Viking's Choice Guide To Bandcamp Friday (March 2021)
Welcome to the 7th guide to Bandcamp Friday on Viking's Choice! Once again, with feeling: these are albums, EPs and long songs released on or around the first Friday of the month (via Bandcamp) that cater to my particular whims… so, anything really, as long it's loud, fast, weird or cool. For 24 hours, all of the cash goes to the artists and labels while Bandcamp waives its revenue fees.
In February, I had so much fun grouping the music by beloved music sites/magazines that this month's edition features some of my favorite X-Men and what I imagine their music libraries look like. I am, by no means, a comics expert — just someone who rediscovered his love for comics in recent years — so you can leave your snark in the comments where I will remind you that music nerds also have no life… bub.
Everyone thinks they're a Jubilee
key words: houseplants with names • pink shades • "real" indie rock • worn LP sleeves • functional ambient • retro chic
Worriers, The Old Friends EP (self-released): 5 covers from friend of the newsletter Lauren Denitzio (seriously, subscribe to Get It Together). I love a peak behind a fave’s faves; in this case you get heartlandic rock-and-roll punk versions of Bleachers, Rancid, Tom Petty, New Pornographers and Mission of Burma (god, I really wanna see this one live someday).
Painted Shrines, Heaven and Holy (Woodsist): If the Reds, Pinks & Purples gives space for Glenn Donaldson's mopey twee-pop tendencies, this new duo with Jeremy Earl (Woods) puts a Byrds-ian skip in their step.
Sarcasm, Creeping Life (Static Shock): You can practically hear the high-rolled jeans on this taut-as-heck post-punk rammer. Ominous one-string surf guitar, a sneering talk-shout singer, impeccably crisp drumming… this record is probably making fun of you, but isn't so bothered to care.
The Vapor Caves, Dreams (Austin Boogie Crew): Yo, this label lives up to its name: 2 primo boogie funk tracks accompanied by instrumentals and a cappellas. Jheri curled retro chic on the A-side, slow-build New Jack Swing on the flip.
Isasa, Isasa (La Castanya): One of the Bandcamp tags for this album is "a room with a view," which is the perfect way to think about the Madrid guitarist's fingerstyle. Unshowy, yet quietly arresting; seeps into the background, but little moments send your mind elsewhere.
Andrew Weathers & Hayden Pedigo, Big Tex, Here We Come (Debacle): Two acoustic guitarists get their Windham Hill on, with some chill af synths throughout. Between this and Yasmin Williams' Urban Driftwood, I'm happy to see guitar music's earnest re-embrace of this once maligned mood setter. Easy listenin' ain't always easy to make.
Jane Weaver, Flock (Fire): My pal Tracy says that "Broadcast is a genre" and it's true. Jane Weaver actually started around the same time, but has developed her own style of prismatic pop. While plenty psychedelic and impossibly chic, Flock really leans into the dance-pop flourish that's always shimmied in the background.
Drew Gardner, S/T (Eiderdown): One half of Elkhorn leads this trio with bassist Andy Cush (Garcia Peoples) and drummer Ryan Jewell (Solar Motel Band, Ryley Walker). If those names mean anything to you, you know the drill: cosmic psych improv, but this one comes with a hefty side of sunny Dead jammin'.
Adiós Cometa, La Isla Que Somos (Velvet Blue Music): If dancing to ultra-romantic dream-pop on the beach sounds like your hang, then dang, Costa Rica's Adiós Cometa will have you swooning. But I don't speak Spanish, so they could be singing about Spongebob Squarepants for all I know.
v/a, Undercurrents (Buried Treasure): "16 tracks from the Josef Weinberger, Impress & Programme Music library archives." None of these words mean anything to me, but this is such a cool collection of film-score funk, electronic grooves and New Age zoners.
Gloria, Sabbat Matters (Howlin Banana): French pagans making vintage girl pop. It's mysterious, it's psychedelic, it's apocalyptic. They're probably all stupid hot, but I wouldn't follow them into a dark room.
Lifeguard, Receiver b/w Sun Ra Jane (Chunklet): How do these Chicago teens already have the noise-rock honk 'n' skronk down before they can ever buy beer? But then again, Squirrel Bait were also a bunch of kids. Just really damn impressive.
Storm like, “Just hang with me and my weather”
key words: Black excellence • Afrofuturism • blunted wisdom • psychedelic reality • Ororo-core
IKOQWE, The Beginning, The Medium, The End and The Infinite (self-released): Next-level Afro-rap from the Angola-born, Lisbon-based producer Batida and Angolan rapper Ikonoklasta. I keep rewinding "Bulubulu," especially, an electro boom-bap banger breathed from ancient bones. Features samples from field recordings made by an ethnomusicologist in 1950s Angola.
Mal Devisa, Wisdom Teeth (self-released): Been a while since I've caught up with Mal, and dang, this one sprawls like a crazy-quilt with multi-colored tassels: raucous guitar scrabble, minimalist goth melodrama, bedroom pop, old-school rap, a jazz standard, lo-fi beats.
Music Research Strategies, Eleven Postures (SIGE): I love solo percussion albums — like Jerome Cooper's The Unpredictability of Predictability and Milford Graves' Grand Unification — because they teach us a lot about the drummer's sound worlds. I've said this before in a different way: Marshall Trammell is a drummer with a lot of fire, but guided by wind. This music dances around empty spaces with a searching energy, as if to pluck the very molecules from the air and make them sing.
Denzel Curry, UNLOCKED 1.5 (Loma Vista): Last year's MF DOOM-lovin', Wu-Tangin' collab with Kenny Beats gets remixed by The Alchemist, Robert Glasper, Georgia Ann Muldrow, etc. Smooths out the knots, makes them all pear-shaped.
Thirdface, Do It With A Smile (Exploding in Sound): TBH, I don't think the pre-release singles have done justice to the sonic damage of this album. Thirdface's bruised, third-eye hardcore is steeped in harsh psychedelia, like a really bad trip that turns out to be reality's horror. Really vicious and weird, too, like Converge in a cage match with Oxbow.
YUNGMORPHEUS & ewonee, Thumbing Thru Foliage (Bad Taste): Same label put out D.C. avant rapper NAPPYNAPPA's latest, so figured this was worth a peep. YUNGMORPHEUS got a flow like a slow sip as he raps spliff confessionals over bittersweet, soul-sampled beats. Like this dude a lot.
No one wants to get in the pit with Wolverine
key words: snikt hardcore • bub metal • stage diving • muscle tanks • unfortunate facial hair
Worn, Human Work (From Within): When the puss crusts over and forms its own sovereign nation on your wretched skin, that's what this Pennsylvania hardcore band sounds like. Just the nastiest, sludgiest stuff. Sick.
Bonecarver, Evil (Unique Leader): Of freaking course I'm going to listen to a brutal death metal band from Madrid named Bonecarver. But as br00tal as this stuff normally gets (read: boring), there's actually a great balance between neck-snapping riffs and borderline-gothic melodies.
Terror, Trapped in a World (Good Fight): Terror's been around for almost two decades and can't really make a bad album because — let's be real — they all kinda sound the same. This isn't a knock; Terror's, like, really good at party-hard, stage-dive hardcore. This album revisits some old tunes with new tricks.
Black Knife, Murder Season (Husk / Jems / Morbid and Miserable): Blood, blooze and black metal like Venom and Midnight intended. This bar metal-punk trio just puked on your boots and took another swig of rail whiskey all in one graceless motion.
Children With Dog Feet, Curb Your Anarchy (Toxic State): Anarcho-punk cave paintings and depraved death rock knock, knock, knockin' on hell's door. If Bad Breeding is somehow not noisy enough for your tastes.
PIQUE, 2018-2019 (Zegema Beach / Moon Decay / Larry, et. al): If your entire discography, thus far, fits on a 10" record, screamo demands a blood pressing. Dual vocals, reckless drumming, spoken word samples, screaming over trebly clean guitars, screaming over trebly distorted guitars… I think the kids call this emoviolence; I just call it willful chaos.
John Sharkey III, Shoot Out the Cameras (12XU): Despite my unshakeable nostalgia for early 2000s folk-punk, I have little affinity for the elder-male-punk-gone-acoustic milieu. That said, I'm extremely charmed by the former Clockcleaner/current (?) Dark Blue dude's dark odes to death and misery and whatnot. But really, just read Zach's typically overly wordy, but convincing take on this album.
Cyclops was right
key words: despite all my rage • I'm still just a rat in a cage • industrial bleakness • metal music for composers
Krallice, Demonic Wealth (self-released): Not even six months later and we already have the follow-up to Mass Cathexis, which still hasn't made it to vinyl! But here we suddenly are, the 10th Krallice album. Real review coming someday, but wow, by sheer force of recording in isolation, this is fantasy synth, lo-fi black-metal weirdness. Mick Barr doesn’t even play guitar, only screams… in his car, apparently!
Warrior Path, The Mad King (Symmetric): Every D&D metal band just got shown up: Lost Horizon's Daniel Heiman sings on this record. The Swedish siren doesn't choose projects lightly, and he sounds fantastic here, his epic wails a perfect match for Warrior Path's tightly-written power metal.
Koldovstvo, Ни царя, ни бога (Babylon Doom Cult / Extraconscious / Fólkvangr): Atmospheric black metal that actually has atmosphere. Most of this music relies way too much on cacophonous reverb and pained caterwauling — ok, this is that, too, but is grounded by a tortured elegance and folk melodies.
Sophiaaaahjkl;8901, Silicon Soul (Suite 309): The vaporwave-house-future-funk-whatever artist truly enters The Void for a dark and dank out-of-body experience. You could call this industrial, but it's beyond broken… the machine is short circuiting and on fire.
Doop space is the place
key words: WTF • noise bowls • neon ambient • free jazz • sonic marginalia
Sarah Haras, Mirage (Chinabot): Based in Bahrain, Sarah Haras makes electronic music steeped in smog, residual echoes and tweaked tradition. Remnants of industrial, dancehall, noise and drone seem untethered to the whole, with nods to ancestral roots in Khaleeji folk music.
Stephanie Cheng Smith, Forms (A Wave Press): Harsh noise bowls (plastic ones filled with balls and clothes pins; not the kind you put your weed in) on one side, screeching violin and synth damage on the flip.
Kuzu, The Glass Delusion (Astral Spirits): Dave Rempis (sax), Tashi Dorji (guitar) and Tyler Damon (drums) serving up some psionic free-jazz. Stuff rattles off the walls like b-movie horror, clashing to the ground in dramatic close-up.
Concrete Colored Paint, Dying Escalators on Valley Blvd (A Red Thread): I've spent time taking in the squeaks and squawks of metro escalators in need of repair, so these field recordings of broken beauty — stretched and studded with mechanical drone — are like whale songs to me.
Andrew Weathers & C. Yantis, Crag Atlas (Unsilent Desert Press): Midnight transmissions across quiet deserts and green valleys. Found sound, crackling static, meditative acoustic guitar loops, unknown textures.
more eaze, yearn (Lillerne): Mari's exceptional at that playful hyperspace between avant and pop, but I really like this chill change of pace. Like a gently glowing, Lisa Frank neon waterfall… or at least that's what I heard in the one-track preview I had at press time.
Josh Medina, Drifting Toward the Absolute (Eiderdown): Fingerstyle guitar buried under layers of smoke, hiss and bliss. Or at least Josh (from Seattle dream-pop band somesurprises) says there's guitar here, so imagine a dense fog of synths and tape loops creeping through valleys of melodic decay.