Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now: CMJ Edition

CMJ guides us through their must-listen picks from this year's festival.

Every week, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Matt McDonald, Amy Hintz, Marisa Aveling, Lisa Hresko, and Paul Rocha of CMJ give us their picks from this year’s edition of New York’s long-running festival.

1. Kvelertak, "Mjød"

This song isn't particularly new, but it's by a band that should be on everyone's must-see CMJ list, even those who gravitate to lighter fare and don't understand Norwegian lyrics. Why? Because they’re fantastic live, and their genre-hopping keeps you guessing as they jump from intense black metal to gritty punk to sweaty hardcore to slick arena rock in a way that just works.

Listen: "Mjød"



2. Boy & Bear, Moonfire

Critics have compared Australia's Boy & Bear to Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes, but their just-released debut, Moonfire, should set them apart. Lush instrumentation, complex harmonies, and lead singer Dave Hosking's smoky-sweet vocals coalesce into a sound that displays a maturity their peers have yet to match. They have all the percussive drive of their neo-folk counterparts, with none of the hoedown hokeyness.

Listen: "Feeding Line"



3. Gotye, Making Mirrors

Australian-born, Belgian-bred Wally De Backer hunkered down and holed up in a barn outside of Melbourne to record and produce Making Mirrors by himself. He flung this collection of skewed pop songs out into the Australian ether earlier this year, and the nation responded to the album with such rabid enthusiasm that it landed at No. 1 on the Australian album and single charts at the same time. Gotye makes music that's catchy but complex. He's committed to the idea that being inclusive doesn't have to mean dumbing anything down. 

Listen: "Eyes Wide Open"



4. Davila 666, Tan Bajo

Davila 666 is Puerto Rico’s Spanish-language answer to trashy Southern rock ‘n’ roll. (Really. It’s got a track called “Basura,” which translates to “garbage.”) A bit sloppy and heaps of fun, the San Juan outfit had released recordings on beloved garage labels HoZac and Rob’s House before putting out its second full-length Tan Bajo — that’s “so low” in Spanish — on In The Red this past March.

Listen: "Esa Nena Nunca Regreso"



5. Hoop Dreams, XCPR

Hoop Dreams is one of the latest bands to be signed to Brooklyn's Captured Tracks label. I recently had the opportunity of seeing them open for CT labelmates Widowspeak, and they totally blew me away. Not only does this Blacksburg, VA sextet kill it on their debut 7" XCPR, but they also have an incredibly exciting live show. A definite must for fans of the early Cure/Josef K/Orange Juice brand of post-punk.

Listen: "XCPR"


Commentarium (27 Comments)

Oct 18 11 - 1:35am

I hate this feature, every week. Regardless of who's recommending the artists, there are rarely (RARELY) more than one or two female musicians on the whole page. Here, there is one - and I had to look for her. There have been two TOTAL female artists in the last five weeks. I had to go all the way back to Wild Flag to find more.

Come on, you could at least TRY to make an effort.

Oct 18 11 - 2:15am

Seriously? You're only interested in a band/artist ONLY if it has a vagina? Do you also exclusively listen to blonde artists? Maybe ONLY those born before 1960? ONLY left-handed ones? Only those non-mainstream? ONLY bilingual?

What other kind of horrendous discrimination are you going to find here?

Oct 18 11 - 3:29am
I hate

This feature so much, I make sure to read it every week!

Oct 18 11 - 6:28am

Your analogies, well-meaning as they may be, fall a little short. About sixteen percent of Americans are born blonde. Left-handers make up ten percent.

Well, females are half the population, and only, hmm, ten percent of this feature? Something seems a little off to me.

Oct 18 11 - 6:31am

Oh! I forgot! There's a whole feature on female musicians!

...Wait, it's the 40 sexiest female frontwomen? Wow.

Oct 18 11 - 9:01am

they also did sexiest frontmen, for what it's worth.

Oct 18 11 - 10:51am

Statistically speaking you're using the wrong population, the whole world to justify your position.

The correct population is musicians with albums. If only 20% of artists are female then the ratio on this site is correct.

Oct 18 11 - 12:30pm

I think your grievance, Amy, has more to do with what "statistics" points out. Though I don't think he/she actually used a real figure, it makes an excellent point. There just aren't as many female musicians to talk about as male musicians. I will be one of the first to claim that it is a shame with the music industry, but I also agree that it is getting more diverse. It isn't the fault of the people who make these lists that there is a gender discrepancy in music culture.

Oct 18 11 - 4:25pm

Can't it be both? I think Julian you are right to point out that there is likely gender discrepancy in music, such that there are more male musician then female to choose from. Nevertheless, those who make up these lists may still be under representing the number of female musicians out they're by focusing too heavily on male musicians. If that is true Amy would be right in holding the columnists (partly) accountable.

Oct 18 11 - 5:53pm
Little GH

Glad Amy is here to let those reading and writing the article that she hates it because it doesn't feature enough women. Write your own article. Quit whining.

Oct 19 11 - 10:46pm

What Kahloe said below perfectly sums it up: "surely this feature is about music and talent not whether or not a particular sect of people is represented"

Oct 20 11 - 10:28am


I think this feature is not about gender, it's about good music. If the author likes a band, I doubt they would discriminate against it just because it has females in it. Maybe you should think that most of the good music that comes out is produced by males. Sad as it may sound. I don't see the point of complaining about genders on here. And maybe you're the one with the problem if you only want to listen to music produced by females.

Oct 21 11 - 3:46pm

Surely gender issues are more encompassing then that. This feature may be about music but that doesn’t mean it excused from equitable gender assessment.

Are the Nerve columnists being sexiest by failing to represent more female musicians? I don't know. I, for one, would be extremely surprised, if they were purposely discounting women. It is, however, possible that they have without realizing it, implicitly placed more credence on male musicians than they have females. Then again, it could be more simply that the females just didn’t produce good enough music to make the cut.

The sample Amy mentions is of 5 features, which I think too small to label the Nerve team as sexiest. Still I think it is large enough to raise the question as to whether Nerve might overlooking some talented females.

Oct 22 11 - 6:56pm

"It is, however, possible that they have without realizing it, implicitly placed more credence on male musicians than they have females. "

That seems more like a societal issue than what Nerve, or the music blogs contributors they ask to write this segment, can control.

Oct 22 11 - 9:45pm

Why not? It is their bias regardless of whether it is implicit or explicit.

Granted some of the prejudices we have we pick up from society, but we have the choice as to whether conform to prejudicial practices or go against them.

Oct 23 11 - 6:38pm

Well sure, but my point is, that even if we could put blame in nerve media or the music blog contributors for not inflating the coverage of women musicians out of proportion to what there is among the aggregate of all music artists. But, I'm saying that it is wider spread issue, perhaps, than just what nerve media does. Pointing out one music promoter for having an implicit and unintentional bias is kind of pointless in the grand scheme of things, especially if all you are going to do is insult them for a choice they didn't intentionally make.

But, how can one individual make a difference in music culture to soften this disparity? Well, that's tough, to be honest. But, some ideas I can think of on the spot is to start your own music blog that only features female musicians or support female musicians by buying their albums and going to their shows. Or, you could write nerve to ask them to do a segment on 5 best female musicians (or a reoccurring segment even).

Basically, I want to point out that something like Amy did, is just going to not make people think about the concept as well as maybe some of the things I suggest.

Oct 23 11 - 10:24pm

I certainly agree with you that there are a number of other (and probably better) things one can do than commenting on columns to bring greater representation to female artists, and I think you offer some great suggestion as how one could go about that.

It is not my contention that Nerve or other music columnist should “inflat[e] the coverage of women musicians out of proportion to what there is among the aggregate of all music artists.” Quite the opposite, I think they should write about the artists who have produced the best music period. The concern that Amy brings up, which I have been defending is that the coverage of male musician in proportion to artists meriting recognition might, in fact, be a bit inflated. If that were true, (emphasis on the ‘if’) that would mean that female artists who are more worthy of recognition than their male counterparts are being unjustly underrepresented.

In contrast with you, I think pointing out music promoter’s implicit and unintentional biases serves a quite useful function. The biggest and perhaps best step someone can take in correcting their biases is to identify them, and when others suggest certain biases they notice in us, they aid us in this task.

Oct 18 11 - 5:56am
Its hard

to believe these are actually recommendations, seems to be scrapping the bottom of the barrel to me, though Davilla 666 sounded pretty good, each to their own eh

Oct 18 11 - 10:04am

Yeah I hate when the bottom of the barrel gets scrapped.

Oct 18 11 - 10:02am
Alex Heigl

It's worth pointing out that three of the contributors to this week's Five Albums are female.

Oct 18 11 - 4:03pm

Mainly I hate female vocalists. So, I didn't notice. Glad to know you're all about the eqaulity though.

Oct 18 11 - 5:34pm

I actually always admired Davilla, i think they had/need their due.

Oct 18 11 - 5:56pm

For what it's worth, this has to be my favourite "five albums" in quite some time.I loved all of the songs.surely this feature is about music and talent not whether or not a particular sect of people is represented. Good music is good music-why should it be any more complicated?

Oct 18 11 - 8:06pm

There are a lot of great female artists out there, but if I'm to be honest, there are a lot MORE great male artists to choose from. It's not sexist. It's just a fact.

Oct 21 11 - 12:21pm

cunts. be quiet, trying to listen to music here.

Oct 21 11 - 10:12pm
A little . . .

. . . mysogeny goes a long way, eh, RTP? I'm not surprised you can't read and listen at the same time.

Oct 29 11 - 10:06pm

Puerto Rico only makes up 0.1% of the global population yet they represent a total of 20% of this week's artists. Yet, China and India make up two thirds of the entire global population and there are no Chinese or Indian artists represented. SEXIST RACISTS!!!!!1!!!!!!