CMJ Music Marathon is the festival where Arcade Fire broke into the bigtime, Oasis almost broke up, Eminem found his manager, Fat White Family found themselves the new kings of Manhattan and Viva Brother discovered strip bars.

It is, basically, a chance for anybody with a passing interest in new music to see as much new music as possible in a week, as bands play across hundreds of venues in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side.

NME will be at this year’s festival – its 30th anniversary, no less – which kicks off next week, reporting on who’s hot and who’s not, and also putting on a kickass night of our own. That show takes place on the evening of October 14 at Santos Party House, and features the following bands:

Perfect Pussy
Dilly Dally
Protomartyr
Downtown Boys
Yung
Seratones
Yak
Hooton Tennis Club
Carseat Headrest
Shopping
Nico Yaryan

Click here for more info, and below take a look at the top bands you need to be checking out if you’re going along to the festival:

Downtown Boys

Tom Morello called Downtown Boys America’s greatest punk band on Twitter a few months ago, and by God did he make a good point. Album ‘Full Communism’ is up there with Kendrick, Tame Impala and Deerhunter in the record of the year stakes – a strongly politicised, intelligent beast that knows its Dead Boys from its Raincoats and simply never lets up. File them alongside Sheer Mag, Parquet Courts and all the other genuinely jaw-dropping US garage acts who’ve truly been “4 real” over the past few years. Above is what they sound like on record, and below is a taster of what it’s like live.
Key show: The NME CMJ showcase, of course! Oct 14 at Santos Party House

Kamasi Washington

The LA jazzman is probably the hottest thing in music right now. It’s Kamasi, as bandleader and saxophonist, who’s behind much of the instrumentation genius of the last Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus albums. It’s him who’s backed Erykah Badu, Adele and Sharon Jones over the past few years. If Amy Winehouse was still alive, she’d undoubtedly be collaborating with him too. In 2015, these success have reflected back onto his solo output, and its his album ‘The Epic’, which came out on Brainfeeder in May, that he’s bringing to his CMJ shows.
Key show: Oct 15 at BRIC House

Seratones

NME

I saw this lot play an incredible show to about ten people at SXSW back in March (several record label heads included), and while they’ve literally only just started their push into the overground – new single ‘Take It Easy’ went online last month, and this is their first proper tour – they’re the kind of underdogs CMJ is famous for coming good on. Think of them as a more light-hearted Alabama Shakes, a heady mix of blues, soul and Motown goodness.
Key show: Oct 14 at Santos Party House (NME show)

Porches
Aaron Maine has been making gloriously affecting sad pop for a while now, with 2013’s Slow Dance In The Cosmos a particular highpoint. Yesterday, he announced his signing to Domino Records, alongside a superb new track called ‘Hour’, featuring his girlfriend and musical collaborator Frankie Cosmos. The signing alone bodes well for a hyped CMJ…
Key show: Oct 16 at Baby’s All Right

The Big Moon

NME

The Londoners haven’t put a step wrong in the UK yet, with a brace of anthemic, catchy tunes doing the sounds on Soundcloud over the past six months. Onstage they’ve got a devoutly British demeanour, jolting into each other and turning Madonna’s sickly sweet 1999 hit ‘Beautiful Stranger’ into a wide-eyed indie staple.
Key show: Oct 15 at Rough Trade NYC

Show Me The Body
Hip-hop with banjo’s make you feel sick? It shouldn’t. This lot are part of Ratking’s crew in NYC, and they’re every bit as inventive as Wiki and co. Tracks like Vernon and One Train come on like mantras, and aren’t really tied to any one genre. They’re been called hardcore, punk, hip hop, folk-rap and a load of other things, but their own description of their sound sums it up best: NY Sludge.
Key show: Oct 17 at Trans-Pecos

Mothers
‘No Crying In Baseball’ by Athens, Georgia band Mothers is hands down one of the most intriguing debuts of 2015. It’s harks back to indie before Oasis and Nirvana came along and kicked it into the mainstream, recalling Throwing Muses, the abstract time changes of Pixies sticksman David Lovering and the lilting, soft, early beginnings of Radiohead. A pretty masterful track, in truth.
Key show: Oct 13 at Cameo Gallery

Yak

Brit bands have a chequered history at CMJ: Savages and Fat White Family are pretty much the only UK-based acts recently to have used the festival to their advantage and come out the other side with solid-as-steel reputations. Yak, then, are in a good position, with a genuinely exciting Third Man Records single on their side (‘No’), and a frontman who you just know will be going out there fighting (Oli Burslem). In the UK, their shows have been a weird mix of J Spaceman weirdness meets taut, tight Brit-punk – veering from psych to doom-laden indie and back again.
Key show: Oct 14 at Santos Party House (NME show)

Fraser A Gorman

NME

Courtney Barnett’s NME gig at CMJ in 2013 came right at she went overground, so her fellow Aussie Fraser A Gorman will no doubt have that in the back of his mind. Luckily, he’s got the tunes to back it all up – debut album Slow Gun, which came out on Barnett’s Milk! Records earlier this year in the UK is a lovely, Gene Clarke and Dylan-influenced gem.
Key show: Oct 16 at The Wick

Hooton Tennis Club
NME

The Wirral band’s debut album Highest Point In Cliff Town has picked up shitloads of plaudits in the US, where their brand of Creation-esque indie seems to have hit a nerve. Like Yak and The Big Moon, it’s also their first visit Stateside. Read our first interview with them here for the full background.
Key show: Oct 14 at Santos Party House (NME show)

Car Seat Headrest
NME

Does Will Toledo have anything to prove at CMJ? After toiling away for years releasing Bandcamp album after Bandcamp album, he’s finally signed a decent deal (with Matador) that will see him given proper backing for the first proper time. CMJ, then, is effectively his going overground moment.
Key show: Oct 14 at Santos Party House (NME show)

Diet Cig

Not quite hometown heroes Diet Cig (they come from New Paltz, about 80 miles upstate) are one of the buzziest blog sensations of 2015. Back in January we praised the “scrappy charm” of debut EP ‘Over Easy’. September follow-up Sleep Talk/’Dinner Date offered more of the same twee, Ivy League sentiments.
Key show: Oct 17 at Knitting Factory

Methyl Ethel

This Australian lot picked up a huge buzz after BigSound Festival in Brisbane last month, with our report noting: “There’s a woozy, delicate vibe to Methyl Ethel which recalls I Am Kloot in places. Album Oh Inhuman Spectacle is out now in Australia – ‘Rogues’, with all its shimmering beauty has a Postcard Records air about it, while ‘Twilight Driving’ pilfers guitar lines from Warpaint and boasts a chorus as huge as the Sydney Opera House itself.
Key show: Oct 17 at Pianos

Good Morning
Another Australian act to round things off, with Melbourne duo Good Morning perhaps the most lo-fi of everybody here. Tyler, The Creator’s a fan, as are The Growlers, who’ve taken the band on the road with them. May video ‘Time To Try Again’ is a total paean to the 90s, even if the song harks back to something more organic.
Key show: Oct 14 at Elvis Guesthouse

Nico Yaryan

New on Partisan, Nico Yaryan’s a California-born drummer-turned-singer who used to work on a weed farm and now writes woozy, contemplative folk that recalls such songwriting geniuses as Jeff Buckley and Gene Clarke in their lighter moments. What’s not to like?
Key show: Oct 14 at Santos Party House (NME show)

As always with New York, make sure you check out listings bible Oh My Rockness to keep up to date with the latest show times and info.