In 2016, we discovered a lot of great, obscure music by digging through a trenches of Bandcamp, an artist-friendly platform for performers to stream and sell their music. We suspect there will still be musicians outside the mainstream producing exciting sounds that deserve to be heard, so we're going to go ahead and keep on putting a spotlight on these artists in 2017.
In case you missed what we got up to in this space last year, you can check out our ranking of the top 25 Bandcamp albums of 2016 right here, and if you want to know more about what's going on this year, we've rounded up our five favorite underground albums of January, so dig in and check those out right now, beginning with:
5. The Darts EP 2 by The Darts
Genre: indie rock, punk, garage rock
If you like: Sleater-Kinney, The B-52's, The White Stripes
Hey guys, it turns out that distorted keyboards are great for garage rock! It also turns out that The Darts use them and their other assets very well. What other assets? How about authoritative vocals, succinct and propulsive songwriting, and a whole mess of fun? Sounds good to us.
4. Chiquititos by Paul y Carlos
Genre: electronica, trip-hop
If you like: Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk, Lindstrøm
Don't let the dad-landing-in-Hawaii wardrobes fool you: Paul y Carlos just released an album of unmistakably hip electronica that's pretty all over the map, whether they're borrowing from reggaeton, footwork, trip-hop, krautrock, or other disparate styles that we could list all day.
3. מיכל נאמן by מיכל נאמן
Genre: folk, alternative rock, Israeli rock
If you like: The Shins, Paul Simon, Novos Baianos
מיכל נאמן, Romanized as Michal Neeman, beautifully explores a variety of styles through a folk lens, whether it's light jazz or Brazilian folk or traditional Mexican sounds.
2. n i g h t s k y by Sigh Kicks
Genre: electronic, indie rock, chillwave
If you like: Toro y Moi, Minus The Bear
Don't let the Stranger Things opening credits-style album art fool you: Yes, there's definitely a synthwave element here, but Sigh Kicks also boasts an epic indie rock vibe, poppier dance-ready grooves, and just head-bobbing all around. This album is their swan song, sadly, as they played their final show as a band a few days ago.
1. First Lady by OtherFace
Genre: indie rock, psychedelic rock, soul
If you like: Tame Impala, Leon Bridges, Radiohead
Doo-wop-era soul is a tradition sadly forgotten in contemporary music, but German trio OtherFace is more than happy to bring it back with a more distortion-heavy edge. They're also more than capable of Deerhunter- or Tame Impala-styled psychedelic indie rock epics, so what we're saying is that First Lady is a strong first album worth playing through a few times.
Auburn In The Everlast by The Flats
Genre: indie rock, alternative rock
If you like: Coldplay, Arcade Fire, OneRepublic
Easy Mirror by Spissy
Genre: indie rock, soft rock
If you like: Whitney, Real Estate
That’s all for January, but until next time, let us know in the comments which of these albums were your favorites, what we missed, and what we should look forward to. If you missed out on our 2016 round-up, check it out here (and the complete Bandcamping archives are here).