The 50 Best Bets Of CMJ 2013 (Part 2)
Who doesn’t love a music festival, right? It’s all the best parts of a concert–music, friends, alcohol and drugs…just lots and lots more of them! Each year, more and more of them are popping up all over the place. The CMJ Music Marathon began in 1980, growing each and every year. Created by The College Music Journal, the 33rd annual event has hundreds of bands and artists playing at various venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. It’s essentially the SXSW of the Northeast.
No matter how bad the U.S. economy might be doing, there are always certain things you can depend on. We will always spend money on food, technology and electronics, vacations, and music. And you can certainly count on the festival scene to not only continue, but to expand and grow.
Anyone who has ever been or considered going to experience a massive event like this knows how overwhelming it feels like when looking at the schedule. It can almost feel like reading a foreign language, seeing bands listed that you have never heard of. That’s where we come in to help. Live music festivals are still, despite all the advanced technology of 2013, one of the best methods of discovering new music. Essentially every artist plays here at some point. Some bands that have previously played at CMJ have been Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Kendrick Lamar, Wavves, Danny Brown, Mumford & Sons, Purity Ring, Tanlines, The XX,Cloud Nothings, Sleigh Bells, Local Natives, Alabama Shakes, Waka Flocka Flame, Walk The Moon, Titus Andronicus, Two Door Cinema Club, Grimes, Future, Surfer Blood, Gotye, Ty Segall, Freddie Gibbs, A-Trak, Theophilus London, and A$AP Rocky.
This can be used as a planning guide for deciding who to catch for those of you lucky enough to be able to attend. For everyone else, this is intended to be used as a primer for diehard music fans to discover some of the best new music before everyone else! Many other music websites and blogs list a top 10 or top 12 picks, but with so many artists there are too many great choices to have a list that small. And sure, everyone is excited to see already established, well known acts like Here We Go Magic, Father John Misty, The Head & the Heart, Porcelan Raft, Stalley, Godflesh, Real Estate, Saul Williams, Yuck, Schoolboy Q, The Dismemberment Plan, Pusha T, and The Neighbourhood.
But for each of these, there are a ton of massively talented, vastly underrated artists they don’t get the attention they deserve, or that most music fans simply don’t know about yet.We have decided to put together our list of choices for The 50 Best Bets Of CMJ 2013. This is part one in what will be a five part series. The list includes everything from pop to hip-hop to rock to EDM to folk. And yes, we know it’s impossible to see all 50 acts during these few days. But these are the takeaways we believe you should most be familiar with. If these up and comers aren’t on your radar yet, they should be now. These are who most of us will all be listening to in the soon to come weeks and months from now.
So in our best and on going effort to cover the best in indie music, we present our picks for The 50 Best Bets Of CMJ 2013! The list is not presented in any logical or sequential order whatsoever. We have included a Spotify playlist containing one song from each artist at the very bottom. You can see our Part 1 of the list here, and part 3 here.
1. Beach Day
Beach Day hails from Hollywood, Florida. Their sound is heavily influenced by their surroundings. They make new music, but it is definitely old at heart. And it’s definitely sunny, but not without some murkiness. Kimmy, Natalie and Skyler met at a local show and quickly bonded over their love of 60′s Girl Groups, their dissatisfaction with their current musical endeavors and a common desire to be in a band that was purely about fun and making music without pretense. They released their debut record Trip Trap Attack on Kanine Records this summer.
Skyler was living in Asheville but missing the beach culture, so he moved back. Natalie was planning a move to the west coast but already had song ideas, so she decided to stay. The two moved into a house with Kimmy and all acquired jobs at the local Smoothie Shack. Moving in is somewhat of a big commitment for a band that just wants to have fun, but the first song they wrote together came easy. It is called Beach Day and was their first 7″ release. “Beach Day” was praised by Filter, Elle, Nylon, Foam Magazine and many more.
An embodiment of their surroundings and love of 60′s girl groups, Beach Day sounds as you might expect. Think of a female fronted Beach Boys, throw in some The Shangri-La’s, The Ventures, The Sonics, Phil Spector, The Ronettes, add in contemporaries Cults, Jacuzzi Boys, Dum Dum Girls and The Black Lipsand you have a soundtrack for your perfect Beach Day.
For Fans Of: Races, Bleached, Dum Dum Girls, Foxygen, Teen, The Black Lips
2. The Internet
Fresh off a national tour with Mac Miller (they also served as his backing group), Odd Future soul band The Internet release their second full-length album Feel Good, out on Odd Future Records. While their first album, Purple Naked Ladies, consisted primarily of production and vocals, Feel Good sees founding members Matt Martians and Syd “The Kyd” expanding to a full band and a bolder sound. Additionally, The Internet worked with a range of guest vocalists and musicians such as Mac Miller, Yuna, and Jesse Boykins the III. They also worked with producers such as Thundercat, Chad Hugo (The Neptunes), and Grammy-nominated guitarist and producer Mike Einziger.
The Internet is a soul band created by producer Matt Martians and lead vocalist Syd “The Kyd” of Odd Future. The two met via Myspace in 2008, and later became good friends when Matt moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles in February of 2011. They began their first project together in May of that year, and by December had released it as a full-length album entitled Purple Naked Ladies.
Syd, who started her career in music at 15 as a self-taught recording engineer and producer, had only begun to try to sing at the age of 16, when she produced and wrote a song called “Flashlight,” after which she wrote one more song before going on a three year writing hiatus. During those three years, she got deeper into the art of music production, began working primarily with Odd Future, mixed and mastered several Odd Future albums, and toured with OFWGKTA as their DJ. She started writing again when she and Matt began working on Purple Naked Ladies, which she is proud to say she wrote almost entirely on her own.
Matt, producer and primary illustrator behind all of The Internet’s work, started his career as a musician in college with a production group he named The Super 3, before the other two members ditched him and he decided to keep the name and pose as a three-man production team. Instead of posting pictures of himself, he’d draw the three original members as space habitants. After producing various tracks for almost every member of Odd Future as The Super Three, he left Atlanta to further pursue his career as a music producer.
Originally, Matt and Syd planned to release Purple Naked Ladies for free with very little promotion, and they never planned on performing it live. But after being persuaded by management to take the project more seriously, the two decided to release the album under Odd Future Records, making it the first album to be released under the label. The subject of live performances was daunting to Syd, who had just begun to sing, had never had a singing or vocal lesson, and wasn’t quite comfortable with her singing voice yet. So when talks of live performances got serious, Syd and Matt insisted on performing with a backing band instead of backing tracks, hoping it would take some of the pressure off of them on stage. So they teamed up with some of Syd’s old friends, Patrick Paige II (bass), Christopher Allan Smith (drums), and Tay Walker (keys) and turned The Internet into a band – a band that has in one year performed over 60 shows in North America and Europe.
The Internet just finished their second LP, a soul album entitled Feel Good, released in September on Odd Future Records. Speaking about the record, Syd said, “The album is a journey through funk and soul through the eyes of young adults trying to find their way.” The whole band helped produce it alongside Chad Hugo from The Neptunes and Grammy award winner Mike Einziger, who earned executive producer credit and even played guitar on a couple of songs. Chris and Patrick lay down live drums and bass on almost every track, as well as keys by Tay who is also featured vocally onthe album twice. The sultry instrumentals are complemented by heartfelt lyrics from Syd and guest vocalists such as Yuna and Mac Miller. Together these parts coalesce to present a fuller, more dynamic sound that has evolved and matured significantly since their debut album. Ultimately, you’ll witness a group of good friends having a great time creating something they hope will stand the test of timeless music.
For Fans Of: Mac Miller, Casey Veggies, Kilo Kish, Chance The Rapper, Mellowhype , The Cool Kids
Savages is not trying to give you something you didn’t have already, it is calling within yourself something you buried ages ago, it is an attempt to reveal and reconnect your PHYSICAL and EMOTIONAL self and give you the urge to experience your life differently, your girlfriends, your husbands, your jobs, your erotic life and the place music occupies in your life. Because we must teach ourselves new ways of POSITIVE MANIPULATIONS, music and words are aiming to strike like lightning, like a punch in the face, a determination to understand the WILL and DESIRES of the self.”
Their debut album Silence Yourself , released in 2013, is to be played loud in the foreground. The London 4 piece of all females just played the ACL Festival and has already played Coachella as well.
For Fans Of: Thee Oh Sees, The Besnard Lakes, Speedy Ortiz, Mikal Cronin, Majical Cloudz, Deap Vally
4. Dan Croll
Dan Croll is a fabulous new solo artist coming from Liverpool, UK with enough facets for a whole band. The British singer-songwriter moved to Liverpool when he was 18 to attend the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). While at LIPA, he won the national Songwriter of the Year award from the Musicians Benevolent Fund and was one of eight students picked to have a one-to-one with LIPA founder Sir Paul McCartney. Dan is currently signed to Turn First Records.
He’s the electro boy with links to the folkie scene, a multi-instrumentalist whose songwriting prowess has impressed everyone from former Beatles to legends in the world of fashion and design. Don’t be fooled by the Buddy Holly specs – he’s a one-time rugby fanatic whose career in the sport at the highest level was derailed by a broken leg – or by the sensitive acoustica: the 22-year-old is a former nightclub doorman who lives above a strip joint in Liverpool. You could say he’s gone From Nowhere to, well, everywhere, in less than 12 months. “It’s been mind-blowing,” he says. “I had every bit of faith in the single doing well, but I never imagined getting daytime Radio 1 plays, some tremendous support from 6 Music, or breaking 100,000 SoundCloud streams in two weeks.” He just recently performed at the ACL Festival.
For Fans Of: Pacific Air, Pepper Rabbit, Haerts, Papa, The Colourist, Smallpools
5. White Denim
White Denim is a four-piece rock band from Austin, Texas. Their music draws influence from dub, psychedelic rock, blues, punk rock, progressive rock, soul, jazz, experimental rock with home-based recording, jamming approach, intense looping work and unusual song structures.
“It has taken five records to make one that sounds the way we do onstage,” says White Denim frontman James Petralli, explaining the bandʼs new full-length Corsicana Lemonade.
Set for release October 2013 via Downtown Records, Corsicana Lemonade puts White Denimʼs freewheeling stage ethos to wax and cements their position as a quintessential, unique American rock band. Featuring production on two songs and a full mix from iconic songwriter Jeff Tweedy, itʼs a revelation, merging the group’s manic live virtuosity into a rollicking ten-song mission statement.
The Austin, TX four-piece is no stranger to mixing crunchy punk energy, scorched psychedelia, Southern rock and knotty funk, but Corsicana Lemonade, the groupʼs fifth studio album, naturally covers so many bases that it plays like the greatest lost mixtape you could find on your dashboard during a hot summer afternoon.
Since its formation in 2005 and first string of EPs in 2007, White Denim has steadily expanded its sound. From the rootsy classicism of Last Day Of Summer (2010) and noisy sun-soaked sizzle of Fits (2009) to the soft-edged riffage of D (2011), the groupʼs commitment to fiery live performance, textured exploration and blissful interludes has never wavered. It peaks on Corsicana Lemonade.
Album sessions started in Chicago at fabled Wilco compound The Loft with Jeff Tweedy (and frequent production partner Tom Schick) manning the boards and providing motivation. The record was almost entirely recorded live with full-band takes, ensuring a lived-in live feel.
“Before, we had kind of leaned on the ability to give the impression of a full live band on our recordings. That Protools Rock is way more common than people know,” says Petralli. “On Corsicana Lemonade, it was actually the band playing together and doing takes as a whole. Whatever sounded best was what we stuck with.”
After the Chicago sessions, White Denim returned to their native Austin, holing- up in a house overlooking Lake Travis from a 100-foot cliff. There, with the help of local producer Jim Vollentine, the band designed a makeshift studio, wheeled in a bunch of crazy ’50s gear and solidified the mixture of hard and classic rock elements that they began exploring on their fourth album D.
The recordʼs songs feel at home with the skuzzy rawness of contemporaries like The Black Keys or Jack White and the Americana experimentalism of Wilco, while the band cites the classic rock shuffles of Thin Lizzy and The Allman Brothersʼ instrumental ecstasy as primary influences.
And now, with the support of leading publications like the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Relix, as well as adoring crowds from Bonnaroo to their sold-out headlining tours, White Denim has fully arrived with a record to claim their own spot in America’s great rock lineage. They will soon be on tour as the opening support for Tame Impala, and have also toured with Wilco previously. They just recently performed at the ACL Festival.
For Fans Of: Bright Light Social Hour, Deerhoof, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Here We Go Magic, Hospitality, White Fence
ASTR is a duo that lives, works and writes music in New York City. After meeting three years ago in a Manhattan yoga class, they discovered they shared a musical and artistic sensibility informed by cinema noire, Miami Vice and urban dreamscapes. ASTR was soon born.
Zoe is a New York native and former major label refuge. After a hiatus from music to explore the world via spirituality she met Adam, a recovering vinyl addict with a penchant for 60’s / 70’s cinema scores, Disco, and the fingers for anything with keys (vintage synths, guitar and bass).
Stay up for their soon to come EP.
For Fans Of: Little Dragon, Gold Fieds, Bear Mountain, The Weeknd, Purity Ring, Robyn
7. Dune Rats
Dune Rats are a surf-fuzz trio from Brisbane, Australia. Recently the group created quite a stir with the release of the video for the version of their new single “Red Light Green Light”, a take on a video their friends in the band DZ Deathrays did where they drank an entire bottle of liquor during the 3 minutes of the song. Dune Rats upped the ante and for 3 minutes did, well, exactly what you might imagine would happen in a “green” version of the song. As Vice’s Motherboard said, “Jesus Christ, what a concept… Everyone can stop trying, is what I’m getting at.” The Red Light version, while not nearly as wild, is equally as fun – it shows the band breaking into Coney Island last fall and running wild.
Dune Rats are Danny Beusa (guitar/vocals) and BC Michaels (drums/vocals). The duo have released two EPs, 2011′s Sexy Beach and Social Atoms. In fall of 2012 they toured the West Coast with Guttermouth and The Queers and played CMJ before heading back home to Australia to tour with The Hives. Easily one of the most ridiculously entertaining garage-influenced bands to appear over the past few years, the upcoming US tour promises to expose them to new audiences ready for their “fuck it” attitude and insane antics.
For Fans Of: Millions, Wavves, Girls, Surfer Blood, DZ Deathrays, The Griswolds
8. The History Of Apple Pie
London fuzz-pop band The History Of Apple Pie just released a new single on the Marshall Teller label on October 14th. Formed just over two years ago, The History Of Apple Pie are centered around the songwriting partnership of Stephanie Min (Vocals) and Jerome Watson (Guitar) together with Kelly Owens (Bass), James Thomas (Drums) and Aslam Ghauri (Guitar). They’re currently in the studio putting the finishing touches to their eagerly awaited second album which is due for release next year. Their debut LP Out Of View came out in January of this past year.
The London five – piece, who spent a successful Summer playing festivals both here and across Europe, will set off to the States for the first time to play the CMJ Festival!
“Born out of the dream mélange of melody and noise as pioneered by Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine… The History of Apple Pie are giving bands a good name” -Guardian Band of The Day
‘A mesmerizing live band’ – Loud &Quiet
2 years into their fledgling career, The History Of Apple Pie have grown up in warp-speed like the weird and engaging plants in David Attenborough docs. Updating the stoned collegiate guitar aesthetic of their heroes – Sonic Youth, Radiohead and Blur – the London fivepiece have brushed up. We’re speaking figuratively, of course, and while they’ve lost none of their scruffy appeal (these lot are destined get run-over in a state of huge-headphone nirvana), they’ve slotted effortlessly into their role as pro caterers of melody and fuzz.
Centered around the songwriting (and romantic) partnership of lead guitarist Jerome Watson and singer Stephanie Min, the band spent last year racing round the UK as main support on tour for both The Drums and Male Bonding, and blowing apart festival crowds at Field Day, 1234, SWN and Amsterdam’s London Calling. Their songs, a high school locker-full of big tunes, are self-described as ‘hypothetical, sugar-coated situations’ and made pretty much the perfect accompaniment to the summer haze. Of these, indie breeze-outs ‘You’re So Cool’ and ‘Mallory’ [Roundtable] were released as singles, both of which promptly sold out.
Accompanied with coy videos, beamed in from a confectionary other-world under waves of magnetic distortion, these were followed-up in December with a split 12″ with the similarly inclined talents of Gross Magic, Novella and Echo Lake [Marshall Teller].
This year is busier still. June saw the release of the band’s ‘Do It Wrong’ single [Marshall Teller]. Having long been on the rolodexes of UK taste-makers, they were featured as one of The Fly magazine’s Ones to Watch 2012 before playing a sold-out show for HMV’s Next Big Thing, the Roundhouse’s ‘Roundhouse Rising’, jetting off to Rome, Tanned Tin in Spain, the ‘notorious industry fest’ Eurosonic Noorderslaagin Groningen, Holland and being hand-picked by Graham Coxon to support him at HMV Forum.
Having now played over 70 shows, keeping our ears pricked with singles while shrouding grander plans in secrecy, Stephanie Min (Vocals) and Jerome Watson (Guitar) together with Kelly Owens (Bass), James Thomas (Drums) and Aslam Ghauri (Guitar) have set about writing and recording a debut LP. Playing more headline shows in the coming months, we can expect more strains of medicated teenage heartache showered in the pixilated psychedelic rain of Jerome’s Frankensteinian pedal board and slacker-genius guitar chops.
Their McGuffin-esque name, meaningless and supremely Google-able, has attracted comment from everyone from Liam Gallagher to NME editors and left the UK press searching for further culinary metaphors. Peeling that fuss back reveals a band serious and ready to push alternative guitar pop in new directions.
For Fans Of: Gross Magic, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Veronica Falls, Cheatahs, Bleeding Rainbow, Bleached
Since 2002, TEEN’s lead singer/songwriter, Teeny Lieberson, has been playing in bands around New York City, eventually becoming the keyboard player for the indie-psych band Here We Go Magic in 2008. During a hiatus from the band in the winter of 2009, Teeny wrote a five-song EP Little Doods, the foundation of TEEN’s full-length, In Limbo. Working with many of the songs written that winter with the desire to expand the sound from four-track/lo-fi to a fully flushed out sound, Teeny recruited her sisters, Lizzie and Katherine, along with long- time friend, Jane Herships and best friend since childhood, Maia Ibar, to become members of TEEN.
TEEN spent the summer of 2011 recording In Limbo in Maia’s family barn in rural Connecticut, engineered by Jen Turner of Here We Go Magic.
In Limbo was mixed and produced in collaboration with producer Pete Kember (Spacemen 3 / Spectrum). Kember, a.k.a. Sonic Boom, first heard the band via an early video while he was mixing Panda Bear’s Tomboy at Blanker Unsinn studio in Brooklyn, and after hearing some demos, signed up to produce a full LP of their material as soon as possible.
The band decided their best move was to record the LP in the back country atmosphere of Connecticut, with the recording and initial mixes starting there. Further work was done at MGMT’s Blanker Unsinn facility with the final mixing and mastering taking place in the UK at Sonic Boom’s New Atlantis Studio.
TEEN’s sound relies heavily on its vocal arrangements and harmonies. The music is strengthened by the flawless vocal connections between family and friends. The songs on the album are a reflection of change and loss – loss of loved ones, loss of relationships and sitting in the space of the unknown – in limbo. They reflect on how times such as these can give birth to powerful creative moments, and also solidify bonds in relationships between friends and family. The songs are mysterious and dark, exploring the many sensitivities and emotions that a person endures during these critical and life-changing experiences.
The band have played consistently since Winter 2010, including performances with Purity Ring, War on Drugs and Yellow Ostrich and most recently, Ariel Pink, Santigold, Frankie Rose, Dean Wareheim and Hospitality.
Maia Ibar has left the band leaving the lineup as follows:
Teeny Lieberson – Guitar/Keys/Vocals Lizzie Lieberson – Keys/Vocals Jane Herships – Bass/Vocals Katherine Lieberson – Drums/Vocals
For Fans Of: The Thermals, Young Prisms, Here We Go Magic, Toro Y Moi, Prince Rama, Bleeding Rainbow
10. Royal Teeth
If all music tells a story, then Royal Teeth’s joyous, inspired songs spin an exuberant tale of possibility, each note conveying the youthful excitement of venturing out into the great wide world. The songs on the band’s debut album, Glow, were penned around the idea of exploration and spirited adventures into the unknown, and its 12 tracks lay out a kaleidoscopic narrative of discovery.
The group came together in 2010 with Gary, Josh W, Poe, Josh H and Stevie, friends from all across Louisiana who’d gravitated to one another during their early days playing out in New Orleans. It was with the discovery of Nora, the last piece of the puzzle, that the band began to truly hone in on what would become their sound. The aim was to have fun, with no master plan for the music at the outset. As they began to experiment, it became clear that the synthesizers they’d been playing around with elevated their effusive indie pop songs and best conveyed the buoyance and levity of being young and anxious for the world to open up for you.
“The album is really about finding yourself,” said Nora who, as the visual artist in the group, conveys that cheerful enthusiasm both through the music and the band’s striking artwork and graphics.
“We started playing more folk-driven stuff,” Gary says. “But once we added the electronic sounds, it changed everything. The music evolved from there and as it did, our vision for the songs became clear.”
The group’s 5-song debut, Act Naturally, was recorded in Charleston, S.C. in 2011 and was their first foray into the studio. EP in hand, the band set out to tour outside Louisiana, eventually going all-in, quitting their jobs in May of 2012 and hitting the road. These shows, which included CMJ and SXSW and tours with bands as diverse as Fitz and the Tantrums, 2 Skinnee J’s and Gold Fields, had a tremendous impact in forming the debut album, Glow.
“We take a lot of pride in our live show,” Gary says. “We put everything into it and that’s where we make the strongest connections with people. I think when it came to making the record, knew we wanted it to be more raw and capture that live energy. We had been on the road, testing out these new songs, figuring out what’s working and what’s not working. When you’re trying out new songs every night for people that don’t know you it plays a big role in shaping the band’s vision and our confidence in what makes our music special. That played a huge factor into what we songs we knew we had to put on the record.
The songs on the album, including the single “Wild,” were penned over a two year span, some emerging in a burst of activity and inspiration just before the band headed into the studio in Toronto with producer Gavin Brown in February 2013. Nearly 30 song ideas were eventually culled down to an album’s worth of material, and the studio time was focused and quick, concluding in only a few weeks. The idea was to harness the band’s positive energy into the recordings, ensuring that the vigor the musicians radiate onstage was showcased on the tracks.
“Once we were in the studio, it was a real common energy driving what we wanted,” Gary says. “It really does show in the music. Whether the song’s a little slower or a little darker, I think there’s a common thread in all of them – capturing a moment. I think the music really represents that.”
The resulting album is a shimmering collection of indie pop numbers that revel in that idea of being young and wild. The songs vary in tone and aesthetic, but it all ties back to that overarching theme. “Vagabonds,” is a soaring, hook-laden tale of escapism, while the prancing “Hold Me” captures that moment before the end of the world. “Wild,” the band’s current single, contrasts with “We Can Glow,” a moody anthem revealing the flipside of the band’s live-in-the-now sensibility.
The 6 piece, who have been featured on Last Call with Carson Daly and seen several songs placed in various TV spots, are really only embarking on their adventure now, with the release of this debut album. Joining forces with the team at Dangerbird Records has enabled them to more fully realize their vision of touring extensively and broadening their own inspired journey. The first chapters of that story are heard in the music, a soundtrack for exploration and discovery, of bursting into a world teeming with possibilities.
“We’ve learned so much from being on the road,” Gary says. “And I think there’s so much more to learn. We want to deliver every night, no matter what. We’re really just excited for the album to finally come out. We’re very excited to offer more than five songs to all of our fans and see where we can go from here.”
For Fans Of: YACHT, American Authors, Youngblood Hawke, Ume, Blondfire, Oberhofer