Round-up: July 2015’s Best Bandcamp releases

July 2015’s Best Bandcamp releases

Tom Walters rounds up the month’s finest Bandcamp releases, featuring Luxury Elite and Rough Year.

For the past few years, Bandcamp has bit-by-bit revolutionised not only the way we consume music, but the way we discover it too (see DIY’s Discovery piece as proof). Once upon a time masses would sift through rows upon rows of LPs in the comfort of a local record store, and while this tradition isn’t something that’s disappearing exactly, an ever-expanding digital world is constantly opening up new pathways for us to explore. Rather than packing up a dozen records down the high street on a Saturday afternoon, there’s now the option of rummaging through Bandcamp tags and adding an abundance of independent music to wishlists. In this feature, DIY does the rummaging for you. This is the Best of Bandcamp.

Here’s a selection of June picks, from Tom Walters.

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Rudy de Anda

Seemingly contending with Juan Wauters for the prize of who can make the most perfect morning coffee soundtrack of 2015, Rudy de Anda’s debut EP Ostranenie is making it extremely hard to choose. Opener ‘Visions of Plumerias’ rocks back and forth like a small boat bopping off the coast of a golden shore; an array of off-kilter guitars, keys and possibly even an organ creating the kind of sound you’d expect to see on a street of some Mediterranean city. This is genre-bending at its very best: it’s as much Beach Boys-esque pop as it is twisted psychedelia; it’s baroque pop as much as it is rooted in hip-hop. ‘The Fast Route, The Fast Decline’ is as Mac DeMarco as it comes: slick, straightforward pop music that’s ahead of the rest with charming personality, excellent hooks and tinged with just enough sunshine to crack a smile.

Luxury Elite

Imagine for a moment if you will, a parallel universe in which Tom Cruise’s 1988 hit Cocktail were actually a gritty noir, full of smoke-filled scenes of low-lit bars and brutalist executive suites. World Class - the new full-length from Luxury Elite - is the essential soundtrack to such a film; a love letter to ‘80s America, smooth jazz, lounge music and skyscraper skylines by night. Vaporwave is often greeted with the same nose-up attitudes as chillwave and witch house before it, but with World Class, Luxury Elite demonstrates that there’s more to the genre than just putting a few samples together. Opener ‘S.W.A.K.’ is a bold, funk-filled pop song; the hazy ‘Upscale’ a shimmering slice of balearic that’s as appropriate for late night, open-top drives as it is for sipping a cold one on a faraway beach.

Mike Caridi and the Glows

“Sounds like Phil Elverum hung out with Fleetwood Mac and kicked it outside with some lemonade,” reads a quote at the bottom of the Bandcamp page for Mike Caridi and the Glow’s latest EP, LOSE, that couldn’t be more apt. For those unfamiliar, Mike’s better known for his work with the Philly-based punk outfit LVL UP - a band who’ve often frequented these very columns with their deeply melancholic yet ironically uplifiting pop punk. In comparison, LOSE sounds sweeter and looser - tracks like ‘LOSE’ still carry lyrics of anxiety, relationships, insecurities and everything else that comes hand-in-hand with life - but they’re rawer and heavier on the hooks. These aren’t scraps or sketches; these are fully-fledged songs straight from the heart that resonate universally and bring with them the messiness of life as it stands.

Rough Year

Inspired by civil rights movements around the world, Philadelphia electronic artist Rough Year has created a no-bullshit, hard-hitting record in Mongrel. It’s a heavy listen, but across its four tracks Mongrel combines ambient escapsim, trap beats, bleak drones and leftfield R&B to form sprawling tracks that deliver an intriguing 3am listen as much as they put forward their important messages. ‘Mongrel’ flip-flops between euphoric EDM and moments of utter stillness; ‘Marsha’ acts as a quiet moment of reflection before ‘Drowned in the Piscataquog’ unleashes in its club-ready glory. Mongrel challenges the idea of storytelling in electronic music, moulding it into far-out landscapes and dystopian realities while remaining brilliantly contemporary.