The 2014 CMJ Music Marathon has come to a close. It was a whirlwind week full of more music than was physically possible to check out. We made our way through Manhattan and Brooklyn to catch as many acts as we could. One of the best things about CMJ is discovering bands you never set out to see. In between checking out bands that we've been following for years and bands we're just now buzzing about, we got to find a few gems. Below are five acts that we saw at the right place at the right time.
Ages and Ages: Though the crowd upstairs at Pianos on Thursday night (Oct. 23) was loud, the noise couldn't cut through the enthusiasm of Portland's Ages and Ages. The true show standout was the rousing, stomping performance of its breakthrough hit "Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)." It seemed like the whole floor was going to crash down, and that's not a bad thing.
Little Daylight: Blending together stellar pop and indie rock, Little Daylight seems on its way to breaking into the glossy EDM-fueled pop charts. With hooks for days and a strong yet dreamy vocal from Nikki Taylor, this is a band that seems destined for the big clubs, not just The Studio at Webster Hall (Oct. 22).
STRNGRS: Worshipping at the altar of Jack White, STRNGRS brings their own brand of New York-inflected blues-rock. Although it's not quite fair to say we'd never heard of them before, we did happen upon their set to see their live show for the first time. The three-piece rocked out the small makeshift stage upstairs at Pianos on Saturday evening (Oct. 25) to a pretty packed crowd.
Blue & Gold: These guys followed STRNGRS on the upstairs stage of Pianos Saturday evening (Oct. 25). Chloe Raynes and Alex Kapelman traded off vocal duties and delivered some pure rock and roll. Although they aren't completely reinventing the wheel here, their sound is fresh and accessible.
In-Flight Safety: Before the whole Ebola scare, we happened upon In Flight Safety's set at Brooklyn Bowl Wednesday night. Hailing from Canada, the band has started to infiltrate its brand of '80s-infused indie rock — in the vein of The Walkmen, Washed Out and Local Natives - into the states, and we're excited to hear more.
Little May: This Sydney folk-rock trio has been compared to HAIM, Fleetwood Mac, First Aid Kit and Dixie Chicks, but rather than sounding like a tired version of their predecessors, they blend the best elements of each for a fresh sound. Their harmonies are on point and their lyrics are thoughtful and haunting. About a month before their Wednesday night (Oct. 22) set at Rough Trade, the group signed to Capitol Records, so we'll surely be hearing more from them soon.
What were some of your favorite CMJ finds? Let us know in the comments section below!