CMJ has come and gone in a fury of five booze-fueled days. Bushwick Daily’s dedicated music staff hit the ground running this CMJ, with more than five writer-photogs scoping out bands so you didn’t have to. We swarmed the Lower East Side, Williamsburg, and our own dear Bushwick (and everywhere in between!) to find the best new bands the festival had to offer. Among our favorite concerts were house parties, free shows, warehouse gigs, and even a metal venue. Among the many bands we saw, we were able to boil it down to 10. Read on for original photos, mp3s, and writeups of our favorite new acts from CMJ 2013 including Psychic Twin, Empress Of, Indian Rebound, Kal Marks, Ex Cult, Ovlov, Criminal Hygiene, Born Gold, Shy Girls and Twin Islands.


Empress Of

Empress of at CMJ. Photos by Maria Gotay.

Empress Of is Brooklyn’s own one-woman sound experience. Empress Of (aka Lorely Rodriguez) is halfway between the vocal stylings of sky-high soprano Twin Sister and the visceral, anxiety-fueled vocals of Braids’ Raphaelle Standell-Preston. She fits neatly among the best original female voices of the indie scene. Those lovely (and lonely) floating vocals wander atop lo-fi synth melodies and tinkerbox beats in a way that’s at once gentle and intense. She’s so fresh that she’s only put out seven songs total, including the beautiful EP Systems. We caught her bringing down the house headlining the Wild Honey Pie’s showcase on Saturday. -Maria Gotay


Indian Rebound

Indian Rebound. Photos by Maria Gotay.

Indian Rebound is one smart rock ‘n’ roll band.  The native New Yorkers are hot on the scene, charged with a jangly rock sound, savory guitar solos, and a goofy stage presence. They’ve supported some pretty big names over the past year (Widowspeak, Free Energy, Palma Violets) before dropping off the bills for a few months. We hope they’re coming back in full force because they’ve got a sound worth waiting for. We caught them at the Beats Per Minute and We All Want Someone to Shout For’s showcase at The Living Room.  -Maria Gotay


 Shy Girls

Shy Girls at Tammany Hall. Photo by Maria Gotay.

 Shy Girls was one of those unexpected CMJ finds that makes CMJ as great as it is. Hailing from Portland, their sexy, bedroom R&B sound most resembles the soft stylings of How To Dress Well, but this band takes that sound out of the weird lo-fi habitat and works it with a lineup of guys who look like they’re substitute music teachers from the ’80s. Looks aside, they’ve got the sexy clarinet sound down and the smoothest falsetto you’ve ever heard . We caught ’em at the Holy Underground CMJ party at Tammany Hall.  -Maria Gotay


Psychic Twin

Psychic Twin at Bushwick Daily’s CMJ Party at Bizarre. Photos by Maria Gotay.

Psychic Twin is one treat of a band and we are so glad they headlined Bushwick Daily’s own CMJ showcase put on with The Sky Report and Supercrush Studios! The band’s sound revolves around a multiplicity of voices, lead by looped vocal tracks that lead singer Erin Fein creates then layers live. The result is a wall of sound that rises and falls with original vocal melodies that clash and harmonize at the same time. Place that atop shimmery keyboards and synths, input some slick drum beats, and you’ve got one helluva sound.  -Maria Gotay


Criminal Hygiene


Hailing from Los Angeles, boozy trio Criminal Hygiene are really good at finding charm in the mundane, or worse, the totally shitty. Although these dudes have been mixing crass with class since the release of their (sort-of) self-titled debut, CRMNL HYGNE, back in January, their rolling and rollicking live shows weren’t able to hit New York shores until now. They deliver scuzzy, modern versions of your favorite garage rock classics; familiar sounds expertly re-branded to suit the band’s signature sloppy vibe. Still, there are thoughtful moments to be found among all the talk of twelve packs and songs about “cockroaches in your microwave.” There’s a youthful, anxiety-driven frustration to Criminal Hygiene that allows their music to feel so honest, and their beer-fueled set at the (aptly titled) Trash Bar left us eagerly awaiting their return. -Loren DiBlasi


Ovlov. Photos by Gustavo Ponce.

The many great things about Ovlov’s debut LP, Am, released this summer- crunchy, slashing guitars, noisy, infectious melodies, and feedback-o-plenty- were delivered in even better form at Silent Barn during CMJ. In honor of the amazing Exploding in Sound Records’ second birthday a wide variety of killer bands brought the noise (Speedy Ortiz, Pile, Roomrunner and more), but Ovlov were among the very loudest (and best). The Connecticut-based three-piece sliced and diced through tracks like “Really Bees” and “Where’s My Dini?” with total ease, inducing a few new cases of tinnitus in the process (worth it). We featured them in our Fall playlist for good reason!  -Loren DiBlasi


Kal Marks

Kal Marks. Photos by Ankita Mishra.

Of all the sets that impressed us during CMJ, by far the most headbang-worthy was Kal Marks at Grand Victory. Like a well-choreographed dance, each member of the crowd lunged forward in time, achieving perfect unison not only with each other but also the band’s monstrous beats and dense, melodic rhythms. With headphones Kal Marks’ latest effort, Life Is Murder, is a twisting, pleasant slow-burn; live, the Boston power-trio are bold, dynamic, and quietly powerful. These sounds are pure heavy basement grime; the sort of messy stuff you scrape off the bottom of the floor (in the best way possible).  -Loren DiBlasi


Ex-Cult. Photos by Ankita Mishra.

Memphis, Tennessee punks Ex-Cult serve their rock ‘n’ roll just the way we like it- loud, fast, and totally ruthless, every time. Once the fierce five-piece got going at the 285 Kent Panache Booking Showcase there was simply no stopping them, and of course, who would have wanted to? Ex-Cult’s raw, immediate tracks were delivered at an intense pace, and their set was a thrill ride that had the crowd holding on for dear life and clutching our ear-plugs.  -Loren DiBlasi

Island Twins

Island Twins: What you wished you could get your high school band to sound like. Photo by Brendan Whittaker for Bushwick Daily.

What would CMJ have been without at least one secret local showcase to counteract the effects of manic hype and giant crowds? We caught a good one at a house show just over the Bushwick-Ridgewood border on Saturday afternoon. A small but enthused crowd filled the back yard, day-drinking and taking selfies with the host’s fluffy little dog as a neighbor held her baby up to peer over the fence. The band that stood out was Island Twins, a group of Queens natives who made whiney vocals endearing with repetitive harmonies and poppy choruses layered over fuzzy guitar riffs. -Emilie Ruscoe


Born Gold

Born Gold getting gold at Shea Stadium. Photo by Maria Gotay for Bushwick Daily.

For scene-savvy Bushwick locals hitting Friday night hard, Shea Stadium had just the thing- electronic artist Born Gold (formerly of Gobble Gobble). Hosted at the Portals showcase, Born Gold headlined a night packed full of indie’s who’s who. The Edmonton native played a sweaty, charged set that got everyone in the packed place gyrating. With glowing lights affixed to his palms, halfway through the show the music transitioned from the rolling dance-anthem electonic pop Born Gold is known for into something a little different. With ’90s inspired dance moves and an intense voxcoder, the latter half of his set inspired robo-boyband fantasies. Those aren’t the kind of fantasies we have very often, so for an artist to successfully take us there (weird as it was) was a powerful reflection of the intensity of their music.  All said, it was fun. Check them out. -Emilie Ruscoe