You might not see the underground, but it never sleeps. Every day, somebody out there is uploading something they worked on for months or years onto Bandcamp. There is definitely a minority of these releases that stand out above the rest, and the good news is that we think we found a few of them. As we do in Bandcamping, we’ve rounded up our favorites, ranked ’em up real quick, and present them to you now.
5. Floodgate EP by Estuarie
If you like: Local Natives, Young the Giant
The band cites this EP as being influenced by Local Natives, and boy are they right. The velvety vocal melodies and melancholic optimism of the music is out in full force. Sure, they sound a heck of a lot like Local Natives, but guess what? Local Natives is great, and this EP is pretty good too.
4. Bad Baby EP by RVCHL
Genre: pop, alternative
If you like: Lana Del Rey, AlunaGeorge
A lot of contemporary pop music seems to have a dark R&B-influenced edge to it nowadays, and RVCHL has that vibe nailed. That’s especially true on the title track, which showcases her vocal range and ability to create memorable melodies in under three minutes.
3. It Is The Nature Of Dreams To End by Reeder
Genre: classical, ambient
If you like: 19th century composers, film scores, Nils Frahm
This is the first album of classical music featured in Bandcamping. Without a word, Reeder (real name Dan Branch) creates narrative music that has as much emotion impact as you’ll allow it. It’s a collection that can enhance any rainy day mood if you let it.
2. Big Blue by Gold Star
Genre: indie rock, alternative rock, Americana
If you like: Ryan Adams, Wilco, Hootie and the Blowfish
Remember the ’90s, when songs like Semisonic’s “Closing Time” and Gin Blossoms’ “Hey Jealousy” could be radio hits? That’s the era Gold Star hearkens back to, and the group’s latest album carries the torch also held by contemporaries like Ryan Adams and Wilco. It’s simple rock for its own sake, not trying to be too grand for counter-intuitive reasons. It stands out because it’s easy, and that doesn’t make it any less fun.
1. Jenna by Jesse & the Revelator
Genre: folk, acoustic
If you like: Neil Young, early My Morning Jacket, Ray LaMontagne
It’s acoustic and permeated by lo-fi hiss, but Jenna is anything but contrived. Think My Morning Jacket’s first couple albums: it’s minimal, and it just feels oh so very real, like the only motives are to sound nice and tell a good story. The appeal of this record is due in part to its simplicity, in part to its narrative (about the murder of a 12-year-old named Jenna Kerzces), and in part to the heart that ties those elements together.
The Invisible Man by Kemet the Phantom
If you like: Kendrick Lamar, The Roots
In the woods by Nine Eight Central
Genre: indie rock, shoegaze
If you like: Warpaint, Daughter
That’s all for March, 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 February, check it out here (and the complete Bandcamping archives are here).