Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 4/26/2024

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It’s our Bandcamp Picks of the Week, featuring the engaged emo of Texas 3000’s TX3K, and Cusp’s indie rock personified EP THANKS SO MUCH!

Texas 3000 Album Cover

Texas 3000 – TX3K

Genre: Midwest Emo, Noise Pop

Favorite Tracks: “Shanburuon,” “V Ni Ha Naranai,” “Hirame 2D”

TX3K is one of last year’s best indie rock albums, yet very few have heard it; that’s a pretty ballsy statement, don’t you think? I promise you, that claim is not pure conjecture. The young trio—made up of Sakiyama, Jojo, and Kirin— are all based in a small residential area of Tokyo called Nakano, and have quietly forged masterful, pensive alt-rock with a controlled ferocity. Texas 3000 reminds me of the aura surrounding early Oasis gigs before DEFINITELY MAYBE—the sound of a band trying to make it big. Not only are Texas 3000 the same age as their audiences, but they’re also in the same position—advantaged with loads of energy and still able to live carefree. In the frenetic opener “Connector Fuck Man,” the aggressive guitars sing these very notions. Halfway through, it abruptly comes to a halt. What initially sounds like cries and boos from a disappointed audience quickly turns into a chant: “Texas 3000! Texas 3000!” A single kick drum then ending the silence, the song erupts once more, the trio knowing full well they’re humoring their audience. Hearing that exchange is like really being there in the crowd.

As I’ve hinted earlier, the guitars soar loudly. It’s only appropriate; that’s the Midwest emo influence bleeding through their interplay. With chords that reach the highest of heights, Texas 3000’s sound intersects with many other guitar-centric greats. They borrow the energy from the best crunchy bits of Dinosaur Jr.’s stellar reunion records BEYOND and FARM. The Hotelier’s cathartic sunniness permeates the trio’s instrumental and lyrical delivery. Echoes of Isaac Brock’s pleading desperations defining early Modest Mouse are laid across the album. And there’s the digestible, infectious alt-rock like Sonic Youth’s mid-noughts output, particularly on “Shanburuon.” But what’s closest to Texas 3000 is their own homegrown heroes, Number Girl, Japan’s post-hardcore legends of the new millennium. They, also sown by Western influences (David Fridmann who gave The Flaming Lips their percussive edge mixed much of their discography), stand out for their distorted guitar chords that pulverize overcast clouds. Cracks open for some sunshine and hope to emerge, a seldom remedy for a hopeless day, gracefully evaporating any boredom sullying the grounds on Earth. That power in alt-rock is a crown jewel, and like Number Girl, Texas 3000 effortlessly pride themselves on that. Listen to “V Ni Ha Naranai” and “Hirame 2D” for that alone.

Of course, TX3K is not entirely wild, as it’s scaffolded by lighter acoustic moments. Parts of “Erika” recall Dinosaur Jr.’s output, specifically the gentle ditties from lead singer J Mascis when he fronted the band in the ‘90s. There’s also the shimmering closer “Here,” a spaced-out, luscious jangle pop jam urging one to put their hands up in the air. TX3K succinctly captures ‘90s alt-rock energy and draws it to the present. If one were to give it its due diligence, they’d simply have to listen to it. Truthfully, I imagined I’d offer a more ceremonious, flowery celebration of Texas 3000—a reliance on dense vocabulary—but it would be disingenuous to excessively water down their rare display of youthful hearts on fire through music. The songs speak for themselves. So, please, listen to TX3K on Bandcamp today. [Dom Lepore]

Cusp EP Cover

Cusp – THANKS SO MUCH EP

Genre: Indie Rock

Favorite Tracks: “The Alternative,” “Window”

My time in Chicago lasted three uneven years (2014-2017), but I nonetheless experienced big, painful truths as I settled into my true-ish self. Since then, either to stoke nostalgia or craft this living testament, I’ve collected heaps of Chicago music (Cel Ray, Bow & Spear, Meat Wave, Deeper, Ratboys, etc.) Yet few have done more to smash my heart and lift my spirit (like Chicago proper!) than Cusp. With THANKS SO MUCH, the indie rockers position themselves as an intriguing representation of the Windy City: a little odd, slightly wispy.

“The Alternative” is for mourning a dead relationship as you trot to work in the Ukrainian Village. Meanwhile, the pseudo-’90s, mostly timeless energy of “Window” taps into Chicago’s dynamic socio-cultural vein. And “Your Freedom” marries Midwestern wholesomeness and a proper jagged edge. But truly, the EP’s akin to a poetry book of “My So-Called Chicagoan Life.” There’s “Sometimes you gotta do the hard thing” (from “Your Freedom”) about my late 20s. Or, “I was just a kid / No sense of the world / But scared of the sound” (the title track) highlighting my Peter Pan-ian shtick. And “I bought a ticket to another show / I stayed at home” (from “You Can’t See Me”) describing life as a sad boy in the big city. Clearly these weren’t written for/about me—”The Alternative” is a poetic political dissection, and “Window” reverberates with a gorgeously singular soul/mind. But it goes beyond just great music speaking to where we are—Cusp are channeling the city in the best ways. Be it direct ideas and inspirations, or disseminating a life that’s beautiful but volatile in every way, they’ve distilled Chicago’s essence. Clearly there’s bound to be (even tangential) overlap considering Chicago’s robustness, but what matters is how this process speaks to Cusp. 

Cusp sees the wonders of a city teetering between past and present. They know what it’s like to experience the personal and political in such an all-consuming manner. They recognize how cities and other constructs influence and reflect back onto us in this endless feedback loop. No matter the obviousness of my sentiments, Cusp are ultimately self-aware, deeply empathetic, and endlessly brave in their means to forge connections. It’s those fundamentals that inform the EP and my subsequent relationship—the world, but Chicago especially, is a weird and wild mess, and it’s nice to see others trying to make it through with the same hopes of growth and honesty. We share Chicago in the same way some folks share exes and baseball teams: it’s a lingua franca for what matters most in life.  Sure, my Chicago is not Cusp’s Chicago, but none of the architecture or history matter when the connection is this profound. The record’s a witty and poignant recognition that we are a thing because of the people, energies, and ideas encountered across life. Mostly, it’s a chance to honor things we can’t always explain or appreciate in the moment, and to commemorate that with grace and wit. Thanks so much, indeed. Listen to it now over on Bandcamp. [Chris Coplan]

For Better and for Worse, SASQUATCH SUNSET Belongs in a Museum

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