Last week, I spent five days in New York for the CMJ Music Marathon, an industry-focused music festival where at least 1300 bands and artists hit the streets of Manhattan and beyond to build hype about their music with the help of critics, industry and bloggers.
The time I spent pounding pavement with waning ankles was worth it. It was obvious that the mostly free blogger-curated day and late night parties are where it was at with many more unknown bands waiting to be discovered over the bands who either a) already have some kind of label deal or b) don’t really need a festival like CMJ to jump up the awareness ladder. I’m looking at you – The XX and The Temper Trap.
It’s with thanks to the blogs, music sites and their diligent web posts that I’m now enthused about Florida’s Surfer Blood who played the After The Jump Party, a consortium of 20 music bloggers who come together to put on events. Surfer Blood played a total of 12 sets during the week and their swooping surf rock with tender hooks got the attention of many. The band are not to be confused with Surf City, an equally enthralling prospect from New Zealand who play melodic indie-rock and who also rocked the festival. Their song Dickshakers Union is a good example of their sound (as well as being generally awesome).
Brooklyn’s Sleigh Bells were on the receiving end of much blog buzz with NYC blogger Sheena Beaston calling the boy/girl duo “the hottest thing to come out of CMJ”. It’s easy to see why. As well as putting on a fantastic show, their unique brand of electro-rock is the perfect dance enabler, coming across at times, like the Chemical Brothers played by a garage rock band.
Many other acts benefited from online post-show enthusiasm and the Twitter buzzometer so expect to hear more from this lot over the course of the next year…
Timber Timbre – a bluesy Toronto band who sound similar to M. Ward, Suckers – a harmony-heavy frizzled psychedelic outfit with a David Byrne-esque singer, Long Beach noisy punky psych rockers Crystal Antlers who also won the prize for most engaging percussionist, Free Energy – a Philly band with Thin Lizzy soundalike tendencies and local Brooklyn boys Bear Hands who specialise in experimental indie rock.