More businesslike than its Texan cousin South by Southwest, the CMJ Music Marathon, to be held Oct. 21 through 25, will nonetheless be a rousing good time, occupying venues from Midtown to Park Slope with panels, parties and showcase upon showcase of talent.While its hard to predict what the big ticket events will bethe festival is known for launching unknown bands into the spotlightlocal rock gossips are already buzzing about which artists will make a name for themselves this year. Hometown heroes Crystal Stilts, a brother band to the much-lauded Vivian Girls (drummer Frankie Rose recently jumped ship to the Stilts), play stripped down rock close in spirit to both 1980s post-punk and neo-garage-pop.
With at least one official show on the program, not to mention parties, the band seems poised to go the buzzy way of its aforementioned lady friends. Also drawing on the 80s aesthetics is The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, with a multilayered sound that elicits comparisons to My Bloody Valentine.
If youre tired of shoegaze, check out High Places at the Thrill Jockey showcase. Its spacey tape loops, tropical drum sounds and sweet vocals are both atmospherically dreamy, and, with bass levels booming, surprisingly primal.With label mates including Pontiak, Pit Er Pat and Arbouretum, it should be a strong bill. Numerous acts from around the world are also ready to shake things up.The Israelis in Monotonix exhibit the flashy showmanship and generally fun spirit of blues-based 70s and 80s metal. Better yet, theyre playing a show on Friday with the weeks best bill:The Mae
Shi, AIDS Wolf,The Apes, Aa, Fiasco
bring your earplugs and your hardest head. For those more into booty shaking than slam dancing, U.K. dance outfit Ebony Bones Wednesday show should satisfy.Though its the eponymous front woman has drawn comparisons to M.I.A., Karen O, Lil Kim and whatever other female performers critics could think of, she brings an edgy humor all her own. Of course CMJ wouldnt be complete without some victory laps from performers whove already made their mark: George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars, Broken Social Scene, Deerhoof, H.R. from Bad Brains and emo-prog rockers Coheed and Cambria are all slated to make appearances.
Though theyre decidedly less flashy than the showcases, a series of panels makes a crucial attempt at analyzing current trends in music. Especially intriguing-sounding ones include How,
Where, and Why I Wrote That Song, featuring Juliana Hatfield and others discussing the origins of their work; Blog Hop and the Digital Factor, featuring 2 Live Crew (really!) and Music and Philanthropy, featuring Run DMC. Add in a film program with premieres of such anticipated titles as Kevin Smiths Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Bestor Crams documentary Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, and its enough to make ones head explode. Pace yourself, stay hydrated and have some nerdy fun. Jamie Peck
Oct. 21 through 25, various venues. Ticket prices vary. For information, visit