2015 according to Cal.
I've gotta tell you folks, I'm a bit disappointed. This new article of It Came from Bandcamp was supposed to represent holidays of all faiths, but it appears as though the only one people want to make a mockery of is Christmas. Hopefully in the future you all will be considerate of other denominations and make shitty music for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and pagan solstice celebrations, as well. But for now I've managed to salvage this holiday special by scraping together 12 grating projects that are mostly Xmas-related. You can think of it as "The Twelve Days of It Came from Bandcamp," except I'm not doing this in the form of that fucking song. If you wanna listen to each thing one-by-one in the days following Xmas, it's your funeral.
Let's get on with it...
This EP gets me thinking that "Tryptophan" would be a decent death metal band name if it weren't for the drowsy connotation. Just imagine it in that gruesome lettering.
Here, the guy most notable for singing "White Christmas" is put over a bunch of hardcore hip hop instrumentals — y'know, just in case your holidays needed to be a touch more ironic.
Christmas just got a hell of a lot spoopier.
After learning what we have from tingledad, in only makes sense to set ablaze every Santa we encounter from now on. Can't be sure if they're skeletons in disguise. (The music really is shitty, by the way.)
I doubt that seasonal cheer is the only thing these guys are on.
Why aren't no wave Christmas festivals still a thing?
You were probably wondering when we were going to get into some holiday aesthetics. Wonder no more; DEEPSEA has got us covered.
"All your Christmas prayers. Answered."
Usually, Floral Shoppe parody remixes have a little bit of effort put into them. But this time someone just decided to add an incessant jingle bell loop to the album. BAM! Instant Xmas!
"Olaf is love, Olaf is life."
Recently I began being ostracized by my friends because my James Ferraro ringtones weren't festive enough. AGDR saved my social life.
Alright, that's enough to give you the holiday blues already. I'll be back at the end of next month to plunge the depths of Bandcamp with you yet again. I'm of course gonna be around doing various things for the site until then, but I want to say that heading into my third year with TND, I'm very appreciative of any support you've given so far, even if it's just silently enjoying the content. So, beyond all the shit I offer you a merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and "Cocoa" three ways...
Hey guys, Jeremy here, the man behind the curtain (or one of the men... behind one of the curtains... Why are there so many curtains here at TND? I like to think of mine as being a nice forest green.) I don’t know if any of you care what the co-video-editor’s Top 10 of 2015 are, but here they are, nonetheless! Ha ha haaa!
I knew this record was a Great Record the first time I heard it, but I don’t think it clicked into #1 status for me until after I saw Stevens perform live on his Carrie & Lowell tour. It forced me to look the man singing these desperate, sorrowful songs right in the face, which gave me an even sharper perspective on the album proper. It may be quiet and slow, but this is a profound, wise, nearly perfect piece of work. Nothing moved me more this year.
There’s a moment in the middle of “Sea Calls Me Home” where Julia Holter stops short of giving us the expected chorus – it builds right up to the precipice, but doesn’t jump. Instead, we get a lovely whistling coda. All right, nice enough, but the chorus is about to come – three, two, one – ah! Nope! We’re foiled again, this time by a luscious sax. This is indicative of why this is Holter’s best work yet, and there are a myriad of other examples scattered throughout. Impeccable production and songwriting, and just so goddamn pretty.
Anyone who knows me probably thought I would put this at #1 almost by default, but #3 is nothing to gawk at either. Newsom remains my favorite songwriter, and while Divers might not be her best work, it still packs a dazzling punch. Jumping every which way through time and space, Newsom weaves intricate, fiercely intelligent stories with layers of harp, keys, strings, and even a Marxophone. We waited five years for this, but it was well worth it.
Another heartbreaker, here. Breakup albums can so easily go maudlin, or at the very least run-of-the-mill. Leave it to Björk to basically reinvent the wheel. This is by some sort of margin her most challenging work yet, both in the intense, seasick strings and beats that never go where you expect them to, and her personal, heartsick lyrics. It acts as a dark cousin to Vespertine, and it’s interesting to see her go from the global (Volta and Biophilia) back to the personal with such velocity, but I welcome it.
I feel crazy for putting a Grimes record here, but I have to. I’ve never been a Grimes non-fan, but I never got as wowed by her as everyone seemed to. This time around, I was hesitant, but I quickly grew to love the brash, fun, poppy, bubblegum-and-cyanide update on her sound. Stripping much of the reverb, we’re left with a very catchy, very well-made record. This is Grimes’ real breakthrough, “Oblivion” be damned.
This is the most criminally overlooked record of the year. Minimalist disco with indelible grooves and Murphy’s beautiful, sultry voice. It took a long time for her to return, and while this is certainly not as catchy or colorful as her past work, it is definitely a welcome addition to her strong catalog.
I never want to like a Destroyer record as much as I do. I’m not even sure what rationale I have for that, but it’s true. At first listen, I’m like, “Ok that was fine.” But even as soon as the second listen, it’s hook-line-and-sinker. This might be my favorite Destroyer record since Your Blues, with its slow sensuousness and thoughtful song craft. Destroyer is so consistent it’s hard to pin what exactly makes this record better than others, but it just is, ok?
Torres’ debut was a record I quite enjoyed, but it isn’t really that much of a statement. Sprinter is a statement. This is a fierce, gnarly record with catchy songs and impassioned singing. Songs like “Strange Hellos” and the title track explode, while the more pensive cuts like “New Skin” and (especially) “A Proper Polish Welcome” provide a beautiful counterpoint. I’d bet Torres has even more in her yet.
It’s just so damn good to have these ladies back in our lives. There isn’t much I can even say here. This is a kickass rock record, tight and taut, with the same great melodies and virtuosic guitars we’ve come to expect. Just all around solid as fuck. Rock on, SK.
La Havas improved on her already very good debut album with Blood, a set of soulful, jazz-influenced rock pop, replete with a few folky detours. La Havas has one of the best voices in modern pop music by far, and hearing her belt out funky tunes like “Midnight,” slinky numbers like “Green & Gold,” or out-and-out bangers like “Grow,” is just such a treat. I am thankful for this record.
All in all, 2015 wasn’t the best year in music, to be honest. These were ten albums I loved, and there were many others that were very good – Braids, José González, Laura Marling, and even that Metric record grew on me quite a bit (shut up, Anthony!) – but it just didn’t feel as much like a consistently strong year as some recent years.
But oh well! It’s basically over, and next year is looking like a promising program of potential releases. Bring it on, 2016!
My picks and predictions for some of the most notorious categories in the next Grammy Awards ceremony.
Is it year-end list time already?! Every year it seems the lists inch forward ever so slightly (because fuck December, right). But actually I'm jumping the gun just for the sake of scheduling and am gonna be quickly running through my ten favorite albums of the year now. Ten might not seem like much, but what do you expect from the cynical bastard who writes It Came from Bandcamp? At any rate, here's what I dug most this year and I hope you dig them at least a little bit too:
The Top 10
On Universal Themes, Mark Kozelek continues to seek fulfillment in the mundane details of everyday life through winding, tangential songwriting. As always, the sentimentality of the music may come off to some as corny, but after dozens of listens this remains one of the most powerful experiences I've had with a singer-songwriter album. A pity that it has been widely unsung just because Mark wouldn't let himself be bent over by the bratty press...
Even though I saw it coming from a mile away, I'm still salty about Anthony's Skid Row review that went up yesterday. Yeah, James always impresses as a conceptual artist, but you don't exactly have to be a gallery-goer to "get" what he's doing here in terms of composition. James does a masterful job of evoking the musical landscape of '80s & '90s LA, while also disrupting any nostalgia that may arise from that and conveying the smoggy, grimy, and chaotic state of modern LA via the off-kilter arrangements. The results are pretty catchy in their own right, too. I also find the deeper, more confident singing (almost spoken word) on this album to be a powerful change of pace coming off the vulnerable, pitchy crooning on NYC, Hell 3:00 AM, and the hazy production this time around is in clear juxtaposition to that album's icy instrumentals and soundscapes as well. So, James has once again produced an incredible album that evokes a strong sense of place and finds the beauty in our often times ugly reality.
Frozen Niagara Falls is the sound of Dominick Fernow grappling with romance and religion against the backdrop of a frostbitten urban hellscape. Spanning the extreme music spectrum from death industrial to harsh noise, this double-album can be described as easy listening only when compared to the sadomasochistic standard set by past works in Fernow and his power noise affiliates' discographies. I think it can also be described as a masterpiece.
If you make it through the subdued intro of Amorphous Spores, you will be rewarded with some of the most mind-bending EAI to be crafted in years. The marriage of Kawaguchi's homemade instruments and Kawasaki's electronics has resulted in something playful and seriously far out, at least to my ears.
In Light of Shadows is a beautiful and meditative work of laptop electronics from distinguished free improviser Ikue Mori. A great chill-out album, it is without a doubt my most enjoyed Tzadik release of the year and is gradually becoming my favorite in Ikue's discography.
Making the Björk birthday playlist a week ago sort of got me back in the mood for this album. Vulnicura is certainly her most harrowing and heartbreaking project to date and under the right conditions it actually does strike me as her most potent work. I don't picture myself listening to it as frequently as the rest of her catalog, but my heart will probably skip a beat here and there whenever I do.
I found Replica and R Plus Seven to be moving albums in their own right, but never did I expect to call the abstract electronic stylings of Oneohtrix Point Never "visceral," let alone "angsty." Garden of Delete really has teeth, though! Much respect to Daniel for making such a forceful statement this time around. [Important Note: My copy of GoD has the correct track order... Anthony.]
While to some extent I appreciate the transevangelical concept behind the music of American Drift, I have to admit my general disinterest in identity politics. So, I respect Elysia Crampton primarily for her compositional chops — the progressive crunk and digital cumbia soundscapes on this album drew me in immediately.
Zamknęły się oczy ziemi is the second and last album by genre-defying singer-songwriter Kuba Ziołek under the name Stara Rzeka. An 80-minute concoction of avant-folk, krautrock, drone, and just a pinch of black metal, it's one hell of a closing chapter. This truly is the year of the double and triple album.
My favorite metal release of the year has to be this latest offering from Peste Noire. I do prefer the band when they are at their most overblown, namely on their 2011 magnum opus L’Ordure à l’état Pur, but a lot of bite and eccentricity remains on this more stripped-back, repetitious effort. The last two tracks I find to be particularly compelling.
I neglected to put Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and co.'s glitch-metal masterpiece on my list because for some reason I thought of it as a 2014 album. I was listening to it nonstop at the start of the year and got pretty burnt out on it, so that may be why. But in hindsight, The Ark Work deserved to place somewhere in my top 10, if not top 5. It's now been a year since this list came out, so rather than change the order, I'll just put the album in its own "I fucked up" category. That seems about right.
And there you have it: 2015 in a nutshell, as far as I care. Thanks for reading! <3