A week ago, as many of us were facing the hard realization that Summer is fast riding off into the proverbial friscalating dusklight, CMJ announced the first round of artists for this year’s CMJ Music Marathon (with some key assistance from Orchard favorites Weekend). Newly invigorated with sunny optimism, we thought we’d highlight a few of them. We’ll continue to update this list as CMJ draws closer, but for now, allow us to present ten artists with recent releases that will definitely be worth a look.
1. Fuck Buttons: Released earlier this summer, the UK duo’s third album, Slow Focus, is easily one of the most acclaimed albums of the year, earning raves from Pitchfork [“Best New Music”], SPIN, NME [“all-consuming and consistently impressive”], Pop Matters [“2013’s most unexpectedly danceable long-player”], Stereogum, and scads of others. Their live show is killer too. Check out the video for the lead single “The Red Wing” via Pitchfork.
2. The Cloak Ox: This Minneapolis group, featuring former members of Fog and guys who’ve spent time playing with Andrew Bird and WHY?, will release their debut album, Shoot The Dog on September 17th. In addition to sounding “like a proto-metal band playing R&B… or a fusion group covering Tom Petty… or Manchester alt-dudes doing Americana,” [Crash Music] it features appearances from Justin Vernon [Bon Iver], Tunde Adebimpe [TV On The Radio], and Nona Marie [Dark Dark Dark]. Stream “King Rope (feat. Tunde Adebimpe)” via Rolling Stone.
3. Jessy Lanza: Most recently heard singing on Ikonika‘s July 2013 single “Beach Mode (Keep It Simple),” this Canadian Electronic Pop artist’s debut album, Pull My Hair [out September 9th] was co-written and co-produced by Jeremy Greenspan [Junior Boys] and has received giddy advance press from The Guardian, Pitchfork, Resident Advisor, XLR8R. The video for lead single “Kathy Lee” has received nearly 60K YouTube views [watch it via Pitchfork].
4. Shigeto: Trained as a Jazz drummer, this Detroit producer’s compositional and melodic sensibilities have earned him comparisons to likeminded artists like Flying Lotus, Dabrye, Teebs, and Four Tet. “If he isn’t already, Shigeto should be counted among some of the best contemporary Jazz artists alive, and [his latest album], No Better Time Than Now is the reason why.” [XLR8R] You can listen to the second single “Ringleader” via Ear Milk.
5. Them Swoops: This Melbourne, Australia duo is rapidly rising in their native Australia where lead single “Work Around It,” [“one of those Indie Pop gems so perfect that playing it three times in a row is not nearly enough,” Nylon], has received airplay from national alternative music powerhouse Triple J. They’ll make their U.S. debut this fall. Their debut EP Glimmer was mixed by Mark Needham [The Killers, Bloc Party] and features a remix of the aforementioned “Work Around It” from Ben Browning of Cut Copy.
6. Ejecta: A duo comprised of Joel Ford [Tigercity, Airbird, Ford & Lopatin] and Leanne Macomber [Neon Indian, Fight Bite], the latter of whom contributes “vocals reminiscent of Cocteau Twins” on “the shimmering, 80s-styled” first single “Jeremiah (The Denier).” [Stream it via FACT]. The single is one of the first releases on Driftwood Recordings, a new label co-founded by Ford, who also runs the successful Mexican Summer offshoot Software Recordings [Autre Ne Veut, Oneohtrix Point Never].
7. Caught A Ghost: The Electro-Soul project of songwriter/producer Jesse Nolan was featured on LA Weekly‘s fairly prescient, if somewhat premature, “Five Local Bands Who Will Be Huge in 2012” list alongside FIDLAR, Nick Waterhouse, and The Allah-Las, which is certainly not bad company as far as buzz goes. As turned out, his debut EP Nightworks wasn’t released until this past February. Catch the video for “Sleeping At Night” via Pigeons & Planes.
8. People Get Ready: A Brooklyn-based band/performance art collective fronted by Steven Reker and featuring Luke Fasano [ex-Yeasayer], James Rickman [ex-Lizzie Trulie], and Jen Goma [A Sunny Day in Glasgow], these guys have already shared stages with Brooklyn Indie Rock royalty like The National and Chairlift, and they came in at #1 on NPR host Bob Boilen’s “Top 10 Concerts Of 2012.” Be sure to check out the video for the title track of their Zelda Maria EP via Stereogum.
9. Frontier Ruckus: This Michigan-based Folk-Country band’s 2013 double album Eternity Of Dimming “carries much of Okkervil River or The Decemberists in its piquant narratives, though the banjo-led music is more akin to the erudite hillbilly-folk of Jim White or even The Be Good Tanyas” [Uncut]. You can watch the video for “Black Holes” on YouTube.
10. Lovelife: Perhaps, in part, due to their “notoriety” across the pond, this Brooklyn-via-London Synth-Pop group played to packed rooms at SXSW this past spring. Noisey describes them as “posted at the corner of Ace of Base and Passion Pit.” Their third EP Stateless is available for streaming on the band’s SoundCloud page.
11. Lee Fields & The Expressions: Mr. Fields should really need no introduction. Much like Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, with whom he has frequently shared stages, this NYC-via-North Carolina Soul singer has been one of the most dynamic figures of the recent Retro Soul revival thanks to decades of honing his craft before the movement even began. Watching this performance of “Faithful Man,” the title track to his acclaimed 2012 album of the same name, will give you some sense of Lee’s raw passion and power.