This article previously appeared on Crossfader
Bandcamp Picks of the Week, as large and in charge as ever
Jay Tripwire – OUCH, MY HEAD AND NECK
Genre: Deep House, Tech House
Favorite Tracks: “Chase the White Ghost,” “My Remix of GA by Matt Bandy,” “Asteroid Field,” “Solna,” “Masks”
Alright, c’mon, with that cover and title, what’s a little click gonna hurt you? Having this exact thought while perusing Bandcamp for this week’s installment, I came across the adorably earnest backstory behind OUCH, MY HEAD AND NECK. Taking a cataclysmic tumble while playing with his daughter, Canadian beatmaster Jay Tripwire split open his head and did a number on his vertebrae as well, earning himself a neck brace and a forced cancellation of concerts for at least six weeks. Well, dear reader, let’s take to Bandcamp and keep him going with a purchase of OUCH, MY HEAD AND NECK! At the risk of sounding flippant, the music itself sounds exactly like you’d expect an extended album of deep and tech house cuts to sound like: nocturnal, funky, bass heavy, and perfect for blearily swaying in a room filled to capacity with smoke of various sorts. However, OUCH, MY HEAD AND NECK manages to differentiate itself in some key ways that make it worth a spin regardless of the inspiration behind it. Jay Tripwire has a trademark of mixing in goofy vocal samples that become integral parts of the track, eventually blending in and becoming as head-bobbing as every other element (the “bu-bu-bum” and “du-du-dum” in “Chase the White Ghost,” for example)—this keeps things from becoming too self-absorbed and self-serious, as is a common fallacy in music of this sort, increasing the overall interactivity and amicability of the album in turn. In addition, OUCH, MY HEAD AND NECK feels remarkably like an extended live set recorded in Tripwire’s living room, eschewing obvious singles and blending effortlessly between moods and energies. Overall, it’s a lot of fun, and you could do worse than supporting a dad for playing too hard with his kids.
Math the Band – DON’T WORRY
Genre: Synth Punk, Chiptune
Favorite Tracks: “Hang Out / Hang Ten,” “Why Didn’t You Get a Haircut?,” “The Adventures of Brian Townsend,” “Bigfoot,” “It’s Gonna Be Awesome”
I do not speak with hyperbole—listening to DON’T WORRY was the most viscerally nostalgic experience I’ve ever had. Not for the album itself, as I was blessed enough to hear it for the first time earlier this week, but for the emotions it conjured. An absolutely joyous and blistering chiptune emo-pop dance party, each song rockets by on Kevin Steinhauser’s bratty yelps and snarls, a drum machine working overtime, shoutalong choruses that will split your face into a grin every time, and the giddy and schizophrenic 8-bit energy of Anamanaguchi filtered through a much more palpable sense for a pop hook. This is music full of angst and anxiety, yes, but it’s also fundamentally filled with the hope and promise that things will get better soon. It took me right back to the summer of 2012, the self-ascribed best times of my life. Reminding me of acts such as Los Campesinos!, Cutting Pink With Knives, and Stepdad, all the most important things in the world to me as I looked forward to moving away from home and studying what I then loved, tears came to my eyes as I recalled how much has changed in the past five years: college is over, people once important have moved on, real life is here, old dreams are dead, and it sucks most of the time. And as you can imagine, I’ve listened to it every day since. But even if it doesn’t personally floor you to the degree that it did me, it’s impossible to pretend that this is anything but an electrifying hidden gem of the now-nascent chiptune movement. It made me feel like a kid again when it’s getting harder and harder to make me feel anything.