Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 3/23/2023

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It’s our Bandcamp Picks of the Week, featuring TAMAGOTCHI MASSACRE’s glitchy and revelatory I GUESS I’M A WOMAN NOW… and Lou Terry’s impassioned and political WARMLY, ALEXANDRIA EP! 

TAMAGOTCHI MASSACRE Cover

TAMAGOTCHI MASSACRE – I GUESS I’M A WOMAN NOW…

Genre: Glitchcore

Favorite Tracks: “morbid obsession”, “fantasy”, “wrong place, wrong time”

In Cleo Mckenzie’s own words, I GUESS I’M A WOMAN NOW… is “so girly it hurts.” For her, the transition into womanhood coincided with an obsession over performance and feminine ideals, a 90 degree drop into deep dysphoria and insecurity trying to achieve perfection at any cost. All this congeals into her intense and colorful debut album, a glitch punk dream of stabby guitars and otherworldly electronics where self-expression coincides with the toxic waste left in the wake of patriarchal alienation and Mckenzie’s own discontent with traditional womanhood. I GUESS I’M A WOMAN NOW… not only seeks to break binary understandings of femininity, but to place Mckenzie in a place of comfort with her womanhood, a placid acceptance of everything womanhood entails and a defiant rejection of the rigid expectations often put onto trans women to prove their femininity to the world. These wonderfully messy, autotuned and explosive songs embody Mckenzie’s trans experience with equal parts hope and anxiety, and catalog her struggles with cisnormativity and transphobia inside bombastic avant-pop tunes.

Favoring splashes of autotune and vibrant electronic production, I GUESS I’M A WOMAN NOW… makes its goals clear right from the start, opening track “i’m two years on hormones and i’m still sad i want a refund” a plaintive folk ballad outfitted with pitched-up vocals and compressed fuzzy guitars before “clean plate club” and “cloud emoji” continue her hyperpop detour with angsty pop punk and bubbly bossa nova respectively. There’s a warmth to her mixing that keeps the energy high without getting heavy on the ears, jersey club highlight “heartsore / heartsoar” moving at a breakneck pace like Princess Peach speeding down the Autobahn, while the softer synthpop of “fantasy” throws you up into cotton candy clouds that hide a sensitive song about trying to fit into societal understandings of femininity even as they cut deep into Mckenzie’s heart. It’s not sorrowful as much as it is an album of Mckenzie shedding her early naivete and exploring trans womanhood through her own post-binary ideals, “wrong place, wrong time” willing to explore tangled webs of self-discovery with romance that is both unsure of itself and desperately yearning to be understood: “Are you scared to love me?” Mckenzie pleads over soft synth washes, glimmering pop built to preserve the feeling of never truly being feminine enough for anyone she seeks a deeper connection with. I GUESS I’M A WOMAN NOW… isn’t afraid to step into the bruised memories of Mckenzie’s earliest moments transitioning, and that bravery combined with solid pop songwriting makes for an uplifting and surprisingly dark listen at once.

For all the hardships I GUESS I’M A WOMAN NOW… works through, Mckenzie’s music is always a joy to listen to, packed with voice samples from her favorite video games and TV shows and little production quirks like the gummy synth countermelody on “morbid obsession” and orchestral interlude “kiss me!” that bring a sunniness to her music without taking the spotlight away from her broader message. She listens to her heart without losing sight of how she’s situated to the world around her, making I GUESS I’M A WOMAN NOW… a powerful statement about Mckenzie’s own femininity in the face of oppressive gender norms and a marvelous way for her to introduce the magic of TAMAGOTCHI MASSACRE to the world. Her wondrous debut is now available on Bandcamp. [Lurien Zitterkopf]

Lou Terry EP cover

Lou Terry – WARMLY, ALEXANDRIA EP 

Genre: Anti-Folk

Favorite Tracks: “Confession,” “Yellow Top”

I’m obsessed with dichotomies. Enough of life—people, cities, relationships, art, food, etc.—exist (in varying states of joy and anxiety) between said pillars. We pattern-seeking creatures find joy in uncovering how things are birthed from the smashing of these tectonic plates. And Lou Terry seems similarly preoccupied. The Londoner identifies as a “musician, genre-mangler, and software builder.” Across the four tracks of February’s WARMLY, ALEXANDRIA EP, Terry demonstrates his own personal pillars. Whether that’s organic folk and electronic music, earnestness and satire, or beauty and bile, he’s found meaning across these so-called in-between spaces.

Terry’s shtick can be subtle—or altogether devious. “Yellow Top” begins as a gentle ballad before becoming immediately bored and transforming into a Superchunk-ian jam. Either of those aesthetics seem appropriate as Terry talks about growing up and finding one’s space with both poetic wisdom and infectious angst. And that’s likely the point: if you occupy two worlds, everything has all these added layers, and that makes for catchier tunes. Especially if the dichotomy’s organic and not a kooky experiment. The title track’s similar — although more contemplative electro-folk, like an extra jaded Postal Service. The song benefits from Terry’s interest in dueling ideas/energies, but it’s also at this point that you see larger truths. He’s not about subverting per say—he relishes the indecisiveness. That fosters a certain tension, where Terry pours his heart out as you wait for the other shoe to drop. Only it doesn’t, and that lets these big emotions germinate.

Terry’s bag of “concepts” reaches its peak with the masterful “Confession,” in which he busts out the ultimate Kansas City Shuffle. It’s a punk spin on outright cynicism, as Terry details killing Boris Johnson circa 2005. (Which, for those junior historians keeping score, makes everything since “a deep and horrible dream.”) The gimmick alone dazzles, and Terry’s jaunt toward brash rock is a massive gesture. Yet it’s amazing because that left turn eventually makes perfect sense—Terry’s technique/approach secretly prepared us for this head-exploding turn. The EP’s last offering is”Tiptoe,” a track where not a lot happens beyond this half-hearted Radiohead impression. But why it’s “weaker” than its predecessors, “Tiptoe” serves its purpose. It’s a chance to play around with more genres—ambient and folk and a dash of drone locked in a lazy conflict—as this mighty declaration: Terry’s in charge, and he’s willing to spin and leap to mess with your sensibilities and generate the momentum he wants.

This textured showmanship is the EP’s real draw. It’s the guiding hand you readily follow, and even if huge highs reside next to lows (i.e., “Confession” and “Tiptoe”), Terry’s curated a profound experience. It’s why the dichotomy matters: Terry wants as many tools to engage his listeners as he sees fit to scare, uplift, shock, and rattle accordingly.  The end result’s an achievement in meeting your listeners where they are and pushing them where they need to go. It’s a dichotomy that’s equally scary and inspiring—the very best kind. Listen to it now over on Bandcamp. [Chris Coplan]

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