Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 9/5/19


Bandcamp Picks of the Week is back and better than ever

Bandcamp Picks Carriers


Genre: Heartland Synth Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Make It Right,” “Dangerous Dancer,” “Daily Battle,” “Another Guy”

It’s fascinating that, despite their across-the-board acclaim, The War on Drugs’ influence is rarely felt throughout the current landscape of rock—it’s hard to pinpoint Adam Granduciel’s carefully constructed heartland synth rock having any actual impact on music writ large outside of perhaps Strand of Oaks’ latest quietly stirring masterstroke. This is, in so many ways, what I find to be absolutely riveting about Carriers’ debut. Curt Kiser’s larger-than-life NOW IS THE TIME FOR LOVING ME, YOURSELF & EVERYONE ELSE certainly offers a glimpse into what would’ve happened had Springsteen and Red Rider loomed larger over the modern indie rock canon, and featuring members of The National and The Afghan Whigs behind the scenes, it had the established bona fides to be a mammoth rock record before I even pressed play. But Carriers top-to-bottom have the goods, and Kiser’s long-time-coming debut feels like it needed time to manifest. A record primarily comprised of over-five-minute tracks, Kiser, Bryan Devendorf, and John Curley tap into their jammier instincts, with spacey Americana trips that each could easily go on for double their current runtimes and feel at home. The album’s two longest songs, “Make It Right,” a soaring eight-minute rush with driving drum machines and an aching melody, and “Dangerous Dancer,” a hazy seven-minute build, are undeniable guitar odysseys, the kind that are immediate doses of blissed-out ecstasy, but are slow-burning and complex. The production of the record captures the true sprawl of America, and finds a kind of peace in how small our place in this large country can be; on tracks like “Patience” or “Heaven’s People,” Kiser’s existential wanderlust manifests itself in tired everyday truths and small victories that feel epic in proportion. “Another Guy” especially makes his own relatable complexes and inadequacies feel not only universal, but as though they transpire as a working man’s plea. This type of record, for reasons I still don’t totally understand, don’t come around often and when it does, it’s rarely of this quality. Fans of LOST IN THE DREAM should run, not walk, to Bandcamp to give this a listen. [CJ Simonson]

Bandcamp Picks Seratones

Seratones – POWER

Genre: Soul, Blues Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Power,” “Lie to My Face,” “Gotta Get to Know Ya,” “Sad Boi,” “Who Are You Now”

For years I had two personality traits. One was hating Muse, while the other, more relevant one, was hating The Black Keys, their ear-grating tonal choices and Patrick Carney’s flat, disaffected voice robbing them of any firepower. I’ve been filled with schadenfreude that even former apologists have turned on their recent output, especially the flirtations with soul and psychedelia on TURN BLUE that exposed how stiff and tepid they’d become. Seratones, who originate from Louisiana, have made a similar transition from the punk-like energy that dominated their debut GET GONE to an embrace of Motown cool, doo-wop bounce, and drippy, colorful keyboards. The gussy production, courtesy of Cage the Elephant’s Brad Shultz, and the more pensive mood is a let-down at points, especially the hook of “Over You” that could have gone so much bigger, but the rest of POWER is tight, sizzling, and brash. The title track lives up to its title with one of the most forceful and sweeping hooks of the year, the keyboard solos on “Heart Attack” and “Sad Boi” are mind-bending and gorgeous, and the record perfectly balances funky grooves with dramatic accents to create an immersive sense of danger and intrigue, like the soundtrack to a party scene in a spy movie. Rest assured they can still deliver fuzzed out, garage-rock smolder, especially on “Fear” and “Gotta Get to Know Ya,” and while the content is not especially distinctive outside of the political angle of the title track, vocalist AJ Haynes elevates these sentiments in a genuine star-making performance of honeyed crooning and hoarse, raucous belting. If Seratones got the right promotion (or more realistically get featured in a commercial), they could slide into alternative radio alongside other soul-rock fusion bands like The Revivalists and introduce some real soul and groove into the format. If you’re still holding out hope for that next Alabama Shakes album, this should quench some of that thirst. [Blake Michelle]

Music Roundup 9/4/19

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