Bandcamp Fridays have become something of an institution during the pandemic. Very quickly recognising that the lockdown meant that artists would be struggling financially without being able to play live, and having a lot of distribution channels closed to them, the platform waived it’s fees for artists for one day. It was so successful that the first Friday in every month is now set in many music fans’ diaries as their go to day to buy new music; mainly from independent sources.
Bandcamp, however, is a big place these days and it can be hard to know where exactly to spend your hard earned cash every month. That’s why I thought that I might offer a few tips which might lead you directly to the music you like, or at least down a rabbit hole that will come up with some interesting sounds.
- Woodford Halse
Woodford Halse is a cassette label that grew out of the wonderful ‘You, the night and the music’ radio show coming out of Doncaster, England (and literally just up the road from where I live in Sheffield, although I don’t know them personally). It is everything a label should be showcasing artists through its ‘Undulating Waters’ collections, and through a number of single artist releases. There really is something for everyone here, and the tapes are wonderfully curated and thoughtfully packaged. This is one of my first ports of call on Bandcamp day.
2. Dave De Rose
I’ve featured the work of Dave De Rose a number of times on this website, particularly his ‘Agile Experiments’ project which gathers together musicians from different countries and musical background to make improvised recordings that are at the very least unique and interesting. Dave has been going through his archive during lockdown and has been bringing out a steady stream of work that is always high quality. Every release has its own feel to it, and over time you can put together a collection of wonderfully eclectic sounds.
I have to admit that this is a completely new band to me, from Malmö, Sweden, but one that was shared by a good friend in the last few days. I have been utterly taken by the music on this compilation, download-only, release. There is something very immediate yet deep about it, and I can only imagine listening to this again and again. It will be at the top of my list to pay for come Bandcamp Friday. The link is below, but this quote gives you a taster of what it’s about:
Multi-instrumentalists Andreas Malm and Henrik Wallin have been triangulating a particular schematic of mantric-psychedelic instrumental music since the mid-2000s, emphasizing texture, time, and trance states. But, with the exception of 2014’s Phase 3 LP, most of the group’s recordings were released as limited cassettes or vinyl in Sweden, long out of print. Skeppet Deluxe collects an assortment of these formative tracks into an hour-long mystic suite of primitivist circular sprawl.
4. The Leaf Label
The Leaf Label describes itself as ‘the label you deserve’. It is a rabbit hole all on its own, with a large roster of artists whose ‘usp’ seems to be that of beautiful and thoughtful music. I can’t remember how I first came to know it, perhaps through personal favourites Craven Faults or The Comet is Coming, both of whom I would put in my top ten artists of recent years. Either way there is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of excellent music from some twenty five years of this brilliant Yorkshire label, now based in Leeds, England.
5. Cardinal Fuzz
Keeping with the Yorkshire theme is Cardinal Fuzz, a label that has been releasing excellent music since 2012. Although the label started out as a fuzz, sike/ psych and garage label it has definitely diversified over the years to bring us a much broader selection of music with an emphasis on quality and freedom of spirit. If I were to suggest a descriptor for everything it puts out it would probably be ‘elemental’ because while all the releases are by no means ‘lo-fi’ they do have a fundamental rawness to them which make them easy to connect to.
6. Bobby Lee
When I started this list I was not intending it to be a mainly Yorkshire affair, but it’s turning into that. However, I picked the album ‘Shakedown in Slabtown’ by Sheffield’s Bobby Lee a couple of Bandcamp Fridays ago and I think that it’s just terrific. I really like it’s languid style and the way that it skips lightly through varying, often quite different, genre creating a velvet sound which is terrifically comforting in these troubled times. Unfortunately the cassette seems to be sold out, but I’m sure after hearing the album you’ll be wanting to slip Bobby some money for a download.
7. Necio Records
Definitely not in Yorkshire is Necio Records, a label based in Lima, Peru that release an impressing number of psych/ stoner/ doom and space rock records; mainly from South American artists. This is a terrific way to explore music from that region, and really speaks for the benefits that Bandcamp brings in enabling us to experience music from throughout the World. On top of this Necio can now ship records from Europe meaning postage rates and times are much diminished.
8. Brownswood Recordings
Founded by DJ Gilles Peterson in 2006, Brownswood Recordings has been a source of interesting jazz, soul, funk, and world music through its myriad of compilations and single artists releases. It has been at the forefront of the recent London Jazz revival through it’s ‘We Out Here’ landmark release; which introduced a series of exciting new artists to a wider audience. The label releases music at an incredible rate, and it perfect for an eclectic stroll through the aforementioned genre of Bandcamp Fridays.
9. The Infinite Ones by King Khan
Another album recently recommended to me, and at the top of my list for the next Bandcamp Friday. This is a wonderfully conceived tribute to many of the artists who have inspired the musicians featured here (click on the link below to see who is involved). Here’s part of the album’s description, it certainly sold me:
These compositions have all come from this place inside my bipolar, seroquil ridden mind. It is as much a tribute to the great composers who have inspired me; Alice Coltrane, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Philip Kelan Cohran, Bernard Herrmann, Ennio Morricone, Miles Davis, Sun Ra, John Carpenter, Quincy Jones, Old Bollywood, Film Noir, to name just a few. In my 23 years of being a composer of music I have had the great opportunity to score several films all of which never got any commercial fame. These films were made from the blood and sweat of film directors and their crews who tirelessly made incredible documents that were ultimately ignored by humanity. But that never stopped them nor will it stop me. These tracks are from the infinite celluloid that runs deep in my mind, body and soul.
They sound amazing and I recommend you buy them.
10. Rocket Recordings
This is a label that has pretty much been my touchstone for the last few years. Although in existence for over twenty years, the label seems able to consistently put out music that is fresh and innovative. I can’t say that I buy absolutely everything on Rocket Recordings but I do go for more than I leave, and most of them are records that I come back to time and again. What I like about their output is that it is often experimental and challenging without being pretentious… and the label is usually spot on from a design point of view as well.
I hope that this list has been helpful. It’s by no means exhaustive, even within any particular genre, but if it gives someone a good starting point then it’ll have been worth it.
The next Bandcamp Fridays are on 6th November and 4th December.
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