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Episode 97: Top 20 Indie Picks Of CMJ 2011 Part Two

posted October 19, 2011, 10:47 am by Ben Oliver | Filed Under Editorial, General Interest, Live Show Reviews, Podcast | comment Leave a Comment

Welcome to another edition of Music Emissions Podcast of the Week. Who doesn’t love a music festival, right? It’s all the best parts of a concert–music, friends, alcohol and drugs…just lots and lots more of them! Each year, more and more of them are popping up all over the place. The CMJ Music Marathon & Film Festival began in 1980. Created by The College Music Journal, this annual event has nearly 1000 bands and artists playing at various clubs throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. It’s essentially the SXSW of the Northeast.

No matter how bad the U.S. economy might be doing, there are always certain things you can depend on. We will always spend money on food, electronics, vacations, and music. And you can certainly count on the festival scene to not only continue, but to expand and grow.

One of the best reasons to go is to discover new music! Anyone who has ever been or considered going to experience a massive event like this knows what it feels like when looking towards the bottom of the schedule. It can almost feel like reading a foreign language, seeing bands listed that you have never heard of. That’s where we come in to help. This can be used as a planning guide for deciding who to catch for those of you lucky enough to be able to attend. For everyone else, this is intended to be used as a primer for armchair quarterback fans. We will be providing first hand live coverage for the first time ever, thanks to our newest staff member Carina! It takes place October 18th-22nd. We usually only have a top 10 list for festival podcasts, but that is impossible with 1000 bands. This episode will feature 10, and our previous podcast has the other 10, for our 1st ever Top 20 Indie Picks Of CMJ 2011.

Neon Indian

Alan Palomo, the leader of chillwave group Neon Indian, is no stranger to Indie music. Formerly in bands Ghosthustler and Vega from Denton, TX, Alan formed Neon Indian and never looked back. They moved to Austin, then finally to Brooklyn, and the rest they say is history. He has performed at Bonnaroo, and more recently on Jimmy Fallon, their newest album is called Era Extrana.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Unknown Mortal Orchestra (UMO), is one of the hardest working and touring bands today. They take both the audio and visual psychedelic elements of the 60’s and 70’s, then add their own touch to make some of today’s best new music. Their story began last year when uploading their first single to Bandcamp. Since then, they have toured this year with Portugal.The Man, Smith Westerns, and currently are opening for Toro Y Moi. The Portland trio will be making their CMJ debut.

Zola Jesus

Russian American singer/songwriter born in Phoenix, but then raised in Wisconsin on over 100 acres of forest. In the last three years Nika Roza Danilova has gone from being an outsider experimental teenage noise-maker to a full fledged internationally celebrated electronic pop musician. Zola Jesus is not a singer; she is a musician. Zola Jesus is not a band; it is a solo project. Nika however, is a woman who can command a room, any room, without needing a band, a stage, or even a microphone. Her voice is unmistakable; it cuts right to the core. She has performed at Pitchfork 2011 fest, been streamed on NPR, featured in Vogue and Spin, and has had a Daytrotter Session.

Sarah Jaffe

This Denton singer/songwriter has been making music since she was a teen. Her first major full length, Suburban Nature was really well received and gained attention from both Paste Magazine and Rolling Stone. She has played ACL before, and has a brand new EP out in which she covers both Drake and Cold War Kids.


BRAIDS is an art rock band from Calgary, Alberta and presently based in Montreal, Quebec. Described as Experimental rock/Shoegaze, they was formed by four best friends in their last year of high school. Convincing one another to skip university, they stayed in the garage all year and practiced obsessively, even while their fingers froze during the cold prairie winters. On June 16, 2011, the album was named as a long listed nominee (one of 40) for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize. On July 6, the album was named as a shortlisted (one of 10) nominee for the 2011 award.

The Stepkids

Have you ever been undecided on the fence between whether to go see a band live or not? You don’t go and then later regret it? That was my introduction to The Stepkids. They came through town opening for The Horrors, and I passed. It ended up being one of the best concerts all year here. Like a new version of Pink Floyd, the Connecticut trio combines both audio and visuals for 21st century psychedelia. This is self described futuristic electro soul, produced, engineered and recorded themselves on a reel-to-reel. Live, kaleidoscopic projections by experimental video artist Jesse Mann consume the stage with light for a multi-sensory experience.


There are 4 members in this Brooklyn noise-punk crew. They just released their 3rd record, Spills Out. They have been playing mainly near home, in addition to touring.

Trash Talk

Formed in the fall of 2005, Trash Talk hit the ground running. 3 years of relentless touring, 5 releases and 4 vans later, they are still running at the same frantic pace that has established them as one of the hardest working bands today. With live performances deeply rooted in chaos and a track record to match, Trash Talk is a band to be seen as well as heard. Nomadic, outcast and poised to release their 6th chaotic outburst, and first LP, Trash Talk is hungry for more. They have collaborated with Keith Morris (Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Off!), and have a recent split 7-inch with Wavves. On their brand new 7-inch EP for True Panther Sounds, Trash Talk continue to bodily propel their sound down the gnarled, grime-swathed path they’ve hewn for themselves.

The Death Set

The Death Set, a trio from Brooklyn, originally hails from The Gold Coast, Australia. It was here where Johnny Siera met co-founding member Beau Velasco in 2005. Drawn to one another’s reckless care of music, the duo united to write fleeting songs with lifelong hooks and overdriven melody. Hell-bent on recording and touring, The Death Set moved the U.S. originally to the gnarly streets of Baltimore then to Philadelphia then finally to Brooklyn. Buoyed by the DIY network they found there, the band recorded and released the To and Rad Warehouses Bad Neighborhoods EPs, honing the noise of jury-rigged gear and overblown mics. The Death Set quickly became known for out-of-hand live shows, and carried that energy onto its first full-length recording, done at The Copy Cat in Baltimore, an artist warehouse studio where the band and many others lived at the time. The Death Set have found touring partners and friends in Girl Talk, Bonde Do Role, Spank Rock, Ninjasonik ,Japanther, Best Fwends, Dan Deacon, Ponytail and many more. While The Death Set’s sound is most like that of its punk influencers — Black Flag, Minor Threat, and Buzzcocks – it also bears the distinct mark of hip-hop and electronic styles in production, and as interludes in their raucous offstage outbursts.


Old analog, trashy keyboards and pop melodies make up the Norwegian electro-troupe that is Casiokids. With tunes often sung in their native language and influenced by afro-beat, techno and out-and-out pop, the band draws similarities and takes inspiration from Paul Simon’s “Graceland”, Ivor Cutler, New Order, King Tubby, Bob Hund, Cornelius and Fela Kuti.

Part One Link


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