Every October, hundreds of bands from all over the world converge on New York City for the annual CMJ Music Marathon, a five-day festival and industry showcase. It’s one of the best ways to get your band on the national radar — every label, both major and indie, is there, as are music journalists, music websites, marketing companies and media outlets.
This year the festival, which runs Oct. 20-24, will feature the first-ever official Maine CMJ Showcase on Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Trash Bar, an excellent Brooklyn music venue. For one night, seven bands will make their case for something we’ve known for a while: Maine has one of the most vibrant, up-and-coming music scenes on the East Coast — if not in the country.
Now, bear in mind, these are musicians, and taking all those people and all that gear to New York for a few days costs some money. Which is why the Portland music blog www.hillytown.com and Portland label Eternal Otter Records have banded together to start a Kickstarter pledge to fund the trip down. Log onto www.kickstarter.com, search for “Maine Takes New York” and make your pledge to help send some fantastic Maine musicians off to a great opportunity to get some national recognition.
The day before the showcase, three other Maine bands will play a day party noon to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22, at the Rock Shop, also in Brooklyn. Jangle-pop mavens Brenda, hypermelodic indie band Phantom Buffalo and folk-punk songwriter Jesse Pilgrim will play with some New York bands during the day. That show is free.
So who’s heading down? Read on, and maybe you’ll discover your new favorite band.
Dead Man’s Clothes: Indie rock you can count on. The dynamic jangle of this Portland four-piece brings to mind bands such as early R.E.M., early Yo La Tengo, Ted Leo and even the Smiths. With two full-length albums and a new EP, “Ice is War,” there’s lots to listen to, and a few listens will show you why they were voted Best New Act in the Portland Phoenix’s annual Best Music Poll. But seeing them live will make you understand even better.
Marie Stella: The gorgeous, gauzy shoegaze-rock of Marie Stella composed of Sydney Bourke’s intimate vocals, the twin guitar attack of Bryan Bruchman and Matthew Erickson, and the rapid-fire drumming of Maz Heinz. Together, they’re both a look back at noise-pop such as The Jesus and Mary Chain and the Velvet Underground, and a contemporary take on good old-fashioned alternative rock.
Good Kids Sprouting Horns: The loud-but-pretty stylings of this Orono three-piece has been rocking the state for the past two years. Songwriter Tony Bitetti crafts emotional, intelligent odes to relationships, family, society and whatever else is on his mind. Keyboard player Jessamy Luthin provides atmospheric accompaniment and drummer Ryan Higgins propels each song along. Live, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Check out their album, “Give Up the Ghost.”
The Lucid: They may be based in Portland, but they are Valley boys through and through. These Fort Kent natives, formerly known as Dominic and the Lucid, play muscular pop-rock shot through with awesomely arranged strings and horns. It’s a little bit Talking Heads, a little bit Beatles, a little bit Paul Simon and always enjoyable. Their most recent album, “Season in the Sun,” topped the charts at Bull Moose Music for most of 2008.
The Class Machine: Two guys from Belfast, one hellacious, rocking sound. Bass player and lead vocalist Nathan Raleigh is a towering mountain of rock, while drummer and guitarist Cody Tibbetts — yes, he plays them at the same time — is one of the best multitaskers you’ve ever seen. Falling somewhere in between the White Stripes, Motorhead, Queens of the Stone Age and The Black Keys, the Class Machine is a muddy blues-informed rock band with trappings of heavy metal. Totally killer.
Foam Castles: Dreamy bedroom pop that would fit right in on whatever’s popular on the music blogosphere. Except that in the case of Foam Castles, songwriter Tyler Jackson has a smart, incisive lyrical edge and a fearless vocal delivery that sets him apart. Jackson is the primary member of the band, though a floating array of Portland musicians accompanies him live.
Holy Boys Danger Club: You may have seen them at KahBang, rocking the faces off the crowd with their super-powered, hard-edged sound. Think about Elvis Costello, the Replacements and Guided By Voices, and then think about them actually being a bunch of young, cool guys from Portland. That’s Holy Boys Danger Club. Their most recent album, “Lessons for Liars,” is a gritty, fun blast of soulful rock.
The official Maine CMJ Showcase will be 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Trash Bar, 256 Grand St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y. Admission is $7 or free if you have a CMJ badge. To contribute to the Kickstarter project, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/707532964/maine-takes-new-york-send-our-musicians-to-cmj.