The ABC’s of CMJ

10/13/2010 4:05 AM |

A_ A Classic Education

On their MySpace page, they describe their sound as, “Eating together like a big family. Reverb. Shoes. Dresses.” Translation: They’re from Italy. Slumberland Records should sign them. With pretty melodies and muffled organs and noise boxes.


In the hands of Montreal-based Braids, minimal dream-pop gently unfolds into seven-minute twinkling epics with the occasional snap-along worthy of a Target commercial. They’ve got the whole young, dewy-eyed thing going on, not to mention a singer named Raphaelle Standell-Preston, who could hold her own against any of the ladies in Dirty Projectors.

Cloud Nothings

Yesssss! This type of catchy slop-rock is exactly what you’ll want to be listening to at 1am at Cake Shop on any given night of CMJ. You’ll be sweaty, tipsy, and have a strong urge to get in the face of main man Dylan Baldi and yell “Cleveland rocks!” mid fist-pump (he’s from Cleveland). Go ahead, do it. That’s the point of CMJ. (We think? No idea.)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

See what they did there with the name? Made a joke, like there’s nothing to it. Effortlessness seems to be their thing—adding drum machines to otherwise slow-moving folk music (complete with the occasional washboard) as if that’s a normal pairing—creating perfect pop songs like there’s nothing to it.

Eternal Summers

When a band has a song titled “I’ll Die Young for Rock n Roll,” they’ve pretty much sealed their fate as a must-see act during a five-day music marathon. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the song in question smolders with an itchy, contagious energy.

Fergus & Geronimo

Likely candidates to die young for rock ‘n’ roll. Hell, we’re all going to die. You might as well have fun, get drunk, and make deliciously ramshackle pop music along the way. Fergus & Geronimo have it all figured out.


While we wait for the rumored RZA-produced Liquid Swords sequel now slated for December, watch the Wu Tang co-founder run through his consistently underrated catalog of creatively reinterpreted hip-hop staples. Unswayed by the sometimes subtle pleasures of GZA’s solo albums? Then come for the very likely Clansmen cameos.


Houses stand as an exception to our “ambient bands are boring” rule by incorporating a surprisingly dominant backbeat to otherwise floaty songs like “Soak It Up.” Ambient bands worldwide should get on that train.

The Idle Hands

The Idle Hands probably won’t be the coolest band you see all week, as they don’t adhere to any particular set of trends or hang out with the boys in Real Estate. Instead, they do a loyal take on the British tears-in-beer punk songs of yesteryear. Somewhere, Joe Strummer is smiling.

Jenny and Johnny

We’re positive that Jenny and Johnny’s album, I’m Having Fun Now, sounds 80 percent better when blasting out of a car stereo on a road trip, but even still, their warm, worn-in pop is as perfect as two insanely attractive, immensely talented people dating. (Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice are dating.)


Kisses may be a chillwave band. We’re not sure. There are definitely keyboards, and the cover of their debut album is definitely a vintage-looking photo of a hotel swimming pool surrounded by palm trees, but Jesse Kivel’s Jens Lekman-channeling vocals sit high in the mix and elements of 70s disco are in there too. We’re pretty sure disco is the opposite of chillwave.