Since March of this year and in response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic Bandcamp has generously waived the percentage of sales it usually takes from purchases made through its platform on the first Friday of each month. While there is no telling how successful the campaign has actually been in helping artists make up for lost revenue due to performance spaces being temporarily closed due to the pandemic, the public response has been almost uniformly positive and enthusiastic. As it should be. Who doesn’t want to help artists in their time of need?
Because we know a number of you are going to be looking to buy something today through Bandcamp, we put together a shortlist of artists that we’ve been jamming to since October. Our list runs the gambit of stuff you expect from us in terms of coverage, from hardcore, to indie rock, to hip-hop and beyond. Hopefully, you’ll find something you like on this list, and if not, we’ll be doing it again in December so keep an eye out for it.
Lastly, reading this article and clicking on these streams in no way obligates you to purchase any of the albums we have spotlighted. However, I want you to know that if you don’t buy anything, I will know, and I will be personally disappointed in you. Do you know that little animated graphic Bandcamp uses of a heart literally breaking? The one they show you when you’ve listened to an album too many times without purchasing it? Well, imagine that heart is my heart. That will literally be me. Don’t break my heart today, folks.
Ask – Severed Self EP
Ask is an anti-racist, pro-consent, pro-queer, metallic hardcore band out of Michigan. They started out as a kind of Converge worshipping crew of rabble-rousers, but as you’ll hear, they’ve really come into their own sound. Sure, Botch and Converge are the easiest comparisons for their grooves and the way they throw themselves at these songs, but there are also pronounced youth crew influences, especially on the thumping throwdown “Dwine,” and cross-over elements a la Red Death on “Smother.” Their second EP Severed Self is out now on cassette. You can get it from No Time Records here.
Serengeti – With Greg from Deerhoof LP
Depending on who you ask, Serengeti (aka David Cohn) is either an unknown quantity or one of the greatest living rappers in the city of Chicago. Perhaps best known for his 2006 masterpiece Dennehy, Cohn has remained both prolific and incorrigibly underground while managing to perfectly capture the strange brew of ecstasy and angst that permeates the lives of the working-class in the windy city. Cohn’s latest project in collaboration with Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier began when the long time friends met, coincidentally, at the PEOPLE residency in Berlin. A chance meeting that occurred because they both happened to book the same time slot, in the same room, in the same recording studio, entirely by mistake. The impromptu recording session that resulted produced a 17-minute track they dubbed, “I Got Your Password.” Fast-forward to 2020, and Saunier gets it in his head to cut a whole record based on that one collaboration. Cohn was obviously on board (if he hadn’t been, you’d have nothing to stream). And so the collaboration moved forward, with Saunier emailing “classical-and-Broadway-inspired” beats which Cohn, which Cohn would receive and immediately begin rapping over, without listening to them first. The resulting collection of songs is both cohesive and compelling, surprisingly so. although, we should probably expect no less for the talent that was involved. The record was self-released to Bandcamp and you can grab a copy here.
Wisent – Seething EP
Wisent is a mean and dynamic four-man post-hardcore band out of Leipzig. These savage, sonic sophisticates convened in 2019 and after releasing several demos, finally saw fit to drop an official EP this past October. Seething feels like a by-product of transporting Chuck Reagan’s brain into a cybernetic exoskeleton programmed to communicate exclusively through gruff shouts and Saosin guitar licks. It’s a brief but intense and sincere sounding record that we think you’ll really dig. You can grab a copy of Seething here.
Romasa – Insufferable Cave of Rotting Aspiration EP
Clocking in at just over 20 minutes, Romasa’s latest EP, and follow up to their debut LP Cheering Death, is a dense and angular, putrid and pernicious, puss-loaded purgation of the most soul-withering, flesh-shriveling aspects of the influences that inform the band’s sound. Insufferable Cave Of Rotting Aspiration sees the NOLA band ratcheting up the heat and the headiness of their death-crust and sludge-driven sound, coming off like Tithe after being tutored in the ways of war by Conan, or an undead Yatra after Botlthrower put one of their name-sake projectiles through their head only to have them keep coming with teeth and claws bared for the kill, or a fugitive Death cover band that had been melted down and resurrected as a shambling monstrosity from a vat of boiling bile, vented directly from Dystopia’s spleen. These descriptions are applicable to the first and last songs on the EP for sure, while the middle track threads a cyclopic passage through harsh-noise, gothic soundtracks, and ’70s-era, synthesizer experiments. Much as the cover art implies, Insufferable Cave Of Rotting Aspiration is a series of heinous, shifting forms that will ensnare your mind with its stupifying grandeur and grotesquery. You can pick up Romasa’s latest EP on cassette here.
Oginalii – Pendulum LP
Lead by vocalist and guitarist Emma Hoeflinger and guitarist Ryan Quarles, and backed by drummer Simon Knudtson and bassist Emma Lambiase, Nashville’s Oginalii ( “my friend” in Cherokee) is an oscillating torrent of sound and potent spiritual energy. They sound as if Sleep, through some feat of necromancy, managed to write a record with Kurt Cobain’s ghost, possibly through a combination of wigi-board, haruspicy, and tinfoil-festooned FM radio, and then convinced PJ Harvey that she needed to lend her voice to the project (which, if we’re being honest, wouldn’t be that hard of a pitch given what went into composing the record in this scenario). Pendulum is the band’s second LP and follow up to their well regarded, self-released debut, Cause & Affection. Pendulum is a worthy successor to its predecessor, heightening the dark melancholy of the group’s gothic psychedelia and allowing their songwriting to linger on, and draw out, a deep sense of dread and atmosphere. Pendulum is out on the resurrected Devil In The Woods imprint, and you can get a copy of it on vinyl here.
Hans Dado – Huhh? EP
Forward-thinking electronic artist and Cali-based composer Hans Dado filters his love for rock and roll through the distorting lense of the internet, sucking patches of inspiration through a fiberoptics cable and spiting the drained digital effusive against the canvas sound processing software, akin to a whale ejecting a geyser of briny discharge directly into the camera lens of an unsuspecting, fairy riding, tourist. Dado will give you the experience you’re after but in a way that will knock you clean on your ass. Imagine Lemon Demon buried alive with, and partially cannibalized by, Death Grips, or Lil B giving birth to Wayne Coyne’s half-human, half-synthesizer son in the closet of an illegal, DYI sculpture gallery. Huhh? is the third EP Dado has dropped this year, and if his output remains steady, it won’t be his last album he drops before the end of 2020. You can buy his record and keep track of his future releases here.
Chef Mike – Zerkalo LP
Enigmatic is a word that gets tossed around a lot when it comes to musicians, but I really think it applies to Chef Mike in a way that it just doesn’t to others. There is very little information about this person, and yet they are just so incredibly prolific. You could spend the rest of this month trying to track down every album they have either released or collaborated on, and still just scratch the surface. What’s really fascinating about a lot of Chef Mike’s releases is that they are long, usually around twenty tracks each, and more than that, they are GOOD. Every track is a fully developed, realized, and expected idea, which begs the question, “where do they find the time?!?” One of Mike’s more recent albums, Zerkalo, released in partnership between Icy Palms and Common and Normal Records, is particularly compelling, combining cuts from hip-hop’s past with knotty beats and slicing stabs of jazz samples that show off the best of his left-field sensibilities, and dare I say, punk rock, approach to beat-smithing. Get Zerkalo on cassette here.
Ant Attack – Pest Mortem EP
Ant Attack is a euro-zone spanning eruption of anti-establishment, anti-capitalist, anti-authority, sense-annihilating harsh noise, cybergrind, and junk-punk aesthetics, rendered on outmoded, obsolete technology. Their debut album Pest Mortem is real fucked up sounding- which is actually the way it should be. If you are looking for an album that will fly in the face of all sense of normalcy, good-taste, and propriety, Ant Attack have got you covered. It’s as if a young John Carpenter leaped forward in time to kidnap and water tortured Dylan Walker until he promised that they would make an album together inspired by Napalm Death and the sounds of malfunctioning power tools. You can buy a copy of Pest Mortem here.
Chester Watson – A Japanese Horror Film LP
LA-local and monotone shogun of the pen and sword, Chester Watson takes GZA’s lyrical and aesthetic obsession with the internal struggle of good and evil, honor and disgrace, harmony and chaos that churns and wars at the center of classic Japenese cinema and translates it into the modern introspection and inward-focused reckoning of post-Earl Sweatshirt hip-hop on his latest LP, A Japanese Horror Film. The beats are affected and dark. The flows are low and guarded. And the themes reflect upon an epic struggle for Watson’s soul. If you’re in the market for a smart and atmospheric hip-hop album to give you something to think on while you grind through an extended session of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, then let Watson provide the beat for your next campaign of carnage and contemplation. Grab a copy of A Japanese Horror Film here.
¿Banana? – Reading the Room LP
Acoustic twee-pop duo ¿Banana? is Mía Fernández and Erica Peterson. A precocious pair whose sound captures a slightly crooked framing of mysterious folk-punk and unvarnished pop harmonies, that call to mind Tegan and Sara as much as they do AJJ. Reading the Room is the duo’s second LP, a wistful reflection on growing up, getting wiser, and becoming undeniably savvier, while remaining entirely unprepared to confront the challenges life throws at you. Young tunes for old souls. A loadstar style for those pressing relentlessly forward into the headwinds of the future. Get a copy of Readin the Room here.
Gimmick – S/T EP
If there is one band covered in this list who is not doing a schtick, it’s Portland’s Gimmick. On their self-titled EP, the psychotic fury of early hardcore meets sewer-runoff styled pop-hooks, with a mix that sounds like it was mastered in a room with an active tire-fire in it. Pudding brained, glue-huffing, gangrenous throated garage rock that at some point was mauled by a werewolf with a Germs tattoo in the light of a full moon. They only have one other release under their belt (Quatrnetine EP), and it leans a little harder in the direction of speed-metal crossover. But their self-titled EP, oh boy. Their self-titled is pure punk rock. Spit and sneers. Blood, suds, and sweat stains on a white leather jacket. The product of a toxic culture shock that rattles nerves and fries the synapses, reducing them to a wad of burnt scrambled eggs and sour yogurt. Get a copy of Gimmick’s EP here.
What are your Bandcamp Friday prizes? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Or keep it to yourself, like a hermit or something. It’s up to you.