Author Archives: Andrew Jervis

Announcing Bulk Edit

Announcing Bulk Edit

As discographies on Bandcamp continue to grow (we’re now home to over 22 million tracks and 4 million albums), we know that artists and labels need a faster and more efficient means of managing their catalog. That need was the motivation behind the recently launched bulk edit feature, a consolidated editor that allows you to quickly adjust key fields like price, title, and release date across multiple items. Holding flash sales and adjusting shipping just got a whole lot easier.

To access the bulk editor, click the “bulk edit” button from any release’s page:

Bulk Edit button placement

The editor allows you to view and edit all the items in your account from one page, and filter by digital or physical, and public, private or draft. Here it is in action:

example of bulk editing price

You’ll still want to visit the traditional release editor to add individual touches like artwork and tags, but gone are the days of painstakingly setting pricing one release at a time. Bring on your missing back catalog!

Can’t Erase This

Erased Tapes

We’re super psyched that Robert Raths’ revered home to avant-garde and experimental music, Erased Tapes, is now on Bandcamp. The London-based label turns 9 years old today and is releasing a special (name your price) compilation to celebrate.

Rath’s own interest in the intersection between traditional and contemporary styles, and fascination with digital and analog techniques and sounds shines through the label’s adventurous repertoire, which includes music by Ólafur Arnalds, Dawn of Midi, Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm and Michael Price. Erased Tapes makes music to get deeply lost in – the kinds of tunes that headphones were invented for. Trailblazing musician, composer, and producer Frahm has described the family-like vibe of the label as “a wonderful place for creating music.” By way of an introduction, Raths has picked and commented on 10 personal favorite tracks from the label’s vaults:

Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm

“Back in 2012 Óli and Nils surprised me with their first three collaborative works, which they had secretly recorded, mixed, mastered and finished the artwork for. It was their 5th anniversary gift to me and it made me the happiest man on earth. Last year they surprised me with even more ambient improvisations, but a2 will always stand out for me. There’s something truly otherworldly about it.”

Rival Consoles

“Ryan had been producing imaginative electronic music for many years. But something happened when he finally got his hands on a real Prophet synthesizer. Odyssey was one of the first, if not the first track on which he made great use of it. We both had the privilege of meeting its creator, Mr. Dave Smith, in San Francisco last year. At SXSW I actually asked a cab driver to put this track on – again, and again, and again – much to the annoyance of Ryan.”

“Back in winter 2010/11 Peter told me about this crazy documentary film he had been scoring and recording in his kitchen – a gripping story about five unsolved murders in a river valley not far from where he grew up. He only had two weeks to finish it, and Peter was so dedicated that he even recorded the final piece on New Year’s Eve – when you listen closely, you can hear the fireworks of Berlin.”

Nils Frahm

“If I remember correctly, Nils first showcased the beginning sequence of Says live in a small club in Berlin called the HBC., and then it took more and more shape on our 5th anniversary tour. The arpeggiated synth theme establishes a subtle, hypnotic pulse that he improvised around throughout its 8 minutes. To me, this song is nothing short of celebrating life with all its ebbs and flows.”

“This piece by Daniel Thorne and Sebastian Gainsborough evokes the idea of narrative, but without being too prescriptive. It’s as suspenseful as a Hitchcock picture, playing with the sensation of chaos and the disjointed — not through chance, but with careful consideration. Seb’s ringing sine tone prevents the composition from falling apart whilst at the same time maintaining tension. There’s so much sonic color to be found in this, and it’s recorded masterfully.”

“By far one of the most powerful compositions I had the pleasure of witnessing Michael record, this was with a small orchestra all cramped into Francesco’s Vox-ton studio during a heat wave in Berlin. From the first notes played back through the old wire recorder, it has this sense of urgency about it, but also this feeling that it might endure us all.”

“I’ll never forget lying on the wooden studio floor at Vox-ton in Berlin whilst listening to Lubomyr perform this piece on the grand piano he fell madly in love with. It was one of those magical, one-take recordings impossible to re-create. It happened right there in that moment during the six days Peter, Nils, Martyn, Francesco and I spent capturing Lubomyr’s signature continuous piano technique on tape.”

Douglas Dare

“When I first heard this track, Douglas was telling me it might not even be fit for his album, that it could be more of a b-side, and I was like, “no way, it’s one of your best tracks!” I love its dynamics, how it actually has a bit of a submarine feel and sounds very isolated and peaceful in the verses, then rises in the chorus.”

Kiasmos

“I remember when Óli and Janus shared their pre-masters for the debut album with me, and this track slapped me in the face with all its energy and euphoria. It captured the essence of their live show, which is exactly that – energy and euphoria. It lets you revisit this moment when you lose yourself in the early hours of the morning – sleepless in Reykjavík.”

“Here Masa’s playing is most pure – so understated, so patient. Last time I saw him perform live was for our 9th anniversary the other night at Palač Akropolis in Prague. It’s incredible how he manages to take the audience from fast-paced, syncopated vibraphone playing to a state of such calm – you could hear a needle drop.”

In addition to the anniversary compilation and back catalog, the label has also posted two upcoming albums for pre-order: a new collaborative release from Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm, and a full-length from Immix and Vessel.

It’s Splurge on Merge Monday

Merge Records

We’re thrilled to announce that the mighty Merge Records has joined Bandcamp today, bringing with them a catalog that’s essentially a pocket history of indie rock. From classics by groups like Superchunk, The Spinanes and The Rock*a*Teens to future classics by Benji Hughes, Mount Moriah and Telekinesis, Merge truly is a treasure trove of punk rock, madcap pop, and experimental gems. Diving into a catalog with such a rich history can be daunting — which is why we asked the helpful worker bees at this North Carolina-based label to pick their personal favorites:

“Everyone seems to have a different Destroyer gateway album, but this one was mine thanks to an old roommate who sat me down and intensely talked me through the nine-and-a-half-minute title track. Plus, side C of the 2xLP is devoted to “Loscil’s Rubies,” a 23-minute suite not found on the digital release!”—Mike

 

“Cannibal Sea is one of my favorite go-to albums for a road trip. If you listen to it and close your eyes, you can practically feel the cool breeze from the car window and the warm sunshine on your face as you drive past trees in bloom and stop for a hotdog.”—Charlotte

 

“It’s rough, it’s tough, it’s tender, it’s fun. It’s punk rock of the poppy and very enjoyable variety. It’s full of earworms that will have you singing while you walk down the street.”—Laura

 

“One of the last great albums of the 1990s, The Albemarle Sound is The Ladybug Transistor at their best—highlighted by standout songs likes “Today Knows” and “The Swimmer.””—Wilson

 

“An essential slab of North Carolina punk rock. Bruising and relentless with the fuzz-addled, overdriven hooks to make any Damned, Dolls or Dead Boys fan happy. 10 out of 10 empty beer cans!”—Dave

 

“An album inspired by the fear and confusion after 9/11 that somehow never ceases to bring me hope in humanity and an overwhelming desire to drink gin outside.”—Christina

 

“Shark Quest’s debut album has the distinction of being the first Merge Records release I ever owned. To this day it’s one of my favorite albums, and they are hands down my favorite instrumental band.”—Kevin

 

“My first William Tyler show was at The Pinhook in May of 2012, and it totally blew me away. The very next day, to my surprise and delight, he came by the office to discuss a new album he’d been working on: Impossible Truth.”—Nick

 

“Aside from John Schmersal (Enon, live-band Caribou) being nicer than the Pope, this record is catchy and all over the place in the best possible way. All the melodies have a snake-like quality with totally unique phrasing that seems to never really come to a final cadence (while still managing to be hummable!). The standout tracks to me are the down-tempo ones—“Rainbows,” “U Dug Us All,” and the bare, jazzy “Pretend U Are Free,” whose harmonies are easily the record’s highlight to me.”—Taylor

 

“In the meandering tale of Merge, Matt Suggs is our perpetual guide.”—Lindsey

 

What They’re Listening To (part two)

Here’s the second of our two-part look at the music that some of our favorite bands have discovered and have been listening to over the last 12 months. So many great recommendations and interesting influences below—dig in!

Chelsea Wolfe

Chelsea Wolfe by Shaina Hedlund
photo by Shaina Hedlund

Wolfe continued to churn out killer albums in 2015 with the release of Abyss on Sargent House.


  • “We did our most recent European tour with A Dead Forest Index opening up and this was one of my favorite songs they’d play. They’re pretty hypnotizing live.”

  • “Another rad live band. Wovenhand played with us on our US tour and this song always felt so heavy.”

  • “I saw Earth play in Amsterdam earlier this year and it was so good and brutal. I was standing in the corner and the low notes were hitting all the way through my chest to my lungs. The recording has Mark Lanegan singing on it too. I also love “Even Hell Has Its Heroes” from this album.”

The Oh Hellos

Thee Oh Hellos

Dear Wormwood followed on from The Oh Hello’s Through the Deep, Dark Valley, it was also their first release to be made available on wax.


  • “We first heard Soil & The Sun during the very last Cornerstone festival in 2012, and it was one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had. It was such a hard choice which album to include, but considering we played this in the vans for our entire July run of shows, Meridian seemed like a good choice to represent.”

  • “We met David last fall when we took The Collection out on the west coast for a few weeks. They are phenomenal musicians, and just the sweetest people on earth.  David, the front man of The Collection, released a solo EP this summer, and his songwriting just continues to blow me away.”

  • “We got introduced to these folks through The Collection as well, interestingly enough! They played a show together in Austin a few months back, and we immediately fell in love with their sound.”

EZTV

EZTV by Daniel Topete
photo by Daniel Topete

This guitar-wielding New York trio released their breezy debut LP on Captured Tracks this summer.

  • “Watching Sheer Agony play most of Masterpiece in a small, semi-empty Montreal bar was a definite musical highlight of this past year. This song is short enough to listen to over and over.”
  • “I’m a huge fan of Cat Le Bon and love White Fence, as well—this collaboration is pretty bizarre and addictive.”
  • “Paradise of Bachelors put out so much good music this year, but this album was a collective favorite. I spent October/November driving around the Pacific Northwest—this is a great late-night drive song.”

Submotion Orchestra

Submotion Orchestra

This seven-piece collective will be releasing their carefully crafted new album of epic electronic tunes in early 2016 on the mighty Ninja Tune label.

  • “Jim has always had an incredible talent for songwriting and production since the old days back in Leeds where all he needed was a guitar, a microphone, and a battered old PC with a copy of Logic 5. It was after making possibly the weirdest drum & bass tune ever with him back in 2004 that I decided I wanted to pursue production as a career. So it’s all his fault, basically. His production features on ‘Red Dress’ from our forthcoming album.”
  • “George is a pleasure both to work with and listen to. His work occupies the space between the club sound system and the night-bus headphones, and feels effortlessly natural throughout. His production features on ‘Ao’ from our forthcoming album.”
  • “James and Ade are two extraordinary talents in their own right, and together form one of the most interesting and underrated duos of recent times. James’ sparse production perfectly complements Ade’s powerful vocal talents as each track swells and collapses on you like slabs of raw emotion.”

The Comet Is Coming

The Comet is Coming by Fabrice Bourgelle
photo by Fabrice Bourgelle

Danalogue The Conqueror of The Comet is Coming picked tracks on behalf of the bombastic, percussion-heavy Leaf Label outfit.

  • “Mythical enigma—the producer ‘U’—brings the heat with a one-of-a-kind sound, like you dug up in the ground, found on a post-apocalyptic cassette tape. Easily the best hi-hat part from 2015 on this tune, ‘Easy Prayer.’”
  • “Euphoric hypnosis hits the senses direct in Afro-London clash beat otherworldliness—future shaman needed to release us from the modern psychoses.”
  • “This arrow is direct into the heart chakra, talking in tongues to paint a picture so emotionally poignant, you instinctively feel a goosebump truth describing an eternal human condition.”

Locrian

Locrian by Jimmy Hubbard
photo by Jimmy Hubbard

Vocalist and keyboard player Terrence Hannum picks eclectic faves on behalf of the avant-metal trio who released their Infinite Dissolution LP in the summer of 2015.

  • “I’m a huge fan of the Mexican label Umor-Rex and this tape has not left my tape deck for a long time. James Place performed tracks from his LP Living on Superstition and I think it’s a great record and this is an excellent track. Hazy and beat-heavy, with subtle shifts in tone from this experimental electronic musician.”
  • “I have a not-so-secret grunge past that runs through old-SubPop to AmRep and this band reconnects that for me. I also did the cover art for the album, but only because I really think this Killdozer-esque pummeling is inspired and essential.”

Son Little

Son Little by Todd Cooper
photo by Todd Cooper

Following up on an EP from last year, Philly-based Son Little released his soulful debut LP for ANTI records in October.

  • “Xenia is an electrifying performer and ultra-creative artist in the studio. She and her drummer/co-pilot, Marco Buccelli, really push the boundaries of their music in amazing ways. This track features some incredible rhythmic play, mostly done with Xenia’s breath. Plus she raps in Spanish. So cool.”
  • “This guy is somehow under the radar, but I think he’s one of the best producers working right now. He’s done a bunch of stuff for the Roots and others. Khari is primarily a bass player and cellist, but he writes and sings and plays lots of instruments. However, cello really shines on this introspective song. Gotta watch out for this guy.”
  • “I’m lucky enough to have played music with Charlie for many years, and featured his guitar playing on ‘Nice Dreams’ from my album. In addition to having a great ear for guitar tones, Charlie writes some of the most fantastic songs I’ve ever heard. He’s a great storyteller, and just has a really unique approach to both lyrics and music. This song features all of that and the album art he designed himself is killer!”

Matthew Bourne

Matthew Bourne by Michael England
photo by Michael England

Pianist Matthew Bourne releases his Memorymoog-obsessed LP in early 2016.

  • “I remember picking this up from The Leaf Label office a little while ago—it’s an incredible album that keeps on getting better the more it’s played.”
  • “This is a great little track from Shiver’s third album. The band is made up of some of the North’s finest musicians: Chris Sharkey, Andy Champion and Joost Hendrickx. Keep an eye out for their immense live shows…”
  • “I first heard Richard Dawson via my friend and equally gifted musician, Howie Reeve. I ordered The Magic Bridge upon seeing Dawson perform ‘Wooden Bag’ online. I started listening to this album just moments before getting into a hot bath. I stayed in the bath, motionless, until the water turned cold. Richard Dawson is an incredible artist.”

Motion City Soundtrack

Motion City Soundtrack

Jesse Johnson picks tracks on behalf of the Minneapolis-based quartet who released their Panic Stations LP this September.

  • “Girl-fronted grunge from Australia… what’s not to like? Their flannels were imported from Seattle and tied around their waists. (Pure speculation.)”
  • “Took these fine gents on tour when this album came out, and was blown away by the rawness dripping with sincerity. Do yourself a favor and catch them on tour.”
  • “Can you smell that? It’s your face being melted by Metz. Fuckin’ rock on, man.”

The Monophonics

Psychedelic soul outfit from San Francisco released their raucous Sound of Sinning LP in April.

  • “We are such fans of Shawn Lee and this project of his with Andy is stellar. This is the last song on the record and, quite frankly, one of the best songs to come out this year!! A real slow burner that displays top-notch producing, engineering, songwriting, and is just a killer record.”
  • “Just an overall cool and different band and song. It carries a tone and vibe that speaks to an eclectic audience. Excited to see what is in store for this Texas group and how they grow. Love the blend of soul, psychedelia, pop, and hip-hop! ”
  • “This psych-rock/pop group sounds like Spencer Davis group and the Kinks met up, drank some Night Train and made a record in a grungy Seattle studio. The vibe of this record captures what was so intriguing about good garage soul!”

Title Fight

Title Fight

Title Fight’s Ned Russin picks tracks on behalf of the band who released their Hyperview LP in early 2015.

  • “Houston, TX has one of the best scenes going right now and Dress Code shows what they’re all about down there: raw energy and good tunes.”
  • “A nice ‘members of’ list can be a quick deterrent for most bands, though Response’s past says nothing of their future. Following up a great demo, these guys continue writing a long list of who’s who and what’s what.”
  • “Wilkes-Barre is a city of peaks and valleys, both topographically and symbolically. Life of Reilly are doing their own thing on their own time and doing it damn well and that’s what makes their take on early USHC so nice.”

What They’re Listening To

From post-punk bands digging raps about emergency rooms to electronic acts professing their love for stripped-down folk music, there are plenty of ear-turning surprises and enlightening suggestions in part one of a feature in which some of our favorite bands from 2015 tell us about the music they discovered this past year. When they’re not busy recording, performing, or rolling around naked in copious amounts of royalty checks, here is what a few bands found inspiring:

Milo

Milo

Elastic-tongued wordsmith Milo released the stellar, Kenny Segal-produced So The Flies Don’t Come album in 2015. It’s a tasty slice of smart, challenging, unique hip-hop.

  • “S.al’s top-of-the-year release fear, uncertain was forged in the smog of putrid LA nights. My boy went deep and found his outside voice. My halberd is right next to my desk. I’ll back you, bro.”
  • “Cavanaugh is high art from the two sharpest rap minds working at present. That Open Mike Eagle produced the whole thing is also stunning. I hear you talking ’bout who you want to be.”
  • “Busdriver writes from a vantage point stacked atop nearly two decades of rapping. Master class lyricism from art rap’s shimmering source code in man form. Driver is so flippant on this track!!!!!!! I love it, he’s earned that tone. ‘Fuck an absolute truth.’”

Vulfpeck

Vulfpeck topped the release of their October 2015 album with an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

  • “This track has a forward momentum. Mocky’s record rocks.”
  • “Run these through Vulf Compressor and it’s instant Madlib.”
  • “See this duo live. Cat plays drums and organ pedals at the same time.”

Julia Kent

Julia Kent by PEPE fotografia
photo by PEPE fotografia

Julia Kent blended looped cello, electronics, and found sounds on her beautiful and melancholic Asperities LP, released by the Leaf Label.

  • “From a restrained, slightly ominous beginning, this track builds to a plangent and complex wave of sound, creating an oneiric and emotionally compelling journey.”
  • “Cosmic drones and shimmering textures float hypnotically in space, conjuring infinite distances and other worlds.”
  • “A gorgeous, melancholy pop song: Barbara’s voice floats above delicate but propulsive programming and piano, moving through bittersweet, mercurial harmonies.”

I’lls

I’lls

This Melbourne trio impressed in 2015 with their 7-track EP of slowly unfurling, electronic indie pop songs.

  • “Sufjan has been someone we have always admired and related to musically since we began I’lls. From his early releases, where we saw how ridiculously complex and beautiful his arrangement could be, its amazing that he’s almost gone backwards, simplifying everything and showing how astounding a songwriter he really is. The dude can write a tune.”
  • “Crepes make and record beautiful music that sounds so familar. Incredibly recorded, the harmony works so strongly with the melodies. Listen to ‘Ain’t Horrible’ and you’ll understand.”
  • “Katie was an unknown Melbournian who popped out of nowhere on Orchid Tapes. The release is unique. And incredibly well recorded. Very intrigued to see where she ends up.”

Car Seat Headrest

Car Seat Headrest by Chona Katsinger
photo by Chona Katsinger

Will Toledo made the leap from self-releasing music machine to Matador recording artist in 2015. We’re looking forward to what comes next.

  • “I found this album at the beginning of the year. I give it an A+ for general presentation, including the impressionistic lyrics booklet included with the download. “DRIVING IN MY CAR” is a classic Clash-esque chillout session after the surprisingly heavy emotional arc of the album.”
  • “Maybe this is cheating, as I was lucky enough to lend a helping hand in the making of this album, but I can make no claim over the genius of these works—Speaking Spanish, in particular. This song sounds the way true love should feel.”
  • “I heard this song blasting at a venue before one of our shows; at first I thought it was someone doing a really impressive soundcheck. Unfortunately, it was just an excellent dance track.”

Publicist UK

Publicist UK by Scott Colby
photo by Scott Colby

Post-punk band Publicist released their dark and dynamic new LP on Relapse records this Fall.

  • “Wrest is my favorite one-man Black Metal maker and beyond. His creativity is in its own league and I really love his approach to drumming. On top of that, I always anticipate what he’s going to do next. The production on this album really captures his ideas more than any other album. Massive Conspiracy is still my bible of the genre, but this is a very close second and this song in particular is a nice nod to early Finnish Death Metal, which I love.” (DW)
  • “Billy Woods is my favorite rapper and one of my favorite lyricists, period. His 2015 album, Today I Wrote Nothing, is on my top ten if anyone asks me to make a top ten. This song is first among equals on an incredibly strong album, but I picked it because I have never had insurance and have therefore spent an inordinate amount of time waiting in emergency rooms and this, while heightened by the unremitting terror that is Woodhull Hospital in Bushwick, gets the general vibe of all of them exactly right.” (ZL)
  • “KEN mode’s Success is a killer album for a lot of reasons. It’s catchy and aggressive, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s also pretty goddamned inspiring. These dudes have put out a lot of music over the years, and this record has them sounding completely fresh and energized. The whole album is sick, and this song, to me, is a great representation of the whole thing.” (DO)

Sarah Williams White

Sarah Williams White

Paul’s kid sister stepped out strong with a dreamy, soulful, folksy, psychedelic LP, recently released by First Word Records.

  • “Eska just has this wonderful energy about her, so many layers to her music. A kindred Lewisham soul. Beautifully recorded.”
  • “The huge spirit of Ed (Tenderlonious) and co., with hearts on sleeves and good vibes.”
  • “Love the space in this track!! And that vocal. My “getting ready” track, thinking of old friends.”

Larry Gus

Larry Gus

Señor Gus dropped an album, heavy on theory, samples and grooves, for the mighty DFA label this October.

  • “Extreme production values, absurdist class warfare, the vocals are gone, the humor is still here, and the joke is on us.”
  • “One of the million genius aliases of well-known/unknown introvert/extrovert Dimitris Papadatos (KU / Jay Glass Dubs etc). Also – more awesomeness from the same label http://nuttywombat.com/album/big-fat-lips-improbable-ep.”
  • “Where babis bozoglou decided to engage in more direct rural activities. Happy times, indeed.”

Vessels

Vessels by Giles Smith & Jacek Zmarz
photo by Giles Smith & Jacek Zmarz

This electronic-tinged, post-rock outfit returned with an epic and euphoric new album, and a bevvy of remixes in 2015.

  • “Haring opened up for us at La Botanique in Brussels this year, and we took a copy of this EP with us for the van. This track will always remind me of driving with the sun setting over the Alps on the horizon…”
  • “(Martin) Teff played this in the van earlier this year whilst we were on our way to one festival or another — total earworm head-nodder that manages to sound old and new at the same time…”
  • “I was at this outdoor Juffage show in the Summer of 2014 and when he closed on this track it was such a sweet moment. When he released this live recording a year later, it was as special as I remembered…”

Satisfy Your Soul

THEESatisfaction

“We’ve got jams on deck, it’s all about piecing the right songs together to make the project sound cohesive. We try and keep it fresh for our devout listeners.”

The duo of Stasia Irons & Catherine Harris-White, aka THEESatisfaction, are back with a second album for Sub Pop. EarthEE features guest appearances from Shabazz Palaces, Meshell Ndegeocello, Porter Ray and Taylor Brown. We caught up with the duo last week to see what they’ve got going on for 2015.

BC: For the most part you’ve self-produced, self-written, and even self-released a lot of your music. What has hooking up with Sub Pop changed about the way you work, and what are the doors you are most excited about the label opening?
STAS: The process of releasing music has changed but we still make jams all the time. We don’t let anything deter or overstimulate our work ethic. We love that Sub Pop is able to get our music out further than we could’ve ever done ourselves. Everyone is really active about making sure our needs are met. We love it.

BC: What is the latest with your Black Weirdo events and blog postings? And, if you don’t mind us asking (since we’ve only ever seen you ask other people), why do you consider yourself Black Weirdos?
CAT: We still do our Black Weirdo posts and events on our tumblr: uniquenoir.tumblr.com. We are about 60 Weirdos deep and it’s an amazing community to watch grow. I am a Black Weirdo because I am uniquely me. I understand my blackness. I’m strange and I like to dance by myself and people may think that’s weird. Oh, and because I love to watch Red Dwarf and DS9 (Star Trek).

BC: Tell us about working with Meshell Ndegeocello—dream come true?
CAT: We did meet in a dreamy way. Our friend told us Meshell was a fan, so we reached out on social media and met through the interwebs. Sent her our album and she vibed out. It felt so familiar, very kindred. I love what she did on the record.

BC: The “Recognition” video is really striking. Can you tell us about the making of, and coming up with the concept behind it?
STASIA: Recognition was conceptualized by Tiona McClodden. She’s been a part of the growth of THEESatisfaction for quite some time. The song resonated with all of us in the sense that we wanted to really honor black artists who’ve come before us and who are also our peers. Making the video was spiritual. We felt good vibes and moments where we felt that what we were doing was on the right path. We got to visit the homes and spaces where black excellence happened.

BC: In addition to your full-length releases, you crank out a lot of beat tapes. Do those stem from a sudden burst of inspiration? And which beat makers do you admire?
STASIA: We’ve got jams on deck, it’s all about piecing the right songs together to make the project sound cohesive. We try and keep it fresh for our devout listeners. I admire Shabazz Palaces; no one is making music like theirs.

BC: Musically speaking, what do you feel has changed between awE naturalE and EarthEE? Have you improved on the craft of making music? Are you spinning new yarn?
CAT: Stas and I had been working on awE naturalE since we started the group in 2008. Once that came out, we weren’t sure what the next record would sound like but we continued to create. We put out a few mixtapes, together and solo, while piecing together EarthEE. In that time we learned more about our instruments (voices, gear) and ourselves. It was an evolution of sorts.

BC: Is Seattle a supportive place for you to create and spread your music?
CAT: Most definitely. It takes time to establish yourself, but once you do, you have a dedicated community who will support you.

BC: Can you recommend a couple of other acts that have caught your ears recently?
STAS: MNDSGN out of Los Angeles is a master on the production tip. Been listening to his wave a lot lately. Also Norvis Jr. has been killing the game. He’s from Dallas and his music is very advanced, unique & undeniably jammy.

BC: Aside from earthEE, what else can your fans expect in 2015?
CAT: We are going to be heading to SXSW for a few showcases next month, as well as hitting the road for 20 dates with Sleater-Kinny in April. More Black Weirdo parties, more music, and more DJ sets.

In case you missed it, THEESatisfaction dropped a tasty mix on an episode of the Bandcamp Weekly show about a year ago.

Epitaph: 10 Questions

Epitaph Records

Epitaph has ridden many musical waves, from early days in 1980, when it simply served as a P.O. Box for Bad Religion, to championing the SoCal punk revival through the following decade, and developing sister labels that have delved into musical styles way beyond the label’s roots.

Recently, Epitaph and sister label ANTI- made an insanely eclectic selection of music available on Bandcamp for the first time: from Baltimore-based, post-hardcore act Pianos Become the Teeth, to Malian Tuareg master Tinariwen, and certified legend Tom Waits. The labels are also developing fresh-faced acts, treading new territory with Philly soul man Son Little and alt-rockers The Sidekicks. Thirty-five years in, the Epitaph family of labels is still independent and is still DIY-ing it as they have since day one.

Pianos Become Teeth

Jon Strickland has held down the VP of Sales role at Epitaph Records for 10 years. In that decade his job description has changed a lot, as physical retailers like Tower have come and gone, and new outlets in the digital realm have risen in their place. In this first in an occasional series of record label spotlights, we asked Jon 10 questions about the past, present, and future of Epitaph.

Bad Religion
Bad Religion, circa 1980

Bandcamp: The early days of Epitaph were synonymous with the SoCal Punk scene and, more generally, the 90s punk revival. Did the label have a role model back then, and is that era an inspirational touchstone for everything the label does now, or do you feel like the label has evolved to be the hub for something else?

Jon Strickland: The early years of Epitaph still inform everything we do today, because we had so much early success with Offspring, Rancid, Bad Religion, and that period was very “make-it-up-as-we-go-along.” But the things we learned about fans, marketing, retail, radio – every aspect of the business – we are still applying today, albeit in a different environment. I’m not sure there was a specific role model when Brett (Gurewitz) started the label, but I don’t think you could be in SoCal and not be amazed at the stuff that labels like SST were doing. That label is a model for me personally – such amazing A&R, great design, and of course, run by musicians.

BC: What role does Brett play at the label these days? And, as a former band member, what qualities/attributes do you think Brett instilled in Epitaph over the years?

JS: Brett is as involved, if not more involved, than at any time in the history of the label. Chiefly he’s signing bands and doing A&R in the traditional sense — not just finding bands but working with them on production, songs, image. Of course we have lots of bands that don’t need that, but Brett is a great mentor to a young band looking to navigate the business.

Brett’s great motto is that the artist is always right. We work with so many artists who have very defined ideas of what they want, and Brett has been on the artist end of those discussions with labels enough times to know that we never want to tell those artists, “This is the single.”

Tom Waits by Michael O'Brien
photo by Michael O’Brien

BC: Tell us about the sister labels, when did they come along?

JS: ANTI- and Hellcat are the official sister labels. Hellcat is Tim Armstrong’s label, so apart from Rancid, it has been a home for bands like Dropkick Murphys and Tiger Army, and also – very proudly – the last, great albums from Joe Strummer. ANTI- came along in 1996 as an imprint to release Tom Waits’ Mule Variations and blossomed from there. Then of course there’s dBpm, Wilco’s label. We also have a close relationship with Burning Heart Records from Sweden, and we’ve put out Refused and Hives releases with them, and just put out a new Raised Fist album. And then we have some up-and-coming friends like Autumn Tone, and some other relationships that will roll out later this year.

BC: Specifically, what is the idea behind ANTI-? It boasts an enviable and eclectic roster. Was it always supposed to be that way, and how has it evolved since inception (in the late 90s)?

JS: ANTI- very quickly grew from being a label to put on a Tom Waits album into an idea, which was to work with artists who were mavericks – be they heritage artists like Mavis Staples and Solomon Burke and Merle Haggard; or rising stars like Neko Case and Jolie Holland; or newcomers like Saintseneca, William Elliott Whitmore, and Sean Rowe. We had some huge early successes with Tom and Merle and Solomon, and that brought us the reputation of being a place where artists could come and be themselves and be supported. That Brett Gurewitz aesthetic definitely carried over into ANTI-.

Mavis Staples

BC: What are the best-selling releases for either label? And have there been any disasters?

JS: The Offspring’s Smash was really the album that broke Epitaph and that second wave of punk wide open. I’ve heard some different numbers, but that album has sold at least 12 million worldwide. It was and maybe still is the best-selling indie album of all time. For ANTI-, Tom Waits’ Mule Variations was a career album for him, a gold album, and a great way to start ANTI- off.

We never have disasters. Seriously, it is hard for bands associated with a certain youth scene to evolve into their next phase, and we’ve had some hits and some misses there. I think a band like Title Fight is doing an amazing job of morphing with each release, while still keeping to core musical values.

BC: How many records do you suppose Epitaph and ANTI- will release in 2015? Is that up or down from prior years?

JS: We are pretty big for an indie; we do around 40 records a year. I’m not sure that will be going up this year, but it certainly won’t be going down.

Joyce Manor ny Dan Monick
photo by Dan Monick

BC: Can you describe where Epitaph and ANTI- are currently headed, musically speaking?

JS: Because of the diversity of both rosters, we are always heading in a lot of different directions. I think we continue to see, in younger fans, that the old tribes that defined scenes are falling away. We’ve been working on that idea since we worked with Atmosphere on Seven’s Travels, and we put him on Warped Tour. Everyone said Warped kids would never accept him, but he went over amazingly well with huge crowds. That shift continues. I think we see that with bands like the Sidekicks and Joyce Manor, which can appeal to indie fans and hardcore fans and it’s the same fan.

BC: Who are the latest signings to each of the labels?

JS: On Epitaph, we have a new roster of bands who are bridging the post-hardcore world and a more indie scene, bands like Pianos Become the Teeth and Joyce Manor, and we just signed Desaparecidos, who put out one album back in 2002 and are working on an amazing new album.  We also signed a great band from Kansas City, Beautiful Bodies, who will be on Warped Tour this summer, and have their debut album out late spring.

Son Litt;e by Todd Cooper
photo by Todd Cooper

On the ANTI- side we are really excited about Son Little, a songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist who comes out of the Philadelphia hip-hop scene. He’ll have his first album out late Spring and in the meantime, we have an EP from him already out. He’s also working on an EP with Mavis Staples that really blends a lot of new sounds with her great soul-gospel style.

BC: What makes a band attractive to your labels?

JS: I think we look for the same things on both labels: bands and musicians who aren’t following in a row that’s already been plowed, who have their own vision. We don’t look for a single or a certain image, although we work with bands that live in that world. Other than that, it’s a pretty eclectic roster on both labels, but on the ANTI- side, we are always looking to put together artists who don’t have obvious things in common. Or we mix generations, like we are doing with Son Little and Mavis.

BC: What are the biggest challenges and most exciting opportunities for a label like Epitaph or ANTI-, given the current state of the music business?

JS: In ten years I’ve seen a lot of change in how people listen to music. The exciting change is how many new places, like Bandcamp, have come along to give people really easy access to music at all levels — from artists recording at home and putting stuff straight out into the ether to labels like us, who still make CDs and LPs and cassettes. With fans having so much access to music, the challenge now is to provide a forum where they can find music at the level of curation they want. If they are huge music heads and know exactly what they want, great. Or maybe it’s some kid who has just discovered Tom Waits and wants to hear more music like that. (Sorry, kid, there’s really no one else out there like Tom.)

Follow Epitaph’s founder, Brett Gurewitz, on Bandcamp: https://bandcamp.com/brettgurewitz

What’s Up, 2015?

What's up 2015

Need new music in your life? Just about had enough of 2014 best-of lists? We checked in with an eclectic handful of labels to see what they’ve got cooking for 2015.

Ninja Tune and Relapse, two independent big guns at opposite ends of the musical spectrum, are celebrating 25th anniversaries in 2015. London-based Ninja Tune just polished off a grand year with a new EP from Bonobo, who wrapped up his North Borders tour by performing to 10,000 people at London’s Alexandra Palace. The label also popped out amazing new records from the likes of The Bug, Kelis, Dorian Concept, Martyn, Illum Sphere, Machinedrum, FaltyDL, and Mr. Scruff. Longtime Ninja fans continue to hold their collective breath for a new release from label founders Cold Cut, but in the meantime, new albums from Spacek and Romare are already up for preorder.

In 2014, Relapse covered all bases, releasing albums by old-school death metal legends Obituary and brand new artists Myrkur and Nothing. Already up for preorder are new albums from Call Of The Void, Lord Dying, and Torche’s Relapse debut, Restarter. For Relapse’s 25th anniversary, they’re mining the vaults and reissuing a ton of records from the back catalog (lots that have never been on vinyl before), and prepping new records from new signings, like Valkyrie, Ecstatic Vision, and Goblin Rebirth.

One of the most anticipated albums of the year comes from original riot grrls Sleater-Kinney. Their No Cities to Love drops January 20th on Sub Pop, and vocalist/guitarist Corin Tucker describes the trio’s sound as “going for the jugular.”

After a year in which Sub Pop released albums from Shabazz Palaces, Avi Buffalo, and Death Vessel, the Seattle-based label is keeping up its eclectic output with a new release on the horizon from cosmic R&B duo THEESatisfaction.

The busy folks at Rope-A-Dope released a staggering 45 records in 2014. And if that wasn’t enough, at the 56th GRAMMY Awards, Lalah Hathaway and Snarky Puppy won Best R&B Performance for “Something,” which featured on the Rope-A-Dope-released Snarky Puppy album Family Dinner, Volume One. Rope-A-Dope is promising Family Dinner, Volume Two in 2015, along with records from Shayna Steele, Walking Distance, and Fresh Cut Orchestra (all up for preorder), and Greg Hester’s James Brown tribute album, which features most of the players from Mr. Brown’s last band.

In 2014, Mello Music Group added Open Mike Eagle to their roster and the crafty MC’s Dark Comedy album wound up on many best-of lists, including those put together by Rolling Stone, SPIN, and LA Weekly. The label also released a steady stream of stellar hip-hop albums from Apollo Brown & Ras Kass, Black Opera, the 1978ers, and Apollo Brown. For early 2015, Mello Music have the Ken Starr album Square One dropping January 27th. As one of the first albums the label signed, this record is about six years in the making and features production by Kev Brown and Black Milk. Also in the works is The Good Fight, Oddisee’s first official solo album since People Hear What They See. L’Orange and Apollo Brown are also working on new tunes.

From a tiny record store in Tokyo, Japan, Dub Store Records unleashed a torrent of amazing dub and reggae reissues and rarities on Bandcamp in 2014. Thankfully, there is no end in site to their giant, Jamaican-flavored road block, with music from the Jammys and Ronnie Nasralla catalogs, and an ultra-rare Tommy McCook album also on the horizon.

Ghostly records, stalwart arbiters of good design and sounds, plan to follow up the year that saw releases from HTRK, Tycho, Tobacco, Xeno And Oaklander, Willits, Lusine, Lord Raja, and Beacon with new music from Michna, plus the long-awaited Fort Romeau LP.

Illinois-based Polyvinyl Record’s 2014 featured a reissue from American Football, which led to the band reuniting to play live. The label already has new records from Sonny & The Sunsets (Talent Night at the Ashram) and Montreal (Aureate Gloom) lined up for your preordering pleasure.

Los Angeles label Innovative Leisure set the bar high in 2014 with an eclectic set of top-notch releases from Nick Waterhouse, Allah-Las, Tijuana Panthers, Bass Drum of Death, De Lux, Jim-E Stack, BADBADNOTGOOD, D Tiberio and Khun Narin. They plan to keep up the pressure with new music from Hanni El Khatib and Nosaj Thing; sophomore albums from Classixx, De Lux, and Superhumanoids; and label debuts from Tropics and Gossamer.

Meanwhile, over in Brooklyn, Styles Upon Styles are readying the debut SUS album from Quincy Vidal, plus new music from Zac Nelson and Brendon Moeller. From the same family of labels, the Beats In Space folks have new goodies in the pipeline by Palmbomen II and Tornado Wallace, while Software will present the official release of Suicidyear’s Japan mixtape and debut an EP from Napolian’s cohorts, Tairiq & Garifield.

Based in Leeds in the north of England, Leaf records are celebrating 20 years of quality tunes in 2015. In the last 12 months they got to see Melt Yourself Down get crazy at Glastonbury, and release music from Mercury Prize nominees Polar Bear and Wildbirds & Peacedrums. Already up for preorder is the new album from Leeds-based group Vessels, and watch out for more musical madness from Polar Bear, Melt Yourself Down, Jherek Bischoff and Matthew Bourne. Vinyl reissues from the label’s deep back catalog are also in the works.

The always-intriguing Northern Spy label has recently signed Shilpa Ray and made plans to release her full-length Last Year’s Savage in the first half of 2015. You might have seen her touring with Grinderman or singing backup with Nick Cave. If you missed what they were up to in 2014, they just posted a 44-minute, name-your-price mix. The label has also recently posted forthcoming records from Zs, and the guitar- and drum-heavy release from Thurston Moore and John Moloney.

Future Classic smashed it in 2014, taking home five ARIAs for Chet Faker’s Built on Glass album, and presenting great records from the likes of Seekae, George Maple, etc. A recently posted compilation provides a good sampler of what they’re all about. And keep your eyes peeled for upcoming releases by Ta-ku, KOA, and Basenji.

New Amsterdam’s Roomful of Teeth won a GRAMMY in 2014, and the label released the debut recordings of large-scale chamber works from composers Tristan Perich, Olga Bell, and David T. Little, as well as debut albums from Battle Trance, Anawan, and No Lands. Corey Dargel’s new album, OK It’s Not OK, comes out at the end of January and the label plans to follow that with records from the likes of NOW Ensemble, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Ted Hearne. There are also debut albums in the works from Killer Bob, Numinous, and the Will Mason Ensemble, plus a follow-up to the GRAMMY-winning release by Roomful of Teeth.

Longstanding DIY indie outlet Kill Rock Stars enjoyed an overwhelmingly positive reaction to releasing Hari Kondabolu’s debut comedy album, Waiting For 2042. They plan to follow that with a record from fellow comedian Ian Karmel (of Chelsea Lately and Adam Divine’s House Party), to be recorded live at Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon, on February 7th, along with a new album from Seattle-based rippers Kinski. While we’re writing about pillars of the indie rock community, Epitaph records has new releases in the pipeline from Joyce Manor, Pianos Become The Teeth, and Plague Vendor. Sister label ANTI will be dropping albums from Tweedy and Son Little.

San Francisco-based Fat Wreck will release Strung Out’s first album in six years this March, followed in April by Good Riddance’s first record in nine years. They also have new records in the works from toyGuitar, Night Birds, Bad Cop/Bad Cop, and The Real McKenzies, plus the debut solo album from Darius Koski of the Swingin’ Utters!

In 2014, Alternative Tentacles released a ton music from bands like Peace Creep, Itchy-O, and The World/Inferno Friendship Society’s This Packed Funeral. For 2015, they plan to release the complete discography (a three-volume LP) of the legendary Texas Killed By Death hardcore band Really Red. They’ll also have a couple of bits from Jello Biafra: a live recording, and a companion big-hole 45 for his side project, Jello Biafra and The New Orleans Raunch & Soul All Stars.

Founded in 1996 by the bass player and guitarist for THE VANDALS, Kung Fu records continues to blaze trails with an unstoppable barrage of punk records, including the long-awaited vinyl reissues of The Ataris’ So Long Astoria and The Vandals’ BBC Sessions & Other Polished Turds. In addition, the label is working on the release of a digital comic book called Fear Of A Punk Planet.