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CMJ Music Marathon Starts Today

October 18th, 2011


It’s that time of year again: 20-minute sets; in midtown one minute, the Lower East Side the next; scarfing down food with minutes to spare before the next show. From Mercury Lounge to The Bowery Ballroom and beyond, the CMJ Music Marathon is upon us. Here’re which bands we’re specifically looking forward to seeing play live. New York City quintet Caveman transfers any pop sensibilities into a dreamy landscape of lush indie harmonies through love, nostalgia and other sentiments. In support of their debut, CoCo Beware, Caveman will play 10 shows during CMJ, including the Bowery Presents showcase on 10/22 at Pianos. —Tina Benitez

The CMJ Music Marathon, now in its 31st year, is back to make five days in October seem impossible to navigate. Expect packed lineups at each venue because every band you ever wanted to see is in town. The supergroup Wild Flag, featuring Mary Timony, from Helium, and Carrie Brownstein, of Sleater Kinney among others, kicks off things tonight at The Bowery Ballroom. And at the same time Afro-punk Presents Death to Hip-Hop, featuring technical death-metal pioneers Death and Brooklyn’s own skate-pizza punk, Cerebral Ballzy, whose name really says it all. Wednesday’s pick has to be the ever-controversial indie rap group Odd Future at Terminal 5. Then on Thursday try to get into the sold-out lineup at Mercury Lounge, with garage-rock Xray Eyeballs and Florida’s Jacuzzi Boys, followed by Memoryhouse’s atmospheric shoegaze and finally, J. Mascis. You will show up at 6:30 and stay the entire night. Friday has more fuzzed-out pop with Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles at The Bowery Ballroom, and if you sleep over, on Saturday, Gang Gang Dance’s experimental electronic beats just might give you a chance to recover. And then sleep on Sunday for 24 hours before work. That’s your CMJ. —Jason Dean

Last year I spent the majority of CMJ camped out at Terminal 5 for My Morning Jacket. But this year I plan to get around. Not everyone has an abundance of free time, so if you can only hit one show, my money’s on the High Road Touring showcase at The Bowery Ballroom on 10/20. And despite it being a stellar lineup from top to bottom, for me the No. 1 band to check out during the whole festival is Alabama Shakes (above, playing “I Found You” for Live from the Shoals). The quartet, out of small-town Athens, Ala., has a four-song EP and an incredible bluesy-soul sound. You won’t want to miss Brittany Howard’s voice. Sure, she’s a postal worker by day, but she’s a bona fide rock star by night. Don’t miss this. You’ll be able to tell your friends you saw this band at the very beginning. —R. Zizmor