Bandcamp is a strange and wondrous land. A circus of oddities, where unknown geniuses rub shoulders with the truly appalling, who themselves rub shoulders with the mad mavericks. But what would you find if you were to head into this badlands without any kind of plan, let alone a map? Below, and following a special subscription service feature on how to successfully market yourself as a musician on the platform, I pick through some of my favourite finds.
Fish Prom: I have a fondness for anti-folk of the type where no song comes in over two minutes, and this is how it should be done. The lyrics are both poignant and amusing. And Reflections on whether or not it's bad form for your first album to be self-titled is a masterpiece of the art of album naming. Definitely one of my favourite discoveries of this journey.
Take-Off: a pop punk band from Singapore that sing in West Coast accents. They sound quite a lot like early Blink 182. This is Punk Rock. This is For You. is a perfect example of what they do. Maybe it's not original, but they're damn good at it. How do these boys not have a record deal yet? Their standout track is “Stupid Things”, available to stream below alongside the album as a whole.
Sci-Fi Romance: don't be fooled by the name. Quirky songs about comics and video games are not on the menu here. Sci-Fi Romance are a dark folk band and A Burning Ember to a Grove of Trees is a brooding monster of an album. Which isn't the same as saying it's a bad album. If you like feeling downbeat, Sci-Fi Romance are impressively good at evoking that mood. Their standout track is “A Mile of Ground”. A literary and clever twist on walking in someone else's shoes, this is Sci-Fi Romance showing us what they're capable of.
The next run of bands are included in a brilliant tag. Apparently apocalyptic folk is a proper genre, according to Bandcamp's tags. How could I resist?
The Electric Servant, Alex Sernylan: a bit of a let down. I had high hopes for this artist as well. The Billy is a Wholesome and Virtuous Scholar EP is a themed EP about how great someone called “Billy Ellison” is. Which is all very jolly, but the music is entirely instrumental and doesn't really go anywhere. Elevator music for goths.
Infinity: are adorable though. They want to be oh so scary, what with their songs about going to war against Christianity and taking over the earth, and their very serious album title Nostalgia for the Dark Age. Yet their band photo is so cute and over the top and they call themselves Balgradon Xul, Quasar and 31st Level Paladin. (I may be lying about one of those names). I want an Infinity all of my own. I'll love it and feed it and huggle it all the time.
The last destination on this journey is so perfect that, if I hadn't been there, I'd suspect myself of being contrived. David Sparks has done an album of Roy Orbison re-imaginings, in the style of Joy Division. It's called Roy Division, obviously. This is what Bandcamp is for. We can end popular music now, we have a winner.
Standout track - “Oh, Pretty Woman”. Because it's the one we all know.