Melkbelly (Photo by Ariella Miller)
Musicians need your help right now. With COVID-19, colloquially known as coronavirus, tearing apart the music industry by leading to the cancellation of tours, festivals, and other events that are necessary for artists to pay their bills, buying albums and merch is one of the best ways you can help out. Today, Bandcamp is here to make it easier to do some good, as the platform is waiving all of their commissions so that purchase revenue goes directly to the artists. To make matters even more artist-friendly, certain labels—including Fire Talk, Trouble In Mind, Orindal, and more—have waived their share of profits to ensure it all goes to the artist. These new rules will only be in effect today, until midnight Pacific Time.
Artists who had tours planned for this spring and summer are facing the greatest losses right now, and we'd especially recommend buying some LPs from the acts we interviewed about their postponed and cancelled shows and festival appearances and the consequences.We've also compiled a short list of some recent music we've been digging on Bandcamp. From the political instrumental grooves of Horse Lords to the thoughtful indie rock of Nap Eyes and the dependable rhymes of Jean Grae, this list has something for everyone. Check out our recommendations below and be sure to buy an album from your favorite artist today.Angelica Garcia, Cha Cha Palace (out now)Angelica Garcia's career so far has shown her jaw-dropping dynamism. Her 2016 LP Medicine For The Birds exuded a rustic, country-tinged aura while her latest, 2020's Cha Cha Palace is at times bombastic and brooding pop, muscular rock, and a compelling journey through a variety of genres. The daughter of Mexican and El Salvadorian immigrants, Garcia celebrates her heritage with vigor on electronic bangers like "Jicama" and the stripped down "La Enorme Distancia." —Josh TerryBen Seretan, Youth Pastoral (out now)Once immersed in Evangelical Christianity, Ben Seretan's warm and searching new record grapples with his break from organized religion through grand, folksy arrangements. His voice is reedy and weathered as he sings about faith, identity, and big existential questions that come from a loss of faith. It's an album of freedom and figuring it out, one that's gorgeous at every new revelation. —Josh Terry
Horse Lords, The Common Task (out now)Nervy, overwhelming, and incredibly vibrant, Horse Lords are heightening the intensity of instrumental music. There are endless, droning grooves throughout the five songs on The Common Task that occasionally move at a completely breathless pace. Though there are no lyrics, Horse Lords bathe their music in radical politics: the song "People's Park" is a reference to a park founded by the Young Lords, a Lincoln Park Chicago street gang that became community activists. —Josh TerryMedhane, Full Circle (out now)Medhane doesn't waste a second on his eight-song 15-minute project Full Circle. Full of crackling samples and the Brooklyn rapper's straightforwardly blunt delivery, there's a simmering intensity throughout its tracklist. On highlight "Reverance," Medhane practically floats as he raps, "Righteous I can’t bottle pain / That's how my momma raised me / Niggas sending shots barely grazed me / Time's different but I stayed me." —Josh TerryPorridge Radio, Every Bad (out now)The first line on Brighton band Porridge Radio's second album finds singer Dana Margolin repeating, "I'm bored to death, let's argue." While opener "Born Confused" is an autopsy of the extremes of a breakup ("Thank you for leaving / thank you for making me happy," Margolin later sings) the track is the perfect salve for being stuck inside and not knowing what to do. The rest of the album stretches the boundaries of guitar music into brooding and dark territory, especially on the explosive single "Sweet." —Josh Terry
Nap Eyes, Snapshot of a Beginner (out March 27)Nap Eyes frontman Nigel Chapman, whose day job is a chemist, is a master of lyrical dissection, exploring his thoughts down to its barest elements. On single "Mystery Calling," he takes his scalpel to his own creative process. He sings, "Is there a chance I should just forget about my song? / I’ve got some work to do today / Not the kind that’s fun to play." The rest of the album is equally thoughtful indie rock. It's an LP for thinkers and questioners. —Josh TerryMelkbelly, Pith (out April 3)Melkbelly make indie rock that's relentless, brutal, and surprisingly full of 90s alt-rock inflected earworms. Songs like "Little Bug" are sludgy and pummeling, while single "LCR" is anchored by the breakneck percussion from drummer James Wetzel. The other previously shared track, the disorienting "Humid Heart," finds singer Miranda Winters singing, "stepped inside of a humid heart, then it got hot, then it got confusing." —Josh TerryNNAMDÏ, BRAT (out April 3)Nnamdi Ogbonnaya is a multi-instrumentalist who's performed with too many Chicago bands to count (Ohmme, Lala Lala, Ratboys, Monobody) and is also an excellent rapper and producer. His new album BRAT, as NNAMDÏ, sounds like the future. It's the best document so far of his vast array of talents, with the multifaceted artist performing most every instrument on the LP. "Price Went Up" is a deranged and mesmerizing snippet of otherworldly hip-hop, while "Flowers For My Demons" is somewhere not too far off from folk. It's an Album of the Year contender. —Josh Terry
Jacob Turnbloom, Cemetery Luau (out now)It's looking pretty bleak for mankind right about now, but luckily Jacob Turnbloom (who gave us another fantastic end times jam—"There Is No God" with his band Mrs. Magician) is here to soundtrack the doom and gloom with some sunny indie rock on Cemetery Luau. Hearing Turnbloom croon "Marylou, I feel sick inside / I feel lonesome tonight" over the plush guitars and glimmering bells on "Suncoast Digest" while stuck in self-isolation, well, it's hard not to feel that.—Alex ZaragozaHeavy Hawaii, Boy Don't Drown (out April 3)Ever been to a haunted spa where ghosts rub the knots out of your shoulder while you puff on opium? I assume not. But Heavy Hawaii's Boy Don't Drown is probably the closest you'll get to that. It's exactly the relaxing, lo-key vibe you need to stay chill in these weird ass times. —Alex ZaragozaJean Grae, That's Still Not How You Do That: An Instructional Album For Adults (out now)That's Still Not How You Do That: An Instructional Album For Adults, is the final album in the informative trilogy by Jean Grae. If we're allowed to go outside and interact with humans again, Grae has some great advice on how to do that. If not, the first track, "The Handshake is Over" is a good reminder for right now. — Ashwin RodriguesWalter Martin, Common Prayers and Green Beans and Tangerines (out now)Walter Martin, who was in The Walkmen for years before starting a solo career, early-released two albums this week on Bandcamp "in hopes of spreading a bit of love, hope, and humor to this scary situation." One, Green Beans and Tangerines, is a children's album that's just as enjoyable for toddlers as it is for adults, made up of goofy (and yet expertly arranged) songs about crabs and chicken soup and big, tall boats—the perfect record for any parent looking to entertain their kid with something that's not "Baby Shark." The other, an album for adults called Common Prayers, is a panacea for all the anxiety and restlessness that comes with being stuck at home indefinitely. It's filled with soft, tender songs, carried by quiet, noodly guitar lines, clinking piano parts, and Martin's rich, gravelly voice. Listening to the record feels like being transported to a hammock in a backyard somewhere at dusk, rocking back and forth in the twilight, taking a deep, luxurious breath of humid night air as, for the first time in days, all the tension drains from your body.