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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