What the Bandcamp Daily editors are listening to right now.
Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP
Whereas Willi Carlisle’s last album, 2022’s Peculiar, Missouri, cycled through a slew of subgenres and folkways—Cajun music and conjuta, Delta blues and Appalachian roots music—his new effort Critterland takes a more streamlined approach to Americana that’s oriented around universality and storytelling rather than stylistic interplay. The title track, in particular, feels less the work of a singer-songwriter than a one-man opry, distinguished not only by his buttery drawl, but his unparalleled instrumental multi-tasking (catch him on the fiddle, guitar, harmonica, banjo, and button-box accordion). Pastoral as the arrangements are, though, Carlisle’s stark, insightful lyricism is what ultimately sends the album over the top: “Dry Country Dust” and “I Want No Children” are empathetic reflections on generational trauma and mental illness, while closing track “The Money Grows on Trees” is a spoken word, seven-minute-long epic detailing the rise and fall of an Ozark weed dealer in razor-sharp detail. If you love Americana in any shape or form, you owe it to yourself to check this LP out.
The sweeter side of punk rock, a less incel-y kind of power pop: Whatever you want to call this nebulous strain of music made by bands who want to sound like the Beatles going super hard, it’s as good of shape as you recall on Stay Young from Finnoguns Wake, the duo made up of ex-Royal Headache vocalist Shogun and newcomer Finn Berzin backed here by a crew of former Shogun collaborators on drums, bass, and keys. This particular style of guitar rock has always been distinguished by its sense of optimism—commercialism, some might call it—but also it’s good to hear punks sound starry-eyed over songs that are accessible and fun but also buzzy and rough enough to make you feel cool listening to them.
If there is a single constant that ties together the work of multidisciplinary artist Kim Krans, it’s that all of her art seeks to find the intersection of the temporal and the mystic. The hauntingly gorgeous records she released in the early ‘10s as the frontwoman of the New York group Family Band were ghost stories delivered with chilling calm, as if Krans was a medium relaying messages from the other side. Her 2016 tarot deck The Wild Unknown and its accompanying guide book—which landed on the New York Times Bestseller list—reflected her desire to put spiritual tools in the hands of ordinary people. And the title of her new solo album, MIRRORMIRROR, feels like a sly wink to the item’s fairy tale function as a radio to the spirit world. Its songs, too, are full of Greek gods, distant stars, and secret prophecies. But the real strength of MIRRORMIRROR lies in the devastating power of Krans’s voice, a hushed, patient alto capable of sounding lovestruck and heartbroken, hopeful and bereft all at once. I’m hesitant to invoke ASMR, but the way Krans sings has a similar effect, cradling you and calming you and sending shivers across the surface of your skin. Early standout “Spinning Sun”—a duet with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James—is the perfect showcase for what Krans does best. She spoons out each word in the verses slowly and tenderly: “There’s one. Two. A hundred. Spinning Suns.” Her cadence hypnotizes you, until the angelic chorus swoops in to deliver the gentle kiss: “And you/ Spin me round/ And you/ I go upside down.” It’s a breathtaking moment on an album full of them, and Krans is the perfect poet of everyday magic.
Lee “Scratch” Perry
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
King Perry is the last studio album recorded by dub icon Lee “Scratch” Perry before his death in August 2019 at the age of 85. Written and recorded during the pandemic, it sprang from Perry’s desire to “do something new, something different, but still with a dub framework”; accordingly, its grooves skew less dub and reggae-heavy, instead taking cues from drum & bass, synthwave, big beat, and more. Daniel Boyle—who worked on Perry’s last two efforts, Back At The Controls and The Black Album—reprises his role as producer, while the trip-hop icon Tricky (whose label, False Idols, is handling the LP’s release) has two co-production credits, most notably the standout track “Future of My Music.” Of course, no Perry album is complete without collaborations, and the guest list here is as stacked as you’d expect: Happy Mondays frontman Shaun Ryder; neo-soul vocalist Greentea Peng; jazz impresario Marta Zlakowska; singer-songwriters Rose Waite and Fifi Rong; and the aforementioned Tricky. In the wake of Perry’s passing, this LP is by definition a bittersweet sendoff, but it’s also one hell of a party. All hail the king, now and forever.
In his 2020 guide to neoperreo, a form of club music often regarded as reggaetón’s weirder, wilder cousin, Bandcamp contributor Richard Villegas lays out two M.O.’s for the subgenre; one tethered to sound, the other to spirit, both equally crucial. From a musical perspective, he writes, neoperreo is all about “infus[ing] the time-honored dembow beat with sinister synths, copious Auto-Tune, and cheeky samples of sexually suggestive moans and the sound of guns cocking,” while philosophically, it’s about “challeng[ing] the sonic homogeneity of reggaetón…while creating and championing safer spaces for revelers.” Meth Math, the Hermosillo, Mexico-based trio of vocalist Ángel Ballesteros and producers Error.Error and Bonsai Babies, meet both criteria on their fantastic debut album, but simultaneously charting their own distinct path. Gothic vibes dominate on highlights like “Cyberia” and “Axila,” Ballesteros’s playful Auto-Tuned hooks clashing with sharp, military-grade dembow rhythms as shadowy synth textures billow in the background—the ol’ danse macabre refashioned for the ’20s, descended from reggaetón and hyperpop and shrouded in darkness. Meth Math have a winning formula, all right.
My Lost Decade
Strummy, wobbly, lo-fi sunshine pop made to sound home-brewed and relatable (a lot of these songs are about drinking beer), My Lost Decade is something of a psychedelic picaresque, the songs little slices of life about small town layabouts by Minneapolis-based songwriter Dan Hornsby (also a novelist). This is what you wish Andy Shauf records sounded like.
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
Always a purveyor of high drama, Vera Sola’s turn to torch-y, sad cowgirl music feels like a natural pivot, with the vast and mildly menacing emptiness of the American West providing a romantically blank canvas for these lilting, country-tinged songs—you can almost see the little foil cactuses and a paper moon on a string. But Sola is right to play it straight. Her velvety voice easily commands the record’s lush, sweeping arrangements—deserves them, really—and every song is another showcase for Sola’s full-throated, irony-free delivery.