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 (Photograph: Marley Kate)1/20
Photograph: Marley KateDevinBlue-collar rock & roll looms large at this year’s CMJ, notably championed by Frenchkiss artist Devin, who released his debut album, Romancing in April. Expect to thoroughly mess up your authentic quiff while moshing to Devin’s fuzzy rockabilly anthems.—Sophie HarrisOct 17: Pianos, 11pmOct 19: Knitting Factory, 11pm
Electric GuestA joyful mix of funk, electro and psych-pop, Electric Guest’s genrehopping debut album, Mondo, is anchored by the deft studio touch of pal Danger Mouse (maker of magic with Gorillaz, Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells). Combining Motown harmonies with taut, hook-laden production, the L.A. duo finds that sweet spot between affecting sentiment and glossy precision.—Marley LynchOct 20: Irving Plaza, 7pm
 (Photograph: Jay McCarroll)3/20
Photograph: Jay McCarrollDaughn GibsonThere’s a good reason why Daughn Gibson was so thoroughly fussed over when he released his debut, All Hell, back in June. Actually, there are a bunch of good reasons—starting with the record itself, a moody mélange of country-blues and spooky beats, anchored by Gibson’s super-deep voice (which suggests a midpoint between Glenn Danzig and Stephin Merritt). Then there’s Gibson’s rugged good looks, and the fact that he used to work as a trucker and play in a punk band.… Swoon.—SHOct 18: Knitting Factory, 8:15pmOct 19: Villain, 10pmOct 20: Brooklyn Bowl, 11:30pm [Gibson judges at Soul Clap and Dance-Off]
 (Photograph: Mike Schreiber)4/20
Photograph: Mike SchreiberRobert GlasperJazz and hip-hop have been mingling seemingly for ages now, but never with the righteous fire and assurance that Blue Note pianist Robert Glasper has brought to the game. A first-call keyboardist, Glasper demonstrated his range with the chart-topping Black Radio, which featured guests like Erykah Badu, Lupe Fiasco and Bilal; now he hits CMJ on the heels of a crackling remix EP.—Steve Smith Oct 16: S.O.B.'s, 8pm
 (Photograph: Corey LeChat)5/20
Photograph: Corey LeChatThe Karl Hendricks TrioTwo decades on from its debut, the Karl Hendricks Trio is still going strong. Well, not exactly strong—Hendricks finds inspiration in enervation: substance abuse, nose-diving romance and the like. It's the kind of material that makes for depressing conversation yet surprisingly endearing indie rock, as you'll hear when the band plays a rare local show during this week's fest in support of its newish one, The Adult Section.—Hank ShteamerOct 19: Left Field, 10pm
 (Photograph: George Harvey)6/20
Photograph: George HarveyIcona PopDo you miss the straggly all-girl pop stylings of Bananarama? Or perhaps you just have a penchant for catchy, melodic, slightly bratty dance pop? We have the band for you. Swedish electro duo Icona Pop recently supplied summer hit “I Love It”—which for our money sounds like a scruffy version of the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.”—SHOct 17: Glasslands Gallery, 1am [DJ set]Oct 18: Santos Party House, midnightOct 19: Brooklyn Bowl, midnight
 (Photograph: Courtesy SMC Recordings)7/20
Photograph: Courtesy SMC RecordingsKiller MikeThis ATL hip-hop mainstay is technically playing in support of GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, who’s hauling out his classic LP, Liquid Swords, for yet another live airing. Much respect to the Genius, but it’s Killer Mike we want to catch: R.A.P. Music, produced by El-P and issued in May, is the kind of instant classic they’ll be asking Mike to cover in its entirety years from now.—SSOct 18: Irving Plaza, 7pm
 (Photograph: Thom Kerr)8/20
Photograph: Thom KerrKimbraWe’re sure you heard this summer’s quirky and ubiquitous single “Somebody That I Used to Know” more times than you can bear. The female voice behind the zillion-selling hit is intriguing New Zealander Kimbra Lee Johnson, who crafts potent, super-clever pop on her own, as heard on her plucky debut, Vows. We highly recommend finding your way into one of these two sold-out shows to see the bewitching diva in the making live.—MLOct 19, 20: Webster Hall, 8pm
 (Photograph: Jeffrey Sauger)9/20
Photograph: Jeffrey SaugerKing TuffWhile most first-time listeners and concertgoers will be struck by King Tuff's disheveled looks and wild-animal demeanor, the L.A. musician's hard-hitting garage rock is what impresses us. The Sub Pop–signed shape-shifter explored freak folk and stoner metal with previous projects (Feathers and Witch, respectively), before landing on his explosive, air-punching solo concoction of psych-glam good-time rock & roll.—MLOct 18: Knitting Factory, 11:20pm
 (Photograph: Josh Steinbauer)10/20
Photograph: Josh SteinbauerLa Big VicIt’s inexplicable that local trio La Big Vic has managed to stay under the radar as long as it has—not just because singer and violinist Emilie Friedlander is a well-known, respected alt-music blog nabob (though she is, of course), but because the dub-friendly dream pop she makes with Japanese boy-band renegade Toshio Masuda and erstwhile Pink Floyd audio apprentice Peter Pearson is hypnotic and irresistible.—SSOct 17: Pianos, 11:20pmOct 19: The Delancey, 11pm
 (Photograph: Robby Reis)11/20
Photograph: Robby ReisMetzLongtime Sub Pop enthusiasts know that the venerable Seattle imprint has a Jekyll and Hyde personality: On one hand, there's the pretty, twinkly indie-darling fare such as Beach House and the Shins, and on the other, there's the sloppy, stinky din of Nirvana, Mudhoney, Pissed Jeans et al. You can safely lump in new SP signees Metz, a wired Toronto art-punk trio, with that latter crew, but as you can hear on the band's new self-titled debut LP, fist-pumping hooks also season the mix. Words to the wise re: these two cozy CMJ gigs: Earplugs mandatory.—HSOct 16: Cameo, 11pmOct 18: Knitting Factory, 10:30pm
 (Photograph: Jamel Shabazz)12/20
Photograph: Jamel ShabazzMr. Muthafuckin eXquireFilthy-mouthed, smooth-flowing rapper Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire delivered the excellent Huzzah EP in July, and now hits CMJ with his first record for Universal, Power & Passion. Expect a thrillingly messy live show from the BK MC.—SHOct 17: Drom, 10pmOct 18: S.O.B.’s, 11pmOct 19: Gramercy Theatre, Time TBA
 (Photograph: Owen Behan)13/20
Photograph: Owen BehanOpossomHere’s a bedroom album that doesn’t sound like it was recorded in a confined, solitary space. Instead, New Zealand act Opossom’s debut, Electric Hawaii, calls to mind an orchestral ‘60s group, with its shambling drums, reverby effects and hand-clap-ready melodies. The band’s masterful indie pop will surely impress, while its sepia-tinged beats will inspire spacey grooving.—MLOct 17: Union Pool, 10pmOct 18: Pianos, 9pmOct 20: Cake Shop, 9:15pm
 (Photograph: Dustin A. Beatty)14/20
Photograph: Dustin A. BeattyPoolsidePoolside's moniker is none too subtle: The production pair's debut album, Pacific Standard Time, conjures lazy sunny days spent waterside, most likely with a rum-filled cocktail in hand. Escapist listening is informed by swooshing synths, lethargic basslines and breezy falsetto vocals; it's dubbed "daytime disco" by its makers. Also: James Murphy regularly spins house-indebted single "Harvest Moon," an alluring Neil Young cover, during his DJ sets.—MLOct 20: Gramercy Theatre, 10:30pm
 (Photograph: Hristo Shindov)15/20
Photograph: Hristo ShindovProngLocal Prong fans groaned en masse when the band canceled its Gramercy Theatre gig this past August—the long-running NYC-born alt-metal outfit's only scheduled hometown gig in support of its fierce new LP, Carved Into Stone. But this makeup—a sure-to-be-raucous CMJ concert cruise—promises to be even better. Don't forget the Dramamine!—HSOct 19: Rocks Off Concert Cruise (aboard the Star of Palm Beach), 7:30pm
 (Photograph: Hannibal Matthews)16/20
Photograph: Hannibal MatthewsAsher RothHaving built a substantial buzz with his debut mixtape, young hip-hop star in the making Asher Roth faltered with a larky, underperforming major-label debut. Will his forthcoming Def Jam release, Is This Too Orange?, restore his momentum? Here's where you'll find out.—SSOct 19: Gramercy Theatre, Time TBA
 (Photograph: Christy Parry)17/20
Photograph: Christy ParryRoyal ThunderSimply put, Mlny Parsonz is a beast. You’d typically have to head to an opera house to experience lung power as overwhelming as that wielded by the bassist-vocalist of Atlanta four-piece Royal Thunder, which awed an unsuspecting roomful of Kings County metal connoisseurs at the Knitting Factory this past September. The band’s smoky, bluesified chug hews close to retro convention, but there’s nothing hackneyed about hearing Parsonz unleash her soul-deep howl in cozy rock-club confines.—HSOct 20: Saint Vitus, Time TBA
 (Photograph: Antoine Carlier)18/20
Photograph: Antoine CarlierSavagesBuzz began building about Savages this past spring, thanks to a harrowing gem of a single (“Husbands”) and breathless write-ups from British tastemakers. Expect the hype to crest at CMJ, when the all-female U.K. postpunk quartet makes its NYC debut in the wake of a new live EP, I Am Here. It’ll be worth fending off the angularly coiffed faithful and iPhone-wielding Twitterati to get an earful of Savages’ goths-go-clubbing throb.—HSOct 17: Glasslands Gallery, Time TBAOct 19: Mercury Lounge, midnight
 (Photograph: Phil Di Fiore)19/20
Photograph: Phil Di FioreSinkaneMulti-instrumentalist Ahmed Gallab, touring asset to bands such as Caribou, Of Montreal and most prominently Yeasayer, borrows from the principles that led to the latter’s rise to art-rock fame: hooky extravaganzas, anthemic choruses and Afrobeat flourishes. The Sudan-born musician leans heavily on his heritage, to the best effect. We can attest that Sinkane’s live sets are soul-rocking, body-moving and not to be missed. His debut disc, Mars, is out Oct 23 on DFA.—MLOct 18: The Delinquency, 5pmOct 18: The FADER Fort, 8:30pmOct 18: Zebulon, 11pmOct 19: City Reliquary, 9pmOct 20: Union Pool, 11pm
 (Photograph: Matthew Bologna)20/20
Photograph: Matthew BolognaThe StepkidsSure, this Connecticut outfit looks like any other indie-rock gang, but the Stepkids are signed to Stones Throw records (home to Aloe Blacc and Mayer Hawthorne’s debut disc), and their songs are deliciously, sometimes squelchily soulful. Fans of the Temptations are sure to appreciate the ‘Kids' shuffling grooves, funksome basslines and falsetto vocals. Oh, and they have titles like “Wonderfox.”—SHOct 19, 20: Webster Hall, 7pm

CMJ Music Marathon 2012: TONY's top picks

Don’t miss these acts during this year’s concert deluge.

By Sophie Harris, Marley Lynch, Hank Shteamer and Steve Smith

The annual CMJ Music Marathon starts on Tuesday 16, bringing five straight days of shows by stars and strivers alike, at all hours of the day and night, both on and off the beaten path. How can anyone possibly navigate it all? The truth is that you can’t—which is why we’ve prepared this shortlist of the acts you won’t want to miss this year, with an accompanying Spotify playlist below. As ever, watch for news of secret events and late-breaking bookings.

RECOMMENDED: Our full guide to the CMJ Music Marathon


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