Viking's Choice: Stargate Drone, Snotty Punk, Black Metal Romance

Plus my simple 5-step guide to getting the most out of Bandcamp.

Hi. This is how I use Bandcamp:

Bandcamp, one of the few don't-call-it-a-streaming-services that actually cares about the well-being of the musicians who use the platform, is waiving its revenue share on May 1. That means artists and labels get 100% of profits in a 24-hour period, just like they did April 1, which churned out $4.3 million in digital and physical sales. Incredible! 

But if my Twitter mentions are any indication, not everybody knows how to use Bandcamp, so here's my simple 5-step guide to making the most of this supportive and creative community. 

  1. Sign up! It's like joining your job's Slack channel, except your username can be an obscure Buzzcocks reference and people would get it. 

  2. Follow folks! Artists, labels and, most crucially, other fans! It's like Twitter, except there aren't any trolls, unless you like Tolkien metal, in which case, you actively seek out trolls (and orcs and whatnot). When a band releases new music or a fan buys an album, that shows up in your personal feed (or email, if you wish) — it's the lightning symbol at the top right part of your browser. Don't know who or what to follow? Well, you can start with me, but there's also a daily guide to new music from Bandcamp's editorial staff.  

  3. Follow music genres and scenes! This is the pro-level move. If you love music from New Zealand or all things punk or synth, it'll show you fan favorites and new releases. God-level move: follow hyper-specific genres like "epic metal" or made-up ones found at the bottom of album pages like "pizza punk."

  4. Buy music! Some albums and tracks are name-your-price, some are a few bucks, others charge more — you can either download the music or stream it via browser or app. In all cases, Bandcamp helps to restore the worth of music by directly connecting the fan and artist. (You can also wishlist an item for later listening — mine is upwards of 4000, yipes!)

  5. Share your collection! You can write little reviews of the music and pick favorite tracks, so when someone visits your page, they can hit play and discover just what excellent taste in music you have.

— Lars Gotrich

The Playlist

28 tracks. Leads off with a faithful cover of Sunny Day Real Estate's "In Circles" by The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die — recorded for a discarded documentary about ‘90s emo — that really leans into the heavy swarm. Several sides of punk, from GAG's sludgy filth and Truth Cult's Revolution Summer worship to The Tacks' death rock and LITHICS' danceably sharp edges. A beautiful bummer team-up from funeral doomsters Bell Witch and dark folkie Aerial Ruin. Oh, and more Roy Ayers because there’s gonna be a full-length collab with Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge? Daaayum. 

Stream the playlist via Spotify. Did you miss a previous playlist? Get thee to the archives.

Best of Bandcamp

(Note: Some of these albums can only be found on Bandcamp, so click the links to explore!)

Beru, Forgiveness is Supernatural: Outer-space sadness warped through cinematic noise, ghost trap and soul-rattling drone-doom. The stargate scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey swallowed backwards, the mourning of Solaris rendered in screams.

Rat Cage, Screams from the Rat Cage: There's a chainsaw-wielding, leather-jacketed rat on the album cover, for chrissakes. This is no-future UK punk of the snottiest, gobby-est varietal. Kick flip this directly into my veins.

Vampire Squid, Reinventing the Eel: High-concept/low-brow deep-sea brutal death metal that's as sick as it is silly. One (unforgivable) ska riff aside, tentacles of WTF vocal effects, tech-death hooks and extreme puns keep this outrageous album fun.

LAKE, Roundelay: Yes, there is a twee quality to the Olympia indie-pop band  — that's them in the Adventure Time credits — but also an elasticity. LAKE leans into the weird and the heavy with fuzz, Stereolab-ian curiosity and moody melodies that hang in the air.

Tashi Dorji / Tyler Damon, To Catch a Bird in a Net of Wind: Tashi rips through his guitar like Sonny Sharrock crashing through the sky. Tyler counters fretboard shrieks with muscular, but melodic drumming.

Ytamo, Limited Leaf: How can I live in Ytamo’s dreamland? Electronic-pop miniatures made from 8-bit marshmallow clouds and Tetris melodies. This is not chiptune music, but evokes a side-scroller surreality.

Telescoping, Telescoping: Self-tagged "avant-nothing" improvisations that bubble up to the ether and pop in slo-mo. Members of Climax Golden Twins, Heathen Shame and other-such weirdo zoners dialing into radio static un-grooves.

Dämmerfarben, Des Herbstes Trauerhymnen MMXX: OK, stay with me here: black-metal romance novels. Folkloric melodies and soaring riffs braid together these aching, thrilling songs by these German beefcakes. (Panopticon’s Austin Lunn drums.)

Lustre, The Ashes of Light: If Dämmerfarben are the Teutonic hunks, then Lustre's the sensitive Swede. Black metal, but make it Enya and M83's Zelda soundtrack. Synths soft as silk and atmospheric wisps as intoxicating as the sweetest perfume.

RIYL color confectionery 

What: @colorschemez (Twitter bot)

Why: We are all extremely online right now, so I seek out moments of silliness, cuteness and absurdity when I can get it. For instance, this delightful bot — meaning, an algorithm let loose by its developer’s whim — pairs two-dollar adjectives with colors. So you get ashake pinkish orange, spattered darkgreen and glottal cadet blue accompanied by a tricolor cake. Occasionally, it generates incredible combinations like ultrasonic carnation pink, which absolutely should have been a '90s twee-pop band.