CMJ Music Marathon 2015 Festival Preview Guide

For the sixth year in a row, we present to you a rundown of the best CMJ​ Music Marathon shows to scamper to across town, with a wide selection that includes pop, hardcore, electronic, soul, and indie acts, including Shigeto, Briana Marela, Empress Of, Lushes, Gemma, and Gilligan Moss.

Yet another fall in NYC and yet another CMJ Music Marathon. For the sixth year in a row, we present to you a rundown of the best shows to scamper to across town, with a wide selection that includes pop, hardcore, electronic, soul, and indie acts. Last year we gobbled up music by Tei Shi, Doprah, Blue Hawaii, and Potty Mouth; this year, highlights include Shigeto, Briana Marela, Empress Of, Lushes, Gemma, and Gilligan Moss.CMJ Music Marathon 2015 Festival Preview Guide
Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

Gilligan Moss

Tuesday, October 13th, 9:45pm @ Rough Trade (64 N 9th St., Brooklyn, NY 11249)

Gilligan Moss dropped his debut, the Ceremonial EP, in August. Its four tracks of highbrow house and colorful electronic pop are kicked off with “Choreograph”, a demo of which hit the number one spot on HypeMachine a while back. Moss has been making the fall festival rounds, with stops at Seattle’s Decibel Festival and the TBD Fest in Sacramento, and he will be making a few appearances at CMJ, including this Paradigm/AM Only/Windish showcase at Rough Trade. Ian King


Briana Marela

Tuesday, October 13th, 10:30pm @ Pianos (158 Ludlow St, New York, 10002)

August also brought the second album from Seattle native Briana Marela, whose All Around Us was released by Jagjaguwar at the end of that month. Despite having been recorded in Iceland with Alex Somers (Sigur Rós), the lingering warmth of summer’s last days makes an appropriate backdrop for Marela’s airy, sun-dappled songs — a playful electropop neighbor to, say, Julianna Barwick’s half-dreamed meditations. Ian King



Tuesday, October 13th, 6:00pm @ The Flat

A good shoegaze, fuzzy rock band is a rare find these days. Especially one who does a mean cover of Pavement’s “In the Mouth in the Desert.” In fact, ohmymoon does several covers, all of which are interesting twists on classics (“I Only Have Eyes for You” is another great one). They are at CMJ supporting their debut EP VVV, out this past March. This is the first of three shows. Judy Nelson


Oh Cassius!

Tuesday, October 13th, 8:00pm @ Rockwood Stage 1

Instantly catchy folk-pop band Oh Cassius! is a duo made up of John Torres and Meredith DiMenna. Their debut album On Such a Full Sea We are Now Afloat came out in 2014 and featured a great supporting cast of musicians from acts such as RJD2, Frank Ocean, and even B52s. In the vein of recent pop-twinged folk bands such as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Lucius, and First Aid Kit, this group finds the happy medium between the obscure and the accessible. Judy Nelson


Wednesday, October 14th, 2015


Wednesday, October 14th, 9:45pm @ The Rock Shop (249 4th Ave, Brooklyn, 11215)

The reunion of San Diego post-hardcore legends Drive Like Jehu fulfilled many a fanboy’s long-held wishes, even if they have yet to play key markets like — ahem! — New York. The one unfortunate side effect of guitarist/vocalist Rick Froberg rejoining his old bandmates, however, was that it meant the shelving of post-garage-punk group, Obits. Luckily, both guitarist Sohrab Habibion and bassist Greg Simpson of Obits have held on to the baton and are now up and running with SAVAK, who made their live debut back in May, and will essentially be playing in their backyard at this International Rescue Artist Development showcase at The Rock Shop. Ian King



Wednesday, October 14th, 7:30pm (doors) @ Santos Party House (96 Lafayette St, New York, 10013)

It isn’t easy to tell exactly how far Shopping’s supposed anti-capitalism politics actually reach, and where the media’s need for a topical hook when selling a new band comes in. Either way, if that element is what sealed the deal on getting the London trio featured in the New Yorker back in April, then ultimately some good was done. It wasn’t always easy to tell one spindly post-punk dance track from another on the band’s 2014 debut, Consumer Complaints, but their latest, Why Choose, confidently expands their previously narrow sonic terrain without losing the irresistible beat they’re built on. They’ll over half a dozen gigs at CMJ this year, including this stacked NME-sponsored showcase at Santos Party House. Ian King


Big Ups

Wednesday, October 14th, 6:00pm @ Elvis Guesthouse

Best described as post-hardcore, similar to Native Nod and Moss Icon, NY-based band Big Ups have been playing shows in the area for the past few year, which have been met with rave reviews. Still flying slightly under the national radar after the release of their debut album Eighteen Hours of Static last year, Big Ups are hitting this year’s CMJ hard with four different shows. Judy Nelson


Owen Rabbit

Wednesday, October 14th, 8:00pm @ Parkside Lounge

Melbourne-based artist Owen Rabbit’s CMJ stint is serving as one giant launch party for his fantastic single “Holy Holy”, which pulls inspiration from such diverse artists as Björk to Burial and Thelonious Monk. To me, it sounds like an new version of that first, fantastic TV on the Radio EP. If that doesn’t convince you to check out this song, I’m not sure what will. Once you’re fully converted, check him out, as he is playing a whole of four times during the festival. Judy Nelson


Thursday, October 15th


Thursday, October 16th, 11:30pm @ Cameo Gallery (93 N. 6th St, Brooklyn, 11211)

Shigeto’s lone CMJ appearance will be at this Ghostly International showcase, so this will be attendees’ one chance to check out their exploratory mix of house, jazz, and hip-hop. Shigeto is percussionist Zach Saginaw, who recently collaborated with trumpeter Dave Douglas on Douglas’ experimental jazz album High Risk. His new Intermission EP, which comes out the end of October, is intended to be a harbinger of more to come soon. By turns urban and pastoral, fidgety and tranquil, Intermission doesn’t just promise; it also delivers. Ian King


Michael Rault

Thursday, October 16th, 4:45pm @ Pianos (158 Ludlow St, New York, 10002)

The throaty “Oww!” that kicks of Michael Rault’s Living Daylight succinctly explains where Rault’s retro inclinations have taken him on his latest. Originally from Edmonton but now based in Toronto, Rault’s ‘70s guitar pop has gotten lanky, grown a spotty beard, and hangs out in the garage sneaking beers. California’s quickly rising Burger Records is a natural home for Rault’s fuzzed out take on the West Coast troubadours of yore. Ian King


My Bubba

Thursday, October 15th, 8:45pm @ Fat Baby

This Scandinavian folk duo My Bubba did a cover of Bob Dylan’s “You’re Going to Make Me Lonesome When You Go” that was so charming and sweet that it’s hard to not fall immediately in love (or at least “in like”). For the past year, they have been tirelessly touring in support of their debut full-length, Goes Abroader, playing festivals such as the Americana Festival in Nashville, where they earned rave reviews. They will no doubt receive a similar response at this year’s CMJ, so be sure to catch them before the US catches wind of their fantastic folk tunes. This show is the first of three at the festival. Stay tuned for an upcoming NPR Tiny Desk Concert, which goes live in November. Judy Nelson



Thursday, October 15th, 8:00pm @ Baby’s All Right

Discovering Quilt was a happy happenstance at the Mexican Summer Festival in Red Hook a few years back, and they left a notable impression. The psychedelic rock band fits in nicely with the roster of Mexican Summer; their harmonies twist and turn and creep into your brain. They’ve been touring in support of their 2014 sophomore album, Held in Splendor, and CMJ falls right in the middle of the tour. Their show at Baby’s All Right has them opening for Dungen, and it’s already sold out, so if you have a badge, get there early! Judy Nelson


Friday, October 16th


Friday, October 16th, 9:45pm @ Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St, New York, 10002)

Eaters’ self-titled debut was one of last year’s under-noticed albums — a shape-shifting, disorienting trip through ambient, motorik, noise, and other textures. The Brooklyn duo consists of multi-instrumentalist Bob Jones and sound designer and engineer Jonathan Schenke. Jones was a founding member of Portland, OR psych purists Eternal Tapestry, and Schenke has worked in the studio with Parquet Courts, PC Worship, and others. Friday night at Cake Shop will be their one official CMJ show, but they are also on a big Sunday night bill at Silent Barn that weekend. Ian King



Friday, October 16th, 4:00pm @ Arlene’s Grocery (95 Stanton St, New York, 10002)

The Toronto band Grounders came together casually when some friends decided to jam on random instruments in one of their basements. Two years elapsed between their debut Wreck of a Smile EP and the self-titled album they released in May. Appropriately, Grounders is assured and unhurried. It is also restless, however, and each of its nine songs brings something different to the table, from overcast indie rock to day-glo krautrock. In addition to a Thursday evening set at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn, they’ll also be playing this Never Better afternoon showcase at Arlene’s Grocery. Ian King


Empress Of

Friday, October 16th, 11:30pm @ Cameo Gallery

We’re fans of Empress Of here at Redefine, having covered her since as far back as 2013. We were enchanted with Lorely Rodriguez then, and she continues to impress with September’s full length, Me, which has a bit of heavier electro edge to it. This show is the second of two CMJ appearances and comes at the tail end of a month-long US tour. Judy Nelson



Friday, October 16th, 8:00pm @ Union Pool

Brooklyn based Lushes have timed the release of their second LP, Service Industry quite nicely with this show – the album comes out the day of, and the band is sure to be celebrating. We recently covered Lushes’ label felte, and were inspired by the give and take between the label and the bands. Lushes’ fuzzy alt-rock vibes will be a great fit for the bill Union Pool on Friday night; seeing them on the night of their album release is encouraged! Judy Nelson


Saturday, October 17th, 2015


Saturday, October 17th, 3:40pm @ Cake Shop (152 Ludlow St, New York, 10002).

Gemma is an experimental pop duo that brings together Felicia Douglass of Ava Luna and producer Erik Gundel. The two had been crossing paths in Brooklyn for some time, but only last year did they start collaborating, after Gundel asked if Douglass would lend her voice to a track he was working on. So pleased were they with the outcome that they decided to keep at it. The resulting debut, As Ever, sets Douglass’ supple delivery, occasionally indebted to classic ‘90s R&B, over hazy layers of nuanced and skittering electronics. Ian King



Saturday, October 17th, 6:30pm (doors) @ Palisades (906 Broadway, Brooklyn, 11206)

These fresh-faced Swedish post-punkers started getting some solid attention in the US last year after their second album, Makthaverskan II, collected some highly positive reviews, and word of their invigorating live show started to spread. More recently, their Record Store Day 7″, “Witness”, was a Savages-like stark blast of goth-y guitar and reverb. This, their second CMJ showcase, is on a solid Run For Cover Records showcase at Palisades that also features Pity Sex, LVL UP, and others. Ian King


The Album Leaf

Wednesday, October 14th, 11:00pm @ Knitting Factory

It’s exciting to see The Album Leaf on the CMJ lineup this year; they are a favorite of mine from CMJs past. Jimmy LaVelle is back after a five-year hiatus, and he has been previewing his 2016 album online. He’ll be bringing his spacey electronica to CMJ for two shows on Saturday. It’s fun to think about a whole wave of new music listeners experiencing The Album Leaf for the first time; if you’ve never heard of them, it’s not too late to learn. Judy Nelson



Wednesday, October 14th, 9:00pm @ Grand Victory

One of my favorite discoveries of last year’s CMJ was Philadelphia-based group Grandchildren. At that time, they were out supporting their sophomore release Golden Age, and their psych-folk-pop thrilled the crowd at Cake Shop. I bought their album immediately, and have been a fan ever since. This time around, they are supporting this year’s album Zuni, and from what I have heard, it is as lush and instrumental as their last two efforts. Judy Nelson


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