Words: Jonathan “Kos” Kosakow
Each year, the CMJ Music Marathon descends upon New York City for five days in October. For bands, it is a chance to be discovered. For journalists, bloggers, photographers and the recording industry, it is an opportunity to stumble upon the next big thing. And for the fans, it is a chance to discover new music, a chance to witness the origins of a band, and perhaps more importantly, a chance to run around New York City for five days without a plan or a clue as to what they will find.
There is no “right” way to get through CMJ. Of the almost 1,100 musical acts who performed over the five days at this year’s marathon, even those fans heavily immersed in the music scene were familiar with only a small percentage. Some choose to see only the bands they already know and are familiar with. Some choose to pick a venue and stick with it for an entire evening. Others choose to pick bands based on their names, and still others just go to an area with the highest concentration of shows (generally the Lower East Side of Manhattan), and bounce around between venues. But no matter what method you choose, you are bound to find something you love, something you hate, or something completely weird.
As I am just one man, I was only able to see a (very, very, very) small percentage of the music played. But of the bands I was able to see, here are my recommendations.
These United States bring a sound similar to a combination of The Black Crowes and The Band, with vocals slightly reminiscent of the Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz. Comparisons aside, this quintet had a sound too big for Piano’s, the small bar that played host that evening. By adding a steel pedal guitar to the classic southern rock, they are allowed much greater diversity of sound and can bring in many more influences. And that may be their only true drawback – the lack of a definitive sound. Give them a little bit more time to find their true sound, though, and I’d put some money on seeing these guys in much larger venues.
READ ON for more of Jonathan’s recommendations…