Tobias Jesso Jr., Panda Bear, and More Lead First Wave of CMJ 2015 Bands

Hunters at Baby’s All Right, CMJ 2014
Hunters at Baby’s All Right, CMJ 2014
Photo by Nicole Craine

The CMJ Music Marathon returns this October for its 35th installment of celebrating emerging talents and treasured acts. Various shows are to be spaced throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn over the course of five days from October 13–17. Though the complete lineup has yet to be released, CMJ has just revealed the first round of 58 artists and bands from around the globe that will descend upon the stages of NYC.

Leading this initial charge are Tobias Jesso Jr., Kamasi Washington, and Panda Bear — three artists who have had a successful past twelve months. Jesso released his debut LP, Goon, in March, and the Canadian singer-songwriter instantly won over fans through the power of his tender piano ballads, which call to mind Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson.

Washington played the Blue Note for two nights this past August and his sets were commanded by his furious tenor saxophone blare and untouchable backing ensemble, the Next Step. If you were in the audience for any of his four sets, it would be hard to forget the mind-boggling solo courtesy of Washington’s upright bassist, Miles Mosley, among highlights from his seminal debut album, The Epic.

As part of the psych band Animal Collective, Panda Bear has been a leader in innovative and boundary-daring music, but his solo career is where listeners have the chance to home in on his distinctive style. For his 2015 effort, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, he composed some of his most accessible and serene sounds yet.

Local representation at CMJ 2015 is strong, and you'll have plenty of options to see your favorite NYC acts in a festival setting: Titus Andronicus, Acid Dad, Frankie Cosmos, Neon Indian, Juan Wauters, LODRO, Surf Rock Is Dead, the Henry Millers, the Men, Vomitface, Walking Shapes, and Wet Leather have been announced to perform, and that's just the first wave of bands.

Brooklyn-via-Texas chillwave shapeshifter Neon Indian has kept a fairly low profile since releasing his phenomenal second album, Era Extraña, in 2011, but throughout this past year the electropop artist was hinting at his upcoming third effort, Vega Intl. Night School, set to be released October 16. Single “Slumlord” has Neon Indian ditching his lo-fi tendencies for cheery synthesizer beams and a dancefloor-ready beat. It’s a welcome, and welcoming, return.

The Men call Brooklyn home and have been progressing their pummeling punk rock since 2008. Their fifth record, Tomorrow’s Hits, has the Sacred Bones Records–signed band sounding their most refined and mature — to wit, track “Different Days” details their disdain for being young.

You can’t have New York without a little Queens, and carrying the borough’s banner is the indie acoustic singer-songwriter Wauters. With a sound that could fit in any Wes Anderson flick, Wauters flips between English and Spanish lyrics while maintaining his charming lo-fi base. His May 2015 release, Who Me?, included the local shout-out “Woodside, Queens” and came replete with Daniel Johnston–recalling tunes.

Other acts that’ll pay their CMJ respects are Perfect Pussy, Mercury Rev, Motion City Soundtrack, Glass Animals, BØRNS, Ex Hex, Smallpools, the Joy Formidable, the Word, DRINKS, Car Seat Headrest, Death by Unga Bunga, Allday, Diet Cig, and more.

The CMJ Music Marathon will take place on October 13–17 in various locations. For more information, visit here.


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