Last week, we were reminded that despite it being, y’know, 2014, the vast majority of CMJ Music Marathon’s lineup still seem to be bearded indie rock bros. It’s nice to know that the heteropatriarchy still has its fingers firmly embedded in the music industry, but if you’re looking for a CMJ experience that’s a little less white male, you’d do well to check out these five acts.
TT The Artist
TT, also known as Tedra Wilson, has been a mainstay of the Baltimore club scene for years, but it’s only recently that she’s taken the Internet by storm. Along with some killer features on tracks by Diplo, Kilbourne and fellow Bmore bae Mighty Mark (also playing at CMJ, fyi), she’s been consistently putting out footwork-inflected bangers that complement her take-no-prisoners flow. She calls herself the Artist for a reason: as well as producing music, she’s also directed a documentary about Baltimore music and serves as a teacher and adviser in various community arts organizations. Catch her at The Flat on Wednesday.
This self-described maker of ‘wonky synth singy’ music released her debut EP earlier this month, and it’s a cracker. Melbourne native Martha Brown combines ‘80s new wave and UK future bass to make an atmospheric form of R&B that comes off as a sunnier counterpart to FKA twigs’ minimalist stylings. While that description could fit a host of new bands from the past two years, Brown’s complex instrumentation and idiosyncratic vocals set her apart. She’s playing four shows this week, but make sure to drop by the Sounds Australia showcase at Santos Party House on Wednesday, where she’ll be sharing the bill with recent Bok Bok collaborator Tkay Maidza.
If Grimes produced Kate Bush, the result would probably sound like a pale imitation of Right From Real, the captivating debut album by Lydia Ainsworth. The Bushwick-based artist makes witchy experimental pop that’s as indebted to Lord of the Rings as it is to Philip Glass, with lyrics about malachite nations and guardians of thunder rubbing up against glittering electro-baroque arrangements. “Do not seek to understand me/I’m your deepest desire,” she sings on album standout “Take Your Face Off.” If you want to hazard a try, drop by Baby’s All Right on Thursday, where she’ll be performing alongside Saint Pepsi, Tei Shi and TOPS, as part of Gorilla vs Bear’s unmissable showcase.
It’s a big deal pulling off a multilingual album, and Banda Magda do it with aplomb. Their latest record, Yerakina, reflects frontwoman Magda Giannikou’s diverse background, with tracks sung in Spanish, French and Greek, but also demonstrates the band’s ability to nimbly blend far-flung genres. Lively South American, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean rhythms make Banda Magda’s music eminently danceable, and definitely worth checking out. They’ll be playing at Rockwood Stage 1 on Thursday.
Or, the band who rhyme ‘1 train’ with ‘1 train’. Making songs about bad-news boyfriends with ukeleles is a risky proposition, but Kay Kasparhauser, Rachel Trachtenburg, and Lulu Prat pull it off with gratifyingly bone-dry humor. Sort of like the anti-Zooey Deschanel, these three New Yorkers make music that sounds cute until you listen to the lyrics. Kasparhauser’s deadpan delivery belies the dark undertones on tracks like Boys “(I Dated In High School),” and while they’ve only released three original tracks, we’re looking forward to more of their wry, self-aware guitar-pop. Catch them on their home turf at Pianos on Tuesday.