photo by aliya naumoff


the 9 bands to know: cmj edition

your guide to cutting through the noise.

by rebecca willa davis

It might not boast sunshine, tacos, and Tim Riggins, but New York City does share one big thing with Austin: awesome music extravaganzas.

We're talking about CMJ Music Marathon, the annual five-day festival that features shows by hundreds of bands and a handful of cool panels (yes, it's a bit like SXSW--or maybe it's the other way around). Shows kick off today, and while you could literally spend your entire day show-hopping, we know you probably can't just take the rest of the week off from work.

So to help you figure out just who's worth seeing--or, if you're not in town for CMJ, which bands are worth keeping an eye on (this is, after all, the same festival that launched Surfer Blood and Best Coast a few years ago)--we've pulled together a handy guide to the nine buzziest groups. Click through the gallery to see all of your picks, and stay tuned throughout the week for more updates from the CMJ frontline.

BAND: Hunters

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

SOUNDS LIKE: That awesome house party everyone's still talking about.

PLAYING: Tuesday, October 15 at Cameo Gallery

BAND: Nonono

FROM: Stockholm, Sweden

SOUNDS LIKE: If Lykke Li, Robyn, and Nikki and the Dove met up at a late-night rave and chowed down on cheese fries after.

PLAYING: Tuesday, October 15 at Mercury Lounge

BAND: Black Light Dinner Party

FROM: New York, NY

SOUNDS LIKE: The sensitive cool-kid cousing of MGMT and Phoenix.

PLAYING: Thursday, October 17 at Mercury Lounge


FROM: Brooklyn, NY

SOUNDS LIKE: Solange if she spent even more time with Chairlift's Caroline Polachek.

PLAYING: Thursday, October 17 at Converse Rubber Tracks

BAND: Betty Who

FROM: Brooklyn, NY (by way of Sydney and Boston)

SOUNDS LIKE: Glittery space pop from an emerging pixie pop star that's beloved by indie kids and viral lovers alike.

PLAYING: Friday, October 18 at The Westway

BAND: Tops

FROM: Montreal, Canada

SOUNDS LIKE: Wistful, floaty pop with a haunting edge infused with hints of Twin Sister and Ariel Pink.

PLAYING: Saturday, October 19 at Arlene's Grocery

BAND: The Darcys

FROM: Toronto, Canada

SOUNDS LIKE: Melodic stadium rock that probably should have a British accent, but doesn't.

PLAYING: Wednesday, October 16 at Cake Shop

BAND: The Echo Friendly

FROM: Brooklyn, NY

SOUNDS LIKE: What Hannah Horvath listens to on the G train--there is a reason the band's angsty single "Same Mistakes" soundtracked Girls, after all.

PLAYING: Thursday, October 17 at Cake Shop

BAND: Big Ups

FROM: New York, NY

SOUNDS LIKE: If that one friend who is always telling a story started a punk band.

PLAYING: Thursday, October 17 at 285 Kent