Bandcamp has been one of the only unquestionably good things for musicians in 2020. As a response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to canceled tours and a dramatic loss of income for many artists, the music and merch platform has been waiving its revenue share (which is anywhere from 10-15 percent, depending on the product) one day out of every month. So far, the initiative has netted well over $11.4 million for artists and labels. This number excludes the total from June's Bandcamp Day, where, in solidarity with widespread protests against police violence and systemic racism, hundreds of artists directed their profits to racial justice organizations, community bail and bond funds, and mutual aid networks. It rules.
On Friday, June 19 (and every Juneteeth going forward), Bandcamp is donating 100% of its share of sales to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Additionally, the platform pledged to make a yearly donation of $30,000 to “organizations that fight for racial justice and create opportunities for people of color.” The day runs for a full 24 hours from midnight to midnight Pacific Daylight Time—and by purchasing music and merch from your favorite artists, you'll be contributing to a great cause. While we've highlighted dozens of releases to put your money behind on previous Bandcamp Days, here are a few more suggestions.
Armand Hammer, Shrines
Shrines is the fourth album from Armand Hammer, the New York duo of rappers Elucid and billy woods—and it's a lyrical stunner. As a rapper, woods is especially dexterous and dynamic: "At the wake, awakened a dream / The motorcade curved like a snake through the streets / Black men in black suits, heavy heat / White handkerchief," he raps on "Parables." "We are bored of the apocalypse," Euclid raps on "Slewfoot," offering the de facto thesis statement for the dark and biting LP. "Flava Flav" tackles the horrors 1968 South Carolina State massacre, while "Pommelhorse" dives into the violence of capitalism. This is lucid and masterful hip-hop from a formidable tandem.
Shamir, “On My Own”
Shamir began making waves in 2015 with Ratchet, a maximalist and charming dance-pop record that showcases his rich vocal range and undeniable charisma. But where his debut suggested he was headed for pop superstardom, Shamir's output subsequently took a a bit of a left-turn, veering into sparse, fuzz-laden lo-fi indie rock across beguiling releases like 2020's Cataclysm and 2019's Be the Yee Here Comes the Haw. But his latest single, "On My Own"— which is set to appear on his as-yet-untitled new record—suggests he's still no stranger to the hair-raising pop hook. The joyous stomp of the chorus features one of the most untouchable melodies of 2020 so far, as he sings a line that sinks into your consciousness: "I don't mind to live all on my own / And I never did / And I don't care to feel like I belong / But you always did."
There's a frantic energy to NÍDIA's dance songs—also known as batida, a cathartic and fast-paced electronic music style that started in Portugal's diasporic African community. Her latest EP, S/T—the follow-up to her 2020 album, Não Fales Nela Que A Mentes—is full of rapturous rhythms and piercing synths. When she released it this month, it came with a hopeful note: "COVID taught us that we are nobody without each other. Since I stopped judging and hating human beings my life has become as colourful as the LGBTQ flag and as firm as Martin Luther King's fist.” While it'll be a long time before people can congregate in real life and dance to her forward-thinking and propulsive grooves, S/T proves that once it's safe to do so, it'll be one hell of a party.
Brigid Mae Power, Head Above The Water
Irish folk singer Brigid Mae Power finds her strength in understatement. Her latest LP, Head Above The Water, casts her intimate and expressive voice front and center, with stripped-back, unfussy accompaniment. While her music can sometimes evoke '70s folk greats Sandy Denny or Joni Mitchell, there's an earthier quality to her delivery—as heard on her grounded take of the traditional folk tune "The Blacksmith." Serene and nostalgic, "Wearing Red That Eve" boasts ambling piano and swirling fiddles as she sings about "feeling love for everything and everyone" during a trip to the mountains. In the press materials, Power has described this album as "a continuing tale of everyday survival." And while these sounds rarely rise above a roar, they're all potent doses of pastoral beauty.
Moodymann, Taken Away
Detroit house legend Kenny Dixon Jr., aka Moodymann, put out one of the best albums of 2019, with the wildly experimental funk of Sinner. On 2020's Taken Away, he returns with a more brooding effort—without relinquishing the grooves . On the title track, Dixon Jr. adds pulsing bass to a sample of Roberta Flack's smoky and mournful "Sunday and Sister Jones." As the song rides a mesmerizing groove, police sirens enter the mix, making for a disorienting and unsettling listen. Opener "Do Wrong" interpolates Al Green's "Love & Happiness," while "Let Me Show You Love" is so enveloping and soulful, it just might be one of his most accessible singles yet. Beyond its obvious appeal to crate-digging sample heads, Taken Away is positively infectious.
Edmonton's Wares, a kinetic and forceful punk outfit fronted by Cassia J. Hardy, has dedicated its latest LP Survival to "decolonial activists, anti-fascist agitators, prairie queers fighting for community and a better life." And as the album's title suggests, its 10 blistering tracks about resilience and healing in the face of trauma and oppression. While there are moments of rage and despondency—such as on the title track, where Hardy muses, "we may never survive it"—the album isn't without its moments of hope; "But we can’t falter now / this fight’s not ours to postpone," she sings later in the song. "Elsewhere, "Surrender into Waiting Arms" evokes the Cure in its longing for connection, while "Tall Girl" is brimming with kindness and bittersweet nostalgia—a facet of their music that is never far away, even in its angriest moments.