Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week: Juneteenth Edition

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It’s our Bandcamp Picks of the Week, featuring Iress’ deft blend of slowcore and metal, SOLACE, and Cusp’s jubilant-yet-dark YOU CAN DO IT ALL!

Cusp album cover

Cusp – YOU CAN DO IT ALL

Genre: Indie Rock

Favorite Tracks: “Dead Things Talk,” “The Hum”

One of the first lyrics on YOU CAN DO IT ALL seems antithetical to the seemingly joyful encouragement of the album’s title: “I’m afraid that everything I love will fade away / At a speed I could watch their decay / And when I brace for collapse / There’ll be nothing there to grasp / And I’ll go tumbling into nothing.” The line rings out clearly above a bevy of clean, bouncing, uptempo guitars, and the verse seems to linger for a moment; the rhyming euphony of the words themselves even seem to fly in the face of the tragic meaning. Quickly, the album title feels more tragically aspirational than encouraging—“gripping with reality and powerlessness, the freedom to follow your impulses, but knowing your limits, knowing that you can’t do it all,” as they say in the liner notes. Of course, if you skipped ahead in the track list, Cusp tip their hand with the song title “You Can’t Do It All.” But nonetheless that balance between hopeful and jubilant instrumentals with lost-yet-deliberate melodies and lyrical couplets is what makes YOU CAN DO IT ALL so satisfying.

Cusp fall within a lineage of familiar modern indie rock groups: Hop Along, Sidney Gish, Remember Sports, Speedy Ortiz, etc. Amidst each delicate rock melody is an academically lyrical thought, often acute listless wanderings about life and death—“Somebody wins / They can’t beat death / You’re just like me / We all lose in the end,” Jen Bender wonders repeatedly throughout “Win.” The spectrum of human emotion on display is comforting even if the ideas being conveyed are sometimes upsetting—but again therein lies the joyful contradictions of YOU CAN DO IT ALL. You can give it a listen over on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]

Iress EP Cover

Iress – SOLACE

Genre: Slowcore, Alternative Metal, Shoegaze 

Favorite Tracks: “Vanish,” “Ricochet”

Iress’ music falls into the space where slowcore bleeds into doom metal. On their latest EP, SOLACE, they pull from both extremes like never before. The cumulative effect is a sound not terribly far off from Midwife’s recent work, a blanket of riffs that manage to sound both sludgy and wispy at once. “Blush” opens the EP on a heavy note, never once letting up despite the way Michelle Malley’s croons cut through and allow the song to retain a strong sense of melody; ender “Soft” pulls in the other direction, leaning into smoky dream pop, the only song on SOLACE that never erupts. For five minutes Malley’s impressionistic lyrics waft over twilit riffs, languorous and droning.

It’s the middle two cuts on the EP that best show off the band’s range—as a result, they’re the most immediate standouts. At less than two and a half full minutes, “Vanish” is the shortest non-intro track Iress has ever put out, but that’s all it needs to demonstrate the full range of the LA quartet’s capabilities. The track unspools over its runtime from a slowcore crawl to a bleak, almost suffocating climax, pounding drums and overdriven guitars bouncing ear to ear before it all cuts out suddenly. It’s a jarring moment—Iress at their best. Single “Ricochet” stitches soft dream pop verses against metallic, squealing choruses, building and building until even those feel like floors against the heights of the song’s punishing coda. These are the moments where SOLACE feels the most expansive. It’s that balance of light and dark, and it’s not unique to Iress, but few of their peers pull it off with the same weight. Grab SOLACE on Bandcamp and let it soundtrack your stormy summer nights. [Zac Djamoos]

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