Ten Bands You Need to Check Out at CMJ

In no particular order, here is a list of bands worthy of checking out at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon. The CMJ Music Marathon, which has been going strong for 35 years now, is held in NYC’s various live music venues for the extent of the week. The marathon’s main mission is to further the discovery of new music, and with hundreds of artists and speakers involved it shouldn’t be hard.

Car Seat Headrest

With five full length albums already out and another on its way, the Williamsburg, Virginia band is gaining momentum with their lo-fi, garage band sound. And who can’t relate to the lyrics: “All of my friends are getting married…all of my friends are making money”? Yup. You’d think they’d be angsty about it, but instead the vocals maintain a nonchalant, almost Smiths-esque “I don’t care” attitude. Listen to “Times to Die” here.  And click here for a list of upcoming shows.


Listen to Le1f’s “Wut” and try to resist dancing. You can’t. Now, he’s back with tracks like “Rage,” which feature autotune, electronic sound effects, and a very different lyrical flow. But as always, he’s still dropping the beats. Listen to “Rage” here. And click here for a list of upcoming shows.


This Indie band, hailing from Cincinnati, shows that Ohio does, in fact, have a cool side. Since its formation in Nov 2014, the five piece band has released three singles in anticipation of an upcoming album. Think dream pop plus some alternative edge. Listen to “Let Go” here. And click here for a list of upcoming shows.

Crooked Colours

The electronic trio takes on a darker aura, similar to that of Crystal Castles, but not as dissonant. Since 2013, they’ve released one EP along with some singles, two of which came out recently. Listen to “Another Way” here. And click here for a list of upcoming shows.


If their name didn’t make it apparent, Connecticut’s Furnsss is rollicking fun. Their music is categorized as fuzz pop, but the genre doesn’t justify the depth of their tracks. Whereas most fuzz pop singing remains rather monotone, Furnsss has a little more range. Listen to “Where did my pets go” here. And click here for a list of upcoming shows.


The NYC band has less than 800 Facebook likes, but their dream pop alternative style is promising. Kat Lee’s vocals are dreamy, yet beautifully haunting while paired with eerily distorted guitar riffs. Listen to “I only have eyes for you” here. And click here for a list of upcoming shows.

Phony Ppl

This Brooklyn r & b band is equipped with velvety vocals, upbeat rap verses, piano, and a splash of funky organ. The instrumentals are complex and jazzy, making their songs sophisticated yet fun. Listen to “Why iii love the moon” here. And click here for a list of upcoming shows.

Spirit Plate

The Brooklyn band describes themselves on Facebook as “fuzz-pop-fizzling-with-sunbeams ☯ chill-meets-motown ☯ lyrical-psyche-fun-dip ☯ mud-faced-poet-pop ☯ why-dont-you-just-tell-me-your-secrets music.” Do I need say more? Listen to “Broken Prose” here. And click here for a list of upcoming shows.

Teen Commandments

Teen Commandments is a synthpop band definitely has some 80s in them. Their tracks are dramatically eager and unmistakably catchy. Listen to “Ruby” here. And click here for a list of upcoming shows.


The Swedish pop band creates grungy, yet haunting anthems. And with the lead singer being a female, the translation of the name is no surpise. Makthaverskan translates to female form of power and Maja Milner’s vocals definitely pack that power. Listen to “Witness” here. And click here for a list of upcoming shows.

Hillary Crawford
Hillary Crawford
You could call me a dabbler when it comes to music. I find myself experimenting with anything from guitar to DJ-ing. Now, I'm writing about the only topic that never ceases to fascinate me. I may have been trained as a political journalist, but I'm a music enthusiast at heart.


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