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Last year’s CMJ spawned huge buzz acts such as the Academy Is, the Arcade Fire and Be Your Own Pet. Who will give the stand-out performances this year that will ignite them good ol’ bidding derbies?
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BIG APPLE WEASEL HOEDOWN: Next week, label reps from the left coast will trek to the right coast and join their NYC brothers and sisters to do what they get paid to do—that is, scout talent. Yes folks, the 2005 CMJ Music Marathon will be in full effect. Last year spawned huge buzz acts such as the Academy Is, the Arcade Fire and Be Your Own Pet. The latter two bands were fairly unknown among A&R circles prior to their confab showing, but a strong CMJ perf changed all that. So who will give the standout performances this year that will ignite them good ol’ bidding derbies? The conference continues to serve as a strong precursor to SXSW. But before we take our finger out of our nose to give you our pick, let’s recap on what’s been going on.

SIGNING BELOW THE RADAR: Before you can say, “Did Johnny Depp really play Willy Wonka or was that really HITS  prexy Karen Glauber?” Island Def Jam’s L.A. Reid and head of A&R Paul Pontius have signed the Rocket Summer. We hear that L.A. and Paul P. flew down to a show in Dallas, were totally impressed with the artist and signed him up before anyone else was on it. The act is the solo project of Bryce Avery, who has an impressive tour following throughout the country. And we’re talking about selling out thousand-capacity venues in many markets. The Bret Bair/Michele Abreim-managed act was out of his Militia Group Records deal and was a free agent prior to signing with IDJ. And we featured the Rocket Summer at one of our SXSW showcases a couple years ago, so we thought the kid was a star way back when…  Lots of buzz building on singer/songwriter Eric Hutchinson. His tracks have been perking A&R ears and attracting label folks to his shows. Get on it if you’re just hearing about it. We’ll keep you posted…  Speaking of singer/songwriters. The AAM-managed Matt Pond PA has several label folks calling in. The rootsy artist has been building a loyal following, and now the majors want in. He and his band will be opening for Liz Phair’s tour in October, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he’s snatched up before then.

NOW FOR OUR CMJ BOOGER: Here’s the short list, and we’re starting with the performance-rights-society showcases, all of which have great lineups this year. The BMI showcase, which is co-sponsored by Gibson, Levis and Budweiser, will feature the Novaks, King Elementary (Capitol), Nightmare of You (East West/Warner Chappell), the Royal Highness and Captain. The ASCAP showcase on the first night of the conference will feature Nicole Atkins & the Sea, Boy Kill Boy, the Outline, Favourite Sons and Priestess. The SESAC showcase will feature the Swayback, the Fame, Make Good Your Escape, the Five O’Clock Heroes and Soft. And expect big weasel attendance for the following: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Camouflage Nights and Goldspot. Of course, we’ll give the post-confab report next issue. BUZZIN’: Sparta, Jon Brion and db Clifford… Hit me up: [email protected]

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