Though long identifying with Tampa’s DIY punk scene, Merchandise’s second proper album, Children of Desire, falls somewhere outside its genre barrier—but where, exactly, is difficult to pin down. It’s a romantic, painful, noisy gesture made by believers in capital-A Art and not so much in capital-B Business. For a band that allegedly turned down Pitchfork coverage (though that has since changed), being considered one of the most anticipated acts in a festival swarming with industry types is warmly ironic.
Sunday, 10/21, at Bowery Ballroom, 8pm.
Proclaiming herself “Satan” as well as a “sick bitch” in a “chicken noodle soup phase” who’s running New York from a Brooklyn rooftop, Angel Haze’s debut EP displays a boast-from-the-beginning swagger that’s pretty common to hip-hop. But Haze, whose years of freestyling workouts culminated in her 2012 “overnight success,” has the stage presence to back up her smack talk.
These Toronto rockers undam thick rivers of guitar sludge, played at a stomach-quaking volume. In their campaign for “Power Trio of The Moment,” they’ve already got the endorsement of Sub Pop Records, who will release the band’s self-titled debut this month, and are just generally not fucking around in the signing-next-level-noise-rock-bands department.
Tuesday, 10/16, at Cameo Gallery, 11pm; Wednesday, 10/17, at Knitting Factory, 7pm
In the midst of checking out all that is exciting and new (and all those super bored synth-pop bands!), it’d do you well to carve out an hour to witness the ultra-reliable (albeit underrated) powerpop of New Orleans duo Generationals. While we’re still tightly hanging onto one of the most irresistible pop hooks of last year in their single “Ten-Twenty-Ten,” they’re back with the new Lucky Numbers EP. Equal parts bouncy and nervy, they’ll be a palate cleanser for your ears.
Wednesday, 10/17, The Studio at Webster Hall, 2:30pm; Thursday, 10/18, at Glasslands, 8pm
Kody Nielson, former frontman of Flying Nun’s The Mint Chicks and Unknown Mortal Orchestra associate (he’s a touring band member and brother to proprietor Ruban), lets the latter’s funked-up grooves loosen and settle into schizy Beach Boys melodies with his new project Opossom. On Electric Hawaii—a telling title for his excellent solo debut—they shimmy up against digital effects, recalling Ariel Pink’s more clear-minded moments.
Wednesday, 10/17, at Union Pool, 8pm.
Photo Angel Haze by Adrienne Nicole
Norwegian sweetheart Marit Larsen is a veteran pop-songwriter who’s still quite young, having been in the public eye since her late-90s teen duo M2M hit it big. Her solo songwriting has been quite a bit more sophisticated, an elegant folk-pop style that’s made her a huge star in Scandinavia and something of a cult darling over here.
Alejandro Rose-Garcia is probably most recognized as “The Swede” responsible for luring Julie’s heart on the second season of Friday Night Lights. This is convenient because his one-man band Shakey Graves is proudly, unarguably Texan. Texas forever, they say. His fingerpicking and stomps take on the grizzled weight of the Old West, but they can also expand into balladry aligned with (true Swede) The Tallest Man on Earth. In either scenario, he’s a fierce contrast to all the digitally driven bands showing up at CMJ in spades.
Thursday, 10/18, at Rebel, 5pm.
L.A. shoegazers Io Echo are what the outcasts in John Hughes films have been listening to on their Walkmans this whole time. They turn grays into pastels with slow-building swells, gliding Siouxsie-esque vocals and, at their best, unexpected pop melodies. Their singer’s name is Ioanna Gika. Their debut album is called Ministry of Love. It includes tracks titled “When the Lillies Die” and “Carnation.” They sound like a band fronted by a woman named Ioanna Gika, whose album is titled Ministry of Love featuring songs named after flowers.
Wednesday, 10/17, at Glasslands, 8:15pm; Thursday, 10/17, at Bowery Ballroom, 6pm.
Bertrand Burgalat has spent the last decade mining modern relevance from all of the coolest reference points in French pop history. A compatriot of AIR, he does the tastefully spacey lounge-jazz thing, but also dabbles in the retro-chic of Paris’ ye-ye 60s and the avant-classical of modernist geniuses like Olivier Messiaen. This year’s CMJ will be his first New York show in a decade.
This year, representing for the festival standby Lo-Fi Pop Band Category, we have Twerps. With the Melbourne-based foursome, we’re treated to slightly different shades of the genre, though: the straight worshipping of homeland heroes The Clean, the suburban sedateness of Real Estate, the satirical snottiness of Dead Milkmen punk. It’s all easy breezy and relentlessly hooky.
Friday, 10/19, at Public Assembly, 8pm; Saturday, 10/20, at 92YTribeca, 6:30pm.
A brutal, alienated post-punk band from London, Savages have been totally leveling Brit journalists with the intensity of their live show. The young women who make up the band insist that they wanted to become a tangible force in concert before recording too much material, letting them totally own their own sound first. The thought that they were holding something back on their elegant-but-barking-mad single “Husbands” is thrilling (and maybe a little scary?).
Wednesday, 10/17, at Glasslands, 8:15pm; Saturday, 10/20, at Pianos, 12pm.
Killer Mike started popping up on unstoppable Outkast singles at the turn of the century, had a big hit with the Big Boi-assisted feel-good sex-jam “A.D.I.D.A.S” not long after, and has been a guest-verse assassin ever since. But it’s his angry, truth-telling album R.A.P. Music, released this year, that’s lifted him up to a higher pedestal as a solo emcee.
Thursday, 10/18, at Irving Plaza, 7pm.
Photo of Marit Larsen
The unhinged punk rock/rap crew from Sacramento just released their second furious album of the year—this time for free on the Internet, against their record company’s wishes—with an angry, red-haired dick on its cover. It’s even darker than April’s The Money Store (which added amped-up party vibes to its aggression). This buzzy show is a fine opportunity to decide if they are cynical marketing geniuses or frighteningly angry weirdos for real.
Wednesday, 10/17, at (le) poisson rouge, 8pm; Friday, 10/19, at Villan, 7pm.
Matthew E. White
A Southern gent with an ear for soul and gospel music, Matthew E. White released his acclaimed debut Big Inner in late summer. The album’s songs gently give its big issues—family, faith, cruelty, love, compassion—a big, majestic sweep while maintaining a totally relatable humanity. For fans of Sharon Van Etten or Bon Iver.
Wednesday, 10/17, at Union Pool, 8pm.
The dizzy nihilism of Icona Pop’s hit single “I Love It” is awfully hard to resist. Beyond it’s gym- and car-stereo-appropriate energy levels, its got a dose of smeared-mascara crazy that only ever seems glamorous in the midst of overpowering pop. The Swedish duo has supposedly been nursing their first album for about two years now, which is plenty of time to fill out the rest of their set with bangers of approximately equal bang.
Wednesday, 10/17, at Converse Rubber Tracks, 8pm; Thursday, 10/18, at Santos Party House, 8pm.
Essentially the name given to everything Philadelphia-based musician Michael Johnson has recorded that hasn’t fallen under the Lilys and Holopaw umbrellas, Ape School zones in on Johnson’s obvious knack for hooks. His new album Junior Violence is a step away from his former approach of planting the seed and watching the melody bloom amid psychedelic swirls and whooshes. Here they’re bright and clear, popping out amid lines like, “You fucked yourself!”
Thursday, 10/18, at Pianos, 7pm.
“Psychedelic” is the go-to adjective describing On A Passing Cloud, the debut LP from Louisville-based Murals. This is not without reason, of course, as it nods to the Beach Boys and Yo La Tengo. There are times it moves along as surefooted rambles, a piano playfully goading you along. There are other times it unfurls into weirded-out left fields. No matter which direction it takes you, it’s a lovely trip.
Tuesday, 10/16, at Mercury Lounge, 6:30pm; Friday, 10/19, at Pianos, 7pm.
Being lovely is not a concern of Brooklyn goths Eraas. Formed from the ashes of Connecticut post-rockers Apse, they’ve crossed state lines to drown you in a pool of drone and indecipherable moans, screams and sighs. But once they lure you to the brink of hypnotization, they throw some krautrock jackhammering your way, and it starts all over again. Fans of Slumberland noise enthusiasts Weekend take note.
Wednesday, 10/17, at Cake Shop, 12pm.
Daughn Gibson’s road to buzz balladeer detoured though a stint as a long-haul trucker (plus an equally sweaty run as a heavy-metal drummer). On this year’s All Hell, he broke loose a set of pomo country tracks that lay his thick baritone over looped gospel samples, using newfangled laptop production to sound sort of ancient.
Thursday, 10/18, at Knitting Factory, 7pm.
Photo of Death Grips