It’s Bandcamp Friday again! I’m positive most of you know what this means by now, but if you’re unaware, forgot, whatever… here is the deal: On the first Friday of the month, Bandcamp waives all fees for purchases made through their platform. That means that any money spent goes directly to the artist you are buying from. Spend a dollar, and they make a dollar. It’s that simple. Now, if you’ve got some dough but aren’t sure how you want to burn it you’ve got a couple of options. You can take some random stranger’s advice on what albums to buy, or you can look to someone you trust, like New Noise. Below is our list of picks for your consideration. They range from the forefront of psyche rock, to death metal, to hard-hitting hip hop, to avant-garde jazz. If you like something you find you can purchase it through the media player below the album’s write-up. And that’s it! The rest is in your hands. Happy Bandcamp Friday!
Dummy – Mandatory Enjoyment (Trouble in Mind)
Ironically, one of the smartest sounding records of 2021 is by a band called Dummy. Their debut LP Mandatory Enjoyment follows two excellent EPs that established the foundation of their smoothed-out and Valvety variant of satisfyingly sober and halcyon, Silver Apples-esque psychedelic-pop. Mandatory Enjoyment is very much a culmination of the group’s previous efforts, solidifying their commitments to inducing a protean balance of thought and mood through the layering of verisimilitude inverting sounds-scapes, out of which a font of sensation may spring eternal and leak over the folds of your cerebrum, cross-wiring your brains functions- almost like they’re attempting to aesthetically induce a state of synesthesia. For all its curious misdirection and slithy oscillations, Mandatory Enjoyment is ultimately and verifiably an accessible listening experience, with a strong emphasis on the texture of the vocal performances and lyrics and assiduous attention paid to how they lie in grain with the bright din of the guitar work and the liquid embrace of the rhythm section. It’s not literally mandatory that you enjoy Dummy’s record, but it is highly recommended.
Theon Cross – Intra-I (New Soil)
Intra-I is the latest release from renowned tuba player and member of the legendary London jazz and Afro-diaspora group Sons Of Kemet. The sounds on Intra-I are almost a mirror reflection of the cover image- a threshold breaching inquiry into the recesses of Theon’s mind and talent that will carry you through a labyrinthine concourse of possibility and consequential potential. While the focal point of the album is Theon’s trumpet playing, his performance is in constant conversation with sonic forms that invade from outside the traditional realm of jazz, exhibiting polyglot dialectics with gritty London grime, dionysian dub, and sweltering consummations with calypso. This sounds pretty wild, doesn’t it? Well, that’s because it absolutely is! What holds Intra-I together though, is the patient, consistent, and scholastic calm with which Theon approaches the material. A methodology reminiscent of the academic discipline that characterized so many classics of the Blue Notes catalog. Intra-I is a vertical slice of genius if there ever was one.
Work Party – My Best Days are Behind Me (Self-Released)
Work Party are a Chicago melodic-hardcore band in the vein of Pissed Jeans and Fake Limbs who are all about joyfully embracing the suffering of existence. Unlike a lot of bands who choose roiling, existential angst and male fragility as their elected subjects matter, Work Party are neither poisoned by irony nor left listless by their encounters with the hollowness of modern living. This is because they have a discernable purpose and mission in life: to have fun while kicking out some sweet ass jams. Work Party sounds like they are having a criminally good time on their debut LP My Best Days are Behind Me. Snaky, No Means No lifted grooves strafe and strike around blind corners on “Average White Man,” the sludgy “Nice Penis” absolutely gushes with sarcastic delight, straining to contain a phenomenal amount of tension within the creases of its moist and flaccid grooves, and “Divorced Falconer” glides ominously to the ground, in an off-balanced, canceeler like spiral of boozy bluesy bombast, as if presenting an Amphetamine Reptile response to the Dad rock that the Foo Fighters other former alternative nation upstarts would dissolve into during the ’00s. This is one work engagement you won’t want to miss.
JPEGMAFIA – LP! (Self-Released)
Hip hop is a crowded field when it comes to raw talent, but even with all the mighty MCs and prodigious producers out there, JPEGMAFIA still manages to rise and become an unassailable kingpin. His playful nature and dedication to ecstatic genre recombination leave him sounding effortlessly fresh, especially on his latest album, the sensibly titled LP! The bangers on this release are scoldingly hot, and the R’nB ballades arresting in their confidence and cool. Cutting a graceful stride between these temporal poles is the dirty rebuke of “HAZARD DUTY PAY!” which dices up a fusion-soaked R’nB chorus in service of guiding a hail of verbal buckshot down on folks who needlessly fuck with our hero. “THOTS PRAYER” rolls out a stomping series of triples in tandem with a gloss of gospel callbacks and graft of quippy Brittany Spears references. Not much later, the rhythmic chanting of men during an exercise routine rides a spindly, hyperactive guitar line to a curious catharsis, before piercing an invisible membrane and making room for the second half of the song where a subtly voluptuous, digitally enhanced vocal melodies colid with downtempo dub grooves below a steadily escalating vocal flow, to prime the air with ambient texture in preparation for a guitar and trumpet duet that enters the scene in a luminescent bolt- like flaming sword plummeting out the grim firmament of an overcast sky. What’s most amazing about the song son LP!, really everything JPEGMAFIA does, is how effortless they all sound, like they just fell off him like drops of water drizzling from his scalp as he emerges from a sea of inspiration. The only excuse you have for not checking out LP! is if you are wearing a pair of concrete loafers at the bottom of a lake somewhere. The rest of you are out of excuses.
Marisa Anderson & William Tyler – Lost Futures (Thrill Jockey)
Lost Futures is a folk album but discussing it in reflection of that term is a little misleading. Sure, it’s an album about life and the circumstances one finds themselves in. It is also an album about friendship and comradery. Additionally, it’s performed entirely on acoustic guitar. But folk can have a derivative and viciously commercial association to it, that is not applicable to the Lost Futures in the slightest. While the album has all the trappings of a folk record, it exhibits none of the genre’s contemporary ersatz character. The music on this album is instead a conversation through the medium of acoustic melodies, intertwining, interpreting, and informing each other as jazz guitarist Marisa Anderson and woodshed schooled country player William Tyler reflect on the roads not taken as the firelight dies and a dark night of the soul descends. Even though it is seldom clear what lays around the next bend on Lost Futures, trust that there are no wrong turns on the road it is guiding you down.
Ricardo Jiménez y Antonio Ramírez – Génesis Negro (Sentencia Records)
The new LP from Spanish heavy metal guitarist Ricardo Jiménez and illustrator Antonio Ramírez is guided by a single, Gnostic teaching: “In magic, nothing succeeds like excess.” A visual experience as much as an aural one, Génesis Negro probes the obsidian depths of possibility and the foment of consequence that lay beyond the world or rational inquiry, an investigation performed through the dirge of wizardly drone of rhythmic guitar progressions. The hypnotic flow of the guitar grooves can make you feel like you are being summoned to move by a force other than your own volition. Like a snake rising from a basket, in obedience to sound, serving by its actions some higher purpose that it cannot infer with the limits of its consciousness faculties. The album is coupled with a journal that contains a set of surrealist drawings to meditate over while the music unfastens the blinders that limit the field of your perception. Enlightenment awaits you on Génesis Negro.
Succumb – XXI (The Flenser)
Succumb’s second LP XXI expresses the rage of a planet under siege. The band’s performances call upon the elemental forces of the Earth and push back on behalf of nature against the encroachment and destruction of humankind’s endless terraforming project- an endeavor that seems solely aimed at covering every square foot of dirt on the planet with either corn or concrete. The Bay Area band saw a lot of well-earned praise for their self-titled debut and its gruesome synthesis of boundary-pushing crust punk and death metal and their latest effort is no less transgressive. Building on the foundation of distended, teratology arrangments and scornfully vocal squalls, the band manages a preternatural merger of burning Pyrrhon-ian grooves and viscerally accusatory subject matter a la a radicalized (well… more radicalized that is…) and ecoterrorist indoctrinated Couch Slut. XXI is about as progressive sonically as it is politically. If Gojira was the Sierra Club, Succumb would be a Weather Underground-styled splinter faction of Green Peace looking to shatter the sanity of a few dozen Standard Oil execs with the fury of their righteous bawl.
Gnawing – You Freak Me Out (Refresh Records)
Virginia-based Gnawing is a powerpop group with a lively and wry, indie slack sound, that would have been worthy of friendly coverage in Our Band Could Be Your Life had its members been born and formed the band a few decades earlier. You Freak Me Out is the band’s first LP, dedicated to good times at bad house parties, cheap liquor imbibed in generous quantities, making friends with difficult people, and not letting life’s anxieties come between you and a good, hard chill. While singer and founding member John Russell has a distinctly J Mascis-esque inflection to his voice, the band’s muscly guitars tones and sugary melodies take a big, luscious bite out of Big Star’s catalog, letting Alex Chilton’s conspicuous country and blues influences metabolize within them, adding to their body of sound some much-needed bulk and confidence. Let your freak flag fly high and proud while you give You Freak Me Out a spin today.
Kari Faux – Lowkey Superstar (Deluxe) (Don Giovanni Records)
Lowkey Superstar (Deluxe) is anything but reserved. With the help of producer Danio, Little Rock MC Kari Faux rides fat, throwback beats in an intimidating display of style, bravado and skill. She brandishes the blinding steal of her bars like a katana, cutting through simps and suckers like it was a routine part of her job description. When entering Kari’s world, you may want to start with the top-shelf banger “Mo’ Liquor,” then strut on through to the freaky and sultry creep of “Trouble,” before circling back around to the sweat-speckled, boom-bap noir of “While God Was Sleepin’…” and the covert thunder of the felonious, post-punky ultimatum of “StickUP!.” Kari called this album Lowkey Superstar, but you know that is just her being humble. This is 100% marquee, top billing, world tour material!
Virginity – Popmortem (Smartpunk Records)
It’s a little maddening how catchy FL punks Virginity are on their LP Popmortem. At one point in the late ’00s it was almost routine for pop-punk bands to have courses that you could pick up on and start singing along with in under 3-minutes, with hooks addictive enough that you’d feel compelled to memorize the rest of their album during the car ride to see them in the next town over on the following night. Now, band’s of that caliber are fewer and fewer and farther and farther between, but Virginity is more than delighted to pick up the slack with huge, sky-wracking riffs, gut-punch percussion, and therapeutically forceful vocal deliveries that are received as deep, visceral, and even physically impacting at times. And the lyrics are funny too. Lead singer Casey Crawford is a comedian, so you’d expect there to be winking phrases here or there, but songs like “We Get It” and “IamYOUareMEtoo” are genuinely hilarious from the first line of verses all the way until the buzzy outro. How is that for a transferable skill set? Put on Popmortem and let it be the funeral hymn to your cares.
Featured image: Dummy.