Viking's Choice Guide To Bandcamp Friday (December Edition)
Y'all, it's the last Bandcamp Friday of 2020, when the platform waives its revenue fees so that artists and labels keep that extra 10-12% cash. While y'all were busy sharing your Sp*tify Wrapped stats and musicians got paid less than a cup of coffee, Bandcamp out here saying, "Yo, this is yours."
Here are 27 albums, EPs or long songs — all released on or around Dec. 4 — divided into categories of interest. (If you’re reading this via email, this message is definitely clipped!) As always, so much music will be missed, so follow along my personal Bandcamp collection for more! — Lars Gotrich
I like it loud
Deafheaven, 10 Years Gone (Sargent House): Deafheaven didn't get to celebrate its anniversary on tour, but this victory lap is still well-earned. The seasoned band brings a new, feral energy to old songs in a live-to-tape studio session.
Respire, Black Line (Church Road): I recently tweeted, "Just heard a screamo band (featuring a violin) that I'm 100% sure is just I Would Set Myself On Fire For You, but with a shorter, less obnoxious name." Respire is that band, and took the joke in stride, but I am impressed by the daring of this album; its violin, horn and piano arrangements both temper and meet the vibrantly lush chaos.
Struck Nerve, Rattle the Cage (Youngblood): Philly straightedge hardcore from members of Jesus Piece, Agitator and Payback. Solidly in the youth crew milieu, with some melodic swagger sewn into the bruising breakdowns.
Undergang, Aldrig i livet (Dark Descent): Every dang release by these Danish death-metal gruntwads is a sewer throne caked in blood and shit. This one just sounds like it was actually recorded in a studio.
I am simply having
v/a, Simply Having A Wonderful Compilation (Father Daughter / Wax Nine): I, for one, believe there is no such thing as too many "Last Christmas" covers. These are two indie-rock-ish labels I make a point to peep everything they make, and don't disappoint here. Faves include Ohmme really leaning into the weirdness of "Wonderful Christmastime" (a song I genuinely love with my whole heart), Sad13's anti-commercial avant-pop jangle "Shit for Christmas" and Pronoun's shimmering cover of Jimmy Eat World's "12.23.95."
Lindstrøm, Little Drummer Boy (Smalltown Supersound): I've always found this carol touching, yet confusing: Why the h*ck is a little boy banging on drums around a newborn child? Did he know that RuPaul's version of this song would one day slap? Its majesty lies in the simple, determined melody, which the Norwegian electronic producer stretches over 19 moving, motorik minutes. First time on vinyl.
I have Georgia on my mind
v/a, Going to Georgia (Merge): 17 covers of Georgia artists (or songs with Georgia in the title) by the Merge roster, and folks, this thing is stacked. Torres and Gauche both take on The B-52s, Wye Oak offers a surprisingly lanky version of Pylon's "Crazy," Hiss Golden Messenger lopes along to Cat Power… but something hits me hard about Superchunk's pretty faithful version of The Glands' "When I Laugh," as if it was always supposed to be a Superchunk song. Does my home state proud.
Death Cab for Cutie, The Georgia EP (self-released): Ok, I've never been much of a Death Cab fan, but my cold heart grows several sizes whenever someone covers Vic Chesnutt, especially a song like "Flirted with You All My Life."
I like to dance & sip rosé
George Symonette, Plays and Sings Calypso (Cosmic Spy): This was supposed to be the year I got into calypso. 2020 had other plans. So here's a (reissued) reminder via Bahama circa 1964 that calypso's breezy rhythms and heavy themes never go out of style.
Black Nile, The Further Side (World Galaxy / Alpha Pup): Rides easy with the galactic strain of jazz fusion found on Brainfeeder and the LA freak scene. A sweet little something-something to sip on is recommended.
I like it quiet
Tuluum Shimmering, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun (self-released): If y'all are not wise to Jake Webster's extended takes on titan tracks of psych, free jazz and other such jams, they have really set a meditative mood for my 2020. Here, Pink Floyd gets a tabla-and-sitar treatment.
Buck Curran, WFMU 'The Frow Show' Live Session (Obsolete Recordings): Nice to hear Buck, who put out the fabulous songwriter-based No Love is Sorrow this year, back in cosmic jam mode with pianist Jodi Pedrali.
William Ryan Fritch, Solidum (Lost Tribe Sound): Haven't checked in on this dude in a while, even though it seems like William puts out a new album every few months. Solidum pulls way back on the composer's decorative instincts and opts for pure texture, deep drone.
I like it weird
Creston Spiers, Brown Dwarf (Wantage USA / WeEmptyRooms): Harvey Milk's guitar mangler and blooze howler has gotten pretty damn insular ever since the bummer-rock band quit (again). TBH, I haven't loved Creston's solo stuff on Patreon, but some of these tracks recall the unhinged, WTF quality that marked early HM while shaking off some of the slack.
Glass Salt, Mer (Cherche Encore): Floats around the intersection of noise and ambient pop, but never really stays in place. Vocal melodies warp around minimal, clicking rhythms and low-lying drones — an uneasy, yet alluring listen.
Joan of Arc, Tim Melina Theo Bobby (Joyful Noise): After 25 years of several records, even more members, breakups and reunions, this is reportedly the last album by indie-rock auteurs Joan of Arc, a band with which I've always had a contentious relationship. This is a good one to go out on, as it sprawls the length of JoC's sound — from the contentious early emo years to the fuzzy textures and oblong electro-pop of recent albums — with some wisdom attached.
Chris Abrahams & Mike Cooper, Praxis (Room40): Lawrence English's Room40 label turned 20 this year and I really haven't given enough digital ink to the stellar electro-acoustic works released in 2020. This one pairs the Necks pianist (playing a glitchy keyboard) with guitarist Mike Cooper in a glitchy sprawl of spring-loaded improv.
Bill Orcutt, Reasons I Am Great (Palilalia): Bill Orcutt's title is tongue in cheek, but, I mean, he has totally detangled, deconstructed and disassembled guitar music. This live LP (that I'm sure will set out before this goes to print) captures the moment right before he switched back to the electric guitar; his fiery, yet tender acoustic interpretations of well-known songs broken apart in bent medleys.