10 Bands to Check Out on Bandcamp Right Now
This Friday, Bandcamp is waiving fees so that 100% of revenue goes to artists.
If you've recently found yourself with more "me" time, there's perhaps never been a better occasion to reassess your listening habits. That can mean digging into a specific sub-genre or exploring a favorite artist's back catalogue -- how will you ever know if prog rock is your thing if you don't give it a chance? -- but it can also mean taking a hard look at the ways you spend money on music and the companies you support. Founded in 2008, Bandcamp presents itself as a more artist-friendly music streaming and purchasing service, and the company is backing up that claim this Friday by waiving its revenue share on all purchases for the second time during the pandemic.
In addition to putting more cash in the pockets of artists, the site has also provided a list of labels and artists offering special releases, discounts, and donation deals. Given the size and scope of Bandcamp's offerings, diving in can be intimidating. The site's editorial arm, Bandcamp Daily, does a great job of highlighting releases across a number of genres, but we thought we would put together a list of some of our favorite recent releases available on the platform. Grab a pair of headphones and start listening.
As part of the Friday promotion, Beats in Space, the label founded by New York dance music mainstay Tim Sweeney, will donate all proceeds to the NYC Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund. The label was founded with the purpose of releasing underground music inspired by Sweeney's beloved long-running radio show, which airs every Tuesday night from 10:30pm to 1:00am on WNYU and often features guests playing their favorite records. The ever-shifting sounds heard on Joyful, an ebullient collection of house and trance indebted tracks from Melbourne producer Andrew Wilson (recording under the moniker Andras here), are indicative of the lightly nostalgic, vaguely futuristic vibe of Sweeney's show, which I remember stumbling upon in college and getting sucked in by. Every beat has the power to transport. -- Dan Jackson
Brian Piñyero -- whether he's writing as DJ Wey, DJ Xanax, Luis, or most recently, DJ Python -- has a grasp over his musical domain better than most, crafting trancey and dancey electronic music that considers the full album experience, highlighted best on his most recent release, Mas Amable, out April 10. His music, paired with an approach of aggressive kindness, earned the Queens-based producer a glowing Pitchfork feature this month. Not only are proceeds of Mas Amable going to Piñyero's HIV-positive friend, DJ Python has been making regular appearances on Ridgewood, Queens-based bar/venue Nowadays' livestreams to keep the community center, known for hosting excellent and vibey all-night DJ dance parties, alive through the pandemic and support its staff. His extensive back catalogue across Piñyero's monikers is worth exploring, too. -- Leanne Butkovic
The Michigan-born, Berlin-based queen of the club and 2am DJ sets, Laurel Halo's catalogue ranges from compulsively dancey electronic house tracks to lush ambient soundscapes with the power to lull you into a pastel-hued dream. (Her lauded 2012 debut, Quarantine, which falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum, feels particularly appropriate right now.) But her most ambitious work yet is her first time scoring a film for the experimental Dutch documentary Possessed, about "togetherness in the age of the smartphone," in 2018, and now, it's out digitally and on vinyl via Resident Advisor. Halo wields her production and instrumentation chops like an X-Acto knife, splicing in and crossfading with expert precision. The Possessed score stands alone as its own masterful piece of music, out just in time for fee-waiving day. -- LB
When Mary Lattimore plays her harp, the instrument doesn't conjure images of stately ballrooms or crowded concert halls. There's an earthiness to her improvisatory style and her ambient compositions, which often draw themes from nature and feature titles like "Hello From the Edge of Earth." (Her excellent 2016 record At the Dam is named after a Joan Didion essay about the Hoover Dam.) The best place to start with Lattimore is probably "It Feels Like Floating," the lengthy meditative opening track off her 2018 album Hundreds of Days, but Bandcamp also features a number of non-album songs, remixes, and performances from her, including a serene recent track called "We Wave From Our Boats." The lightly strummed composition was released on March 20 and benefits LA's Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund. -- DJ
Brad Oberhofer has been at it for awhile. The noise pop artist garnered buzz coming out of the Brooklyn scene in the early 2010s, recording and producing all of his synthy, new wave-fueled rock on his own (from the drum machines to his beloved glockenspiels), while hitting the stage with an impressive live set-up. His music sounds like NYC on a bustling, hot summer day; it's erratic and playful, and his words are always dreamy. While he only has two full-length official releases -- the most recent from 2015 -- and currently plays in Strokes member Nick Valensi's side project, CRX, he still offers one-off Oberhofer treats to his cult-like following on Bandcamp. He uploads finished songs, demos, and peculiar, little ditties like songs to help you sleep and meditations on the piano, including a handful of quarantine drops. Few indie rock artists are as big sweethearts as Oberhofer is in his frenzied, joyful music and the way he shares it. -- Sadie Bell
Brooklyn-by-way-of-Ohio's The Ophelias make what they call "moth music," which is a sound you need to know. Within a moment of listening to them, you'll understand what that means, as their indie folk pulls in Celtic influence and makes organic references so lovely it's like they could transport you to a prairie in bloom. Fronted by lyricist Spencer Peppet, the four-piece basks in femininity with their violins paired with her words that flower into stories recalling the simplicities of girlhood and young lovers longing to know everything about one another before they fall apart. On their song "Night Signs," Peppet sings, "Be a poet and breathe," which is something we could all use right now, and their moon-eyed sound can help you reach that calming place with ease. -- SB
Life can feel pretty damn lonely, but Jade Lilitri is determined to search for some lightness in his life and revel in it, no matter what it takes. As the brainchild behind Long Island's Oso Oso, he makes some genuine, lovable emo music. That search for joy was the subject of last year's wonderful Basking in the Glow, and imbues much of his upbeat, guitar-driven music that's often about looking out for your heart and relentlessly caring for your friends, even as they push you away. Whether you're an active emo fan or not, they're a band to put on your radar, as they're one of the best in the genre today. The second you let their melodic sound pull you under like one of the waves out on Long Beach, you'll wish you could be down in the pit at one of their shows. (And while we can't get to the gig right now, Oso Oso is so blissful even in their melancholy that listening to them is enough to help you feel some of that joy Lilitri's always searching for). -- SB
There's no better time to become a cheerleader for Mia Berrin's riot grrrl-inspired indie rock band Pom Pom Squad, one of the must-know acts out of Brooklyn right now. On May 1, they're sharing demos from last year's Ow EP paired with downloads of Berrin's liner notes and new merch on Bandcamp. That release, and all of the queer, heartfelt band's music, is seriously incredible, so do yourself a favor and check them out -- especially if you need a good sob. An ingenue of her favorite artist Mitski, Berrin makes emotive guitar music that both thrashes into a riot and tenderly embraces you as it's led by her brutally honest songwriting about loneliness. They're basically the band who should've played your high school prom, making you feel young, yearning, heartbroken, and as melodramatic as you were when you were a teenager upon every listen. -- SB
Part interstellar trip to the stars and part grounded psychological portraiture, the new album from reliably boundary-pushing hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces keeps its feet on the ground and its mind in orbit. On a production level, The Don of Diamond Dreams retains multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Marair's focus on squiggling synths and knocking kick drums while incorporating more contemporary rap moves, allowing tracks like the stand-out "Wet" to bounce on a mix of old school craftsmanship and on rhythmic radio trends. At 50, frontman Ishmael Butler sounds as invigorated and playful as ever, toggling between the cosmic and the carnal with ease. It's an ideal album to get lost in. -- DJ
The solo project of former LVL UP singer/songwriter Dave Benton, Trace Mountains writes softer versions of the broken-up Sub Pop band's perfect pop-rock songs. The newest record, Lost in the Country, out April 10 via Lame-O Records, tightens up the former lo-fi approach to meticulously produced indie music with a country twang in its instrumentation of layered acoustic and slide guitars, gentle piano and keyboards, and plenty of harmonized vocal lines. All of Lame-O's bands are receiving 100% of the revenue made through sales to its artists, so while you'll certainly dig Trace Mountains' vibe, dig through the rest of the label's offerings to find another new favorite band, like Cayetana or Modern Baseball offshoots gladie and Slaughter Beach, Dog, respectively. -- LB
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