If anyone has a unique opportunity to support independent music, it’s Bandcamp. But the Bandcamp Friday concept has taken that support to a new level. Over the past three months, the platform has waived its revenue share on some Fridays to support artists effected by the COVID-19 pandemic. July 3 marks the arrival of the fourth Bandcamp Friday.
The streaming platform has opened a floodgate of independent music. Countless artists depend on it and today presents a unique opportunity to support them
RIFF has compiled six Bandcamp releases we’ve been enjoying. Give them a listen, and consider supporting the artists who made them!
Hum, Inlet — Legendary alternative rock band Hum returns with its first new material in over 20 years. Inlet captures the Champaign, Illinois quartet’s familiar sonic stew: wall-of-sound guitars and heavy drum and bass, juxtaposed with Matt Talbott’s restrained, melodic voice. Inlet is heavy—not Sabbath heavy, but at least Smashing Pumpkins heavy—topped off by ethereal vocals akin to 311 or Dag Nasty. The band hasn’t lost a step since 2000. Inlet feels fresh and energized. The band’s sonic barrage is especially dense on opening cut “Waves,” the grungy “Step Into You” and the pummeling eight and half minutes of “The Summoning.” On longer songs, Hum explores softer, stonier dynamics. To that effect, nine-minute banger “Desert Rambler” excels with its slow-burning, glacial crescendo.
SAULT, Untitled (Black Is) — If the past few months of social upheaval needed the ultimate soundtrack, it’s hard to think of a more worthy contender than SAULT’s Untitled (Black Is). The album’s sound and lyricism reverberate through the entirety of the civil rights movement. And yet, it hits at the heart of this season of rejuvenated activism. Future funk, Afro-beat, gospel music and fiery soul find a place on this album. SAULT uses a variety of artistic flavors to service a narrative of solidarity and empowerment. In these trying times, Untitled (Black Is) is album everyone should hear at least once.
Moses Sumney, Græ — San Bernardino’s avant-soul visionary has never sounded this extravagant and passionate. This double album bursts at the seems with gorgeous soundscapes—charging chamber folk and jazz chord structures with an orchestral sense of scope. Sumney’s voice recalls the likes of Bjork and Julia Holter in terms of abstract melody and idiosyncratic timbre, while his lyrics fervently fight against the societal binaries imposed on race, gender and sexuality. Græ is a mesmerizing celebration of liberty and open-mindedness.
Braids, Shadow Offering — It feels like Braids have built to this moment for years. The art-pop collective of Austin Tufts, Taylor Smith and Raphaelle Standell-Preston have been releasing bits of tender brilliance for almost a decade, but Shadow Offering is its most cohesive and powerful album to date. Standell-Preston’s emotive voice complements the intimate, desperate yearning of songs like “Just Let Me.” Braids’ billowing sound reaches new ground on the nine-minute centerpiece “Snow Angel,” where Standell-Preston frantically continues her quest for truth amid hair-raising instrumentation. Braids slowly develop a sonic environment of understanding and empathy, a much-needed shelter right now.
clipping., Chapter 319 — Daveed Diggs has always been a tour-de-force, bringing some of modern hardcore hip-hop’s most visceral performances. In clipping.’s most recent two-song release, the group tackles the racist institutions behind police brutality, taking aim at the shady tactics the United States government has used for decades. Diggs explicitly directs his frustrations with those enabling the Trump administration, including everyone who voted for the the current POTUS and anyone planning to vote for him again. He makes his point more clear than ever: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist, full stop/ If you vote for him again you’re a white supremacist, full stop.”
Vile Creature, Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! — Alongside bands like Ragana and Body Void, Vile Creature has helped spearhead doom metal’s queer uprising. The two-member Canadian outfit fashions bludgeoning riffs, tormented vocals and battering drums into a weapon against oppression. Vile Creature’s incorporation of choral arrangments merits comparisons to The Body, as does the band’s raw, pained execution. The noise guitarist KW and drummer Vic make together gives a harrowing depiction of the experience queer people often endure in America, which in turn adds even more weight to the album’s crushing sonics.
Show us your own finds in the comments, or tweet them at us at Twitter.com/RIFFonline.
— Max Heilman, Josiah Skallerup and David Gill.