Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 2/20/19

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Bandcamp Picks of the Week is back and better than ever

Bandcamp Picks Army Navy

Army Navy – S/T

Genre: Indie Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Dark as Days,” “Ignite,” “Golden Pony,” “Silvery Sleds”

Army Navy should’ve been one of the biggest bands of their era. There’s not much aesthetically separating them from, say, Tokyo Police Club or We Are Scientists, the latter of which they shared space with on the NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST soundtrack. That compilation of music in particular was a kind of post-indie rock temperature check of the slowly shifting aesthetics in popular alternative music (case in point: it featured ALLIGATOR-era The National, whose ship was about to set sail around the time of the movie in a big way). Army Navy’s initial self-titled album is, for my money, one of the best documents of that late 2000s jangly pop rock sound out there, filled with enough high caliber catchy tracks that when they do decide to cover Maxine Nightingale’s 1975 disco hit “Right Back WHere We Started From,” it comes across as a flexing heat check. The album’s initial three-track run alone is as feel good as you could find in the strange Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin-era of burgeoning online indie music, from the chugging and lush “Dark as Days” into the frantic and angular Strokes-riff “My Thin Sides,” concluding with the sentimental rattler “Saints.” When the group slow things down, as they do with “Golden Pony,” they capture the upbeat sound of forlorn searching just about as well any band of that time (and that’s saying something), and “Silvery Sleds,” the track featured on the aforementioned NICK AND NORAH soundtrack, is one of the great overlooked indie rock tracks of that, or any, time. ARMY NAVY admittedly feels like a relic of a different time in music, one that confusingly left promised bodies everywhere as people began to truly adjust to an era where the industry had no money and the internet was a singular source of power, but in that way it’s also a slice of indie rock nostalgia that’s worth not denying yourself. Check it out on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]

Bandcamp Picks Nivhek

Nivhek – AFTER ITS OWN DEATH / WALKING IN A SPIRAL TOWARDS THE HOUSE

Genre: Ambient

Favorite Tracks: “After its own death: Side A,” “After its own death: Side B”

To best contextualize the music of Grouper’s Liz Harris, one should visit her hometown of Astoria, OR. The small foggy slice of idyllic Northwest countryside, backdrop of THE GOONIES, is quaint, spooky, detached, and feels ripped straight out of the family friendly claymation horror film CORALINE. Harris, an artist who rarely speaks on her work and shrouds her lyrics behind a cloud of murmuring reverb, generally opts to let gentle echoing pianos and vague song titles set the scene for her overcast and truly one-of-a-kind breed of ambient music. Her latest incarnation, Nivhek, is as puzzling and cryptic as Grouper. Borrowing from minimalism, ambient, and noise, the album sounds like the work of a medieval Burial. On “After its own death: Side A,” gothic feudal vocal soundscapes decay into torture chamber noise sections that cut like foghorns through the Pacific mist. “After its own death” wafts into a Side B, tied together by Steve Reich marimba chords. Both sides of “Walking in a spiral towards the house” have less to say, but effectively end the record with a chilly gust of wind that haunts the listener in the moments of silence that conclude the album’s hour-long odyssey.

Fans will likely never know what separates Harris’ work as Nivhek from her work as Grouper. There is an intimacy to the little knowledge we have of Harris, and because she will likely never speak on what inspired the works on AFTER ITS OWN DEATH / WALKING IN A SPIRAL TOWARDS THE HOUSE, fans of Harris’ work will be left guessing about what it means. Though it paints with the same palette as Grouper, Nivhek employs the greys and whites that make Grouper silky and pillowy to craft something dimmer and foggier. Nivhek is music for an alluring nightmare. You can’t look away but you wouldn’t want to if you could. Give it a listen on Bandcamp. [Ted Davis]

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