Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 3/25/20

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Bandcamp Picks of the Week is back and better than ever

Bandcamp Picks Empty Country

Empty Country – S/T

Genre: Indie Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Diamond,” “Ultrasound,” “Emerald,” “Southern Cloud”

I’ll spare you a lengthy diatribe about Cymbals Eat Guitars, suffice to say I believe them to be among the most underappreciated bands of the 2010s, the kind of act that we collectively failed rather than vice versa—I would go as far as to say with no trace of hyperbole that LOSE, in particular, is one of the greatest American indie rock exports of all time, full stop, and even I took a minute to come around to realizing that. I suppose we all did. When the band quietly hung it up, changing their Twitter bio to headstone the dates 2007-2017, needless to say I was crestfallen. I retired the shirt I bought at their Orange County show where they were opening for Modern Baseball and Say Anything (which, if we’re being honest, was just cool-looking, but deeply uncomfortable anyway) and sipped a beer, quietly listening to “Jackson” on repeat.

So… Allow me to lend my small voice to the chorus praising EMPTY COUNTRY as among the best things Joe D’Agostino has ever created, and something fans of Cymbals Eat Guitars should embrace wholly. Despite being a sonic continuation of the ideas developed across both LOSE and PRETTY YEARS, Empty Country is several years, several release date snafus, and several lifetimes removed, and despite being in his early 30s, D’Agostino plays the role of indie rock journeyman with gusto. If Cymbals Eat Guitars captured the lightning-in-a-bottle wisdom of being young, EMPTY COUNTRY isn’t just a thoughtful retrospect on those times—although songs like “Untitled” and “Swim” are cutting soul-searchers about the past written in ways few could pull off—but a decidedly present and centered release that is trying to slow down and understand that lightning-in-a-bottle wisdom. His ability to deftly weave remembered, gentle specifics into characters across EMPTY COUNTRY showcases D’Agostino as one of the best modern songwriters, the X-acto knife in Downtown Disney on “Becca,” remembering black blizzards in Oklahoma on “Swim”—every Empty Country track blurs the settledness of middle-age transition with the contemplativeness of a dream to result in wise, waking life poems. He sings about drinking and aging and settling down and people with such a swiftness, the storytelling woven between himself and his characters brilliantly. EMPTY COUNTRY is able to naturally slide into lullabies like “Chance” and “Clearing,” but when D’Agostino goes for broke EMPTY COUNTRY’s pacifed sensibilities are at their most palpable, be it slow-building explosions like “Emerald” or “Untitled” or the driving one-two punch of “Diamond” and highlight “Ultrasound.” While a piece of the indie rock world was emptier without Cymbals Eat Guitars, our cups now runneth over with the brilliance of EMPTY COUNTRY. Please give it a listen over on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]

Bandcamp Picks Soakie

Soakie – S/T

Genre: Hardcore Punk

Favorite Tracks: “Nuke the Frats,” “Power Tool,” “Ditch the Rich,” “Don’t Talk Back”

If I were a gambling man, I’d wager that you’re hovering somewhere in the middle of depressed and pissed-off right now at the general state of affairs in the world and various international governments’ complete inability to handle things in a responsible or effective way. Might I turn you towards SOAKIE, an absolute ripper of a debut LP from a collection of hardcore punkers hailing from New York and New Zealand that share a name with the title. Hearkening back to the throbbing, claustrophobic energy of the classic hardcore tapes of the ‘80s, where everything was a steaming, ear-fracturing jalopy that was a fraction of a second away from breaking down into utter chaos at any given point during the track, SOAKIE feels like the best way to exorcise our demons we’ve been offered in quite some time. Vocalist Summer chokes out the feverish vocals in one of the most unique deliveries ever committed to tape, somewhere between Hellcat caterwaul and ghoulish shriek, guitar and bass players Chumz and Nellie zero-in on pummelling riffs that open up the pit all the way through your headphones while managing to keep a sense of melody, and drummer Austin’s rapid-fire volleys refuse to let the pace relax while incorporating a variety of rhythms and styles. Topped off with subject material that is resolutely enraged at everything you most likely are (“We are the poor, start a war!!!”) while making sure to take blistering potshots at subjects long of ire in the punk scene (what more needs to be said than “There are too many fucking boys on stage”?), you probably won’t find another 13 minutes quite as electrifying as the ones you’ll experience listening to SOAKIE. Check it out over on Bandcamp. [Thomas Seraydarian]

Music Roundup 3/24/20

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