Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 5/29/19

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Bandcamp Picks of the Week is back and better than ever

Bandcamp Picks Ayankoko

Ayankoko – KIA SAO ກ້ຽວສາວ

Genre: Molam, IDM

Favorite Tracks: “Kia Sao,” “South East II,” “Pambuko Reakt,” “Downsides,” “Tebu Sauyun”

If the album cover above didn’t clue you in, KIA SAO ກ້ຽວສາວ is the most uniquely vibrant record you’ll hear this year. Ranging from jazz to noise to breakbeats, French-Laotian multi-instrumentalist and composer David Somphrachanh Vilayleck’s latest effort runs the gamut in ways that feel impossible. The back-to-back combo of “Trytones” and “Jette” sound like the world’s weirdest jazz artist and the world’s strangest synth noodler were told to go haywire, and yet the two are perfect complements. As if this wasn’t impressive enough, Vilayleck immediately drops an 11-minute hammer, “Downsides,” that pulls together rubbery percussion and crystal clear electronics spliced through a sinister cloud of atmospheric noise. Not a second is wasted as the track seamlessly blooms and retreats like a tide in the dead of night. His arrangements are a delicious blend of oil and water, like the title track, a harshly sweet intro akin to chewing glass covered in the sweetest sugar known to man. “Kia Sao” doesn’t last the length of a traffic light but cuts sharper than just about every other piece of the puzzle. Much like a walk through Laos, a country still littered with 78 million unexploded bombs dropped by the US military during the Vietnam War, in a moment’s notice, KIA SAO ກ້ຽວສາວ’s tracks flip from idyllic tranquility to harsh chaos. Bombs dropped by men, many of which forced to be there, men who’ve now been kicked onto the streets of America to die, are still taking 300 Laotian lives each year and 60% of those are children. Tragedy permeates the record, especially its conclusion, “Tebu Sauyun,” a somber six minutes of strings that abandons bright melodies and electronics in favor of dour and pensive extended notes, eventually fading with a singular drawn out sound, making for one of the most reflective closers of the year. Listen to KIA SAO ກ້ຽວສາວ on Bandcamp. [Ryan Moloney]

Bandcamp Picks Half Stack

Half Stack – QUITTING TIME

Genre: Country Psych

Favorite Tracks: “Dually,” “Oranges,” “Balhorrhea”

The frolicking twang of Half Stack’s QUITTING TIME is a dude ranch vacation, a lush but melting country dream pop sound that finds the band exploring Southern roots from the comfort of their Oakland garage. Don’t worry, it’s still quintessentially NorCal, and nothing about their exploration feels hackneyed—it has just enough Grateful Dead bounce and Jefferson Airplane tripping to call itself regional. With a modern sound akin to Alex Bleeker & the Freaks or Sonny & the Sunsets (or even parts of Kurt Vile’s discography), the self-described “pancake band’s” eight-song, 25-minute sophomore record is filled with achy heartbreaking guitar tones and lo-fi, roadhouse shuffling drums, all lyrically carried by, if not some whiskey-soaked tears, some PBR-soaked ones to be sure. Neither pop country enough to be sought out by modern country fans, and ultimately too country to appease those looking for decent psych and garage rock jams, Half Stack is admittedly a tough sell for someone who isn’t inherently a fan of both genres (or a fan of vintage country’s trippier roots—have you given this Numero Group release WAYFARING STRANGERS a listen yet?), and yet, that’s what’s so delightful about it. In its niche brand of country is something beautiful, bright, nostalgic, and just a bit tragic. Grab a glass of lemonade, throw on your nearest cowboy hat, and sit on your roof to watch the planes take off while you contemplate life to Half Stack’s QUITTING TIME, available on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]

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