CMJ’s 12 Hottest Bands & Where to Catch Them For Free or Cheap


We hope you are all as jazzed about CMJ as we are! The festival is the College Music Journal’s “Music Marathon”- a completely amazing (and exhausting) week (October 21-25, 2014) of live music, giving the music community a chance to catch the best new artists from around the world before they blow up. There are literally thousands of bands playing as many official (usually cost a few bucks) and unofficial (free or cheap) shows as they can, getting their music out there and hoping some fans and blogs take notice! Lucky for these 12 musicians, their internet presence was enough, and we fell in love before CMJ even began! Without further adiue, we present 12 bands to catch during CMJ next week!

AGES & AGES (Portland)

They Say: “Do the right thing, and do it all the time.”

Press Says: “Ages and Ages shower audiences with pure joy. The songs are unabashedly inspirational, thoughtful and crazy-catchy.” -NPR

We Say: Beautifully crafted alternative rock anthems that really mean it. Best listened to fireside.

Listen to: Superb 2014 Debut Album Divisionary

See Them: WED 10/22 @ Niagara // THURS 10/23 @ Pianos ($FREE) // FRI 10/24 @ The Living Room (Offical, $5) // FRI 10/24 @ Union Pool ($FREE)

AMANDA X (Philadelphia)

They Say: “With an uninhibited musical dynamic that could only be birthed from three friends, Amanda X delivers with ethereal vocal harmonies, heavy hits and solid guitar work.”

Press Says: “…slinky guitar parts, pounding drums, and vocals that range from fierce to fragile. Also, the chorus[es] fucking howl.”- Stereogum

We say: Kickass girl-fronted post-punk rock with emo, progressive, grunge, and pop influences (and killer guitar riffs).

Listen to: Heavy-hitting 2014 album Amenesia on bandcamp.

See Them At: TUES 10/21 8PM @ Cameo Gallery ($10) // FRI 10/24 @ Silent Barn ($5) // SAT 10/25 @ Knitting Factory (Official, $10)


They Say: “A sinister and evil cult which lures young people into drug-taking.”

Press Says: “Beautifully understated compositions rooted in Radiohead’s family of theremin synths and the weaving texture of male and female vocals.” – Pigeons and Planes

We Say: A dramatic soundscape of popping electronic beats, waterfalls of sexy vocals, driven by smart, orchestral melodies. Often times very much like Polica in an art-pop kinda way.

Listen to: Their self-titled EP on Spotify.

See Them At: MON 10/20 @ Baby’s All Right ($15) // WED 10/22 @ The Studio At Webster Hall ($10) // THURS 10/23 @ Radio Bushwick ($5) — Bushwick Daily x Out In The Streets CMJ Showcase


They Say: “a cloud of future primitive psychedelia bursting with glimmering electronics and cinematic, vibrato storytelling. The result of that process is Hypnotized: something borne from The Men, but free of it.”

Press Says: “….something that’s certainly leaner but no less fierce than their other band”- Stereogum

We say: Bury the country guitar line in The Men’s latest album in a pile of reverb, pair it with some 80’s-sleek synths, shoot that sound into outer space, and listen to it fall back down.

Listen to: Their only realease, and the basis of their hype, “Hypnotized” on souncloud.

See Them: TUES 10/21 @ Silent Barn ($FREE) // THURS OCT 24 @ Trans-Pecos ($12)


FIANCÉ (Delaware)

They Say:  “Experimental Pop”

Press Says:  “…Hypnotic…” – Stereogum

We say: Scenic, catchy electronic pop songs with a lot of mainstream potential.

Listen to: Their brand new EP1 on Spotify

See Them: THURS Oct 23 @ Brooklyn Bowl ($FREE with RSVP or $12 day of)


They Say: “The streets stay the same, but now we all know her name.”

Press Says: “Harvest of Gold is the sound of an artist pushing herself into dynamic places”- Rolling Stone

We Say: Sounding like Lykke Li’s Australian counterpart, the lovely Gossling’s childish, witchy vocals give her otherwise golden pop songs an irresistibly creepy edge.

Listen to: 2013 EP Harvest of Gold on Soundcloud

See Them: THURS Oct 23 @ Glasslands ($FREE) //  FRI Oct 24 @ Pianos ($10)


They Say: “…compositions are cosmic landscapes rich in lyrical and melodic textures”

Press Says: “…[They] make music that’s impossible not to dance to. You may have to call in sick the next day.” – NY Magazine

We Say: Feverish soul-funk-jazz-pop with political undertones and party overtones.

Listen to: Their single “Breathe” on Soundcloud.

See Them At: THURS 10/23 @ Rockwood Music Hall

ME CHINESE (Orlando)

They Say: “Our band began in the midst of an avant garde punk scene that usually plays out in the ViMi district of Orlando in Florida.”

Press Says: “I don’t know whether calling one’s band Me Chinese is an inherently racist act.” –Brian LaRue

We Say:  Expect a name change from the band in the next few months but remember their epic sound. We knew organs and electric guitars went well together, but the combination is reaching all-time highs alongside lead singer  doo-wop vocals.

Listen to: Their 2-song release “The Single” on Bandcamp

See Them: WED OCT 22 @ CMJ House Party – 315 Seigel St. APT. 312 ($FREE) //  THURS OCT 24 @ The Flat ($5) // FRI OCT 24 @ The Rock Shop ($10) // SAT OCT 25 @ Paper Box (Official, $8)

Horse Thief (Oklahoma City)

They Say: “It’s about losing yourself in the sound and creating an experience that sticks with you long after the show is over.”

Press Says: “This is mountain music brought to sea level for stargazers and those searching for Old America.” –

We say:  Educated Midwestern folky blues rock that’s classic beyond its time.

Listen to: 2014’s Fear In Bliss on Spotify

See Them: TUES OCT 21 @ Rockwood Music Hall ($FREE?) // FRI Oct 24 @ The Delancey ($FREE?)


They Say: “We’re writing more interesting songs, not straight-up pop songs. We want to make our album out-of-control, as good as it can be.”

Press Says: “sunny-yet-scuzzy guitar pop” – Sudden Impact

We say:  The perfect 1990’s take on 2014’s take on 1960’s psychedelia.

Listen to: 2013’s perfect LP, Comfort, on Spotify

See Them: Everywhere, all the time. TUES OCT 21 @ Brooklyn Night Bazaar (Official, $20) // WED OCT 22 @ Pianos (Day Party, $FREE) // THURS OCT 23 @ Cameo (Official, $15) // FRI Oct 24 @ Knitting Factory (Day Party, $FREE) // OCT 25 @ Pianos’s ($10) — Birddog CMJ




Press Says: “one of the most unique bands out” – Noisey

We Say: It’s pronounced “TAHN-starts-bandit,” it’s one big space jam.

Listen to:  Loud & Proud LP Overseas on bandcamp.

See Them: WED Oct 22 @ Shea Stadium ($8)– BirdDog At CMJ


They Say: “Equal parts girls and guys, delivering a raw punk take on AM studio pop.”

Press Says: “This sophomore effort (Picture You Staring) certainly deserves accolades. Every second maintains a certain perfection.”- The Huffington Post

We Say: Low-key, nostalgic pop songs with emotional lyrics. Sometimes jazzy, sometimes drowning is space pop, other times, drawing on folk influences.

Listen to: Last months’s release, Picture You Staring, on Spotify

See Them: WED Oct 22 @ Shea Stadium ($8)– BirdDog At CMJ // SAT Oct 25 @ Death By Audio ($10)  

Runner Ups:

COLONY HOUSE (Tennessee)

Wytches (UK)

Ayer (NYC)


Norwegian Arms (Philadelphia)

Emily Wolfe (Austin, TX)

Luluc (Australia)

Porches (NYC)

Adult Jazz (UK)

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