Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 5/9/18


Bandcamp Picks of the Week, as large and in charge as ever

This article previously appeared on Crossfader

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Barely March

Barely March – MARELY BARCH

Genre: Emo, Pop Punk

Favorite Tracks: “corduroy,” “thinking emoji ???,” “nervous as I’ll ever be,” “my life, in shambles”

A series of demos and scrapped Bomb The Music Industry recordings, Jeff Rosenstock’s I LOOK LIKE SHIT is a strange collection of ideas, a purgatory between the fully developed, crusading youthful commentaries he’s now making as a solo artist and the make-up-your-own-fun rawkus BTMI. By most accounts, the 2012 release is an obvious bridge between the two, and “Bonus Oceans” in particular is a track that, if it were punched up to have a bit more fight to it, with louder guitars and explosive drums, could fit alongside anything on WE COOL? or WORRY.

Enter Long Island artist Chris Keough, who figured out a way to cover “Bonus Oceans” and apply a lot of those overly excited Rosenstock-ian quirks and cram them into not only a gnarly kick-ass punk track, but an album filled with a similar smiling charm. MARELY BARCH, Keough’s debut under the moniker Barely March, is built on goofy-yet-earnest homegrown punk songs, a genuine record in spite of silly song names (“mambo no. 6,” “live fast, cy young”), that spoonerism title, and the claim that everything comes with “a dash of mediocrity.” True to life for many of us, Keough relies on jokes to make the devastation of real life palatable, and he builds heartbreaking midwest emo and pop punk songs while cutting their sadness every so often with a grin and a funny line. MARELY BARCH features a number of humorous one-liners that simultaneously act as striking realizations of the world falling apart while affirming that everything is going to be okay, like when the banjo-assisted “better days” concludes with a repeated chorus of, “Everything’s been going to shittsburgh since you left me,” or on the explosive finale of “I was a teenage gary,” when he screams, “I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you / and honestly my body can’t do what it used to.” All of this is taking place over an album that musically offers a little bit of everything, including Weezer outtake “nervous as I’ll ever be,” a building cacophony of piano and brass on “my life in shambles,” and the straightforward driving emo rocker “thinking emoji ???.”

Whoever hurt Keough enough to push him to create MARELY BARCH must be a real monster, but it’s led to an album the impressively captures how we awkwardly stumble through that post-breakup period. Like when Rosenstock is able to make commentaries about the state of the world through deeply personal, almost hilariously specific memories and anecdotes, Barely March have made the conversations going on in your head a universal mix of fun and devastating, yet very specific. When he sings, “cuz I meant what I said behind incoherent, stuttering sentences” on “surf wax antarctica,” you know he’s reassuring you as much as he’s reassuring himself. Listen to MARELY BARCH on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Rex Orange County

Rex Orange County – BCOS U WILL NEVER B FREE

Genre: Alternative R&B

Favorite Tracks: “Corduroy Dreams,” “Japan,” “Green Eyes, Pt. II,” “A Song About Being Sad”

Rex Orange County’s debut, BCOS U WILL NEVER B FREE, is a self-described bedroom album, an entirely mellow journey in the headspace of U.K. suburbia and unspecified romances that never work out, leaving artist Alexander O’Connor in the dust to comment on it after the fact. Discussing simple romance and when to let go, “Corduroy Dreams” could be snapped along to, with a jamming guitar to guide the melancholy lyrics, ending in a quirky whistling section. “Paradise” is a whimsically upbeat funk and soul track, admitting to insecurities and not wishing to be a martyr for it, with odd moments such as cutting off the final repeated phrase, “I’ll probably see you all in hell” at an abrupt“I’ll probably see—.” “Paradise” also takes pause for eight seconds in the middle after rapping, “Who needs an academic career when you’re the one with all the ideas?,just to let it sink in. “Japan” sums up O’Connor’s goal with BCOS U WILL NEVER B FREE, lamenting about a girl who left him and his own comment that he is not going to focus on himself, trying to focus on and analyze other people’s decisions. Throughout the album, he tends to rap along with a key instrument; in the case of “Japan,” it is a snare drum and cymbal combination. The standout is “Green Eyes, Pt. II” which delves into experimental synth rock, and despite the album being released three years ago in the U.K., relevantly comments, “There’s always gonna be a prick running this country.” Topically composed of the aftermath of a breakup, BCOS U WILL NEVER B FREE is a pleasant listen, not groundbreaking, but nice to stare out a window with. Check it out on Bandcamp. [Nikki Reifler]


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