Sunday, June 7, 2020

Going (Band)Camping: Edition 1

I've written about my somewhat-recent discovery of how wonderful the website/app Bandcamp is for finding incredible music by talented indie artists (as well as bigger names who simply appreciate how Bandcamp doesn't treat artists like crap). I've gotten everything from cassettes to vinyl to pure digital downloads from Bandcamp and thought it might be fun to start sharing some reviews in this new segment, "Going (Band)Camping." I'll pause for a moment to accept your applause for such a clever title. Anyway, I shall now review some artists you can find and support on Bandcamp if you decide upon reading my reviews their music might be something you'll enjoy. My tastes, of course, vary widely, so feel free to disagree with me, this is the internet, I'm used to folk yelling, "You're wrong!" With that said, let's review some music that came out recently or some years ago and I just happened to stumble across--there is no real method to my madness with this new segment besides how you can buy the music on Bandcamp--I'm crazy like that.

Goldkey--"Background EP"
The artist known as Goldkey actually is the person who turned me onto Bandcamp when I visited their page and thought, "Hey, this EP is pretty snazzy, I should join Bandcamp and buy it." That probably already tells you I was a fan of the tracks on their latest release. I'd describe, "Background," as being chill-rock. It gives off good, mellow vibes and never reaches an especially fast BPM, it just offers both hopeful and at times melancholy songs. It's a great EP to relax too and if I had any criticism it would be how some songs were a little too long for my tastes and wore out their welcome ("Afraid of Love,") while others were far too short and I would have enjoyed more of their beauty for an extra minute or so ("Prominent Moon," and, "Mountain," to name two). That quibble aside, I'd recommend buying the digital EP or cassette version here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Various Artists--"Quiet, Constant Friends"

A compilation of artists in support of global literacy charity, "Worldreader," with all profits from the album going to charity, no one can deny, "Quiet, Constant Friends," is for a good cause. However, as often happens with a compilation, the quality can vary widely. For every song that impresses you and makes you want to listen to it on repeat ("TV," by Oh Rose & Sawtooth) there is one or two you quickly determine is not to your liking. There were aspects of, "Quiet, Constant Friends," I really dug, but then find myself sighing and quickly fast-forwarding at other points with too. That said, all the money is going to a good cause and there are some gems on this, so I'd recommend giving it a try. Plus, you may very well love the stuff I disliked. Buy it as a digital album or cassette here.
3 out of 5 stars.

Turbosleaze--"McDonald's"
This short EP features some heavy punk-rocking with great instrumentation accompanied by a good deal of satirical lyrics about commercialism and militarization. I mean, the intial track is, "The First Baskin Robbins in Afghanistan," so clearly Turbosleaze is both being silly and making a statement. The EP moves briskly, with only one of the seven tracks being longer than 2 minutes. This makes sense as I feel as if it is an unwritten rule no punk song can ever exceed 3 minutes. The quick pace helps prevent, "McDonald's," from getting old or grating, making sure a new song kicks-in the moment your brain threatens to become bored. It's worth at least one listen. Do note you cannot just buy the digital rights, however, you must buy the vinyl EP for $5 at which point you then also gain streaming-rights. You can buy it here.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Thistle Street--"Can't Tell the Days Apart"
A short-and-sweet EP, "Can't Tell the Days Apart," is a lovely mix of experimental sound-making with guitar and lo-fi effects. It never tries to do too much, just gently ambling along with a gentle enthusiasm that pleased my ears. Those wanting a steady beat or central focus will come away disappointed, but anyone who is after a relaxed bit of guitar-plucking and atmospheric tinkling will be overjoyed. You can get a digital copy or the cassette EP here.
4 out of 5 stars.

Kids Born Wrong--"Giallo"
The cover art evokes a 1980's horror movie and the song titles are allusions to them as well, but the music is less scary-soundtrack and more wild rockabilly. Some songs get a bit too heavy and scearmy for my tastes ("Suicide Cult,") but others are a fast-paced good time and keep my toes tapping and head nodding ("Great Mutant," and, "Unnecessary Surgery,"). Kids Born Wrong knows how to shred a guitar and bang the drums, simply put, and when they're doing that I'm all-in for it. At the times things threaten to get a little too hard-rock I kind of zone-out. Still, "Giallo," is for the most part a screamingly-good time, if I may riff on the theme myself. You can get your own digital copy or cassette EP right here.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

 Aaron Space & His Terrestrial Underlings--"Fishland"
A zany and strange album, I enjoyed, "Fishland," so much. With a mixture of jazz, neo-soul, electronica, and hints of rock with surreal orchestral swells at times too, "Fishland," defies easy categorization, instead just existing as a testament to the creativity and of Aaron Space & His Terrestrial Underlings. This eagerness to test-out sounds at times results in tracks that drag more than entertain ("Stome Soup"), but when it works, it works fabulously and results in impressive songs ("Zellerbach,"). This is definitely an album for those who like more off-kilter and strange stuff. You can get the digital album or buy it on cassette here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

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