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CMJ 2014: Ten acts to see at this year's Music Marathon

Written by
Ross Finney
CMJ is nearly upon us. If the idea of five days/nights of nonstop music-packed craziness has you feeling overwhelmed, don't panic—we've got you covered. First, check out our handy CMJ Guide to get a sense of just what kind monster of a fest you're dealing with. Next, check out these ten bands, handpicked out of the hundreds performing this year, that we think you oughta see.
RECOMMENDED: Our full guide to the CMJ Music Marathon
Brooklyn Night Bazaar; Oct 21; 9:30pm | Pianos; Oct 22; 4:00pm | Cake Shop; Oct 22; 11:05pm | Knitting Factory; Oct 25; 11:00pm
These Scottish rockers traffic in the sort of fuzzy, ’90s-inspired noisiness that's made a strong comeback in recent years. What sets Paws apart is a gift for hooky, sing-along melodies, and singer Philip Taylor's sharp observations on the ups and downs of growing up. The group comes off this summer's Youth Culture Forever, a stellar second album, to play a host of CMJ shows. 
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Baby's All Right; Oct 22 | Knitting Factory; Oct 22; 10:55pm | Baby's All Right; Oct 24 | Pianos; Oct 25; 6:00pm | Rough Trade NYC; Oct 25; 10:30pm 
It's too easy to call this Aussie group "psychedelic." Yes, the band deals in heady, lysergic soundscapes, but the tag doesn't quite capture the precision of its collage-like songwriting, or the broad range of retro styles referenced on the group's latest LP, Oddments. Catch any of the Lizard Wizard's whopping five CMJ shows, as the prolific group previews its forthcoming album, I'm In Your Mind Fuzz. 
White Fence
Knitting Factory; Oct 22; 11:50pm | Arlene's Grocery; Oct 24; 2:00pm | Rough Trade NYC; Oct 25; 12:45pm 
Bay Area songwriter Tim Presley has made a name for himself collaborating with a who's who of modern psych—including Ty Segall and Foxygen. See him bring his jangly, Kinksesque project, White Fence, to CMJ in support of a new solo record, For the Recently Found Innocent—a move away from the relentlessly lo-fi aesthetic of his earlier work.
Joey Bada$$
Highline Ballroom; Oct 23; 11:30pm
Brooklyn MC Joey Bada$$ boasts a smoother-than-most flow, plus a fine line in mellow beats and keys. At this CMJ showcase, he headlines with his homegrown Pro Era posse in anticipation of his forthcoming second album, B4.Da.$$ ("Before Da Money"). Opening are stoner-rap local Smoke DZA and Long Beach spitter Vince Staples.
Knitting Factory; Oct 23 | Death by Audio; Oct 24 | Baby's All Right; Oct 24
Dramatic Detroit postpunks Protomartyr mine a sensuous yet visceral vibe on their recent Under Color of Official Right, which has quickly become one of the year's most talked-about releases. The group brings its brooding intensity to CMJ, with a pair of gigs backed by its label, Hardly Art, as well as a Brooklyn Vegan party at Baby's. 

Gerard Way
Webster Hall; Oct 23; 9:00pm
My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way moves past the legacy of his old group and dispenses with some (and only some) of his gothy trappings, stepping out on his own with a poppy new disc, Hesitant Alien. Way's Webster Hall gig, one of the most high-profile of the fest, follows tonight's non-CMJ Irving Plaza gig.
Dream Police
Trans Pecos; Oct 24
Dream Police, a new side project from two members of local indie-rock faves The Men, plays fuzzed-out face melters that make the members' main outfit look tame by comparison. The group promotes its upcoming Hypnotize LP at a CMJ showcase for its label, Brooklyn staple Sacred Bones. Also playing are woozy West Coast neopsych group Moon Duo, goth-folk luminary Marissa Nadler and trippy bedroom-psych act Amen Dunes.
Union Pool; Oct 24; 10:00pm
Garagey local rock & roll mainstays—and Time Out New York faves—Nude Beach play music that weds classic-rock sensibilities to punk's raucous energy, resulting in a sound that's sort of like Tom Petty–gone-DIY. Check 'em out as they support a brilliant new double LP, 77, in the middle of a crowded no-cover CMJ showcase. 

Purling Hiss
Cake Shop; Oct 23 | Baby's All Right; Oct 24; 1:40am
Purling Hiss specializes in feverishly noisy garage punk, nodding to everything from Sonic Youth to AC/DC and burying its creations under an avalanche of fuzz. Here, the Philly crew headlines a fun-sounding day party sponsored by indefatigable DIY show-recordist NYC Taper, followed by an after-hours Baby's hang the next night.

Terminal 5; Oct 25; 8:00pm
After a round of reunion gigs at festivals, the most appropriately named shoegazer band of the early '90s heads to CMJ for more nostalgic dream weaving. Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell float their opium vocals over sun-on-lake guitar shimmer. They'll mostly draw from their seminal album, Souvlaki, though we'd love to hear them show off the crystal minimalism of Pygmalion.


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