“Happy May Day to one and all!” Is what I would have said if this article had ran on the 2nd of May. May Day is an underrated celebration and maypole dancing itself always seems like such a joyous expression of spring. The fact that it was banned by the puritans for being Bacchanalian (Bacchus was the Greek God of wine) supports the theory that there’s definitely a lot of fun to be had on this day. So you see it’s actually the most rock and roll holiday there is, plus it most likely stems from the pagans and they were basically the satanists of the latter-day.
So, if you haven’t celebrated the official beginning of spring with a glass of vino yet then you’re quite obliged to do so. In fact, why not pour yourself one as you trawl through our Bandcamp picks for this month (absolutely seamless segway, silent round of applause for me – thank you).
This month we’ve got psych-punk, upbeat synthwave, former nineties offbeat faves and the most beautiful, desert-inspired, instrumental guitar music you’ll hear this month. Contributions are from the legends that be Jordan Dowling (J.D), Mike Turner (M.T) and Max Mazonowicz (M.M).
Mike Krol – Power Chords
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The first track on this album on this album determines exactly how things are going to go down for the next 30 minutes whilst listening to this. It’s a kind of dreaded, exuberant hedonism that ticks all the right boxes for any garage punk enjoying fan. Krol is based in LA but we can forgive him that for this really is an excellent release.
It has a hint of Bleeding Knees Club about it, as well as early Ty Segall, there are hooks for days (as one BC fan describes) so it should even appeal to those who sit on the more power-pop side of the punk-rock sphere, so if you’re into that kind of thing go listen to Power Chords, there’s really there’s not a bad song on there. (K.H)
Linqua Franqa – Bellringer
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Those enamoured by the vast range of Sault’s two full-length offerings in 2020, rooted as they are in hip-hop but reaching out to jazz, rock, soul and other territories, will probably find more to love in Linqua Franqa’s equally broad Bellringer than in the latest album of the former. ‘Growth II’ is the most immediate and heaviest selection from it, driven by an almost comically overdriven beat which leaves little room for anything else.
Mariah Parker’s flow snakes between every empty space, switching between darkly introspective lyrics like “I’ve wanted to die before but these days I’m not trying to die just yet” and irreverent turns such as “savoury, garlicky, all of me sticky sweet”. It’s at times overwhelming, but certainly not in a negative way. (J.D)
EMF – Go Go Sapiens
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One of the most surprising survivors of the early 90s indie scene are probably this lot, EMF. Having had more reunions than the various guises of Fleetwood Mac and not releasing an album for 27 years you’d be forgiven for forgetting about this band from Gloucestershire. Still, with a surprising number of original members, Go Go Sapiens is the sound of a band that’s grown up.
Obviously, they’re literally twice the age they were when Cha Cha Cha came out in 1995. Despite smoothing out their rougher edges there’s a lot to like, ‘We Are The Free’ is very good, and ‘Dr Strangelove’ has that familiar EMF electro sound driving it along. So, it’s a throwback that sounds surprisingly refined. (M.M)
Celestial North – When The Gods Dance
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Edinburgh’s Celestial North landed on many people’s radars in the summer of 2021 as an artist to watch with their stark and moving cover or R.E.M.’s ‘Nightswimming’ on God Is In the TV’s R.E.M. charity compilation. The new single ‘When the Gods Dance’ is from their upcoming debut album that comes out this September and brings to mind pixie-folklore of Kate Bush, syrupy tripped out darkgaze of Trailer Trash Tracys, and a slightly more stylish Goldfrapp if Goldfrapp was on the Modern Love label instead of Mute.
Celestial North creates the kind of music that music directors and music supervisors go crazy over, equal parts moody, lush, and ethereal, where nearly anything can be built on top of or around it. (M.T)
Opus Science Collective – Girls on bikes / Boys on Boards (24 Bit)
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If you’ve been looking for the perfect soundtrack to accompany your spring/summer antics, then look no further because it’s here. This album combines two former EPs to make up ten gloriously upbeat synthwave tracks. As the album description on BC states, this isn’t your average Bladerunner, cyberpunk style synthwave that has come to be synonymous with the genre.
The songs on Girls on Bikes /Boys on Boards sounds more like you’re living your out a nineties arcade game like Porsche Challenge. And please do take your cues from this analogy because I would LOVE to see people cruising around to this instead of the usual DnB. (K.H)
Gorgeous Dykes – No Approval
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As everyone seems to be tripping over themselves to cover the new Bay Area fuzzpop sound, it brings me such pride to cover some Bay Area music scene folks doing synth-pop and house music. Gorgeous Dykes make music that would be at home on the Party Girl soundtrack or would fit well side by side between Frankie Knuckles or singles on the Moby Dick label. ‘No Approval’ is music full of color, community, and built to make you move.
If you like your house music a bit lo-fi and the beats simple with a lyrical hook you can shout along with on the dance floor then Gorgeous Dykes have you covered. I think I played this jam 20 times in a row on a loop and now I just want to hear them take a shot at some Hi-NRG next. ‘No Approval‘ will be out soon but in the meantime, you can enjoy their last release linked above. (M.T)
Bella White – Just Like Leaving
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Showcasing a new generation of singer-songwriters, 20-year-old Canadian Bella White’s debut album is a terrific mix of traditional country and bluegrass. From the hard picking opener ‘Gutted’ through to the slow lament of closer ‘Now She Knows What It Feels Like’ classic musicianship is on show. There’s depth in the lyrics too, with ‘Broke (When I Realized)’ playing out the story of divorce, and heartbreak spread throughout the nine songs. For a slow-paced, thoughtful country album look no further. (M.M)
Dibson T Hoffweiler – Joshua Tree and other Desert Cities
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Ok, so I know I said that the Opus Science Collective was the perfect spring/summer soundtrack but this is just right for balmy evenings, the kind where the party has peaked and those who remain are being quiet and reflective. All but one of the songs on this album were recorded during a week in which Dibson T Hoffewiler went out to Joshua Tree in 2018 although it was only released this year in March, it’s the kind of album where you can hear the desert.
Each track embodies the expansive but intricate nature of the landscape they were written in. Joshua Tree and other Desert Cities isn’t a mathy album as instrumental guitar records can sometimes be, it allows breathing space and in so doing is a beautifully, earthy record that almost evokes a nostalgic quality for rurality. (K.H)
Wesadruler – The Forecast Today Is
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To be upfront – I have released some records with Wesdaruler and ones he has made beats for, but this is a lengthy, self-released lo-fi jazz/hip-hop track that I’ve not had any involvement with. ‘The Forecast Today Is’ was a surprise that showed up in my inbox today ahead of this Bandcamp Friday. Wesdaruler is known for his glitchy 8-bit jams and his deep soul depression boom bap tracks with layers of fuzz, hiss, and flutter. Wes has a delivery slow and full of built-up anticipation that makes molasses seem like it flows like water.
Wes works with lots of old world samples, jazzy pianos, deep upright bass grooves, and lyrics that tiptoe between straight-up dorky, super depressing, and so brutally real and vulnerable you have to rewind and ask yourself “did I just hear that?” every few bars. The flow isn’t the top of the game or deadly like some rappers, Wes holds his own though and puts out music, lyrics, and melodies that make you think while growing deeper and deeper with each listen.
If you have been waiting for a track that combines old UK weather radio reports, Dragon Ball Z, and a very real and current take on what bank lending for the housing market for people of color is like, then this is the jam for you. (M.T)
Georgia Harmer – Stay in Touch
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Despite being just 22, Georgia Harmer has a long history of playing music. Having done a stint on backing vocals for Alessia Cara her debut album comes with a wonderful, melancholy yet cheerful feel to it. Whether it’s the gentleness of ‘Talamanca’ or the guitar-riffing’ ‘Headrush’- Stay In Touch is ace. There’s more calm than storm across the eleven tracks, and that’s a winning mix. There’s a definite essence of someone like Snail Mail on songs like ‘Austin’. (M.M)