Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 12/12/18

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Bandcamp Picks of the Week is back and better than ever

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Avantdale

Avantdale Bowling Club – S/T

Genre: Jazz Rap

Favorite Tracks: “Years Gone By,” “F(r)iends,” “Quincy’s March,” “Tea Break”

Before you read another word, listen to “Years Gone By.” What the fuck. AVANTDALE BOWLING CLUB is the kind of album that almost demands hyperbole. Although extreme deep-cutters will know Tom Scott’s kicked around the New Zealand hip hop scene for awhile with Home Brew, his first release as Avantdale Bowling Club has all the energy and presence of a fresh-faced debut. While BADBADNOTGOOD is the most obvious point of reference for those not versed in the increasingly prevalent crossovers between jazz and rap, most of the music coming out from that sphere is still distinctly predicated on producing beats, albeit definitively jazz-y ones. AVANTDALE BOWLING CLUB is among the most organic and cohesive combinations of the styles we’ve been treated to in recent memory, existing as a tight and well-constructed modal jazz record even if Scott was nowhere near a microphone. But it’s a damn good thing he is, as the dizzying amount of flows and energies he’s able to pull off is confounding, effortlessly flowing over anything the band throws at him, making lyrical verse seem as loose and fluid as the live jazz instrumentation backing him. But what is perhaps most impressive is the degree to which Scott feels like a bandleader of old, entirely in control and imbuing each moment with an aura that’s uniquely his. It’s unfortunately unsung, but you should do yourself a favor and check out one of 2018’s most memorable releases. You can listen to it here. [Thomas Seraydarian]

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Holy Fawn

Holy Fawn – DEATH SPELLS

Genre: Blackgaze

Favorite Tracks: “Drag Me Into The Woods,” “Seer,” “Take Me WIth You”

Take it from me, resident Arizonan and probably Merry-Go-Round Magazine’s most apologetic blackgaze fan: Arizona has never had a band quite like Holy Fawn. Truthfully, the state has never had a particularly prominent metal background either; while the godfather of shock rock himself, Alice Cooper, has been claimed by the Grand Canyon state for decades now, the lineage of true metal, let alone something as relatively nuanced as black metal, starts and stops there in terms of mainstream prominence (Judas Priest and Fight member Rob Halford now lives in Phoenix too, but I’m not going to pretend he’s one of ours). Bands like Take Over And Destroy and Sorxe have been great ambassadors for the wider genre’s sludgier elements in recent years, but DEATH SPELLS, Holy Fawn’s crawling, often cripplingly beautiful debut, seems to be the state’s new peak in terms of quality and mainstream reach. Some will write off Holy Fawn as honing in on blackgaze’s broader alternative rock instincts, something highlighted all too well with Deafheaven’s recent release, ORDINARY CORRUPT HUMAN LOVE (that’s where my status as “apologetic” blackgaze fan come into play—let’s get more grimey ‘90s radio alt-rock in the mix!), but tracks on DEATH SPELLS like “Yawning” or “Seer” nicely build into punishing, intense sonic walls that should be respectable for truer metalheads. Nonetheless, that criticism isn’t necessarily wrong, but only because DEATH SPELLS is frequently leveling into something slower-paced and melodic. “Drag Me Into The Woods” drops the metal facade entirely, offering a full-blown, six-minute Slowdive homage before rising to a snarling, circular close, while highlight “Take Me With You” grinds out seven minutes of cloudy noise rock and monstrous, yet buoyant, guitar riffs. But DEATH SPELLS succeeds most distinctly in its moments of relative quiet, like on interludes “Two Waves” or “Same Blood,” or closer “Sleep Tongue,” where the band’s true ability to construct subtle, lingering moments of peace don’t feel simply shoehorned in for the sake of fluidity, but like true explorations of something that could never be discovered in the relative extremeness or perverseness of metal. It’s a blackgaze album from my home state, which I never assumed I’d be praising, and for that alone I’d be intrigued—that it’s as good as it is, is simply icing on the cake. Give it a listen on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]

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