5 Albums to Buy on Bandcamp When 100% of Sales Go To Artists on Friday
With tours canceled because of COVID-19, independent musicians are facing a sudden loss of income right now. That’s why it’s more important than ever for fans to show up for them to purchase their music and merch—or just donate directly.
Bandcamp, the streaming service and marketplace based in Oakland, is waiving its revenue share from midnight to midnight Pacific Daylight Time this Friday, March 20. So now is a good time to log on to support your favorite artists—and get new music in your library while you’re at it. If you’re feeling particularly generous, Bandcamp also offers the option of paying more than the asking price.
Below, KQED Arts & Culture staff rounded up five releases on our Bandcamp wish lists. We kept it short, and we hope you use our suggestions as a jumping-off point to browse Bandcamp’s treasure troves of independent music. —Nastia Voynovskaya, associate editor
The Seshen, CYAN
On their new album, CYAN, the Seshen’s refreshing, synth-driven pop conjures early-morning dew drops on flower petals, glittering waters and tropical forests after rain. There’s something uplifting and enchanting about the way singer Lalin St. Juste’s vocals dance around the band’s textured, playful synths and bouncy neo-soul instrumentation. The six-piece ensemble’s songwriting has always been ambitious, and on CYAN, St. Juste and producer-bassist Aki Ehara hone in on their vision and center St. Juste’s autobiographical lyrics over a sleeker sound. In addition to digital download, CYAN is available on CD and vinyl. —Nastia Voynovskaya, associate editor
Matt Robidoux, Brief Candles
On the last weekend before the cancellations, before the venues shuttered and gathering in a room to experience live music emerged as a threat to public health, I went to a show at Adobe Books in the Mission District of San Francisco. Nine musicians set up on the floor, with mismatched chairs and benches bringing observers within inches of the performers. There was brass and guitar, percussion and strings, and it was intimate enough to hear fingers meet frets. Leading the winsome baroque pop ensemble was Matt Robidoux, a San Francisco composer and improviser steeped in the experimental music community orbiting Mills College. That night at Adobe they were playing material from Robidoux’s latest album, Brief Candles, which evokes the mix of pop and new music created by earlier Mills figures such as “Blue” Gene Tyranny. —Sam Lefebvre, reporter
Juanny Depp, Emergencia and Golpe De Estado
Reggaeton, dembow and club music live together in harmony at Amor Digital, the Bay Area dance party helmed by Juanny Depp, 99% Lean and Namaste Shawty. Over the past year, Amor Digital has become a platform for forward-thinking Latinx sounds, with DJs spinning tracks by the likes of Bad Bunny and El Alfa alongside house, footwork, techno and their own original production. Juanny Depp, who works at the San Francisco arts education nonprofit Youth Art Exchange by day, recently released two new projects: his Golpe De Estado EP features a collection of high-energy perreo instrumentals to twerk to while self-isolating. Danceable with a tinge of melancholy, Golpe De Estado thumps with hip-winding Caribbean rhythms and pulses with house beats enveloped in dreamy, downcast synths. And his new project, Emergencia (out today), features remixes of tracks by Kamaiyah and Nicki Minaj. —Nastia Voynovskaya, associate editor
William Parker, I Plan To Stay A Believer: The Inside Songs Of Curtis Mayfield
After the 2016 election, I listened to nothing but Curtis Mayfield for two weeks. Part political, part personal, Mayfield’s music was the perfect salve in that time of unease. Acknowledging turmoil, corruption and racism, and the effects they have on the individual, his songs also offer a beacon of hope, love and unity. Now, with another crisis on our hands, I’m glad to see a historic concert of Curtis Mayfield’s songs made available in this 2xLP vinyl reissue. Led by bassist William Parker, the group of New York jazz musicians approach songs like “If There’s a Hell Below” and “I Plan to Stay a Believer” with passion and grit. Poet and author Amiri Baraka provides a depth to the set, and the New Life Tabernacle choir elevates Mayfield’s signature song “People Get Ready” to celestial heights. If you’re looking to be transported away from the news in a non-celebrities-singing-“Imagine” way, this one will help. —Gabe Meline, senior editor
No Lovely Thing, She Be
The band No Lovely Thing was set to perform at Oakland’s Starline Social Club this Saturday, but that event is no longer happening. Fortunately, their latest album, the 2019 release She Be, is available for purchase on Bandcamp. It features tracks like “Grapevine,” where R&B meets rock, the slower sultry sounds of “Mangoes” and a track that one might describe as the bridge between gospel and funk, “I Can’t Breathe.” The band’s lead singer, East Oakland’s own Melissa Jones, is a vocalist and poet who, in addition to this band, also performs as a solo act. Even in the face of all that’s going on, she doesn’t plan on slowing down. In fact, next week, she’s planning on dropping a snippet of her latest work, as she’s recently teamed up with guitarist-producer Marcos Brooks for a new duo, FreshFeel. They’ll be debuting a song called “Colors” on March 27, and will release one track every last Friday of the month for the next five months. —Pendarvis Harshaw, columnist and host of Rightnowish