Kelela, CMJ 2013 @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg by Clayton Carr

Kelela, CMJ 2013 @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg – Photo by Clayton Carr

Even as the thermostat starts to dip here in NYC, we’re still fanning ourselves from all the CMJ Music Marathon 2013 action. God knows that we and about 120,000+ attendees tried to catch everything, but it doesn’t take a physics degree to know that’s not happening. But don’t fret because a hangover prevented you from making that awesome day party, or that awesome day party prevented you from staying awake for that technical snafu-laden but great Joanna Gruesome set at that brand new Brooklyn club that opened just in time for CMJ. You still stumbled onto more bands than you’d normally see in a year. And every year a few rise out of the morass to start their march towards fame, or at least a ton of blog faunings over the next 12 months. In 2002, it was Iron & Wine; ’04 it was Arcade Fire; ’06 The Knife and Cold War Kids; ’08 Lady Gaga; 2011 Gotye; 2012 Icona Pop; etc. etc… These are the consensus budding biggies from this year’s CMJ.

Courtney Barnett


Sloppy charm rolls off this Aussie like vegemite off of burnt toast. Her quirky guitar licks and subtly intricate wordplay belie her musical ancestral inclination to rock. She did it solo and with a band during CMJ, and won over fans at each turn.

Bishop Nehru


Bishop Nehru is just 16, and he’s already dropped a buzzy mixtape and EP, and garnered comparisons to 2013’s hip-hop golden boy Joey Bada$$. If he didn’t have one foot in the hype machine before, his CMJ stint opening for Casey Veggies and Schoolboy Q definitely shoved him in there head-first.



These Partisan-signed U.K. noise-mongers have nothing in common with Don Henley. I mean, come on, they are two different species.

Jacco Gardner


The Dutch throw-back singer-songwriter may write and record everything himself, but during CMJ 2013 he and his band played nearly two shows a day, impressing international audiences in two boroughs.

The Head And The Heart


They may be on their second album on Sub Pop, but the indie-poppers charmed the crowds eyes and ears at their Music Hall Of Williamsburg showcase.

Joanna Gruesome


We’d been hot on this British fivesome for a while now, their Slumberland debut being one of the best albums this year. High energy slew-gaze with a lady leader who can suddenly get all dreamy amidst the tumult.



If you caught Kelela at the True Panther showcase, you probably left feeling like you just saw something pretty important. Or like your aorta was going to explode. Even Glasser’s Cameron Mesirow was pacing around Music Hall of Williamsburg looking a little nervous she had to take the stage next.



With a misty first impression not unlike their Irish homeland, when the clouds do part, gorgeous guitar melodies (a la Coldplay) and raw vocal emotion come flowing up and away. These blokes would not be out of place in an arena, or should I say will not.

The Preatures


These Aussies impressed at several CMJ showcases with their unexpected twee-bass psych-pop meld. Break out those lava lamps kids, ’cause this funky ’60s fusion sound ain’t goin’ nowhere (except maybe back to Australia).


Straight from the Queen City comes this scrunchy-pop plower trio whose numerous CMJ Music Marathon gigs were a lil’ more muscular than their online offerings so far. An album, coming soon, is pretty hotly anticipated, at least by this reviewer who thought they were the best band he saw at the fest.