ESSENTIAL RELEASES Essential Releases, February 23, 2024 By Bandcamp Daily Staff · February 23, 2024

What the Bandcamp Daily editors are listening to right now.

A Burial at Sea
Close to Home

Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP

A Burial At Sea have been one of my go-to instrumental projects ever since 2020’s self-titled debut, which gave the standardized post-rock sound a much-needed shakeup by bringing hardcore, math rock, and even jazz into the mix. On their second full-length and Pelagic Records debut, the duo of Patrick Blaney and Dara Tohill reinforce — and strengthen — their astronomical genre-juggling by reconnecting with their Irish roots. (While currently based in Liverpool, Blaney and Tohill were born and raised in Ireland, and per the album description, their formative childhood experiences inspired many of the instrumentals). To be clear, Close to Home is no post-rock Riverdance; here, Irish folk traditions aren’t evoked stylistically so much as symbolically (noe the Gaelic song titles) and especially atmospherically (consider the verdant layering and gently-sloped contours of “páirc béal uisce” and ‘tor head”). It’s a photo album without words, essentially, and a beauty to behold, especially if you dig bands like Mogwai and Godspeed you! Black Emperor. Bring on album number three.

Zoe Camp

The Chronicles of Father Robin
The Songs & Tales of Airoea – Book III

Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

An album trilogy over 30 years in the making, The Chronicles of Father Robin’s The Songs & Tales of Airoea is easily the most definitive work of Norwegian prog ever made. To borrow Brad Sanders’s phrasing from last month’s scene report, it’s a capstone to the past three decades of the movement’s history, assembled by the same artists who made said history in first place — a multi-generational roster comprising members of Wobbler, Jordsjø, Tusmørke, Les Fleurs du Mal, and The Samuel Jackson Five. This week’s arrival technically marks the saga’s concluding chapter, not that the numerical order — or even the overarching narrative — is crucial to one’s enjoyment of the finale. Between the lead singer’s expressive cadences, the constantly shifting keyboard flourishes, the janky tempos, and the serpentine guitar sections, the music’s constantly toying with your attention span, tantalizing you with a million sources of dopamine all at once. Whether TCFR’s insanity on this record is universally palatable hinges on your individual threshold for theatrics and all-out loopiness (welcome to prog), but its scope and significance make it historic nonetheless. Class dismissed.

Zoe Camp

Erika de Casier

Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD),

When 2019’s Essentials first came on the scene, Erika de Casier’s Y2K-indebted R&B was still novel, a futuristic nostalgia trip that hadn’t yet been cannibalized by the TikTok trend cycle. Now, in 2024, we’re seeing the resurgence of ‘90s rave with the popularity of drum & bass and UK garage influences popping up in artists like Pink Pantheress and piri. What makes these artists so fun to root for is in part due to these young bedroom producers adopting a genre like d&b into such a high-feminine sphere of pop. Having worked in recent years with Mura Masa who produced Pink Pantheress’s “Boy’s A Liar Pt. 2” and collaborators like Shygirl and Eartheater, de Casier leans into her own club influences on Still, her latest for 4AD. That’s not to say that she’s genre-swapped entirely. Rather, Still fills in the lines of Sensational, her 2021 album, which dabbles in EDM production styles while remaining consistent with the chilled-out, digital R&B vibes of her debut (though I would argue, not as successfully). Lead single “Lucky” features skittering d&b drum breaks amidst an interpolation of Linda Kiraly’s “Can’t Let Go” from 2007, amping up the her signature sultry romanticism. The embodiment of the Aaliyah lyric “Sometimes I’m goody-goody/ Right now I’m naughty-naughty,” de Casier’s persona remains perfectly airy and sultry, even girlish (dare I say coquette) on tracks like “ooh,” a sauntering appeal for satisfaction. Playing the part of an angelic siren on “Ex Girlfriend,” she and Shygirl feature over a mellow reggaetón beat and an airy atmosphere of strings and a choir. “My Day Off,” meanwhile, is a welcome bitch track with a trap beat (“All up in my business like it’s yours/ Leave me alone”) and second single “ice” is a Timbaland-esque earworm with hip-hop duo They Hate Change. Erika is in her Y2K princess bag and is rewriting the blueprint, still.

Stephanie Barclay

Hurray for the Riff Raff
The Past is Still Alive

Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

Over the course of their 16-year career, Alynda Lee Segarra’s strongest work has always drawn on their autobiography. 2010’s delightfully ramshackle Young Blood Blues felt like a cinema verite film of a young person tumbling their way across New Orleans, guitar in hand and washboard strapped to chest. Six years later, The Navigator—still Segarra’s masterpiece—drew heavily on their Puerto Rican heritage and life in the shadow of heightened Trump-era xenophobia. They return to their back pages once again on the excellent (and aptly titled) The Past Is Still Alive, collaging together scenes from their life—as a teenage punk in the Bronx, as a folkie hopping freight trains en route to anywhere—to create sharp, striking songs bursting with specific, lived-in detail. In “Hawkmoon,” Segarra recalls a younger version of themself, “with a buckknife and a fake ID/ Sleeping bag in a backpack in the big city”; on “The World Is Dangerous,” a duet with Conor Oberst, Segarra takes stock of the timeline of a relationship, and the way it has drifted in and out ot their life.  Musically, the album calls to mind the albums John Lennon made in New York, an gritty mash-up of folk-rock, country, and other classic American musical forms, all of it giving subway busker more than campfire singer. It comes alive in the way great novels do, each chapter as riveting as the last.

J. Edward Keyes

The Infinites

Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP

The second record from this interesting Austin group is out on Madrid, Spain’s Meritorio Records, which has weirdly become the most reliable resource for American jangle pop this side of Oakland’s Slumberland Records, with whom they are probably friends. Archetypes follows the Infinites’s high concept formula of pairing cheery alternative rock constructed out of looping guitar riffs with lyrics organized around a theme. On their self-titled debut, it was short stories about imaginary characters; here it is (surprise!) an exploration of character archetypes, a zoomed out approach that feels less fussily narrative and more universal. While Archetypes works simply as a record of sunny, appealing rock music, each miniature character study may reveal something about the listener in which particular observations about the human condition sticks in their ear.

Mariana Timony

Emma Ayzenberg
Iron Mountain

Fans of The Sundays would do well to cue into Los Angeles musician Emma Ayzenberg. Her gorgeous new EP iron mountain shares that band’s gift for twinkling arrangements, pastoral beauty, and beautifully sighed vocal melodies. But where the UK group favored a kind of fairy-tale lightness, Ayzenberg’s songs feel pulled from elsewhere—deep in the shadowiest parts of the psyche. On the title track, above a humming guitar line, Ayzenberg unspools a string of dreamlike images: “Every morning a white shirt/ I’ll never walk as far as he did/ I’ll never starve like he did.” “Lucile,” which follows, is similarly surreal: “I knew a fisherman we met on Lucile/ it was blue and green and I screamed/ I won’t remember him in the morning.” These vivid lyrics act as the ideal complement to the music’s low-lit beauty—Ayzenberg’s alto is almost soothing, but the words she’s singing consistently unsettle. It pulls you back in the same way you crane your ear in closer to hear someone whispering a secret.

J. Edward Keyes

Mary Timony
Untame the Tiger

Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD), T-Shirt/Shirt,

Untame the Tiger is Mary Timony’s first solo record in 15 years (though she’s been plenty busy in the meantime) and she returns with a mellow and unfussy singer-songwriter-y record that nevertheless feels of a piece with her solo canon, which has always tended towards the melancholy, although one can perhaps hear the influence of her power trio Ex Hex’s “simple but good” songwriting in her approach here as well. The expressing of painful emotions through a veil of magical realist lyrics remains similar but not the same as the conclusions reached are somewhat different. If before Timony mapped out suffering only to find it a labyrinth without end, Untame the Tiger explores the idea that one need not be ruled by their feelings to experience them in full.

Mariana Timony

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