A huge part of what makes CMJ fun is getting turned on to bands you’ve never heard of before. But since so many on-the-rise bands are hit or miss, it’s good to go into the week with some sure best bets. Here, we round up the buzziest acts playing showcases this year.
Panda Bear’s latest layered synth beats have a melancholy feel to them. Not surprising considering Noah Lennox wrote the album for his father, who was dying of brain cancer, according to Consequence of Sound. The textural music is just as complex as the lyrics, which will have you questioning your own morality.
Playing: Oct. 13-15, 9 p.m., Bowery Ballroom
R&B duo Nina Sky is best known for their 2004 debut single “Move Ya Body,” but the identical twin sisters are back with new tracks, giving CMJ some welcome diversity. Their new music is more electronica dance than their early hits, but just as catchy.
Playing: October 13 at 11 p.m. at Arlene’s Grocery
LA-based glam-rocker BØRNS (nee Garrett Borns) brings his psychedelic music to the East Coast, playing songs from his EP, “Candy.” Fans of Haim and Passion Pit will enjoy the sunny synth sounds, particularly the catchy single, “Electric Love.”
Playing: Oct. 17 at Music Hall of Williamsburg and Oct. 19 at Bowery Ballroom.
CMJ isn’t all indie rockers in skinny jeans. Kamasi Washington is the most important jazz musician in today’s culture and will be playing tracks from his three-hour, three-disc compilation “The Epic.” Washington composed the strings and choir for Kendrick Lamar’s album, “To Pimp A Butterfly” and has also played with Snoop Dogg, Lauren Hill, and Flying Lotus, among many, many others.
Playing: October 15 at 10:45 p.m. at BRIC House.
Alt-rock band Glass Animals is both majestic and weird, mixing electronica, psychedelia and heavy bass. Frontman Dave Bayley studied neuroscience at Oxford, so it’s no wonder his music has a cerebral feel to it. Listen to their stand-out track “Gooey” before you go.
Playing: October 15 at 8 p.m. at Terminal 5.
Neon Indian is one of CMJ’s biggest names, so get to the venue early if you want an Instagram-worthy view of the stage. The electronica band has a new album coming out October 16, so expect lots of new songs, including their current single “Annie,” as well as old favorites like “Polish Girl.”
Playing: October 14 at 8 p.m. at Webster Hall.
Electro-pop duo POWERS packs a one-two punch into their upbeat, danceable songs that’s helped land them on the alternative charts and score a song in a Victoria’s Secret ad campaign. Both of their singles, “Beat of My Drum” and “Loved By You” are catchy, they’ll be in your head long after the festival ends.
Playing: October 14 at 12:30 a.m. at Good Room and October 17 at 8 p.m. at Brooklyn Bowl.
Tobias Jesso Jr
Balancing out CMJ’s many electronica and indie rock acts is Tobias Jesso Jr, which is essentially a man and a piano. The simplicity works, thanks to Jesso’s pure talent. With the backing of Jack White and Black Keys member Pat Carney, both of which produced songs on his album, the singer-songwriter is well on his way to being the Next Big Thing.
Playing: October 14 and 15, 10 p.m. at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
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