It’s the last Bandcamp Friday of 2021! You could get all wistful and weird about another pandemic year and the struggles that it entails, or you could bury your cares in some great tunes! I know which we’d prefer!
Below are some picks for your perusal if you are looking to purchase some new music today. As a reminder, Bandcamp waives its fees the first day of each month, so that all of your purchase goes directly to the artist. Most of the money you spend on Bandcamp goes directly to artists on any other day you buy something through the platform, but today the artists you are buying from will get on average about 10 percent extra. Not bad, right?
If you like something you hear, you can buy it using the player below each write-up. Thank you for checking out our list and for supporting the artists you care about today.
Habibi – Somewhere They Cant Find Us b/w Call Our Own (Kill Rock Stars)
New York City’s Habibi (which, as you might have heard, translates from Arabic to English as “my beloved”) have dropped their first release with their new label home Kill Rock Stars. It’s a two-song EP of beautifully polished guitar-pop and cleaned-up Black Tamborine skitter, but with a titter of post-punk spackling the paint job on this cool compact blitz of sound.
There is a swift sense of deliberate momentum on “Somewhere They Cant Find Us” whose confident strut feels like it is trying to keep up with the nonchalant taxi of a squad of bandits as they stroll past security and exit a Casino lobby following a flawless Ocean’s 11 style heist. And then there is the ’60s trip and skip of “Call Our Own” whose long, luxurious pull and concerted aim really hits its mark. It’s a promising start to this phase of their career and hopefully a harbinger of more good things to come.
Tasha – Tell Me What You Miss The Most (Father/Daughter Records)
Tell Me What You Miss the Most is the second LP from Chicago-local singer and songwriter Tasha Viets-VanLear, known to many as simply Tasha. She states on her website that the album is, “inspired by a distance I felt from myself…[and] was kind of born from this desire to get back to an intimacy, or honesty, with myself.”
Bookended by two numbers with the name “Bed Song,” and filled out by songs with titles like “History” and “A Year From Now,” the album is unabashedly vulnerable in its search for a place to center itself. Seeking to achieve its goal of self-reclamation through the expression of delicate and brightly hewed guitar-pop that baths you in the balm of its twining colors and guides you along notches of its ledger of intimate conjecture.
A tapestry that reminds you not only of those whose presence you long for but also the necessity of connectedness and gratitude as twin marls of affection that nurture the human spirit.
Stranded – Midnight Sun (Double Phantom Records)
Atlanta producer and multi-instrumentalist David Mansfield (not the one from the Alpha Band) contrasts passion and composure with stark, dusky tones and tight-lipped phrasing on his eerily familiar new album Midnight Sun, released through his one-man, post-punk project Stranded.
The album is mindful of its sense of detachment from the world, passing through it like a Camaro cleaving through the cold night air, and balances its dry, direct demeanor with frequent melodic wardrobe changes, leaving an impression of Jeffrey Lee Pierce with the backwoods jangle of “Back Country” and an immaculately embalmed Lou Reed revenant on the uncanny amble of “Wayward Haunted.”
All of these tracks have a great sense of motion to them, particularly the severe, slicing, and rigorously rhythmic “Hesitation” and Stooges-funk of”Crossed Lines,” whose low-temperature temper quivers perceptibly as it burns with an icy kiss. Better twilight mood music, you’re not likely to find this side of the witching hour.
Unto Others – Strength (Roadrunner Records)
No longer Idle Hands, three-fourths of the former Spellcaster, now rechristened Unto Others have bequeathed on to us the wages of their angst, a new LP of gothic rock ‘n’ revenge streak simply titled Strength. Waltz in tune with the malcontented genius of singer and guitarist Gabriel Blanco, who sounds ever more like a wraith born herald of our civilization’s intractable decline.
“The Church” feels like an obvious antecedent to what Gabriel and cohort are striving for here, but there is also a weight of bulking, corporal anger to their style of heavy metal that manifests in a similar form and spiritual projection as the tallow skinned, sonic seiðmenn of In Solitude.
“Heroin” begins with the hypnotic lash of a chainmail lined groove in a kind of stomping, NWOBHM version of Killing Joke’s ghoulish post-punk pummel, a cacophony that translates well into the claustrophobic and mournfully melodic “Downtown,” the sour dungeon-dwelling whimsy of “Destiny,” and thrashy, berzerker balladry of “Just A Matter Of Time.” A winter of the soul is upon us. May you have the might to endure its travails.
Munya – Voyage to Mars (Lumenelle)
Like most normal people, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself what a Françoise Hardy album might sound like if Nick Hakim had access to a DeLorean time machine and got it in his mind that he needed to produce a record with her during her Musique Saoûle period. It’s a perfectly normal daydream that we all have, regularly (including myself). Well you can stop wondering because Montreal’s Munya has just beamed down a spacey and sultry disco record titled Voyage to Mars very much in the aforementioned hypothetical’s orbit.
In the tradition of progressive-leaning garage rockers like Mac DeMarco and Munya’s effortlessly expressive scene-fellows Men I Trust, Voyage to Mars is a loamy surf of idiomatic expressionism and meticulous melodic maneuvers that will abduct you from the prison of provinciality and transport you to a big red marble where the air is alive with currents that mimic a Nile Rodgers guitar line and the ground pulses with the bass of a global block party.
Knock one back with an extra-terrestrial entourage and let the motion of this funky fantastic planet’s rotation whisk you through a scintillating supernova of fun. Also, there is a cover of Smashing Pumpkin’s “Tonight Tonight” on this record that sounds like it was cut from the Cocteau Twins’s Heaven or Las Vegas and it’s fantastic!
Helado Negro – Far In (4AD)
Albums like Helado Negro’s 4AD debut, Far In are commodities of a rare and unknown quantity. They just keep giving even after you’ve listened to them dozens of times.
Always replenished, never diminished. Far In is named for a favorite phrase from new age instrumentalist Laraaji, an artist who bandleader Roberto Carlos Lange admires greatly. Despite being a double album, the entire project manages to feel more focused than 2019’s This Is How You Smile, with the layering and structuring of elements appearing both more resourceful in their minimalism and intrinsically interlocking, reviving the old aphorism that less is indeed more.
The subtly with which Helado Negro integrates Caribean percussion and rhythms with hazily, kaleidoscopic dance and deep soul music cultivate a kind of autonomous disco folk enclave of borderless sound that is at home wherever its evangelists set foot. Get ready to immerse yourself in a rainbow spectrum of open emotion and gratifying epiphanies when you commit yourself to get Far In with Helado Negro.
Don Lifted – 325i (Fat Possum)
325i is the latest release from Lawrence Matthews aka Don Lifted. Here the Memphis MC and producer finds a productive equilibrium between the dense, ambient atmosphere of his aerosolized trap influences and the skip/sprint nature of his flow to lend a progressive momentum to the meditative codas of his observations on stress, rejection, and the yield of his ambition.
This emphasis on motion is fitting, as the album is named after a mid-sized BMW sedan that was produced in the mid-00s. Although the image we find on the cover of a car wheel sunk in a puddle of mud and spinning for its life and freedom is also telling. It feels like Lawrence is struggling with his lack of advancement despite the efforts of his exertion, while at the same time, coming to terms with his lack of control in most situations.
Something that is really impressive and lovely about 325i is the way in which contemplative and reverby ribboned guitar chords form the basis of the beats. A lot of these chords could have been pulled from a Pulp or Ride album, and the lowkey sizzle of these late ’80s inspired chords paint the architecture of the record with a profoundly intimate kind of dalliance that few other hip hop releases this year have been able to match.
Swim Camp – Fishing in a Small Boat (Know Hope Records)
Tom Morris’s Swim Camp released a two-song EP earlier this year (which we reviewed here) and is not following up with his debut LP, Fishing in a Small Boat. The album is a depiction of the author’s pain and growth, recounted through a kind of revival of ’90s slowcore. It is a style that Tom consciously embraces, and it accentuates the meditative mood of the release.
It’s also a nice change of pace as far as albums you may want to listen to if you’ve been keeping up with the recent trends in the emo resurgence of the past couple of years. Slowcore was a phenomenon of minimalistic underground music that had some pretty significant overlap with second-wave emo and the indie rock of decades prior but feels remarkably under-explored in our current moment.
There are many sections of melancholic reflection on Fishing in a Small Boat which are strikingly reminiscent of early Death Cab for Cutie, only with a dusting of rust in the joints and the sober recital of a country singer’s sigh escaping from between its teeth. The album sees Tom unburdening himself of a great deal of psychic weight, mental stones that would otherwise pin his boat to the bottom of a lake of despair if he weren’t actively jettisoning them. Hopefully Fishing in a Small Boat can help you drop some unwanted freight and intrusive thoughts stowing away in your own brain’s cargo hold.
Halogens – You’re Being Weird (Refresh Records)
You’re Acting Weird from New Jerersy’s Halogens is a lot of things. But what it’s not is weird. Their sound is both agreeable and familiar, recalling the spirit and energy of too smart for their own good pop-punk in the vein of Joyce Manor to the Dirty Nil.
In the grand tradition of these bands, Halogens’s album depicts the life of young men, hounded by unforced errors and self-inflicted injuries, pepped up by get-up-and-go grooves and prickly guitar hooks. “Sit Around” is an ode to all those simping slackers on couches across the U.S., replying to messages on their phone that are better off left unread.
Elsewhere, the sunny-sounding disposition of “Windmill” almost hides all the red flags the singer describes himself plowing through to be with someone he’s not even that into. Contrast that with the winking tantrum and sour twang of “Talking Shit,” and the folksy swagger of the main character syndrome shattering “Critical,” and you’ve got one hell of a well-rounded modern punk record.
Echoberyl – Mother Solitude and Other Dark Tales (Mother Solitude Records)
Echoberyl is the gothic dance electronic duo Adriano Iacoangeli and Cecilia Dassonneville who perform a chthonic style of club music in the style of Boy Harsher or The Soft Moon, only brasher and more confrontational.
Echoberyl keep it simple. Brutally simple. Cecilia sings; Adriano drops the beats. The ground beneath you gives way as the bass line erodes the atoms that bind it together. You slip out of sight into Hades’s keep. One taste of the fruit there and you will be his prisoner for all eternity. Refuse, and you will never know the pleasures of the damned.
Their latest album, Mother Solitude and Other Dark Tales, recalls the lives of notable women of antiquity, adding new interpretations to their fateful narratives. “Salomé (Suffer Me)” proceeds with a sinfully sensual chop, while “Medea’s Revenge” is a confidently executed incantation, with a breathless, heaving melody that displays a perverse strain of fulfillment unbothered by conscience or regret. Prepare yourself for an exploration of the world of the underground, one cold pulsing electronic beat at a time.
Nobody’s Flowers – Nobody’s Flowers (Really Rad Records)
If the only names of hardcore dudes with an affinity for soft post-punk and shoegaze that you have swimming around in that soup of a brain of yours are Domenic Palermo and Wesley Eisold, then you might want to move some neurons around, because we’ve got one more for you: Nick Fit.
Nick has recently released his debut self-titled under the name Nobody’s Flowers. There is really not a precursor to Nobody’s Flowers in Nick’s existing discography. While his work in Loss Leader definitely had a nostalgic patina to it, it doesn’t match the pure reclamation and amalgamation of sound represented on this debut. It’s will really slingshot you out of the present day and back to a decade when modesty felt subversive, with influences and reference points delightfully signposted along the journey of each track.
Think of the quiet heartbreak of the Smiths, bathed in the scent of the Stone Roses, and dazzled by the miraculous tenderness of Mazzy Star and you’re in the right pocket to absorb the peculiar pleasures of this album. From the whimsical, echo-etched catwalk of “Mountains out of Broken Me” to the Siouxsie-esque swivel of shrouded fantasy on “Desire Me, Entirely,” every nuanced fold contains another piece of a broken heart for you to uncover, assemble, and cherish.
Image credit Barbara Georges.