The ABC’s of CMJ

10/13/2010 4:05 AM |

Lower Dens

Baltimore dreamers Lower Dens are giving Beach House a run for their money, elevating their game of gauzy, ethereal pop with strong, distinct melody. They’ll surely rank among the festival’s most-seen bands, with ten shows scheduled during the five days.

Magic Bullets

Morrissey fronting a lo-fi pop band would be pretty great, if only to see how he would style his hair. As for how it would sound? Give Magic Bullets a whirl for a general idea.


Under the name Netherfriends, Shawn Rosenblatt and whoever he happens to be touring with at the moment delivers jumpy, orchestrated pop that sounds like a cross between Beirut and the Morning Benders. Also Weezer. You should really go see him.

Oh Land

Robyn isn’t playing CMJ, but her Swedish contemporary Oh Land is, and she essentially takes Robyn’s shiny pop songs and skews them towards indie, and that’s good enough for us.

Pepper Rabbit

With only two members, Pepper Rabbit’s songs are soft, haunting, and capture an old-world feel. Slowly but surely, they’ve been gaining exposure in the blogosphere.


Thank goodness for Danish electro-pop duos who are wacky enough to name their band a word that begins with the letter “Q.” More so, thank goodness singer Coco and musician/producer Robin Hannibal are worth a genuine recommendation, infusing their poppy dance-alongs with 1960s soul.

Reading Rainbow

Imagine if Joan Jett had said to Joey Ramone while hanging out eating ice cream one day, “The bass guitar is totally overrated.” Blam. You’d have drum-guitar, Joan-Joey throwback Reading Rainbow.

Slow Animal

Here we have a Jersey band playing druggy, hazy, blaring psych-tinged noise-rock that never lets a melody out of sight. They’ll be signed to Woodsist by Thursday.

Title Tracks

In 2008, John Davis of Dischord Records’ cult heroes Q and Not U started writing songs under the name Title Tracks. The 90s remain an obvious influence to him, though here the melodic, jangly pop strain is represented (versus the post-hardcore strain), nodding to the likes of Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub and Superdrag, who—wait for it—was also led by a guy named John Davis. Mind=blown.

U.S. Royalty

Under the words “About U.S. Royalty” on their MySpace page, there’s a picture of a girl laying on her back with a bald eagle about to perch on her knees. Don’t know what that’s about. We would have put a picture of Local Natives or something. They sound a lot like those guys.

Viva L’American Death Ray Music

First, let’s toast to a kick-ass name. Viva L’American Death Ray Music does not sound like a band you’d want to bump into in a dark alley. Then let’s toast to following the footsteps of DIY forefather R. Stevie Moore in his weirdo psych-dub-punk dabbling. And lastly, let’s toast to them being at it for nearly ten (relatively thankless) years.

Wild Nothing

Promise us you’ll hear Wild Nothing play “Live in Dreams,” at least once during CMJ. Hearing frontman Jack Tatum achingly sing, “Our lips won’t last forever, and that’s exactly why I’d rather live in dreams and I’d rather die,” over a perfectly crafted musical homage to all the same bands that influenced The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, it’s bound to be a highlight of the week.