By Chandra Johnson
For the past 32 years, the CMJ festival has showcased new talent across New York City in more than 80 venues, and this year’s lineup is no different with a slew of new talent. The CMJ Music Marathon has featured bands that have gone on to reap an immense amount of success (um, Mumford and Sons anyone?). Taking place October 16-20, this is the ultimate opportunity to witness bands on the rise in an intimate setting. If you’re lucky enough to be attending, here are my top five picks of bands to keep an
eye ear out for.
Oh, Barcelona how I love thee! This indie (with a hint of rock) band from Seattle, Washington combines harmonious piano playing and catchy melodies flawlessly, not to mention the make-you-weak-in-the-knees voice of lead singer Brian Fennell. This trio released their debut album, Absolutes, in 2009 which features some of my all time favorite songs like ‘Lesser Things’ and ‘It’s About Time.’ Earlier this year, they released their highly anticipated sophomore album, Not Quite Yours. If Fennell’s longing vocals aren’t enough to win you over, their beautifully written/relatable songs definitely will. They’ll be headlining at Rockwood Music Hall on October 20th and play again at 6pm over at Spike Hill in Brooklyn.
I first stumbled upon this little gem earlier this summer and was instantly blown away. The haunting voice of Erika Spring (solo project of Au Revoir Simone) seduces listeners, especially in her song ‘Hidden.’ Her playing is almost futuristic, combining a multitude of instrumental effects over her breezy singing. No word yet on where she’ll be playing but keep an eye out for a tiny bleach blonde girl.
With a sound similar to that of The Kooks/Ramones, this four man band from New York City has a gritty underground rock and roll sound. Catch The Postelles at CMJ before they embark on a tour with Mayday Parade and The Maine, where their organic, yet cheerful rock sound will have everyone toe-tapping. Inspired by musicians like Elvis and Little Richie, there’s only a matter of time before this four-piece band becomes as well-known as their influencers, so catch ‘em while you can!
Singer/songwriter Lucy Stone is on the fast-track to super-stardom. This Philadelphia native has already recorded with Rusted Root and played shows at the famous North Star Bar in her hometown. Her debut EP, Would You?, showcases Stone’s cheeky voice beautifully with an arrangement of rhythmic bass and hint of bluesy guitar playing. For fans of Kate Nash and Secret Sound Shop alum, Madi Diaz. Catch Lucy Stone at The Parkside Lounge at 11pm on October 18th!
The Ugly Club
If it isn’t blatantly obvious, Secret Sound Shop is a big fan of the New Jersey quintet, The Ugly Club (or Uglies as their fans call them) and with good reason! No other band sounds like these guys (really…I’m convinced there they’re an entity all their own) and bonus: they really aren’t ugly. Their first full length, You Belong to the Minutes, was released in July and has easily become my favorite album of the year. Pay special attention to my favorite track, ‘Some Life,’ a goose-bump inducing song that blends harmonies into one magnificent splendor. This band’s live performances are even better so if you see no one else at CMJ, you MUST see The Ugly Club. They have plenty of showcases too, so no excuses! Schedule below:
Oct. 18 – The End Studios – Balcony TV CMJ Party – Brooklyn, NY
Oct. 19 – Fontana’s – Spincloud Music CMJ Show – New York, NY – 6pm
Oct. 19 – Sullivan Hall – Big Picture Media CMJ Show – New York, NY – 8pm
Oct. 20 – Fontana’s – Wreckroom Records CMJ Show (Hosted by Adrian Grenier) – New York, NY – 8pm