CMJ 2014 – Mark, Get Set, Go

The CMJ Marathon has hit New York once again. Since I’m such a fan of music and and of marathons, it’s only natural that this would make me very, very happy – as it should anyone who’s looking to find new tunes to add to their playlists.

Previous CMJ festivals have introduced me to the likes of Alabama Shakes, Penguin Prison, Augustines and Morning Parade, as well as a bunch of new friends made along the way.

On Tuesday night, I headed out to Hotel Chantelle for a South African music showcase, the first time one has ever been put on at CMJ. An artist called Yolanda opened the floor with a few dance-y, pop tracks, but it was Beatenberg and Christian Tiger School that captured the cosy heart of Hotel Chantelle.

I’ve watched from afar as both acts have made names for themselves on the music scene in South Africa, building reputations over the past few years that have travelled across the Interwebs and created a small but burgeoning buzz State-side.

Electro whizzkids Christian Tiger School performed at SXSW earlier this year, and, on the back of two albums, they’ve opened for the likes of Little Dragon and Hudson Mohawke at home. Capetonians Luc Veermeer and Sebastiano Zanasi turned Tuesday night on its head, twisting and tuning beats, knocking out any trace of early-week stress. They’re planning on doing it again at Xander Ferreira’s weekly Happy Show in Brooklyn on Thursday.

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Beatenberg, who played before the duo, have this way of combining catchy pop tunes with sincere, heartfelt lyrics and driving kwaito-styled rhythms that makes them irresistible. Their collaboration with DJ Clock, Pluto (Remember) has been a staple on many playlists this year (including my marathon-training one!), and their debut album The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg is filled with wholesome goodness. This was their first time playing in the US, and they impressed the crowd so I look forward to their return soon.

With Beatenberg’s Ross Dorkin, Matthew Field and Robin Brink. Karl Largerfeld cameo courtesy street artist Bradley Theodore

This year’s new CMJ CEO, Adam Klein, happens to be South African, and he told me he’s working on plans to make more artists from there play here in the Big Apple. The SA bands that have played over here usually bust their guts on their own to get here for a showcase – like the Parlotones and Jessie Clegg – so it would be good if there was a little more help to bring them over. Bands from all over the world head to NYC for CMJ so it’s only right, and in the name of good music, that South African acts should too.

CMJ runs until October 25th. 

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