Bands to Watch at CMJ 2013

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From KCRW Blog Contributor Nassir Nassirzadeh:

The CMJ Music Marathon  is turning 33 this year and like some of us, it’s celebrating throughout the week with different friends. But you won’t be hearing the traditional “Happy Birthday” tune here. It’s more likely to be a song you’ve never heard before on stage with a mosh pit of multiple drumkits, visual projections, backing tracks, and trumpet and saxophone solos.

Since 2005 I’ve been crashing the party, getting an intimate glimpse from artists like Hot Chip, Ra Ra Riot, Alabama Shakes, Foxygen, Daughter, Savages,  and plenty of other KCRW favorites.

Right around this time of the year, the additional round of artists are announced and people like me make their CMJ fantasy draft picks of must see’s.

For this CMJ, I’m feeling a lot of love from Australia, see more down under.




Consider me a convert after listening to a couple amazing gems from The Preatures  forthcoming EP, “This Is How You Feel“, also available the first day of CMJ via the tastemaker Capitol Music Group imprint Harvest Records.

The rock and roll band from Sydney have definitely caught the contagious R&B/pop/country stylings of contemporary faves HAIM or The Belle Brigade and legends Fleetwood Mac, who have influenced all of the above. Here is the video for the titled track from the EP.

(Check out a remix of the track from LA’s own Classix)

They will be in LA for their US debut at The Satellite on 10/14 and then will be making their NYC debut at the School Night CMJ Showcase at Bowery Hotel, curated by KCRW’s very own Chris Douridas on Wed. 10/16.


10/14 – US DEBUT @ The Satellite (LA)
10/16 – Chris Douridas (KCRW) Presents SCHOOL NIGHT CMJ Showcase @ Bowery Hotel
10/17 – Neon Gold Party @ Santos Party House
10/18 – Planetary Radio Party @ Pianos
10/19 – Aussie BBQ @ The Delancey



I must say, 24-yr old Melbourne based songwriter Courtney Barnett caught my ear earlier this summer when I read a feature on Brooklyn Vegan.

Her sound combines 60’s folk with 90’s grunge and she has a contagious casualty to her songwriting that makes amazement out of the mundane…case in point, the addictive “Avant Gardener”. According to Pitchfork, many of her early lyrics were, in fact, texted to herself while working as a bartender/waitress.

Seriously, I want to wake up to this song every morning.

On the first day of CMJ, Courtney will be releasing “A Sea of Split Peas” on House Anxiety/Marathon Artists  a collection of her two previous EPs released on her own label, Milk Records. Another favorite of mine is “History Eraser“.


TUE – 10/15 – Banners Party @ Pianos (11:30pm)
WED – 10/16 – Aquarium Drunkard Showcase @ Mercury Lounge (7pm)
WED – 10/16 – NME Showcase @ Glasslands (11pm)
THUR – 10/17 – Windish Showcase @ Mercury Lounge (12am)
FRI – 10/18 – Planetary Group Party @ Pianos (5pm)
FRI – 10/18 – Pitchfork Party @ 285 Kent (9pm)
SAT – 10/19 – Brooklyn Vegan Day Party @ Baby’s All Right
SAT – 10/19 – Aussie BBQ @ The Delancey (6pm)



Those unfamiliar with Sydney’s Jessica Anne Newham may be saying Betty Who???

But I can assure you that any question marks will be turned into at least three exclamation points!!! and a smiley face emoticon in due time.

Newham is an alum from prestigious school of rock like The Interlochen Center for the Arts (Norah Jones, Rufus Wainwright, etc) and Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she teamed up with her schoolmate and eventual producer Peter Thomas.

Newham and her band also have a great look on stage — all decked out in red vintage letterman sweaters with the initials BW. And her merch includes t-shirts bearing the name of her fan clan, WHO CREW.

Super savvy marketing + great music = super stardom.

Her debut single “Somebody Loves You, was initially inspired by the tragic passing of Whitney Houston (you can definitely hear the elements of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”).

And now her song is inspiring others all over the world, commissioned as the soundtrack to a very poignant flash mob marriage proposal for a gay couple at a Salt Lake City, Utah Home Depot. In case you haven’t seen it by now, enjoy thoroughly below and add to the 10 million + views.

Her latest EP, including the song above, is now available on RCA Records.


10/18 – All Things Gold Party @ The Westway



Yes! There are other non-Australian bands I’m looking forward to seeing at CMJ.

In fact, Swedish threesome NONONO, seem to be the most anticipated act coming to the music marathon this year, making their US debut.

After hearing their soon-to-be anthemic hit, “Pumpin Blood”, you will be saying YESYESYES and whistling while you work.

They must put a special ingredient in the milk in Scandinavia because their pop music is a force to be reckoned with.

Lead vocalist Stina Wappling works at a mental hospital alongside music making and cites her degree in psychology as an influence on her songwriting.

Stina’s wisdom and philosophical sense has also seeped through to the significance of the band name, alluding to their belief in the positive side just saying No ; having the courage to decline things you don’t really want to do and starting something new.

The only confirmed and announced show is their US Debut at a SOLD OUT Mercury Lounge on October 15th alongside labelmates Mystery Skulls and the live debut of the Brooklyn-based Panama Wedding, who have caught a lot of people’s attention with their hit single, “All of the People”. NONONO will also be coming to the Echo in LA on October 24 for the Pop Shop Series.

Here’s the official video for the aforementioned slammin single “Pumpin Blood”, available now as the titled track to their new EP on Warner Music.

Please feel free to add any comments to anything I failed to include here ; I will be doing a CMJ review post at the end of the conference and would like to take all of your suggestions into consideration. For some other CMJ must see’s, please check out the Spotify playlist below: