CMJ 2014: The Art of Discovering New Music

Each year thousands of indie artists flock to New York City to showcase their talent at the CMJ Music Marathon. The festival started in 1981 and over the last three decades it has turned into a launching pad for up-and-coming bands that many music aficionados have never heard about.

Matt McDonald joined CMJ in 2005 and now serves as showcase director. His primary job is to select which emerging artists to bring to the festival. “My favorite thing is the element of surprise,” Matt said in a Twitter chat with Rock On Philly (#ROPChat).

This week, October 21-25, more than 80 venues are hosting official CMJ shows across Manhattan and Brooklyn. In our search to bring new tunes to Rock On Philly readers, we have a team on the ground for five days of nonstop music and we’ll share our favorite artists throughout the week. Some are from Philly, some will play in Philly soon, and some we just think you need to hear. Here’s what we found on Day 1 of the festival:

Jukebox the Ghost

http://jukeboxtheghost.com/

This pop trio recently relocated from Philly to NYC. They kicked off CMJ with an intimate performance in a penthouse on top of The Standard in the East Village. It was an important night for the 10-year-old band… the debut of their fourth album and they played every new track, including the single, “The Great Unknown.” Ben Thornewill (vocals & piano), Tommy Siegel (vocals & guitar) and Jesse Kristin (drums) certainly know how to swoon a growing following of googly-eyed teenage girls. We’ll see if CMJ can help them reach the next level. Catch Jukebox the Ghost at Union Transfer in Philly November 1st.

Jukebox the Ghost performs at The Standard in the East Village of NYC October 21, 2014.

Jukebox the Ghost performs at The Standard in the East Village of NYC Oct. 21, 2014.

J. Fernandez

https://soundcloud.com/justinfernandez

The YVYNYL 2014 CMJ Showcase at Union Pool in Brooklyn featured a couple intriguing artists. The first to catch our attention was J. Fernandez… a haunting, psychedelic pop act mixing synth accents with intricate guitar work that would be perfect for a Wes Anderson soundtrack. Justin Fernandez leads on vocals and guitar. He’s backed by Joseph Murphy on organs, Drew Ryan playing bass, and Michael Gillian on drums. The Chicago group just released a new EP, Memorize Now.

J. Fernandez performs at the YVYNYL 2014 CMJ Showcase at Union Pool in Brooklyn Oct. 21, 2014.

J. Fernandez performs at the YVYNYL 2014 CMJ Showcase at Union Pool in Brooklyn Oct. 21, 2014.

HEAT

http://heat69.bandcamp.com/

“Lots of pizza. Lots of cops. That’s about it.”

At the YVYNYL 2014 CMJ Showcase at Union Pool in Brooklyn we also confirmed Rock N’ Roll is not dead. If you close your eyes during a HEAT set you might convince yourself Lou Reed is on stage making a guest appearance with The Strokes. This Montreal rock band doesn’t make many trips south of the border. We wish they would visit more often.

HEAT performs at the YVYNYL 2014 CMJ Showcase at Union Pool in Brooklyn Oct. 21, 2014.

HEAT performs at the YVYNYL 2014 CMJ Showcase at Union Pool in Brooklyn Oct. 21, 2014.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Rock On Philly staff at CMJ 2014!

1 Comment

  1. Lauren Silvestri

    October 22, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I definitely am going to check out that band Heat, glad to hear there are some true rock n roll bands out there still!

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