Bandcamp Picks

Bandcamp Picks of the Week 1/24/18

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This article previously appeared on Crossfader

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

Bandcamp Picks of the Week awakebutstillinbed

awakebutstillinbed – WHAT PEOPLE CALL LOW SELF-ESTEEM IS REALLY JUST SEEING YOURSELF THE WAY THAT OTHER PEOPLE SEE YOU

Genre: Emo

Favorite Tracks: “Life,” “Safe,” “Closer”

Hard Girls. Deafheaven. The Smith Street Band. Joyce Manor. Jeff Rosenstock. Remo Drive. All of these bands have had Jack Shirley—esteemed producer, audio engineer, and owner of the Atomic Garden Recording Studio in Palo Alto, CA—involved in some of their most pivotal work. We can now add San Jose emo rockers awakebutstillinbed, and if their debut album with Shirley behind the booth is any indication, they’re worthy of a place on that esteemed list. For over 40 minutes, musician Shannon Taylor pours every ounce of herself into the wordily-titled and tonally acute WHAT PEOPLE CALL LOW SELF-ESTEEM IS REALLY JUST SEEING YOURSELF THE WAY THAT OTHER PEOPLE SEE YOU, putting her own self-esteem under a microscope in a raging fit of broken, screaming vocals and lawlessly melodic guitars.

Taylor’s debut musically strikes familiar notes—a bit of Brand New’s bending, airy guitars here, the weight of Sunny Day Real Estate’s minimal but substantial drums there—but vocally embodies a shattered and unsettled search for human connection. WHAT PEOPLE CALL LOW SELF-ESTEEM is an album about trying to find that connection, either by fixing ourselves or by surviving as who we already are, and Taylor appropriately sings like her life is dependent it. “Why can’t we undo anything / Why can’t we fix ourselves,” she profoundly shrieks at the end of “saved.” “We rip and tear ourselves apart, and then we’re stripped of any context, but why” she ponders on “safe.” Even the buoyant “closer” leaves the album in a state of perpetual searching, as Taylor concludes both a chaotic song of heavy realizations (“I see it now / My hopes betray reality and I can’t see what’s in front of me”) and a crushing album of detailed and heartbreaking existential pensiveness over a simple, whispering guitar melody by earnestly asking us a question: “You read me like a book, didn’t you?” Her final question embodies both the album and Taylor’s vulnerable fear that exposing our helplessness and desire to connect makes us appear weak. But the book that I read was one of hardened strength and exciting promise, with universal questions that all of us are asking all the time. WHAT PEOPLE CALL LOW SELF-ESTEEM screams out of the gate with perceptive and esoteric songs about the relationship with self and, in turn, each other, and it’s one of 2018’s first great releases. Check out awakebutstillinbed’s debut here. [CJ Simonson]

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Vulture Industries

Vulture Industries – STRANGER TIMES

Genre: Progressive Metal

Favorite Tracks: “Tales of Woe,” “Strangers,” “Something Vile,” “Screaming Reflections”

What is it about Scandinavia, home of some of the most seemingly well-off countries in the world, that leads its citizens to make the weirdest, darkest metal? I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth if it means we get more continuously unpredictable bands like Norway’s Vulture Industries. They often get tagged as black metal, possibly because they hope to pull their listeners into horrific despair, but STRANGER TIMES complicates such anguish with operatic vocals out of a power metal band, poetic yet surreal lyricism with unconventional rhyme schemes and a political bent, and clean production that doesn’t take away from the impressive shredding and drum work. Most of the ever-persistent and heightening intensity does not come from the music, but chilling lyrics about war and xenophobia like, “The chamber grows a constant buzz, a dense and compact truth / Rebounding every different thought from armour smooth” on “Screaming Reflections” and, “Into an all engulfing omnivorous fire / Circled by shades all eager to be set alight” on “The Beacon.” It is to black metal what CATCH-22 is to ETHAN FROME: just as nihilistic, but with a veneer of eccentricity and absurdity to make the experience a little more easy to swallow. If you have been thoroughly disappointed by Between the Buried and Me’s recent output, might I suggest this to satisfy your djenty, theatrical progressive metal bent. [Blake Michelle]

Hit or Sh**: Freeform’s ALONE TOGETHER

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