Ten Breakout Artists of CMJ 2015 [Photos]

Another year, another CMJ in the books. By now, you’ve hopefully recovered from your post-festival colds and sore feet and have all the memories of all the amazing bands to comfort you. It was a nice chill year for CMJ this year – it seemed like there was a little less of a crush on the city, with shows more spread out and fewer bands doing the 5-a-day sprint. It meant we could take in more shows and see more acts that completely blew us away. So many acts lived up to the hype this year that we were hard pressed to narrow it down to just ten – but we prevailed. Check out our ten favorite artists from CMJ as well as the pics from the plethora of amazing shows we witnessed.

Miya Folick

miya

To say we were excited for Miya Folick is probably an understatement and she certainly didn’t let us down. The Los Angeles singer songwriter dove deeply into the emotional vulnerability effervescing from her dark but hopeful melodies on stage. Balancing the heaviness of her powerful storytelling with a lighthearted, personal charisma, Miya was more than captivating from start to finish of her set at The Flat on Wednesday night. Her set seamlessly weaved in old songs and new with varying genres, all connected by her remarkable ability to feel every moment of a song while playing it.  She has that undeniable star quality that allows her to form lasting connections with an audience through song and we simply can’t wait to see her again. – Shana Hartzel

Mothers

mothers

Mothers are striking. On first listen of “No Crying in Baseball,” it’s easy to hear there is something special about the intricate way the band pieces together their uncertain and driven brand of indie rock. But, their live show is even better. Formerly the solo project of singer and guitarist Kristine Leschper, the now 4-piece from Athens, Georgia move amongst all manners of dynamics, tempos, and lyrical deliveries to put on a cohesively engaging performance. Leschper’s endearing warble artfully compliments the shifting layers of guitar as both a scream and a melodious whisper. Mothers have debut album set to be released next year that is not to be missed. – Shana Hartzel

Cosmo Sheldrake

cosmo

You can certainly expect the unexpected from young vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Cosmo Sheldrake. But, you can also expect it to be packaged in perfectly timed aural smorgasbord that is both engaging and oddly addictive. His clever manipulation of unorthodox sounds made by one of the over 30 instruments he plays, an anthropologically or scientifically natural occurrence, and his own voice transcends novelty into a sonic symphony. Both a life long learner and a sampling savant, Sheldrake took time before each song to explain the intricacies of the samples he chose to use, including anything from the sun to the tearing of meat. While his lyrics are largely scientific or nonsense, his music is fresh, unique, and modern in both intricate composition and mesmerizing live performance. – Shana Hartzel 

Methyl Ethel

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An unassuming trio from the far shores of Perth, Methyl Ethel have already been deemed by many as the next Tame Impala. While the similarities are undeniable, the group exude an effortlessly shimmering delicacy all their own. Their psychedelic pop blends nicely with some hints of progressive rock into a casually cool amalgamation they deliver so smoothly on stage. They put together a solid set of driving tunes that are relatable, accessible, and fully transportive even if you’ve never heard the band before. Touted audibly by their fellow Aussies during the Aussie BBQ and by anyone that saw one (or more) of their impressive ten performances during the week, their allure was undeniable even in a set-capping, 3-minute outro of the same whirling chord progression at Rough Trade on night one. – Shana Hartzel 

Satellite Stories

satellite storeis

Satellite Stories played an incredible show at Brooklyn Bowl as part of the Communion Showcase on Saturday. This Finnish band is surely going places –  with a sound is reminiscent of Two Door Cinema Club, soft and upbeat. They had the entire crowd dancing with them start to finish. – Makena Cummings

Broken Hands

broken hands

The UK band played a rocking set as part of the Communion Showcase. They have all the makings of an edgy British indie rock band with influences from Arctic Monkeys and Catfish & the Bottlemen. Their set was loud and full of head-banging – with energy pouring from them the whole time. Broken Hands proved that guitar rock is back and the most exciting it’s been in years. – Makena Cummings

Frankie Cosmos

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Frankie Cosmos rocked every one of the showcases they played – including The Beehive. Frontwoman Greta Kline is always a delight to see, with her refreshing quirkiness and the band’s honest and clean sound. The band was on the top of everyone’s list going into the festival and is sure to be on the top of most “rising star” lists coming out. At the show Kline revealed a new LP in the works, and if the shows are any indication – it’s going to be one for the ages. – Makena Cummings

Elohim

Pretty much the only reason we didn’t include Elohim on our recent “Femme-Pop” feature is we couldn’t decide which of the two tracks she’s released so far we liked better: the immediate, catchy “She Talks Too Much” or the hazy, drugged-out “Xanax”. Make no mistake though,  Thursday night’s performance at The Marlin Room at Webster Hall (part of Neon Gold’s New Shapes bonanza) proved Elohim is every bit on the vanguard of the form. Rather than witnessing another would-be diva belting over 90% prerecorded track and 10% live instrumentation, we were treated to an immersive, immaculately-conceived high-concept multimedia experience. Lights and projected visuals danced in time with the music, while the mystery woman at the center of it gradually shed her fashionable layers, sunglasses, and robo-voice interludes to reveal, of all things, a knowing smile. This was the abstract transforming into something altogether human, and we couldn’t keep our eyes (or ears) off of it. – Matthew Solarski

Mammút

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Invariably the name Björk will be invoked when discussing Mammút, and it’s a fair comparison given frontwoman Kata Mogensen’s commanding voice, impassioned delivery, and Icelandic heritage (not to mention the band’s ties to the Smekkleysa label). But the Reykjavík five-piece has much more to offer, particularly to folks who like their music heavy. At Wednesday’s Iceland Airwaves showcase at Black Bear Bar, drummer Andri Bjartur Jakobsson was a behemoth behind the kit, stomping out massive beats that helped the band more than earn its moniker. With Mogensen and her cathartic bellows front and center, the mighty Mammút served up music that was urgent and full of zeal, even if we often couldn’t understand just what exactly they were singing about. – Matthew Solarski

Vaults

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In fairness, a band like Vaults isn’t really built for a festival like this. The London trio hails from a lineage of highly refined art-pop auteurs that stretches from Kate Bush to Bat For Lashes and beyond, and one imagines a great deal of thought goes into their creative choices.  Rather than simply relying on a sample — something we saw more than a few bands do at CMJ — bandmember Barney Freeman carts along and plays an aluphone (a rare, doubtless cumbersome percussion instrument) to produce the eerie, gamelan-like tones heard on tracks like “Cry No More”. Needless to say this doesn’t lend itself to the scrappy, 25- and 30-minute sets that make up the bedrock of CMJ. Both times we saw them, Vaults struggled through set-up and sound problems, and yet twice they emerged victorious, winning over the crowd with good humor, a little interpretive dance, and the sheer majesty of their music. Once this band has paid its dues, there will be no stopping them. – Matthew Solarski

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Acid Dad

– Makena Cummings

Briana Marela

– Matthew Solarski

Broken Hands

– Makena Cummings

Buffalo Rodeo

– Makena Cummings

Catfish and the Bottlemen

– Makena Cummings

Cloud Castle Lake

– Matthew Solarski

Dent May

– Makena Cummings

Elohim

– Matthew Solarski

Emilie Nicolas

– Matthew Solarski

Empress Of

– Makena Cummings

Frankie Cosmos

– Makena Cummings

Fraser A Gorman

– Makena Cummings

Glass Animals

– Makena Cummings

Grace Mitchell

– Matthew Solarski

Holly Miranda

– Matthew Solarski

Idgy Dean

– Matthew Solarski

Jamie N Commons

– Makena Cummings

LazyEyes

– Makena Cummings

Lena Fayre

– Matthew Solarski

Mammut

– Matthew Solarski

Methyl Ethel

– Matthew Solarski

Miya Folick

– Matthew Solarski

Morgan Erina

– Matthew Solarski

Oscar

– Matthew Solarski

Outfit

– Matthew Solarski

Panda Bear

– Makena Cummings

Phony PPL

– Makena Cummings

Piers

-Makena Cummings

POWERS

– Makena Cummings

S

– Matthew Solarski

Sam Cohen

– Makena Cummings

Satellite Stories

– Makena Cummings

Stone Cold Fox

– Makena Cummings

Sye Elaine Spence

– Matthew Solarski

The Brittanys

– Makena Cummings

Vaults

– Matthew Solarski


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