NYC’s CMJ Music Marathon 2014: A Guide for Bands to Watch

NYC’s annual CMJ Music Marathon begins next week, Carrie Quartly reveals her most anticipated events from among the 80 plus participating venues and over 1,300 performing artists.

Last year as a feckless CMJ amateur, I burned out fairly quickly, falling asleep like an old man in the wicker rocking chairs of a Chinese tea room waiting for Joanna Gruesome and a rumored ‘secret special guest’ while still clutching a warm beer. This year, with some better planning and an intense hibernation session before things kick off on Tuesday, the 21st, I’m hoping to cover a lot more ground.

My top must-see pick is Texas garage rock titan Orville Neeley’s OBN IIIs. They play heavy, no-nonsense southern-fried rock ‘n’ roll with an abundance of balls, sweat and spit. Third Time To Harm came out this summer, and Orville flips you off not once, not twice, but three times for the album cover art. Why can’t you miss them at CMJ next week? Because from dirty, DIY 100 capacity warehouse spaces to ballroom-style venues where stages are fenced off with imposing, fortress-like crowd barriers, Neeley owns every room at an OBN IIIs live show. If passive head-nodding at a polite distance from the action is your thing while watching a band, prepare to have your shit thoroughly shaken up, because OBN IIIs is a high energy fireball designed to forcibly shove you out of your rigid little comfort zone. Orville either jabs the microphone stand into the air as if it’s a fencing sword or loops the cable around his neck like a hanging rope while rolling his eyes to the whites and becoming a possessed ghoul. Then he crawls down from the stage for some good old fashioned in-your-face confrontation; if you’re wearing a dumb hat, it may be knocked off your head. If you’ve got long hair, it may be pulled. I sometimes think they could be the second coming of The Stooges.
OBN IIIs play the Panache CMJ showcase on 10/24 at Baby’s All Right and headline a free day party at Cake Shop the following day.


Reigning Sound is the Memphis via North Carolina garage rock brainchild of Greg Cartwright (best known for the savage punk bravado of his older band The Oblivians). Reigning Sound’s latest album Shattered exemplifies Cartwright’s sophisticated songwriting ability in a much warmer way than ever before, incorporating classic country and R&B styles into the mix. They play with Ty Segall collaborator Tim Presley’s White Fence, Australian schizophrenic psych rockers King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard and all-female Japanese bubblegum pop-punk trio Shonen Knife at The Knitting Factory on 10/22.


The longstanding jewel in the crown of DIY New York music venues, Death By Audio, is closing on November 22nd, but will be hosting a free KXLU/Burger Records CMJ showcase on 10/23, which boasts a spectacular lineup featuring the hooky crunch of Louisville garage punk thrashers White Reaper, Californian shred heads Meatbodies, and the resonant wit of Texan “trash poet” John Wesley Coleman.



Detroit’s post-punk quartet Protomartyr spews cold venom recalling the epic unease of Pere Ubu or the twitchy irascibility of The Fall, and they delivered one of 2014’s finest albums with Under Color of Official Right. During their live shows, singer Joe Casey resembles a drunk and disgruntled English teacher in his button down shirts and brown slacks; his eyes barely open and he seems to have a beer can permanently welded to his hand, yet there is a powerfully caustic bite to his nihilistic words which perfectly suits his impassive stage mannerisms. The bleakness of corruption, alcoholism, betrayal and violence has never sounded so good! Protomartyr plays a free Brooklyn Vegan day party at Baby’s All Right on 10/24 (and later that night at Death By Audio), as well as a free early evening appearance the next day at Cake Shop.


The exciting events announced are too numerous to mention, but many other highly reputable record labels are also putting on showcases throughout the city which are well worth checking out, most notably Hardly Art, Captured Tracks, Beyond Beyond Is Beyond and Trouble In Mind. The full CMJ 2014 schedule is available here.


All words by Carrie Quartly, you can read more of her writing on the site here.

Previous articleThe Godfathers confirm a Halloween Special concert at The Lexington in London on Friday 31st October
Next articleScott Walker + Sunn O))): Soused – album review
Lifelong music fan and avid gig-goer with bases in South East England and New York City. Spent formative years reared on punk, which taught me to never adopt a uniform (unless it looked really good with hand made badges and a stencil paint job on it). Love garage rock, bubblegum pop and psych, basically anything with heart that makes me want to sway and groove. Follow me on Twitter @Carrie_Quartly if you eat/sleep/breathe music and don't mind being grossed out occasionally.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here