Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bandcamp Bargain Bin: September 2013

Bandcamp Bargain Bin is a monthly feature with our partner site wasfuersohr, where you can find some of the best indie Bandcamp releases out there. The catch? Everything on the site is free. Today, we'll cover some of the finds the site has made in the past month--all for the low, low cost of zero dollars!

Devil Marko - 2011 - A Pleasant Exorcism
Brevity is a virtue, and the description for Devil Marko's...divorce-pop (huh?) EP A Pleasant Exorcism proves it with five simple words: "boredom, voyeurism, masturbation, moaning, unemployment." So does the actual music, which swings from devil-may-care ruminations (opener "I Feel Like Death Today") to plucky sing-along tunes (the outstanding "A Suburban Afternoon") and stirring rockers ("I Don't Know What") with aplomb. I admire the scrappy spirit, courtesy of the album's low-key production and a firecracker performance from Mr. Marko himself, who lets cracks of emotion through his weathered, reedy voice. At wasfuersohr, Marko Henkel raves, offering the album five out of five vinyls and comparing the album to "a low-budget and self-produced Julian Casablancas EP." The Strokes comparison doesn't come without strings attached, of course, but Devil Marko's good enough to get listeners to pull 'em.

These Monsters - 2013 - Call Me Dragon
If you're itching for a good punk rock record with progressive leanings, give These Monsters' new LP a shot. Matt Grosvenor has more to say in his review at wasfuersohr: "These four guys from Leeds lay down hefty slabs of punk wrapped in a wicked tapestry of progressive and post-rock (dat sax!) that was just what I needed to remember what music can sound like. I say progressive and post-rock play a role here because while there are vocals (and I assume lyrics as well), they're more of a tribal wail into the mic, that's buried in the mix most of the time (I almost didn't realize it was singing at first), and the songs have a free-form flow to them, with songs gliding effortlessly into the next like a tale born of guitars riffs, and into and out of noodling instrumental flourishes without killing the pacing." The opening track will make or break you, a heavy, oppressive hay ride through a nightmare of guitar squalls and dark, brooding melodies haunting both sides of the road. Let me know what you think if you make it out alive.

Oh, My! - 2013 - This Be Weird EP
I'll indulge myself and make the easy joke: oh, my. Matt Grosvenor over at wasfuersohr has more to say about the Sacramento experimental punk band's four-track release: "It's an EP of four floor stomping, chest pounding tracks from the Sacramento quintet known as Oh, My! Things start off auspiciously enough, a lone drumbeat intro and get a little math-y, a little prog-y, all good, from there on out." One thing both of us agree on is the strong vocals: the band has not one, not two, but THREE lead vocalists — and each brings something for the band to work with.

Pirate Jenny - 2013 - Shipwreck Special
Well, here's a conundrum for the ages: "What would an indie rock band sound like if they wrote songs as if they were pirates roaming the high seas?" asks Matt Grosvenor over at wasfuersohr. Aye, matey, that's a question Pirate Jenny's eager to answer with its new pirate rock (yes, pirate rock) LP Shipwreck Special. " [pirate rock] sounds a bit like ska and indie rock music themed around, well, pirates and life at sea...these guys take the music seriously, with 11 well crafted and extremely catchy tunes of the pirate life," he continues, and the release is fairly colorful for what initially seems like your boilerplate indie-rock served up with a side of scurvy: it helps that the band isn't afraid of tinkering with instrumentation and genre conventions ("Marooned" ends with a surprisingly gnarly guitar solo and a timpani outro). "Definite guilty pleasure material, folks," concludes Grosvenor; personally, I don't even feel guilty about digging Shipwreck Special.

Nika Smith - 2010 - s k i n
"There is something rather personal about these lo-fi releases," writes wasfuersohr's Marko Henkel in his positive review for DIY folk artist Nika Smith's debut EP, and that is indeed its strongest attribute. The six-track release is intimate and showcases Smith's lovely world-wise voice: "Ego" finds her quietly unleashing some personal demons over a bare-bones foundation of kick drum and grungy bass licks, while "My Heart and Window" strips the instrumentation back to the oh-so-familiar acoustic guitar and lets ghostly vocal harmonies take over. It's a well-paved road Smith walks, but as long as aspiring musicians are locking themselves in bedrooms and finding themselves, it's one I welcome with open arms. (On a final note, it appears Smith has released another EP and a single in the three years since this album's release, but I have not found time to listen to them. Curious readers can explore if they so choose.)

If you'll still itching for great free indie music, wasfuersohr posts reviews of new album twice or three times a week! Go check out the site and unearth some Bandcamp jewels. And remember to check for our next edition of Bandcamp Bargain Bin soon!

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