13 Artists You Need to See at CMJ Music Marathon 2014

posted by Dan Murphy on October 14, 2014

DIIV via the artist

New York City -- If you're a music fan living in New York, then you're probably aware late October is essentially Christmas-come-early. That's right, the CMJ Music Marathon is returning to our fair city. This year's conference is packed with 1300+ artists, famous and up-and-coming alike, that will take over venues across Manhattan and Brooklyn. 

To help you prepare for this epic festival, we compiled a list of our 13 favorite artists hitting CMJ this year. We've included some heavy-hitters, but, like the music marathon itself, this is mainly for underground bands working their way to breakthrough success. For more of the artists and showcase we're looking forward to, make sure you check out our CMJ Event Listings.


When we caught DIIV at CMJ 2012, they were just coming off the release of their first full length Oshin. The band finished recording their yet-to-be-named follow-up album last summer, so expect to hear some new tracks from these New Yorkers at CMJ. 

Tuesday, October 21: Brooklyn Night Bazaar feat. PAWS and Beach Day

Courtney Barnett

This beloved Aussie absolutely nailed the bored slacker aesthetic with "Avant Gardener," the lead-single off her first major release The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. Her sing-speak vocal style and generally ambivalent tone actually make her quite endearing as a songwriter.  

Wednesday, October 22: Webster Hall feat. San Fermin


Porches., the project of songwriter Aaron Maine (also known as Ronald Paris), came to local prominence after the 2013 release of Slow Dance in the Cosmos, a widely overlooked but strikingly beautiful album detailing an adolescent foray into sexuality and adulthood. 

Saturday, October 25: Death By Audio - Arbutus + Terrible Records + JMC Showcase
Saturday, October 25: The Silent Barn - Exploding in Sound Unofficial Showcase (Ronald Paris solo)

A Place to Bury Strangers

A Place to Bury Strangers have established themselves as a staple in the noise rock scene for the past seven years. If you catch them at CMJ, by God, bring a pair of earplugs - or enjoy the last concert you'll ever hear.  

Saturday, October 25: Rough Trade - Austin Psych Fest + Alisa Loog Showcase


Slowdive's 2014 reunion was a real treat for all of us too young to hear the shoegaze pioneers before their 1995 breakup. These Brits been somewhat forgotten in the modern indie mythos, but bear in mind that Slowdive influenced some of the best bands to come out of the UK in the '90s like Mogwai, Sigur Rós, and Radiohead, to name a few. 

Saturday, October 25: Terminal 5 feat. Low

San Fermin

San Fermin, the baroque-rock project of composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone, combines classical elements with modern pop sensibilities featuring horn sections, extravagant vocal harmonies, and robust arrangements. This group strives for epicness and it lands most of the time. 

Wednesday, October 22: Webster Hall feat. Courtney Barnett


This noise-punk group's live aesthetic has been characterized by loud, fuzzy guitars; rolling-on-the-floor on-stage antics; and a general lack of fucks given. Hunters have been on the verge of breaking for years now, and we're hoping this CMJ is the Brooklyn band's catalyst to bigger things. 

Friday, October 24: Baby's All Right - Panache Booking Official Showcase

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks put a youthful yet nostalgic exuberance on classic rock stylings, channeling the old-school influences of The Stones, The Beatles, and The Stooges. Who would've thought we needed teenagers to get us back to good old rock 'n' roll? 

Wednesday, October 22: Glasslands - NME + Hate Hate Hate Records Showcase
Thursday, October 23: Rough Trade - feat. Happyness, The Wytches, and more
Thursday, October 23: Santos Party House - New Shapes Showcase
Friday, October 24: Rough Trade - Aquarium Drunkard Showcase


We, for the life of us, cannot figure out why Ovlov isn't famous yet. They live in that space between punk, fuzzy shoegaze, slacker rock, and the everything-sucks-sometimes-let's-get-drunk-about-it mindset, brought to life by lead-singer, guitarist Steve Hartlett's sometimes silly, sometimes downright emotionally devastating songwriting. 

Saturday, October 25: The Silent Barn - Exploding in Sound Unofficial Showcase


Here is one of those bands that nicely balances pretty and gritty. Golden three-part harmonies soar over disgusting (in that good way) guitar licks and a raucous rhythm section. While PARLOUR TRICKS (formerly known as Lily & The Parlour Tricks) are moving towards a poppier sound these days, their tunes' subject matter deals with anything from love loss to the occasional murder ballad. 

Thursday, October 23: The Bowery Electric - The Outlaw Roadshow
Friday, October 24: The Living Room - Buzzchips + MyFreeConcert Showcase


These Detroit natives have had the blogosphere buzzing for the last few years with their modern re-imagining of Ian Curtis-styled post-punk. Protomartyr got a bit more refined and introspective on their latest release Under Color of Official Right, and are now exploring new and exciting sonic territories. 

Thursday, October 23: The Knitting Factory - Sub Pop + Hardly Art Showcase


Krill have slowly climbed the NYC indie scene ranks in the last couple years. Their first release on Exploding in Sound Records, Lucky Leaves, showcased the trio's honesty, self-deprecation, and math-y guitar rock, while their most recent EP, Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts Into Tears (actual title, we know), juxtaposes the story of a kid trying to play with his favorite band with fecal metaphors and general existential crises. 

Friday, October 24: The Trash Bar - Exploding in Sound Official Showcase
Saturday, October 25: Silent Barn - Exploding in Sound Unofficial Showcase

Vinyl Thief

We were floored when we caught Vinyl Thief at their July show celebrating the release of Fathoms, the band's most recent LP dealing mainly in escapism, which they revealed in our subsequent interview. They kind of sound like Nathan Willett of Cold War Kids went into electronic pop territory while retaining more conventional rock instrumentation.

Tuesday, October 21: Webster Hall - Balcony TV Showcase
Wednesday, October 22: The Living Room - Big Picture Media Showcase

That's all, folks! If you plan to attend CMJ this year, make sure you check out our CMJ Music Marathon Festival Guide for travel insights, local suggestions, and curated event listings to enhance your week in NYC. 

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See Also:

Schedule/Mobile App Released for CMJ Music Marathon 2014
CMJ Music Marathon 2014 Expands Conference Programming
NYC Fall Festival Forecast