CMJ Music Marathon runs Oct. 13-17 at a variety of venues in New York City.
CAR SEAT HEADREST
Seattle-via-Virginia’s Will Toledo redefines DIY, adopting this namesake in the only place he could be undisturbed growing up: the family car. With Will’s uncanny ability to confide his most intimate thoughts through a sharp use of the English language, he’s become a Bandcamp king, producing 11 albums and more than 25,000 downloads before being drafted by one of music’s most respected labels, Matador Records.
To be fully appreciated, check out the lyric video to the epic “Times to Die” from his debut on Matador Records.
THE BIG MOON
There’s been a lot of talk of “blood moons” lately, but the London-based four-piece The Big Moon will be casting a light over the U.S. soil for the very first time this week. They’ve only released a few early recordings but they are very strong and from this video of their recent single, you can tell they’re as effortlessly cool as their music sounds.
Sofi Tukker is the rising New York dance duo comprised of Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern. Strongly influenced by Brazilian and World music, the two deftly mix Portuguese and pounding drums with electronic and pop sensibilities, forming a unique fabric of music that’s easy to move to. Have a sip of “Drinkee” (via HeavyRoc Music).
KERO KERO BONITO
Whereas Sofi Tukker is giving a fresh twist to Brazilian music, kitschy trio Kero Kero Bonito are also doing a special service to J-pop by cleverly combining it with our current internet landscape (food, videogames, cats vs dogs and the merits of taking selfies). Catch them while you can: the Londoners are only playing the first night of CMJ — though they also play in Los Angeles this month, at The Lyric on Oct. 21 and The Echo on Oct. 22.
Here is the infectious “Picture This,” something all of us can relate to.
New Zealand’s Marlon Williams began singing in the church choir until his father turned him on to country music in his teens. Williams’ debut album — released in his home continent this past Spring — was nominated for nearly every music award in Australia and New Zealand. Maybe he’ll follow suit in the U.S., with a new release scheduled for early next year on Dead Oceans, as he joins a formidable roster that includes The Tallest Man on Earth, Phosphorescent, Ryley Walker, and others.
Here’s an enchanting cover of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” recorded at the Rolling Stones offices in Australia.
Monika Christodoulou (aka Monika) is a platinum-selling artist in her homeland of Greece; however, it wasn’t until she knocked on the door of The Dap-Kings/Menahan Street Band founder Homer Steinweiss that her music found a home in the U.S.
Earlier this month, Steinweiss produced Christodoulou’s worldwide debut album, Secret in The Dark, a suitable shift in the talented songwriter’s career. It includes an all-star cast, like members of Antibalas, the Dap-Kings and Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow. This dance-pop statement has nods of Stevie Wonder, Kate Bush, Abba, and Grace Jones, all under a disco ball but is distinctively Monika.
Here is the single from her recent release on the veritable Other Music label.
Whitney is a newly formed sextet out of Chicago featuring former members of Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Julien Ehrlich) and Smith Westerns (Max Kakacek). You may remember Smith Westerns decided to call it quits under a year ago; Whitney is a logical fusion between the two bands. Whitney has already built quite a reputation among their fellow local DIY contemporaries (Orwells, Twin Peaks) with their soulful R&B tunes, hip-hop beats, psych riffs, and soothing horns. Though details on a release is scarce, they have released a fine, feel-good debut in “No Matter Where We Go” via new label Lead Riders. See the video below.
METHYL ETHEL (Australia)
LEWIS DEL MAR (New York)
EZRA FURMAN (Chicago)
LA HONORABLE MENTION
Plenty of others to pay attention to that weren’t listed here, check them out here on the Spotify playlist below.