When writing up this week’s Bandcamping, I think every album in the top 5 occupied every position on the list before I settled on the final ranking; the fifth album could easily be the first, and vice-versa. But I would have lost my mind if I had tinkered with the list anymore, because all of the releases here are great but all so very different. So to all the artists involved in this week’s list, know that the Ricky Bobby logic doesn’t apply here: Just because you’re not first, doesn’t mean that you’re last.
5. Mighty Widows by Vin Whyte
Genre: indie rock, pop-rock
If you like: Nada Surf, Badly Drawn Boy
If Zach Braff knew about his band, he’d definitely put their music in one of his productions. That’s the kind of quality it has: ’90s-leaning alternative indie rock that has a real nostalgic quality to it, that can lull you into a serene relaxation without you realizing it (or close a scene from Scrubs really well).
4. A Thousand Lights by Young Like Old Men
Genre: indie rock, post-punk, noise rock
If you like: Parquet Courts, Interpol
Parisian indie rock group Young Like Old Men channels a dark, alternative energy that’s sometimes brooding and aggressive, and other times in a more sedated state. There’s a definite krautrock influence as well, as the songs often take on an ambient yet propulsive quality with strong hints of psychedelia.
3. Black Country by Black Country
Genre: alt-country, alternative, Americana
If you like: Warpaint, Wilco, The xx
There’s a misconception out there that all country music sounds the same, which might be true depending on how much of it you listen to. Ontario, Canada group Black Country went ahead and shattered those expectations with their self-titled album, creating an alternative, ambient collection of reverb-soaked songs. It comes off as a spacier variant of Willie Nelson’s 1998 album Teatro, which was produced by longtime U2 collaborator Daniel Lanois, who helped the Irish rockers find their arena-filling sound in the ’80s.
2. IDEAS by Golden Groves
Genre: indie rock, garage rock
If you like: Cage The Elephant
Golden Groves’ debut EP has that neo-nostalgic rock quality you hear from Dan Auerbach-produced albums, a subdued fury that’s could explode any second, and is gratifying when it finally erupts in a big chorus. The vocalist also bears a strong resemblance to Cage The Elephant’s Matt Shultz, and if he’s even a fifth as charismatic as Schultz, then the band’s CD release party in Kansas City should be tons of fun.
1. Big Dust by Big Dust
Genre: indie rock, trip-hop
If you like: Yeasayer, Nine Inch Nails, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
It’s dark, it’s slinky, it’s heavy, it’s sonically adventurous: It’s Big Dust, one of our new favorite Danish bands (alongside Iceage and Mew). It’s my job as a music writer to describe music, but I’m having a hard time not relying on generic verbiage and comparisons to other bands, so let’s just say this: It’s all the words I said before, it’s a fascinating listen, and you ought to check it out.
And now, a few albums that didn’t quite make the cut, but that we still enjoyed:
Exode by Blaise Bandini
Genre: house, electronic
If you like: Blondes, Lindstrøm, Four Tet
Sailing Songs by Little Mono
Genre: grunge, power pop
If you like: Stereophonics, My Bloody Valentine
Donald James by Donald James
Genre: indie rock, surf rock
If you like: Oberhofer, Car Seat Headrest
That’s what we found this week, so until next time, let us know in the comments which of our favorite albums were also your favorites, what we missed, and what we should look forward to. If you missed out on last week’s list, you can find it here. Also, the complete Bandcamping archives are here, and here’s a Soundcloud playlist featuring over 30 songs from January’s installments.