10 Artists to Watch CMJ 2015

Every fall thousands (literally) of bands come into NYC for CMJ, a five day festival that in it’s own way has started to rival SXSW for some incredible musical discoveries. With so many bands, it’s easy to not know exactly where to look, and while stumbling on something randomly is the best way to find your new favorite band, it’s always nice to have a little guidance. That’s why we’ve combed through all the bands coming into the city to find our favorites.



We are fans of everything Aquilo has been laying down this year. Most recently the British pair released their single “Good Girl”, which has given them a bit more street cred in the uptempo department, as they uncharacteristically give us something to dance to. Up to this point, the music released on their Calling Me and Human EPs has been a heart-wrenching compilation of piano ballads and soulful melodies, and “Better Off Without You” reigns it in with renewed confidence and sensuality. Aquilo’s emotive sound is raw and powerful, and a passionate reinvention of heartbreak pop. CMJ is giving them the opportunity to take their talents across the Atlantic for the first time, so be sure to mark your schedule for their appearance.  Melissa Presti

Wednesday, October 14 (8pm) @ Good Room

Friday, October 16 (11:45pm) @ Brooklyn Bowl

Saturday, October 17 (3:30pm) @ Pianos

Grace Mitchell 

Grace Mitchell will be stepping onto the CMJ stage from the Pacific Northwest with a frenetic force in the form of a perfectly executed indie pop song. Race Day EP is her latest accomplishment, and it’s the type of song collection that could define an artist’s career after several years of touring and multiple albums — which is why it will absolutely blow your mind to learn she’s still a teenager. Grace already owns an incomparable confidence and experience for someone on the precipice of a breakout career. Her songwriting is poetic, and the slower tracks “Broken Over You” and “Your Design” on Design display an eloquent sense of maturity. The lyrics are introspective and sentimental, and the result of many years spent refining her craft. Melissa Presti

Tuesday, October 13 (8pm) @ Brooklyn Bowl

Thursday, October 15 (9:15pm) @ Brooklyn Bowl 

Hooton Tennis Club

In the endless stream of quality rock coming from the UK, Liverpool’s Hooton Tennis Club are a standout. They dexterously blend spoke/sung tales of the mundane into the nonchalance of 90’s alt-rock. Most bands head to CMJ with only a few songs but Hooton Tennis Club already have a solid debut album in the quirky and clamorous Highest Point in Cliff Town. It’s wit, charm, and a distinctly carefree attitude all piled into one fuzzy, garage rock package. If their live performance is as spirited as their rock, they are not an act to miss. Shana Hartzel

Saturday, October 17 (12:30pm) @ Pianos

Miya Folick

Miya Folick’s ability to fully express herself through emotive folk songs is understated and entirely impressive. With each track she’s released over the course of the year, Folick has revealed a new piece of her life and musical journey. Her music seeks comfort in melancholy tones, forcibly wrestling through darkness to a calm sonic resolution. Her live show promises to be equally as captivating as her recorded material and hopefully just as passionate. Shana Hartzel 

Tuesday, October 13 (6:30pm) @ Cake Shop


Shopping, the three piece post-punk group from London, just put out their second record Why Choose. The new record continues down a path of fast-paced, twitchy post-punk scuffles that voice frustration with a capitalist society. As a queer post-punk band, Shopping’s mission is inherently, but not forcefully, political. Even if you don’t agree with what they’re singing about, they have one goal that overshadows all their other ones — to make you dance your ass off.  Ethan Jacobs

Wednesday, October 14 (7pm) @ Santos Party House

Thursday, October 15 (7pm-11:59pm) @ Cake Shop

Diet Cig

This duo from SUNY New Paltz specializes in light, high-energy punk that highlights thier flaws in the most endearing way. On their debut EP Over Easy, Diet Cig staked their claim with five songs that all clock in at about 2 minutes and captivate with an infectious energy. The most compelling aspect to the music is its honesty — the brutally honest lyrics are always at the forefront, reminding us how far pithy, well-thought out lyricism can go. — Ethan Jacbobs

Tuesday, October 13 @ Cake Shop

Wednesday, October 14 @ Cake Shop

Friday, October 16 (10pm) @ Pianos

Saturday, October 17 (6:15pm) @ Petes Candy Store

Saturday, October 17 (1am) @ Knitting Factory


The uber talented brain behind Palehoud, Ellen Kempner, recorded everything on the album, except for the drums, herself, and at 21 has put out a powerhouse of a record. The band plays as a trio live and have a stacked CMJ schedule. Think Speedy Ortiz meets Pavement with some St. Vincent in there for good measure — because the guitar work is flipping magical on this record. It’s a set that you 100% must see. — Shannon Thomas

Wednesday, October 14 (12pm) @ Cake Shop

Thursday, October 15 (2:30pm) @ Pianos

Thursday, October 15 (7pm) @ Union Pool 

Friday, October 16 (1pm) @ Palisades

Saturday, October 17 (11:30pm) @ Pianos

Frankie Cosmos

Frankie Cosmos is an act as prolific as they come and super fun on stage. Greta Kline makes genuine, simple music that’s always rewarding. She can be crushingly honest, which is not something you can get from every artist out there. On stage, the band is just as engaging and bare as they are on their records, no show façade here — the music and the emotions behind it still gets to shine. — Shannon Thomas

Tuesday, October 13 (9pm) @ Baby’s All Right

Thursday, October 15 (4pm) @ Knitting Factory

Friday, October 16 (6:30pm) @ The Wick

Broken Hands

With a dirty sound and guitars that have grit for miles, Broken Hands is running fast to steal the Royal Blood most rocking British band crown. The five piece from Canterbury has power to blow the the roof of the club and make everyone dance like mad at the same time. The band’s shows have become legendary — adorned with tin foil and strobe lights. To say this is a show you must see is an understatement. — Hannah Angst

Thursday, October 15 (7pm) @ Black Bear Brooklyn

Car Seat Headrest

One of the most universally agreed upon artists to watch this year is the newly Matador signed Car Seat Headrest. With an incredibly prolific output in the last few years, there’s a glut of music to listen to and all of it is sparkling with vivacity. With songs that are wildly energetic and immediate, it’s no surprise that the band is topping everyone’s must see list. — Hannah Angst

 Wednesday, October 14 (1:45pm) @ Pianos

Wednesday, October 14 (7:3opm) @ Santos Party House

Thursday, October 15 (12pm) @ Cake Shop

Friday, October 16 (7pm) @ Rough Trade

Saturday, October 17 (12pm) @ Pianos

Thanks Squarespace!