When popular music tastes developed past Top 40 to album-oriented radio stations in the late 1960s, the music industry began courting campus radio like never before. College radio stations trained future radio personnel, whose free-wheeling playlists provided an alternative to commercial broadcasting. College disc jockeys introduced many new artists by broadcasting records that otherwise might never have been played on the radio.
A young entrepreneur, Robert Haber, envisioned a universal way to collect and circulate data and resources that would be helpful to independent campus radio programmers. He started College Media Journal, a biweekly trade magazine aimed at college radio programmers, in 1978. It became the CMJ New Music Report in 1982, publishing Top 30 lists collected from campus radio stations which subscribed at a cost of a few hundred dollars a year. The publication also featured interviews, reviews, and special reports, and included a CD of 15–24 songs by well-established bands and indie bands. The success of this venture led to the annual CMJ Music Marathon, a convention that from the beginning attracted thousands of music industry hopefuls and professionals to panels, promotional kiosks and performances.
Participants who purchased badges for CMJ Music Marathon 2014 had access to more than 1,400 live performances in about 80 New York venues during the week of October 21-25. Some concerts were assembled precisely for CMJ; others were already booked by concert promoters and were grafted in. Here are a few of the buzz bands that performed at this year’s marathon:
Eddie & The Hot Rods at the Bowery Electric
Eddie & The Hot Rods formed in 1975 in Essex, England, and came up in the burgeoning punk scene, although the band was more of a pop and rock and roll band. The band split up in 1981, but has reformed several times, with singer Barrie Masters as the only constant member. Masters still sounds great, and the band’s traditional rock and roll sound was timeless.
Daddy Long Legs at the Bowery Electric
Formed in St. Louis, Missouri, and now based in Brooklyn, New York, Daddy Long Legs belted speedy, primal-sounding blues harmonica and guitar licks like the three musicians were deep in the Delta.
The Bloodshots at the Bowery Electric
Formed in 2012, The Bloodshots is a three-piece rockabilly band based in Brooklyn, New York. Little Lesley steals the show singing like a sassy country singer and slapping her big bass.
Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters at the Bowery Electric
Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters has made a name for itself as a music collective in Boston, Massachusetts. The band featured strong, soulful singing backed by a funk-jazz groove and blaring horns.
Caveman at the Bowery Hotel
From Brooklyn, New York, Caveman performed a dreamy wash of synth- and percussion-based songs, often to a dance beat.
Byzantine at The Studio At Webster Hall
Byzantine is a heavy metal band from Charleston, West Virginia, that formed in 2000, split in 2008, and reunited in 2010. Byzantine performed technical, aggressive and melodic metal that was refreshing in that it avoided excesses and stereotypes and instead just simply rocked.
Ryn Weaver at the Bowery Hotel
Born and raised in southern California, Ryn Weaver is a New York transplant whose soprano vocals injected feminine angst into light three-minute pop songs.
Rene Lopez at the Slipper Room
One of the pleasant surprises of CMJ was discovering New York musician Rene Lopez and his Latin soul band. Complete with horn and violin, the band’s full electro-funk sound prompted lots of hip swaying.
The KickDrums at Arlene’s Grocery
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, now based in Brooklyn, New York, Alex Fitts is The KickDrums. He records as a one-man band but performs live with additional musicians. He fused electronic with indie rock and trip-hop.
Popstrangers at the Mercury Lounge
From Auckland, New Zealand, now based out of London, England, Popstrangers combined light pop singing with a jangly guitar sound and booming rhythm section.
The Dirty Lungs at the Lit Lounge
Based out of Birmingham, Alabama, the garage rock quartet known as The Dirty Lungs included tasty influences from surf rock and 1960s psychedelic music.
Little Daylight at The Studio At Webster Hall
Little Daylight formed in 2012 and is based in Brooklyn, New York. The band played a set of electro-pop songs with danceable hooks.