Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 3/6/19

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Bandcamp Picks of the Week is back and better than ever

Bandcamp Picks Default Genders

Default Genders – MAIN POP GIRL 2019

Genre: Dream Pop, Drum and Bass

Favorite Tracks: “When It’s Over (featuring No Rome),” “pharmacoma (for ben dietz),” “secret garden .NUXX,” “black pill skyline,” “reverse chronological order (part 1),” “sophie (emphasis mine) [featuring beth sawlts],” “holy ground”

After roughly a decade on the internet, James Brooks has an opus. There were the manic, fun-loving, devil-may-care mashups and dissolutions of genre that previous project Elite Gymnastics offered. There was dating Grimes. There was the whole hubbub over the STOP PRETENDING EP back in 2013. But now it feels like Brooks’ music, operating here under Default Genders, can finally speak for itself. And it certainly has a lot to say! The most obvious point of reference, to me, is Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Brooks’ focus on the small, often sad stories of lower-middle-class life of the same specificity and biting melancholy of Owen Ashworth. The various references to Americana and folk heroes such as Dylan and Waits that are floating around are certainly not off the mark, at least in terms of the lyrical and thematic content. However, whereas Ashworth relegated his baleful missives to tinny, lo-fi production, Brooks instead luxuriates in an entirely fresh, and absolutely bonkers, mix of jungle and drum and bass filtered through the vulnerability and hazily coy sensuality of dream pop and PC Music. The result is something that truly no other artist is dabbling in, an obfuscated, alternate-history-style throwback to electronic music of the ‘90s that somehow makes room for anguished tales of displacement and substance abuse over the digitally-rendered riddims and Hallelujah breaks that will have dancefloors across the years bobbing their heads. With just a touch of the wide-eyed, slightly sardonic p/optimism of A.G. Cook, perhaps due to the extensively documented infatuation with K-pop that Brooks has demonstrated in the past, MAIN POP GIRL 2019 is an endlessly beguiling and imminently relistenable slice of artistry you’d be sore to miss. Also, the Bruce Springsteen re-envisionment of “secret garden .NUXX”? C’mon. Give MAIN POP GIRL 2019 a listen here. [Thomas Seraydarian]

Bandcamp Picks Made-Up

Made-Up – S/T

Genre: Lo-Fi Baroque Pop

Favorite Tracks: “Who’s Mess, Who’s Tears,” “Bump Bump Bump Bump”

Whether hastily short or simply meant as an introduction, at a scant 15 minutes, it’s easiest to hear Made-Up’s self-titled EP as a multipart movement, a symphonic haze of lo-fi chamber pop that hums along with curious, flickering xylophones and explosive guitar woozes in an attempt to create something wholly full. Our first movement opens with “Doing Something Else,” a crawling and careful lead-in to the appropriately searching sound of “Opinion of Myself.” The first movement closes by kicking things up a notch; the instrumental “Theme A” crescendos slowly, its flutes and jangling percussion rolling into the start of Movement II with both precision and hesitation. For the second movement comes “Who’s Mess, Who’s Tears” and “Bump Bump Bump Bump,” Made-Up’s crowning achievements here. Both slightly more obvious orchestrations that offer twinges of early Animal Collective in the hypnotically whispering vocals, building repetition, and campfire mania—in the age of playlisting, both should freefall nicely in their indebted freak-folk and psych worship. And finally we close out with our third movement, an instrumental closer that sonically recalls what came before but refuses to go quietly into the night. Made-Up make a strong, albeit involved, first impression with their debut EP. You can certainly hear in these songs an attention to sonic detail, feeling simultaneously labored over yet musically free. Given time and resources, it’ll be fascinating to see what kind of continued surrealist indie pop they can cook up in the future. Made-Up’s self-titled EP is out March 8th and you can pre-order it over on Bandcamp.  [CJ Simonson]

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