It's almost a miracle that almost seven months into the pandemic there's still a wealth of incredible new music being released on a weekly basis. It's also fantastic that every month has Bandcamp Fridays, where the music and merch platform waives its revenue share for 24 hours, giving 100% of profits directly to artists and labels. In a difficult year with no shows, no independent venues, and no physical music communities, these two things are undeniable bright spots.
And because it's another Bandcamp Friday, VICE is back with recommendations on what to buy. We suggest first perusing Black Bandcamp, an incredible crowdsourced tool compiling fantastic POC artists worthy of your money and listening, and also checking out our monthly lists of great Bandcamp buys to see if you've missed anything. After you've done that, give these releases a spin. From the 77-song Good Music To Avert Collapse of American Democracy compilation supporting Voting Rights Lab, Bartees Strange's masterful debut LP, to the stoner metal of Chicago's REZN, and Nana Adjoa's soft and politically relevant songs, we hope these artists can soundtrack the rest of your October.
Various Artists, Good Music To Avert Collapse of American Democracy Pt. 2
The second installment of Music To Avert Collapse of American Democracy is only available for 24 hours today on Bandcamp and features 77 contributions from artists as big as David Byrne, Arcade Fire, Sturgill Simpson, and Pearl Jam, as well as favorites like Beach Bunny, NNAMDÏ, and Faye Webster. Like Volume 1, which raised over $250,000, all proceeds are going to the Voting Rights Lab to help "secure, protect, and defend the voting rights of all Americans." The compilation is priced at $20.20, which is a steal for how much exclusive music is packed inside, so we recommend donating more if you can to help out a good cause. You can purchase it here.
Helena Deland, Someone New
Montreal's Helena Deland says in a press statement that her debut album Someone New, out Oct. 9, is "about paradoxically feeling sick of and unfamiliar with myself." Though she deals with difficult and unpleasant emotions throughout, the LP is an astoundingly confident collection of songs. There's inherent kindness in songs like "Truth Nugget" where she sings about the thrill of human connection over soft synths: "Festively clothed, we'll shed layers and expose / The naked landscapes of our minds / We'll crack open our minds."
Bartees Strange, Live Forever
Every single Bartees Strange has put out in support of his debut album Live Forever has been a song of the year candidate. From the raucous “Mustang,” to the hip-hop-infused pop punk of “Boomer,” and the moody and soulful “Kelly Rowland,” none of these tracks have sounded alike, but they've excelled because Strange is one of 2020’s most versatile new songwriters. The rest of the LP is full of welcome surprises as well. There's a horn section freakout throughout "In A Cab" while "Far" is an acoustic ballad that recalls Bon Iver. It's no wonder Uproxx's Steven Hyden called Strange the "2020's Breakout Indie Star."
REZN, Chaotic Divine
REZN make heavy music that's frequently psychedelic and sludgy. On the Chicago band's new album Chaotic Divine, the four-piece dives deep into stoner soundscapes with songs that boast saxophones and sitars. With its 70s-inspired arrangements and sci-fi album art, it gets into some pretty metal nerd territory, especially on the atmospheric and brooding "Optic Echo." It's full of enough chunky riffs and acid washed textures to have real staying power throughout the rest of the year.
Wife Patrol, Too Prickly For This World
I laughed when I first heard about Wife Patrol because it's an actually funny name for a band. I also laughed when I heard their debut LP Too Prickly For This World because this Indianapolis trio makes rock 'n' roll that's so refreshing you almost have to giggle. Throughout, the band gleefully barnstorms through their punk and classic rock influences. Where the opening "Why Do I Keep Doing This to Myself" sounds like Black Sabbath or Thin Lizzy, the song unfolds into pristine jangle pop. Elsewhere soaring guitar theatrics anchor tracks like "Cactus Girl," which features lines like "I'm sick of hearing about your mother's tattoos."
Pool Holograph, Love Touched Time and Time Began to Sweat
Asheville and Chicago band Pool Holograph have consistently made visceral and emotive indie rock, from their excellent 2017 LP Transparent World to their meatiest offering yet in Love Touched Time and Time Began to Sweat, which is out today. While the band's best songs have long been anthemic rockers with clanging guitars and cathartic yelps from vocalist Wyatt Grant, here, their best comes in the quieter moments like "Asleep in Spain," a duet with Chicago musician V.V. Lightbody.
Nana Adjoa, Big Dreaming Ants
Nana Adjoa is a Dutch-Ghanaian songwriter who thrives on packaging resonant, gut-punch lyrics and big, atmospheric pop songs. "National Song," the opening track on her September album Big Dreaming Ants tackles the horror of school shootings and nationalism, where she sings, "You know how to shout and pray, and wave your pitchforks / You know how to barricade your classroom doors." Single "No Room," however takes on the mundanity of late capitalism. She sings, "I imagine my way out, of this cubicle life / There is a chance, where you assume, there ain't room." There's also a fantastic downtempo cover of Ebo Taylor's "Love and Death" which is worth the price alone.