All too often which musician gets written about involves a big game of “Who Do You Know?” Does a band know an editor who runs a publication? Did an artist land a gig with someone who writes a weekly “Up and Coming” column? As someone who has written about music for the past ten years, I have had musicians come from all angles trying to get some extra words formed around their craft. I don’t blame them one bit: it’s a hard game to play!
However, for this space, granted to me by the wonderful folks at Compose Yourself Magazine, I wanted to immerse myself into a deep dive through the Bandcamp algorithms for artists that I would never hear about otherwise. This column is dedicated to finding a batch of artists on the first Friday of every month and putting together a package that folks can buy for $20-$30.
The music doesn’t need to be new or any particular genre. For those unaware, the first Friday of every month is #BandcampFriday” and the site (which hosts music for streaming and sale for independent artists) gives 100% of their cut back to the artists instead of taking their normal service fees. This was implemented to help musicians who are struggling through COVID to keep roofs over their heads and continue to focus making sweet tunes. For lack of better words, this is what I personally bought for #BandcampFriday!
Without further adieu, here are some amazing artists with music releases that you should purchase:
THAIR is a pop and soul artist from Chicago IL that has one of the most incredible voices I have heard in a long time. He can write hooks for days, and you can hear them all over his sophomore release “You Deserve It”. You Deserve It is full of self-love sermons that spread healing energy through sound waves and syncopations. From Thair’s Bandcamp is this stellar quote: “We twerking while we heal babyyyy!”, and his self-produced album is littered with quotes and conversations bringing his amazing production and performance down to a relatable level. These songs are all pretty beefy: all breaking the three and a half minute mark, which gives just enough space to make you think but not enough time to let you wander. I would absolutely adore to see Thair play live in the danciest of dance halls! Click that play button and then give “You Deserve It” a buy! You can pick it up for the great price of $7 (like I did!) or even pay more!
TWINKLE PARK, from somewhere in California, combines pop-punk sensibilities with video game sounds to create a driving, dreamlike envelope to float away inside with an album called “As Much As I Forget”. The vocals are cute and soft, the guitar composition is complex and exciting, and everything feels like it is layered with this really comforting rainbow shout. There are just so many sounds and emotions on this album, that you never run out of new and interesting things to find. Don’t get me wrong though, the lyrics behind all of this sunny composition are layered and smart: lots of lyrics about mental health and where we get help from for it. I am not familiar with this project, but I think the vocals are either from a computer or run through a synth of some kind, which I absolutely love. If they aren’t: well then the singer is just perfect. Either way, it adds a texture to the music that brings an anime aesthetic, but drags it back to the real world. Check out the whole album (Ten Tracks!) and buy it! This album is pay-what-you-can, so I stuck with the mood and paid $7 for it.
#THE SET is up next from Atlanta, GA with “Summer Vibes”. Summer Vibes is a very well-written, relaxed vibe of a full length, combining hip hop, pop, and smooth auto-tuned vocals. A lot of people bash on autotune vocals, but in case you couldn’t tell from the last review, I don’t mind computer-aided vocalization at all. When they are used really well, it just becomes another instrument. The beats that give a sturdy foundation to “Summer Vibes” keep things moving along, underscoring lyrical performances about relationships and life. With witty callbacks and smooth transitions, this is just a really great album to fall into. Smart but simple, “Summer Vibes” has a little bit of everything for everybody. Once again, this release is up for grabs for sliding scale profit, so drop whatever you can afford on it. I stuck with the theme and picked it up for $7.
Last but not least is THE HARDLY BOYS, a punk outfit from Chattanooga TN. I don’t know anything about the folks in this band, but I clicked on the album art as soon as I saw it because I love hearing music by trans artists. Their full-length album “Get It Off Your Chest” has just the right amount of intensity, and the songs on it sound like they are influenced by everything from street punk to folk-punk. I would have loved some lyrics on the Bandcamp site because every once in a while I catch a really important lyric about some deep stuff, and I assume all the lyrics are that way. “Get It Off Your Chest” has ten songs mostly hitting the two-minute mark, just hitting you with fireballs of fury. Groups vocals for days outlined by quick guitar leads, steady bass lines, and thrashy drums. Nothing you can’t love here, including the sounds of the amp buzzing at the end of some songs. Kind of reminds you of when we could all go to shows, right? Pick up their album and maybe we can all go to a show when things clear up! Another PWYC release, meaning whatever your budget is, you can afford it! However, I ended up with quadruple sevens and paid $7 for “Get It Off Your Chest”!
THAT’S IT, four great albums, for a grand total of $28 dollars. I know that every cent is going to the artists because it is #BANDCAMPFRIDAY. Check these bands out, buy their music, and then do your own deep dive into the depths of indie music to see what you can find!