Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 3/12/20

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Bandcamp Picks Yacht Rock

The Alchemist – YACHT ROCK 2 INSTRUMENTALS

Genre: Instrumental Hip Hop

Favorite Tracks: “No Socks Instrumental,” “Harry O Instrumentals” 

Any hip hop instrumental album is consciously and unconsciously living in the shadow (no pun intended) of ENTRODUCING… by DJ Shadow. Relative to the Shadow’s 1996 opus, YACHT ROCK 2 INSTRUMENTALS by The Alchemist has just as eclectic a selection of samples, but a much more mellow mood in contrast to Shadow’s unique darkness. The beachiness surfaces with the squawking seagulls of “Uptown Aquarium Instrumental” and some well-placed drone elements on the next track, “Tropical Storm Lenny,” bring in the space age sound typical of a Shadow production. Similar lines can be drawn to the elctronic organ/keyboard experince on “Sex At The Fountainebleau Instrumental,” but what stands out most is The Alchemist’s control of distance, embodied by the muffled sounds after each rushing wave on songs like “No Socks Instrumental.” It exudes a mastery of timing and rhythm, the muffled bubbling and horn features giving it that magical ability to transport the listener to the very bottom of the ocean as they somehow also glide at 30,000 feet in a 737. “Harry O Instrumentals,” the standout beat, threads the needle on all of these pieces. The bongos are perfectly mixed with a ubiquitous snare, adding crunch to an already delicious melody. And by the next track, “Sand Castles Instrumental,” the line “This is a great place, a window to look outside,” sampled from what might as well be an infomercial, captures the essence of this album––it’s something to throw on when you’re trying to soak up some sunshine with the lights off. If you want to cut to the quick instrumentally on last year’s YACHT ROCK 2 and just dig into the beats, give it a listen over on Bandcamp. [Liam Glennie]

Bandcamp Picks Honey Cutt

Honey Cutt – COASTING

Genre: Indie Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Vacation,” “Fashion School,” “Orange Blossom Trail,” “Love Me, Still”

My favorite name change for a major brand has to be Jerry and David’s Guide To The World Wide Web transitioning to Yahoo! Not only is it the kind of fact that seems like you might have just made it up, it’s kind of surreally paradoxical too. Yahoo! is (or was, I suppose) one of the most iconic web presences at one time, and the name itself represents a kind of 1.0 version of the tech brand-naming convention which would see final form in things like “LYFT.” And yet if we ignore the fact that it was an important part of the internet’s early identity, Yahoo! Is kind of a bad name, both meaningless in what it does or provides and not particularly SEO-friendly—both strikes in 2020. Jerry and David’s Guide To The World Wide Web, on the other hand, weirdly meets both criteria; even if the name is old fashioned-sounding and admittedly wordy, it paints a picture and certainly would yield web results as our search engines become more and more crowded.

Why do I bring all this up? No reason in particular, mostly I find that anecdote interesting, but it seems worthy of using to introduce COASTING. Last we heard from Kaley Honeycutt, she had dropped an excellent EP under the name Baby! (which similarly to Yahoo! is made infinitely more fun by the inclusion of an exclamation point). Now recording and releasing under the much more playfully succinct (not to mention more SEO-friendly) name Honey Cutt, her debut, COASTING, keeps a degree of that scrappy, capacious dream pop sound while showing a lot of growth as an actual songwriter, with revealing songs that spring with light, gooey dream pop hooks. Like many of late, Honeycutt’s vocal pitter-patter delivery recalls Molly Rankin of Alvvays, particularly on the playful, bouncy choruses of songs like “Vacation” or the soaring drama of fuzzy highlight “Orange Blossom Trail.” But unlike plenty of Alvvay’s copycats that have come or gone since their rise in recent years, the package feels tonally separate, Honeycutt’s vocals, which hit a slightly lower register, tasked with really being the essential glue to instrumentals that are inherently gravitating apart from one another rather than blending together like most current dream pop. There is a light degree of lo-fi energy propelling the whole thing, but while traces of the band’s surfier, ocean side breeziness pop up occasionally, the tone of the record moves more from the boardwalk to the nighttime sidewalks of the homes a mile or so away—less a vacation record and more one focused on re-assuming everyday life. The lighter, more guitar-focused songs Honey Cutt certainly excel at (“Judas Waltz,” “Fashion Waltz”), but the sleepy haze of songs like “Love Me, Still” or “All I Have” are what keep me returning. As spring turns to summer, consider throwing this on. You can check out COASTING on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]

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