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Tonight kicks off the sheer absurdity formally known as the CMJ Music Marathon. If you haven' t heard, it's a five-day-long extravaganza with over 1,200 live shows in about 75 venues (what?!). But even with a heavy dose of Floo powder, it's impossible to check out just a fraction of this schedule. (Especially if you've yet to shell our for the pricey badge marked at a whopping 495 buck. Ouchies!).

But fret not overwhelmed and penny-pinching music nerds - we're here to help. Below you will find some of our top music picks for the festival. We included some of the hottest local and big-named artists as well as the cheapest spots to hit up. Start clearing out your schedules and drinking lots of water... it's gonna be a crazy week.

THE FREEBIES

TUESDAY, 10/19

Young the Giant + Hooray for Earth at Pianos, 158 Ludlow St., 2 p.m.
Check out Young the Giant' s fusion of Cali boy swag and ethnic sounds; or get a taste of Hooray for Earth mechanized musical landscapes in "True Loves."

The Drums + Surfer Blood at Webster Hall, 125 E 11th St., 6 p.m.
The darlings of CMJ ' 09, Surfer Blood' s buzzing as one of the top indie rock albums
of 2010.

Yo La Tengo, DOM & Screaming Females at Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 8 p.m.
Loud and noisy bands open for cult faves Yo La Tengo - fo' free!

WEDNESDAY 10/20

Prince Rama, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Baths + Marnie Stern at Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow St, 12 p.m.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is not one dude/real-life race car driver, but two dudes that dress like race car drives - and who also create some great jams with hip hop beats and folky hooks. You'll definitely want to sick around for axe-lady headliner Marnie Stern's angular, finger-tapped stylings. 

Woodsman, Lower Dens + Talk Normal at Don Pedro, 90 Manhattan Ave, Bushwick,
Brooklyn, 8 p.m
Lower Dens was the first group to release on Devendra Banhart' s label. So imagine how freaky-folky-hippie-cool she must sound! No wave noise duo Talk Normal are definitely worth the tinnitus.

Two Door Cinema Club, Matthew Dear + Bear Hands at The PureVolume House, 7 Extra Place, 7 p.m.
Billboard calls Bear Hands "spectacular." Check out the super creative track " What a Drag" and you might agree. (Also, you might recognize the venue as the old CBGB' s - sweet.)

THURSDAY 10/21

Keepaway + ArpLine at Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow St., 5:30 p.m.
Animal Collective fan? You'll love the synth-heavy/trippy group, Keepaway. Fo sho.

A Classic Education, Blackbird Blackbird, Class Actress + French Horn Rebellion and more at Backstage Bar, 152 Orchard St., 7 p.m.
This will be quite the indie-packed soiree with drinking, dancing and party sponsor, HypeMachine.com, goodies.

Motel Motel, MillionYoung, Brahms + Evan Voytas at The Bowery Hotel, 335 Bowery, 9 p.m.
Back in ' 09 we said that " Motel Motel is the rare band that defies comparison." We still think that.

FRIDAY, 10/22

Eternal Summers at The Woods, 48 S 4th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 12 p.m.
Sick of bi-polar fall weather? Check out the Woods' day party for this warm and bouncy lo-fi duo.

Cults, Kisses, Candy Claws, Oberholfer + Freddie Gibbs at Glasslands, 289 Kent
Ave, Williamsburg, 7pm
Glasslands is the quintessential venue for some of the best underground music, and Friday night will be showcasing groups ranging from indie to hip-hop.

Netherfriends + Kittens Ablaze at Pete' s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 8 p.m.
"Kittens Ablaze," could not be a creepier name, but the six-piece, garage-punk ensemble, along with Netherfriends, are two under-the-radar bands worth checking out.

SATURDAY, 10/23

Francis and the Lights at The Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 12 p.m.
Francis and the Lights perform their kind of minimalist funk, reminiscent of Prince, Michael Jackson and other eighties goodness. They've also got dance moves to match.

Deluka, Young Man + Blood Red Shoes at The Bowery Electric, 327 Bowery, 2 p.m.
The Bowery Electric's the perfect place to dance your faces off to electro-rock band, Deluka.

Crocodiles (DJ Set), No Joy + Cloud Nothings at Don Pedro, 90 Manhattan Ave., Bushwick, Brooklyn, 8 p.m.
No Joy are a Best Coast top music pick. And a DJ set by San Diego noise-poppers Crocodiles? Yes, please!

SEXY PARTIES, SEXY PLACES
(Note -- these events are not free!)

TUESDAY, 10/19

Drop the Lime, Nite Club + Year of the Tiger, Canal Room, 285 West Broadway, 7 p.m.
Haven' t been to Canal Room in... forever? Check this party out for sweaty grinding and smash-happy sounds.

WEDNESDAY, 10/20

Holy Ghost! + The Knocks at The Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St., 10:30 p.m.
Holy DFA dance party! Bring glow sticks.

Phoenix, Dirty Projectors + Wavves at MSG, 4 Penn Plaza, 8 p.m.
...' NUFF said. Happy ticket scalping!

THURSDAY, 10/21

OAKLEY Presents
: LMFAO, Schwayze, Das Racist and many more, Santos Party
House, 96 Lafayette St., 7 p.m.
Hip-hop heroes take over Santos Party House. Fingers crossed that DR will take us on a trip to the "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell." That song never gets old. 

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart + The Blow at The Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N 6th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 7 p.m.
TPOBPAH are romantic and nostalgic indie wonders that will make you really want to make out. So go with someone you like.

FRIDAY, 10/22

Pitchfork Offline Presents: Avey Tare (of Animal Collective), Zola Jesus + many
more at Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn,  2 p.m.
Picky Pitchforkers show off their hottest picks.

Windish Agency Showcase: Designer Drugs + more at Webster Hall, 125 E 11th St.,
 10 p.m.
Designer Drugs bring you super sexy electro-dance tunes that will untz-untz your pants off.

SATURDAY, 10/23

FIXED Presents: Matthew Dear, Javelin, Gold Panda + more, Public Assembly, 70 N 6th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 9 p.m.
This party with pop/techno mastermind Matthew Dear and up-and-coming UK producer Gold Panda will be rocking out... 'til 6 a.m. the next day.

Neon Indian at Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St., 4:30 p.m.
Hit up Neon Indian for some druggie, summer-loving, psychedelic-synth jams. This isn't an outdoor show, but we envision half the crowd forgetting to take their sunglasses off at this trippy-trip fest.
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