published: 9 /
In his new series 'Bandcamp Explorer' Mark Rowland reviews the best indie acts on Bandcamp.
In my first genre deep-dive of this series, I decided to start with the genre that this site started with: indie. Indie as a genre these days is extremely broad and difficult to define, which results in vast swathes of music to trudge through, but plenty of opportunities to dig out some gems.
Take Origami Conspiracy, for example. The home recording project of Shawn Marshall, Origami Conspiracy ploughs a similar wobbly, downbeat furrow as Sparklehorse at times, though Marshall lets the sun in a little more often. His latest release, ‘Fumes and Flowers’, is a nice little EP, but it’s worth getting his complete discography – you get 25% off, and you also get hits that never were like ‘Long Lost Cat’ and ‘1996’.
Teamonade are a little bit math-y, and extremely tuneful. Their latest single, ‘Goin’ Thru It’ has a catchy acoustic guitar line, the odd burst of noise and a jaunty vocal. It’s summery fun. If you want more, check out their 2019 EP, ‘This Is Your Only Warning’, which has four more tracks of upbeat, fuzzy math-rocking.
Anjimile’s ‘Giver Taker’ isn’t out until 18 September, but two fantastic tracks, ‘Baby No More’ and ‘Maker’ are available to listen to now. The album is about Anjimile Chithambo’s time in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, while in the process of coming out as a nonbinary trans person. There is certainly an element of introspection as a result, but also a lot of hopefulness. It’s also very danceable – a sort of folk/indie/latin/pop mash-up that may well take other turns across the rest of the record.
In more classic guitar pop territory, the Extraordinaires just put out the very 60's-sounding ‘Monika’. You could accuse them of pastiche here, but it’s such a damn infectious song, so who cares? The band’s ‘Home Sweet Home EP’ is less overtly aping the 60s, but it certainly has the sweet, sunny melodies of a bygone age. Thomas Molander’s ‘The Walk’ similarly reaches for a vintage sound, primarily in its production. Somewhat of a concept album based on Robert Waiser's 1917 short story of the same name, Molander recorded it with his brothers on an old four track tape recorder. The result is a record full of classic songwriting in a warm overcoat of weirdness.
On the subject of strange home recordings, the Phonecall’s ‘The Restart’ is the sort of unique work that people make when they spend a lot of time tinkering in their bedrooms. There are jazzy pianos, found sounds, soulful, buried vocals, drums that alternately clatter and thump, hints of hip hop and the Vince Guaraldi Trio. It’s sweet and unsettling in equal measure.
Finally, we have Sea Grapes, with the ‘Melatonin Dreams’ EP. Another release that gives off strong ‘bedroom’ vibes, with each song built around a core of dinky electronic drums and basic synths. The sound is filled out with shimmering guitars and keyboards, and on the title track, some surprise banjo. Closer ‘Through Concrete’ brings out the acoustic guitar, building up a nice folky feel.