut album came out this year. We’re looking forward to seeing what kind of energy they bring to our shores; their fresh take on trip-hop is a much needed breath of fresh air considering the level of indie rock overload on this year’s CMJ lineup. You have three chances to see them during CMJ. Judy Nelson

 

 

Bombay Bicycle Club

Wed, 10/22 @ Terminal 5 – 10:00pm

This indie rock band is sadly not from Bombay, hailing instead from London. After forming as a group in college, Bombay Bicycle Club have gone through several iterations over the years, settling on their current sound sometime around 2011. They’ve since developed a large international fanbase from extensive touring, and this year saw the release of their fourth album, So Long, See You Tomorrow. Luxley and Milo Green open for their show at Terminal 5, at 8:00pm and 9:00pm, respectively. Judy Nelson

 

Regal Degal

Sat, 10/25 @ Death by Audio – 8:00pm

Recently in town to open for Real Estate at Terminal 5 (along with fellow Californians Peaking Lights), Los Angeles’ Regal Degal are heading back for this technically unofficial showcase at the soon-to-be-closing Death by Audio. Their ’70s post-punk-leaning rhythms – sometimes fluid, sometimes stiff, sometimes in between — are hard to pin down but easy to groove along to. Ian King

Field Mouse

Wed, 10/22 @ Cake Shop – 3:00pm
Fri, 10/24 @ Cameo Gallery – 7:00pm

Not to be confused with the Field Mice, the ’80s London indie pop band, New York’s Field Mouse shroud sweet melodies and less-sweet lyrics in layers of stormy dream pop. The band are appearing smack dab in the middle of two very worthy showcases – Terrorbird Media’s CMJ Day Party on Wednesday afternoon, and the Topshelf Records showcase at Cameo Gallery (presented by Washed Up Emo) on Friday, where they play alongside longer-named labelmates The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate). Ian King

 

VÉRITÉ

Tue, 10/21 @ Knitting Factory – 11:40PM
Wed, 10/22 @ Brooklyn Bowl – 8:00PM
Thu, 10/23 @ Santos Party House – 9:00PM
Sat, 10/25 @ Glasslands Gallery – 8:15PM

Banking on the huge internet popularity of her huge single “Strange Enough,” alt-pop artist VÉRITÉ is playing a whooping four times this CMJ. The verdict is out on whether or not she’ll live up to the hype, and with only a few songs available, it’s anyone’s guess. See how she fares for the CMJ crowd during one of her four shows. Judy Nelson

 

Concreatures

Sat, 10/25 @ Rock Shop – 8:15pm

If you’re looking for a Brooklyn show (that isn’t in Williamsburg) for the closing night of CMJ, catch Brooklyn-based Concreatures for their CMJ debut at the Rock Shop. Citing rock influences with heavy alternative leanings such as Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, and the Pixies, Concreatures’ first single, “White Noise”, wets the appetite for what more they have to offer. Sharing a bill with Vita and the Woolf, Native Harrow, and Nallo, Concreatures will start the evening off with a solid alt-rock set. Judy Nelson

 

Broken Water

Tue, 10/21 @ The Grand Victory – 7:00pm
Sat, 10/25 @ Silent Barn – 7:45pm

Broken Water are part of the great Olympia, WA, lineage of bands that challenge expectations, just as likely to release an album of three-minute noise rock blasts like Tempest (Hardly Art, 2012) as the ambient dirge explorations of their Seaside & Sedmikrasky LP. The trio will be opening the High Voltage PR x Diffuser.fm showcase at The Grand Victory in Brooklyn (featuring the Olympia-born mainstays Love as Laughter headlining) on the first official day of CMJ, giving all the reason you need to be punctual. They also play an unofficial showcase at Silent Barn on Saturday, and are even sticking around through Monday to play at Death By Audio along with A Place to Bury Strangers. Ian King

 

Christines

Fri, 10/24 @ Palisades – 10:30pm

When people think of the My Bloody Valentine sound, they usually associate it with the agreed-upon masterpiece Loveless, but Brooklyn new-gazers Christines sound like they have also spent a lot of time with the blurred and jagged songs on Loveless‘ under-sung predecessor, Isn’t Anything. Or so it would seem, at least, judging by the swirling opening set they played last week opening for the Twilight Sad at Rough Trade NYC. Their Friday show at Palisades, which features a very strong lineup with Tiger Dare, Andrew Cedermark, Free Time, and Curtin, is well worth the few extra stops on the J train. Ian King

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