Support Artists During Coronavirus: 10 Albums to Buy On Bandcamp Today

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Support Artists During Coronavirus: 10 Albums to Buy On Bandcamp Today

On March 20, Bandcamp had a historic sales day after waiving their revenue shares for 24 hours to help artists. They raked in $4.3 million for artists and labels—an incredible feat. In April, the company announced they would be doing the same for today (May 1), plus the following two first Fridays of the month: June 5 and July 3. So, if you can, please show your support for artists today by purchasing music or merchandise on Bandcamp. Here are 10 albums from 2020 that we recommend buying along with their Bandcamp links. Plus, check out 10 more recommendations here from our March 20 list.

Rina Sawayama: Sawayama

We’ve been inching towards an early Max Martin-esque maximalist pop revival for several years now, between artists like Liz, Kero Kero Bonito, Holiday Sidewinder, and, in a strange way, 100 gecs, but Sawayama solidifies the notion that bubblegum pop is back, fully self-aware and ready to conquer. With the help of longtime-producer Clarence Clarity, Rina Sawayama modernizes a sound made famous by Britney Spears, *NSYNC and all who reigned supreme on Casey Kasem’s weekly Top 40 countdown around the turn of the last millennia. More importantly, however, she upholds the integrity of the genre, gently reminding us why we all, deep down, truly love pop music. Right off the bat, Sawayama is powerful. The first three songs are insanely dynamic, stringing together two vibrant pop songs (the first about standing up on your own, the second about excessive wealth) into what can only be described as Gwen Stefani-meets-nu-metal. As far as the meaning of this record goes, Sawayama sums it up herself in a recent interview: “The album ultimately is about family and identity. It’s about understanding yourself in the context of two opposing cultures (for me British and Japanese), what ‘belonging’ means when home is an evolving concept, figuring out where you sit comfortably within and awkwardly outside of stereotypes, and ultimately trying to be ok with just being you, warts and all.” —Annie Black

Purchase here

Midwife: Forever

Denver multi-instrumentalist Madeline Johnston (also of Sister Grotto) this month shared her latest drone release Forever, which also serves as her debut for San Francisco experimental label The Flenser (Have a Nice Life, Deafheaven). Her self-described “heaven metal” is crushingly beautiful—it mixes slowcore, drone-pop and ambient music, and despite its dark sonic shades, it’s a hopeful album, especially in its context: The album was made while she was grieving the death of her friend and artistic inspiration, Colin Ward, and it’s now dedicated to his memory. One line from “Anyone Can Play Guitar,” a highlight from this six-track release, is particularly moving as Johnston sings wistfully over feedback-drenched guitars: “Anyone can fall in love / Anyone can play guitar / Anyone can say goodbye.” —Lizzie Manno

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TORRES: Silver Tongue

In April 2018, Mackenzie Scott, the preternaturally talented songwriter who records under the name TORRES, announced on Twitter that her storied label, 4AD, had dropped her from a planned three-album deal “for not being commercially successful enough.” It was an upsetting blow, particularly given the strength of TORRES’ third album, Three Futures, an alluring art-pop concept album examining bodily pleasure with Kraftwerk and CAN as aural reference points. Scott tumbled into self-doubt. “I was in a really bad place,” she reflected in a more recent interview SPIN. She considered leaving music altogether. Instead, she started writing, and didn’t stop for months. Silver Tongue, TORRES’ excellent fourth album—and first for Merge—is the result of that defiant burst. It’s not a set of sugary hooks designed to crack the Discover Weekly algorithm: The record, which is self-produced, sacrifices no ounce of Scott’s sharp-angled, emotionally explosive songcraft. It leans into the electro-pop atmosphere of Three Futures, but the textures are so unsettling and lonely that it would never scan as a bid for crossover appeal. Scott remains an improbably vivid writer both lyrically and melodically; throughout Silver Tongue, she takes desire and infatuation as her subject and icy synthesizers as her instrument of choice. —Zach Schonfeld

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Scott Hardware: Engel

Engel, the sophomore album from Toronto singer/songwriter Scott Hardware, was inspired by Wim Wenders’ 1987 film Wings of Desire, which follows angels in pre-unified Berlin as they listen to the thoughts of humans and comfort them. “I sought with this album to capture the film’s velvety feeling—funny, depressing, dark and mundane—in LP form,” Hardware says. “These songs imagine Wenders’ angels buzzing around my friends, my family and I. Writing from their point of view allowed me unfettered access to my own thoughts about them and myself.” Engel is filled with touching, elegant art-pop that evokes the flaws and triumphs of everyday people. Plush strings and piano are perfectly suited to this brush with angels while the occasionally jarring electronic textures that adorn this LP point to the world’s beautiful yet cruel disarray. Hardware’s rich vocals are so gorgeous that they embody the noble, supernatural and biblical qualities of these winged healers. —Lizzie Manno

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Frances Quinlan: Likewise

Joni Mitchell once said, “I’m a painter first. I sing my sorrow and I paint my joy.” You’ve heard her songs, but you’ve also seen her portraits, on the covers of Clouds, Both Sides Now and Taming The Tiger, to name a few places. Frances Quinlan, the frontwoman of esteemed Philadelphia punk outfit Hop Along, is a bit like Mitchell in that sense. She’s a lyricist, a writer, a singer (one of the most instantly recognizable in rock music, at that) and a talented painter. Her artwork appears on the three most recent Hop Along covers: 2018’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog, 2012’s Get Disowned and 2015’s Painted Shut, one of Paste’s favorite albums of the 2010s. Using someone else’s work for Hop Along visuals was always out of the question. Cut to now, and Quinlan is preparing to release her first solo album under her own name. Likewise is probably folksier than much of Hop Along’s more recent material, but only in the sense that the instrumentation is more bare and the storytelling takes center stage. For Likewise, Quinlan took inspiration from her own life (and other places, too—books, podcasts, etc.) and sculpted those moments into tight-knit little parables themselves. —Ellen Johnson

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Waxahatchee: Saint Cloud

In 2017, Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfeld quite literally blew the music world away. Her record Out in the Storm, which we named one of the best albums of that year, displayed a whole new side of the singer. Gone were the fortified bedroom pop of 2015’s Ivy Tripp, the rock-tinged freak-folk musings of her 2013 stunner Cerulean Salt and the brainy lo-fi recordings of her 2012 debut American Weekend. Out in the Storm sounds like its title suggests: loud, windy, chaotic and emotionally intense—a tried-and-true breakup album and a throwback to Crutchfield’s punk roots. If Out in the Storm was a tornado of sound and emotion, Saint Cloud, Crutchfield’s fifth album under the Waxahatchee alias (out Friday, March 27 on Merge Records) is the calm that comes afterwards. In some ways, it possesses little pieces of all the musical lives Crutchfield has lived before: punk-y vocals à la her once-upon-a-time rock band with Allison, P.S. Eliot, searing, Dylan-esque vocal delivery, chiming guitars straight off Out in the Storm, pastoral folk not unlike that of her 2018 EP Great Thunder. The songwriting remains impeccable. Within 10 seconds, you know—without a doubt—it’s a Waxahatchee album. Yet, it’s different from anything she’s ever released before. Saint Cloud is Crutchfield’s country/Americana record. It runs on twang, jangle, truth and wide open spaces; on the album cover, Crutchfield, dressed in a billowy baby-blue frock, sprawls across an old Ford truck bearing a license plate from her native Alabama. “Can’t Do Much,” a single released ahead of the record, possesses that old-time lilt and a head-over-heels chorus that sounds like something Lucinda Williams may have spat out on Essence. Saint Cloud is a whole new world. —Ellen Johnson

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Chubby and the Gang: Speed Kills

Chubby and the Gang’s debut LP, Speed Kills, was released via independent British hardcore label Static Shock back in January, and despite having no team to pitch the record, publications like Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Stereogum all raved about it, coming to a similar consensus that its hopped-up punk-pop is impossibly punchy and ridiculously fun. Manning-Walker and his fellow band mates are all hardcore veterans—having played in bands like Violent Reaction, Abolition, Guidance and Gutter Knife—but somehow they’ve made one of the strongest stitchings of pub rock, classic pop, surf and punk in recent memory. “Chubby and the Gang Rule OK?” is both a statement of fact and their unruly lead album track that takes about 30 seconds to convince you that their breakneck rhythms and pop chops are the real deal. Like their colorful, cartoonish album cover, the album celebrates the vast characters of working-class London: the dubious, fun-loving rascals, the crass authority figures, the squares and the reckless brutes. But more than anything, Speed Kills is an ode to the “gang,” the fiercely loyal one that finds you when you’re young and makes grim circumstances much more bearable. —Lizzie Manno

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Pure X: Pure X

After quietly reforming in 2018, Austin, Texas four-piece Pure X have now returned with their first album in six years—their self-titled album, out digitally now and out physically on July 3 via Fire Talk Records. It’s an album of open space and an open fire—their lightly-charred guitars mingle with warm lead vocals and cozy grooves. It might be a bit sad to listen to a wonderfully grizzled album, perfect for the summer, but there’s never a bad time for a pensive, smoky rock record. “Middle America” finds them at their fuzziest with majestic guitars flapping in the wind, the slick “Making History” is a slow trip down a languid road and “Fantasy” is a pretty slice of mid-tempo melancholia—the perfect soundtrack to cleaning up all the beer bottles at the end of a porch party at dusk. —Lizzie Manno

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Max Bloom: Perfume

Yuck guitarist Max Bloom recorded his debut solo album Perfume following a painful breakup and a move back into his family home after 10 years of independence. Bloom pivoted to a more intimate, downtempo sound with unadorned vocals, influenced by the likes of George Harrison and Harry Nilsson, following three blown-out indie rock albums with Yuck. The result is a contemplative record that pivots between sunny melancholia, tongue-in-cheek humor and good old-fashioned yearning, and Bloom’s perky guitar work lightens the mood. “I decided to call the album Perfume because of how powerful smell can be,” Bloom says. “For me anyway, smelling a familiar smell can send me back in time like no other sense can. And when I smelled a jumper she had left behind, it brought everything back again.” —Lizzie Manno

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Moses Sumney: græ

On part one of his double album græ, Moses Sumney embodied the graceful disregard for genre constraints. Much like his 2017 debut Aromanticism, Sumney blends R&B, jazz, gospel and rock with his velvety falsetto leading the charge, albeit a sensual and sensitive one. The first chapter of græ was a celebration of nonconformity, and a repudiation of any framework that seeks to marginalize or draw clear lines in the sand. Sumney’s sultry vocals were accompanied by cascading harp, synths, drum machines and horns, culminating in a regal, ribbon-like sway. The first 12 tracks were an emotional revelation—parsing the intricacies of intimacy, masculinity and structural hurdles in many forms—and as for the eight-track part two, we can only expect more candid confessions and free-spirited sounds. —Lizzie Manno

Purchase here

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