The only CMJ guide you will ever need

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Music nerds take note: If you didn’t already know, one of the city’s biggest, busiest and buzziest music festival, CMJ — short for College Music Journal, but now exclusively known by its acronym — is taking over almost every venue in Brooklyn from Oct. 18 to 22, to showcase the newest, hottest, most swoon-worthy bands this side of the West River. With so much action going on, we’ve put together a handy-dandy guide to enjoying CMJ — the Brooklyn way!

Most likely to feature a future indie superstar

Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar, and Secretly Canadian showcase featuring: Exitmusic, Porcelain Raft, Parts & Labor, and Gauntlet Hair

The Secretly Canadian family of labels is known for putting out records by indie royalty, from Jens Lekman to Antony and the Johnsons, but they also have a great nose for new talent. For CMJ, fans can watch Secretly Canadian showcase the rookies — alongside Brooklyn mainstays Parts & Labor — at Union Pool. The main attraction ought to be the newly-signed duo, Exitmusic, whose haunted pop evokes Cat Power with bits of Sigur Ros, and very well might be one of the most talked about acts at CMJ this year; don’t miss it.

Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar and Secretly Canadian showcase at Union Pool [484 Union Ave. between Conselyea Street and Skillman Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 609-0484], Oct. 19, 7:30 pm, $12. For info, visit

Most Brooklyncentric

WNYU showcase featuring Blues Control, Frankie Rose, Talk Normal, Widowspeak, and DJs from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

If you’re looking for a definitive primer on Brooklyn sound, your CMJ destination isn’t Bushwick — it’s Park Slope. Head out to the WNYU showcase to check out two acts worthy of seeing over and over — Frankie Rose and Talk Normal — and a performance you definitely shouldn’t miss by Widowspeak, whose Mazzy Star-esque cover of Chris Issak’s “Wicked Game” helped garner a ton of attention for a debut LP (on Brooklyn-based label Captured Tracks, no less!). Trust us, Widowspeak is going to top plenty of top-ten year-end lists this year, so check them out live and see for yourself.

WNYU showcase at Littlefield NYC [622 Degraw St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 855-3388]. Thursday, Oct. 20, 7 pm, $8. For info, visit

Best under-appreciated indie darling in the making

Zachary Cale

Zachary Cale is one of those unassuming guys who, once heard, earns your undying loyalty. You just want him to be a breakout star. He’s the type of singer-songwriter that will appeal most to fans of Wilco and Iron & Wine. Let’s hope 2011 is the year he’ll finally make it big, and if that ends up being the case, you can say you knew who he was before everybody else.

Zachary Cale at Union Pool (see venue info above), Oct. 20, 10 pm, $8. For info, visit

Best CMJ show not involving music

Mike Birbiglia

Comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia is best known for his stories on “This American Life,” which might not earn him a spot on CMJ music nerd must-see lists. But looking at the schedule, this is a solid bet for a Tuesday night in Park Slope.

Mike Birbiglia at Union Hall [702 Union St. between Fifth and Sixth avenues in Park Slope], Oct. 18, 10 pm, $20. For info, visit

Most likely to be impossible to get into (but you may as well try)

Titus Andronicus and Chelsea Wolfe

Hometown heroes (by way of New Jersey) Titus Andronicus — the musical product of cross-breeding Bruce Springsteen with a public library — is sure to have legions of loyal fans knocking down the doors at Glasslands Gallery. But if you can squeeze your way in, make sure to look for the much-buzzed about neo-goth stylings of Chelsea Wolfe. Plus, this show is hosted by indie blog Stereogum, which gives you extra CMJ bingo points.

Titus Andronicus and Chelsea Wolfe at Glasslands Gallery [289 Kent Ave. between S. Second and S. Third streets in Williamsburg, (718) 599-1450], Oct. 18, 8 pm, $15. For info, visit

Best free show for the badgeless

Under The Radar showcase

Yeah, CMJ can get pricey — an all-access badge will run you $495 — but that doesn’t mean you can’t see some amazing shows for free. Popular print magazine, Under the Radar, makes a CMJ debut by offering a stellar lineup that includes rising bands like The Stepkids, Still Corners, and Eleanor Friedberger from The Fiery Furnaces performing her stellar solo stuff. Make sure you RSVP — and get there early — so you don’t get left out in the cold.

Under the Radar showcase at Public Assembly [70 N. Sixth St. between Kent and Wythe avenues in Williamsburg, (718) 384-4586], Oct. 19, 12:30 pm, free. For info, visit

The buzziest show in Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Vegan showcase

Brooklyn Vegan’s yearly CMJ shows always end up getting the most buzz. The popular blog introduced Bon Iver to the world at a showcase a few years ago, and usually has a surprise guest or two show up unannounced. But the fact that Weekend and Braids are playing this show should be reason enough for you to want to spend your Friday evening in Williamsburg.

Brooklyn Vegan showcase at Music Hall of Williamsburg [66 N. Sixth St. between Kent and Wythe avenues in Williasmburg, (718) 486-5400], Oct. 21, 6 pm, $15. For info, visit

Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

gimme from around says:
well as long as deres iphones to be snatched up I is there!
Oct. 12, 2011, 12:11 am
UmadBro? from wat says:
Brooklyn is Hipsters
Oct. 12, 2011, 9:01 am
joey bots says:
Oct. 17, 2011, 12:04 pm

Comments closed.

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