Category Archives: featured music

The Merch Table: March 2017

Merchtable March

Illustration by Paul Grelet.

Every month, The Merch Table brings you the best and most bonkers merchandise you can find on Bandcamp. We commend bands and labels that get a little creative and think outside the tote bag. Whether it’s a fashion accessory, a piece of art, or something entirely unique, The Merch Table showcases inventive, original—and, occasionally, downright strange—stuff that you might want to get your hands on. But, sorry: the ukulele is sold out.

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The Best Albums of Winter 2017

Best Albums Winter 2017

Welcome to the first of our seasonal round-ups of the best albums on Bandcamp! Every four months, the Bandcamp Daily editorial staff will be combing through the stacks to present our favorite records of the year to date. This inaugural installment of our Quarterly Report also kicks off a new feature on Bandcamp: 7 Essential Releases. Every Friday, we’ll highlight six albums we loved from the previous week, plus one older record you might have missed. And so, without further ado, here are our picks for the Best Albums of the Winter.

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Album of the Day: So Stressed, “Please Let Me Know”

One of the larger tensions that exists between artists and critics is the latter’s insistence on taking the work of the former to be strict autobiography, but the pain that courses through the third album from Sacramento’s So Stressed feels too immediate and too visceral to be a work of fiction. Its 10 songs seem to document a grueling breakup, but what makes the record so rattling is that all of the resulting agony is focused inward. Where 2015’s The Unlawful Trade of Greco-Roman Art was stacked with bruising hardcore, Please Let Me Know is both paradoxically more measured and more tortured. Opener “Fur Sale” sails out on a sleek sheet of melodic guitars, and frontman Morgan Fox isn’t screaming but singing. But about two minutes in, the turbulence hits: “Nothing compares to you,” Fox sings, “But I still compare everything to you.” From there it’s a quick dive into dissonance; the guitars turn pitch black and Morgan doubles over howling.

The rest of the record volleys between those two poles, post-hardcore melodicism trading off with proper-hardcore panic attacks. “Majestic Face” manages both at once, eerie vocal harmonies gliding across heart-attack double-bass drumming. In “Old Hiss,” Fox runs into his old flame in public, which sends him into a spiral of despair: “We’ll grow old together,” he wails as the band pitches and rolls behind him, “Right up until I wake up.” Even when the band stretches out musically, the results are shot through with unease. The sparse “Peach,” is built on a skeletal strum and lit up with squiggles of synthesizer that sound like an MRI machine melting down. And while the band’s ventures into melodicism demonstrate impressive breadth, it’s the full-throated ragers that land the hardest. The panicked “Subsequent Rips” opens with Fox declaring “I write myself a heartfelt love letter/ and read it into the mirror,” against chaotic corkscrews of guitar; both elements are operating in their own time signature: Fox plows forward regardless of meter; the band hammers away chaotically, like they’re falling down a flight of stairs. Please Let Me Know trepans down into the center of heartbreak and records all of the mayhem it finds there. It may not be autobiography, but that doesn’t make it feel any less real.

J. Edward Keyes

On the Come Up in Music City: Rising Rap and Soul in Nashville

Rising Rap and Soul in Nashville

Jota Ese, Saaneah, & Kyshona Armstrong. Illustrations by Brandon Celi.

Though it’s historically well-known for its country music scene, Nashville, Tennessee isn’t just the town of honky-tonks and the Grand Ole Opry. With indie labels like Infinity Cat and Nervous Nelly Records providing a showcase for punk and rock, and with Americana and folk lining the rosters of Jack White’s Third Man Records and Dualtone, Nashville these days is truly Music City, writ large. Pop aficionados can also find a place here, as well as anyone interested in hip-hop and R&B. It’s those last two genres that have seen the biggest growth lately, as former residents of LA and NYC flock to the city, and established locals can finally find both collaborators and an audience to help support their craft.

Growing up with gospel music in the church, DeRobert Adams, of the G.E.D. Soul Records band DeRobert & The Half-Truths, moved to Nashville’s sister city Murfreesboro in 2000, home of MTSU, where he joined his first band. He’s been making music ever since. G.E.D. Soul has been one of the hardest-working labels in Nashville for the last decade, producing, recording, and distributing funk, soul, and R&B tracks, mostly via the label’s Poor Man Studios in north Nashville. Boasting what the label calls an “analog aesthetic,” the records feel like lost gems dug out of a dusty stack of retired jukebox 45s. Label owner Nicholas DeVan says “Country is still the main attraction, but there’s always been an enormous amount of non-country music being recorded and performed here. I would say that we are seeing a different type of person being in the music scene here, lots of LA folks and musicians from other cities. I feel like Nashville has always been a destination for musicians that need a more low key city than LA or New York; people come here to lose the big city vibe.”

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Sango Mixes Baile Funk and R&B For a Fresh New Sound

Sango

As Sango spun through his set at U Street Music Hall in Northwest D.C., his relatively calm stage demeanor was a sharp contrast to the energy of the crowd that was watching him. The venue was dim, but the stage lights caught silhouettes on the 1,200-square-foot dance floor dancing joyfully to the mix. From “Infinidade” through “Na Hora,” the room roared ecstatically at the appearance of every new song.

At first listen, Sango’s music sounds like it’s plucked directly from a favela in Rio de Janeiro; many of his compositions contain heavy traces of baile funk. But dig a little deeper, and a vast array of influences start working their way to the surface—heavy bass kicks, quick snares, and cleverly-assembled samples of classic R&B tracks. It’s territory that was mostly uncharted before Sango started exploring it on Da Rochina. That cross-genre splicing is now a key characteristic of his work.

After seven years of critically-acclaimed projects—including North and Da Rochina 2, as well as work with artists like Bryson Tiller, Tinashe, Kaytranada, and Goldlink—Sango has become one of the most prolific artists of the digital age. His song “SNS” was featured on the Golden Globe-winning show Atlanta. More importantly, he’s a staple of the Soulection sound, a musical movement that has captured a massive audience over the last six years by embracing a deep exploration of soul, jazz, and hip-hop, and fusing those genres with a new wave of future beats and electronic dance music. His fresh take on baile funk has inspired other producers to develop their own iterations of his sound. This includes Gravez’ flip of “Calabria 2007″ to make “Where We From,” Lehvi’s use of baile funk to make Pineapple Pool Party (Sango Taught Me), and K-Wash’s love for the Seattle producer’s catalogue to create an EP comprised of remixes. 

The UHall show was one of Sango’s last performances before ending his #ITCO Tour. Before his DJ set in D.C., Sango sat down with us to discuss the tour, his new vocal and instrumental albums, and how he balances work and family.

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