Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bandcamp Round-up Number One: Folk-rock, Post-rock, Skafunkrappop-rock, and more

Bandcamp is a weird and wondrous place, filled with lots of cool but often hard-to-find music.  So let's spotlight some!  Woo!

I love these guys and will be doing some albums reviews at some point.  DVA (or Dva, I've seen it stylized both ways) are a duo from The Czech Republic, best known for the Botanicula OST.  Genre-wise I guess I'd classify them as experimental folk, or freak folk.  A very folky feel, but with sampling, odd effects, beatboxing, and other quirks.  Oh, and their songs are in made-up languages.  See, their concept for their albums is that they're folk songs from imaginary cultures.  It's a cool idea, and they even provide translations on their website.  Sadly, their (very good) album Fonok isn't on Bandcamp, but you can listen to it on Spotify and buy it from iTunes or Indiescope.  They only have two studio albums: HU and Fonok.  Caligari and Botanicula are soundtracks (the former to the classic silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari), and kollect8 is a collection of various non-album tracks.
A Few Tracks To Check Out: Tatanc, Tropikal Animal, Valibela

Post-rock!  A weird genre, it is.  Ambient... rock?  Can you call post-rock rock, even?  Who knows.  Anyway, this is a very good post-rock album right here.  The album cover gives a good feel for the tone: Melancholy, but colorful.  Although it's melancholy throughout (is there such a thing as happy post-rock?), it has a lightness of tone to it that keeps it feeling optimistic and warm.  If you like Sigur Ros, you'll probably like these guys.  They're a bit less...  I don't know, sacred-sounding than Sigur Ros, if that makes any sense.  This is a really impressive debut, all things considered, and it's pay what you want!  Check it out for sure.
A Few Tracks To Check Out:  Honestly, the album has a really great flow and you should listen to it all at once.  It is post-rock, after all.

Skafunkrappoprock!  I like these guys, they're cool.  At heart they could probably be best compared to ska punk, I suppose, in that they're rocky ska.  They're not really all that punky though, instead folding in swing, funk, and hip-hop influences for a tasty and very energetic mixture.  I challenge you not to feel at least a little bit happier when the first song on their (so far) only album jumps out of your speakers.  The band doesn't appear to have their own singer, so about a third are instrumentals, a third are rapped over by various people, and a third are sung over by Nuala Honan (I don't know who that is, but she's got a good voice and a cool name) or other singers occasionally.  My only real complaint about this album is that I'm not much of a rap aficionado, so I wish there were more songs featuring Nuala (or other singers) and less with rapping.  Oh, and I guess the mood can get a bit tiresome by the end of the album, but that's not so much a complaint as the mood is a key part of their sound.  Just gotta be in the right mood.  All things considered, this is a very cool album, and I'm looking forward to seeing their next release.
A Few Tracks To Check Out: Big Red Button, The Alibi, Lay It Bare.

Hm.  Okay, so take the ethereal melancholy ambience of post-rock.  Then shoegaze-ify it, with stronger melodies (yes, actual catchiness in the vocals here!) and somewhat more traditional rock instrumentation, but still a soundscape-y feel.  Then make it actually have energy to balance the ambiance.  Then make it a bit weirder and add in various song-to-song touches to stop it from being boring (Sailing Bird!, for example, sees the band filtering barnstorm-y folk rock through their quirky lens).  Soundscape indie rock?  Is that a genre?  This is another album that's very well represented by its cover, actually.  Vaguely melancholy but not specific about it, and kinda weird.  Sadly, the band called it quits after their first album.  Happily, it's a very good album!
A Few Tracks To Check Out: OneSailing Bird!, Magenta

Paul Shapera/Mocha Lab
Here's an impressively varied fella.  His current project is a series of three 90 minute ____punk musicals/operas, the first being steampunk (complete), the second dieselpunk (in progress), and the third atompunk.  Assuming you're not averse to musicals, they are very good (well, the steampunk one and the demo of act 1 of the dieselpunk one, the rest isn't out yet), with good music and an interesting, sprawling story.  His other albums are fairly diverse: extremely melancholy fairy tales, noir-y jazzy electronica, piano-centric singer-songwriter, and some more.  And, most importantly, a funk musical about Cthulhu.  It is glorious.
A Few Tracks To Check Out: Madame Chatterlaine, Voodoopunk, Nyarlathoptek

The Mechanisms
One day I decided to search steampunk on Bandcamp.  That's how I discovered both these guys and Paul Shapera.  The Mechanisms' concept is that they are a band of time-traveling steampunk space pirates.  Their music would be described as sorta folky, highly theatrical, shanty-ishness.  There's a violin.  And it's percussive.  The singer sounds like a pirate.  There are spoken word interludes to help carry along the story. Oh, also some cabaret touches.  There's a lot of cabaret on Bandcamp.  Is it because of Amanda Palmer?
A Few Tracks To Check Out: Old King Cole, Pump Shanty,Our Boy Jack

Let's end with a less obscure (comparatively) fellow.  Formerly the leader of the 90s alt-rock band Toad The Wet Sprocket, after the band broke up in the late 90s, Glen embarked on a solo career.  Well-compose singer-songwriter folk-rock and alt-rock galore.  Is good.  Winter Pays For Summer (sadly, it's a good album) is missing from his Bandcamp page, but all the rest is there.
A Few Tracks To Check Out: Train WreckThankfulA Joyful Noise

Next time around: More rockin', less sitting around feeling vaguely dreary!


  1. Great finds! This all sounds like my style of music. I loved DVA already, and the Botanicula soundtrack takes me away with every listen.

    Speaking of Amanita Design soundtracks, Machinarium composer Floex's Zorya Album is fantastic. It's Nu-Jazz with plenty of Tomas Dvorak's(Floex's) clarinet throughout. A particular standout track for me is Precious Creature, being the only track with vocals(from guest vocalist James Rone). The interplay between the lyrics and clarinet notes is really something special, as is the entire album. Much more warm and approachable than Machinarium's soundtrack, if you found it too industrial or abstract for your everyday listening(I did).

    I've been listening to Cinématique, and it's quite good. It seems to be, like much of this music, a somewhat more pensive album that requires the listener to be in a certain mood before listening. It'll hard to find that mood, and the time to listen to the whole album, but hopefully I'll get there. Plenty of good music to keep me busy for a while, though. Thanks.

    1. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that all recommendations, are of course welcome! I'd been meaning to listen to Floex for a while, so thanks for reminding me. :)

      On the post-rock front, I couldn't fit these guys in (there's a massive amount of post-rock on Bandcamp, I don't want to get too weighed down in it), you might want to check out The Tumbled Sea. Their post-rock is more "humble" sounding, if you know what I mean. Less epic, more intimate.