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.
‘Kind of Blah’ isn’t a title that does the debut full-length by duo Frog any justice. How could any album recorded in a disused bowling alley - situated under a cafe, mind you - be “kind of blah”?
Lead single ‘Judy Garland’ isn’t doing any favours for mediocrity either. With a heehaw Cowboy croon and Americana guitar licks, ‘Judy Garland’ hurtles forward like a horse bolting out of its pen; a righteous folk song that rattles around your brain like an old familiar campfire tune you can hum but can’t quite pin your finger on. Imagine the euphoric pop of Small Wonder getting caught in a time warp to the wild west with Modest Mouse’s ‘Satin in a Coffin’ and you just about scratch the surface.
Rice Milk have an ear for the idiosyncratic - they understand the beauty in being an oddball. On ‘Weird Year’, their latest collection of tracks out digitally and on cassette via Good Food, they combine scratchy guitar lines, rackety drums, off-kilter keys and a whole bunch of other things straight out of the left field pop handbook.
‘Take My Weight’ is hypnotic in its buzzy repetition; ‘Sand’ is like a touching story condensed into a minute of gorgeous if somewhat warped hooks, and ‘nye’ has a distinct Hot Club de Paris quality (shoutout to them, wherever they are) in its sing-shout vocal and playful melody. Fans of strange, undefinable sounds will find a lot to tuck into here.
Like the pioneers of emo itself eventually did, Beat Easton have grown up. Sure, there’s melancholy in the air on all three tracks of their latest EP ‘In Situ’ - there’s no escaping that - but there’s definitely a grander, more majestic quality to their gaze-y indie rock. ‘February 26’ sports a succinct melody and airy, atmospheric guitars; a real clarity permeating from Callum Holloway’s vocal like a burst of light cutting through clouds after a storm. ‘Seam’ meanwhile builds and swells like a bunch of ’90s indie titans and cult shoegaze icons colliding in Godzilla-like fashion, inspiring a band who bring a distinct and refreshing Britishness to a tried genre in the process. Watch this space - Beat Easton will be at the forefront of emotionally charged rock music very, very soon.
Katie Dey’s music couldn’t feel more at home on Orchid Tapes. At this point, the label has a well-known reputation for supporting artists who make wildly original music that consistently reinvents the wheel when it comes to genre expectations. Look at Alex G’s messed up world of skewered indie rock, or The Bilinda Butchers’ warped idea of glossy electronica. Look at how the unique melancholia in Elvis Depressedly’s early material allowed them to launch themselves skyward. Orchid Tapes is a palace of originality, and Katie Dey is up there in the hierarchy.
‘asdfasdf’, her debut album, is at times as fucked up as the title itself - but you can never avert your ears from it. ‘Fear o The Dark’ is as haunting as the name sounds, yet retains an eerily catchy pop sensibility. ‘h o e’ sounds like the first EDM vinyl you ever bought - if you recently found it bent out of shape under your bed and then proceeded to play it at the wrong RPM - yet it’s still as satisfying as scratching a persistent itch. ‘y o y o’ is a fully-formed landscape waiting to be taken in, with flickers of static and sci-fi vocals allowing you to embrace your inner idiosyncrasies. The more time that’s spent with ‘asdfasdf’, the more hypnotically captivating it becomes. Musicians everywhere will be hard pushed to create anything as visionary, ambitious and as downright bizarre as it this year.