Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 6/6/18


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

This article previously appeared on Crossfader

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Retirement Party

Retirement Party – SOMEWHAT LITERATE

Genre: Pop Punk, Emo

Favorite Tracks: “Shoulder It,” “Passion Fruit Tea,” “Are You My Mother?,” “Seams”

The cover of Retirement Party’s debut, SOMEWHAT LITERATE, is hopeful yet desperate. We’ve all experienced the racks of hand-me-down clothing that make up the average Goodwill or Salvation Army, organized by color of course, each brimming with possibility; the chance to find a lost treasure or a new go-to outfit comes with every sliding hanger. Still, a sadness and staleness comes with that possibility—each piece of clothing, illuminated by the unforgivingly harsh fluorescent lights, has a story that is filled with, as Retirement Party might put it, “despair and prosperity.”

The duality found in the secondhand shopping experience is the cornerstone of SOMEWHAT LITERATE, the Chicago emo rockers’ fully formed and lean debut. The group’s midwest emo sensibilities have been punched up in comparison to last year’s excellent EP, STRICTLY SPEAKING, and their pop punk intensity sees Avery Springer’s vocals bouncing off the record. Like the clothes on the cover, Springer’s stories are filled with anxieties and details that are masked by a blur of overwhelming color. Amidst death fantasies on opener “That’s How People Die,” including getting skin cancer or hit by a car, the collectively catchy and upbeat punk mutes the darkness. The band eludes true melancholy on the first half of the album with some truly gripping and pleasing riffs taking over, like the hooks on album highlight “Shoulder It” or the unhinged soloing on “Passion Fruit Tea.” All this uplifting pop punk is accompanied by relatable, clever lyrics, like, “I have Cheez-Itz stuck in my teeth and I haven’t seen the light of day for like 24 hours / But I didn’t think this is how my life would be,” (“Are You My Mother?”) or, “It’s pretty easy to slip on some ice and it isn’t nice to fall down hard on Milwaukee” (“Scene 48”). The crunchy closer “Seams” brings it all back to those initial death fantasies, as Springer theorizes, “Sun poisoning on my skin is not what I need / At the end of the day maybe it’s cancer that’s gonna kill me.” In that song, the band communicate a despair and prosperity, a hopefulness and desperateness, that brings SOMEWHAT LITERATE full circle, dropping the clothes off to be donated for the next person to revel in past joys and future sorrows. Retirement Party make good on the promise of last year’s EP with a tight, fun, and introspective debut. Check out SOMEWHAT LITERATE on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Sudan Archives

Sudan Archives – SINK

Genre: Alternative R&B, Northeastern African Music

Favorite Tracks: “Nont For Sale,” “Mind Control”

On SINK, Sudan Archives fosters an awfully complex sound. Her mixture of world textures, electronic loops, and dark, provocative lyrics leave listeners somewhere between wanting to groove and wanting to meditate. The once-pop singer began violin at a young age, but her world was altered when she came across the Sudanese style of playing, a folkier approach to the instrument with open interval double stops and plucking. In that way, the Ohio native uses each of the six tracks as an exploration of sound. The violin plays a dominant role in her music but not in the way listeners might be used to if they’re familiar with other violin crossover acts like Kishi Bashi, or even Lindsey Stirling. Compared to her last self-titled release, SINK introduces more electronic elements, as heard on the title track and “Mind Control.” Single “Nont For Sale” is, by far, the standout, a dense track that starts with plucking strings but drops the beat to refocus everything as her layered vocals shake up the consistency. She sings with attitude about a poisonous friendship: “Don’t got time for snitches / You pulling me down / But you was my sista.” While her fusion of violin and electronics may push listeners outside of their comfort zone, she always brings it back with relevant lyrics on par with today’s female rap powerhouses, serving up the same messages but with a much different sound. Sudan Archives’ sound hopefully encourages listeners to do some exploration of their own. Check out Sudan Archive’s SINK on Bandcamp. [Stephanie Caress]

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