The 8 CMJ Tracks You Need to Hear

Also FYI: bad band name = bad band.

October 17, 2014 9:00 am

Next Tuesday marks the beginning of the CMJ 2014 Music Marathon, when music venues across the city are overtaken by a guitar-toting horde of bands you’ve never heard of.

Which is the point. These are the guys who’ll be famous next year, so it behooves a fella to check ‘em out early.

First, know that the Badge is bogus — it doesn’t guarantee entrance. You’re better off buying individual tickets to the shows you really want to catch.

Second: we’ve dutifully combed the hundreds-deep lineup to bring you the eight bands you should be sure to check out, whether live or otherwise.

There’s some fuzzy surf rock. Some we-sold-our-guitars-and-bought-computers electropop. Some neo-soul.

There’s even a band called Pity Sex.

Oh, and rule of thumb: shitty band name (“King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard”) equals shitty band. Usually.


Looks like Jesse Eisenberg, sounds like The Hold Steady. Tall tales told with a punchy indie rock vibe.

Clementine and the Galaxy

Soulful vocals over synthy pop soundscapes. The CHVRCHES of 2014, with a bit of Charli XCX.

Pity Sex

Fuzzed-out guitars, mumbled boy-girl vocals, no-fi production … it’s your favorite 1992 indie band today. Bonus: they’ll probably cover the Pixies.

Twin Peaks

Think less David Lynch, more early Stones/’70s glam rock from some Chicago kids with self-proclaimed “gnarly ‘tudes.” 


Pronounced “dive.” Start with some jangly ‘80s guitar riffs. Add a lo-fi, beachy sheen. Stir. Put on shades. 

Faded Paper Figures

A Yale professor, a Hollywood music producer and a medical doctor start a band. Band plays upbeat synth-pop, has good male/female harmonies. 

Dave Harrington Group

Expect about a dozen instruments but only four musicians, one of whom is Harrington, half of the now-defunct jazz/electronic duo Darkside, which played its final show at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple last month.


Three-man Aussie outfit lays neo-soul vocals over wobbly beats. Think a bedroom-friendlier Skrillex.

Now all you have to do is start practicing sentences that begin with “I saw them back when …”

Main image credit: Emily Korn

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