It’s the final Bandcamp Picks of 2020, featuring North Americans’ ROPED IN and Deerhoof’s LOVE-LORE!
Deerhoof – LOVE-LORE
Genre: Covers, Experimental Pop
Favorite Tracks: N/A
LOVE-LORE is not a song, per se, but it certainly has a lengthy, unending form. Deerhoof’s latest surprise release is an album’s worth of moments and hopes and fears and influences improvised across a half-hour of mania. The San Francisco experimental noise act are good at creating albums that do this—hell, they’ve made a career out of it—but to hear fleeting passages of The Beach Boys or The B-52s or Kraftwerk, sometimes presented in a context that makes them feel entirely indistinguishable from the larger piece, is exhilarating and at least a smidge exhausting. That feels like it’s by design. Like any longform multicover arrangement, it has peaks and valleys. A three-minute stretch that finds the group taking on STAR TREK and “The Rainbow Connection” is among the more accessible entry points on the album, whereas the 19-minute stretch that has snippets of Parliament and Sun Ra is, as you can imagine, something of a grinding marathon, but one that’s incredibly rewarding and fascinating. LOVE-LORE is nonetheless a tense and exciting journey worth taking and is one of 2020’s best covers albums without a doubt. Listen to it over on Bandcamp! [CJ Simonson]
North Americans – ROPED IN
Favorite Tracks: “Memory Of Lunch,” “Rivers That You Cannot See,” “American Dipper,” “Yearling,” “Good Doer,” “Greetings From A Distant Friend”
It was by happenstance that I ended up listening to North Americans’ ROPED IN for the first time driving through the Sonoran Desert late at night, but I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect place to initially experience the record’s haunting instrumental music. ROPED IN is a collaboration between Los Angeles guitarist Patrick McDermott and Portland, OR slide guitar mastermind Barry Walker. As an album whose best feature is its ability to paint sprawling sonic landscapes, it evokes both the intimidating forests of the Pacific Northwest and the rundown, man-made ‘70s charm of Southern California. Opening track “Memory Of Lunch” could soundtrack a Wim Wenders film, while “American Dipper” sounds like sitting by an icy, moonlit lake in the dead of a Wisconsin winter. On “Furniture In The Valley,” taking in Mary Lattimore’s randomized harping recalls waking up from a nightmare at three in the morning, both deeply unsettled and also relieved that the horrors of your imagination exist only in your mind. The entire album is tied together by a muted, sherbert-like palette that brings to mind a frigid, 4:45 P.M. late January sunset. ROPED IN is marked by both artistry and musical precision. Because of this, it simultaneously feels like it could be the work of someone showing off their chops on YouTube or a lo-fi hip hop sample waiting to be flipped. ROPED IN is an emotive and lonely record that makes me viscerally want to bury myself in its sparse layers. It’s one of the most gorgeous, immersive, enrapturing collections of music I’ve heard in a very long time. Buy the record on Bandcamp today! [Ted Davis]