Back in March, Bandcamp first announced that it would be waiving its revenue share on all music and merch purchases to help artists at the start of the pandemic. Little did we know then that come December, we'd be in a worse spot with the pandemic and still have no idea when live music is coming back. As of press time, Bandcamp has yet to announce that the initiative will continue in 2021. Whatever they do, it's hard to imagine that they'd pump the brakes on this as the coronavirus still rages, keeps venues shuttered, and musicians out of work.
While you compile your own personal year-end lists and share your Spotify Wrapped results, ask yourself how many of your favorites this year you actually bought directly from the artist. Streaming isn't going to keep the vast majority of musicians afloat and the best way to make sure that they're getting your money is by giving them your money. Once you've gone through your own favorites, check out these recommendations below including three awesome comps benefitting good causes and some recent discoveries.
Various Artists, Eclectic Change Compilation
This compilation features a ton of East Coast acts, specifically Boston-based artists, banding together to support National Bail Out and Trans Trenderz. The comp features 2020 breakout artist Anijimile as well as Sidney Gish, and a cast of underground and excellent indie rock, punk, and other acts. While we haven't heard a song from it yet, we're happily supporting both of these great causes.
Various Artists, Simply Having a Wonderful Compilation
Say what you will about Christmas songs but some of them are actually good. Just take this benefit compilation organized by Father/Daughter Records and Sadie Dupuis' Wax Nine Records which will support Feeding America. Simply Having a Wonderful Compilation boasts VICE favorites like Tasha, Melkbelly, Diet Cig, Bacchae, and Maneka each taking on their own Christmas song whether it's a cover or an original. We're definitely excited to hear Maneka's "Santa Is a Neocon" by title alone and that his 2019 LP Devin has been of the best records from last year I listened to throughout 2020.
Various Artists, Warm Violet: A Compilation for Chicago Community Jail Support
This release was organized by Ohmme's Macie Stewart, an artist VICE once called "the heart of Chicago’s music community," as well Retirement Party's Avery Springer and other volunteers for the Chicago Community Jail Support, an abolitionist mutual aid project. Warm Violet is a powerhouse 46-song compilation of all-star local talent working to fund CCJS's operations during the winter, which include buying a van so volunteers can drive recently released inmates back home and refilling supplies. The 46 songs include acts like Resavoir, NNAMDÏ, Ratboys, Post Animal, Lala Lala, Half Gringa, and dozens more.
Jennifer Castle, Monarch Season
Monarch Season, the sixth album from singer-songwriter Jennifer Castle unfolds like a delicate but incredibly comfortable blanket. The Toronto-based artist writes absolutely gentle and pastoral folk songs that are anchored by her rich and spectral voice. The songs don't need much more as she's accompanied mostly by just an acoustic guitar and piano. It's thoughtful music for sitting alone and taking everything in.
Honey Slides, "Skipping Stones into the Asteroid Belt"
Chicago's Colin Croom is best known as being a multi-instrumentalist in Twin Peaks who, since joining the band in 2015, has given the group soulful and psychedelic flourishes. Just take his recent song "Any More Than You Want" and 2017's largely instrumental "We Will Not Make It (Not Without You)." The latter track informs Croom's latest collection of songs, a batch of psychedelic rock and jazz-informed grooves that showcases his knack for a fully fleshed out and vibe-setting arrangement. For this first track "Skipping Stones into the Asteroid Belt," he enlisted saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi. Stay tuned for more, which will feature more marquee Chicago musician guests and atmospheric jams.
VICE included the third album from these Brooklyn indie rockers in our Best Songs of the Month: November Spotify playlist (which you should follow) for good reason: their brand of kinetic, herky-jerky indie rock is fun and frantic. While its 10 tracks are furiously paced and clock in at less than a half-hour, it's a rewarding listen, especially during its second side. Favorites include the driving "Pointer Finger" and the cheekily-titled opener "Seth Myers."