What the Bandcamp Daily editors are listening to right now.
90 Day Men
We Blame Chicago
Vinyl, Vinyl Box Set
(It (Is) It) Critical Band, the first album from Illinois group 90 Day Men, was released nearly 25 years ago—a sprawling album of complex math rock that, while impressive, also was at risk of disappearing into a sea of similar-sounding albums from that part of the world. Two years later they released its follow-up, To Everybody:, and shit immediately got weird. From its opening moments, felt like a deafening thunderclap, a turbulent album set ablaze by a stunning vocal performance from Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe. It’s no surprise Lowe went on to score horror films—To Everybody: is shot through with a sense of cold panic. The guitars of its predecessor had shuffled sidestage, ceding the spotlight to enormous, rolling piano lines with ruined rococo beauty. Lowe’s voice swung from agonized wail to hushed, Thom Yorke-y murmur, giving songs like the creepy-crawly “Saint Theresa In Ecstasy” a kind of spectral beauty. They pushed even further on follow-up Panda Park, burrowing deep into the tension between ornate staircases of piano, a lean, sinewy rhythm section, and Lowe’s spine-chilling vocals. The music the group produced in their short lifespan is a revelation, the sound of people frantically assembling their own musical language in real time. We Blame Chicago, the new box set from Numero Group, offers another chance to reappraise their potent body of work. Augmented with live recordings, EPs, and outtakes, the songs on We Blame Chicago sound stunningly ahead of their time—a blueprint of the way rock music was supposed to sound before it got lost along the way. The band strips the genre for parts then reassembles it in beautiful, frightening new ways. It’s the aural equivalent of a Murnau movie—a dark world that still beckons the brave to explore it.
The Amiture formula is as follows: one part skittering, industrial breakbeats; one part New Romantics gothicism; and another of buzzsaw blues guitar—it shouldn’t work but it does. Darker, seedier, and sexier than previous EPs, Mother Engine sees the NYC duo of Jack Whitescarver and Coco Goupil honing in on their particular sound. If you are to listen to one track let it be “Billy’s Dream,” a lurid, skulking nightprowler of a song that lives somewhere between Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand,” The Cramps’s “Human Fly,” and Prodigy’s “Breathe.” It’s really only fitting that the album was written and recorded “in a dilapidated garage between a sanitation center and a set of train tracks” as that’s exactly the venue I would expect—and hope—to hear it in, ideally at some underground rave on the outskirts of town. Never forget that goths can party too.
Another product of the seemingly bottomless Lynn, Massachusetts hip-hop scene, DATKIDBRAVO first appeared in 2019 alongside fellow Lynn rapper Estee Nack on “AFTERPARTIESINPELAN” from Grubby Pawz’s sweeping abum KRUDEBRICK. Next to Nack’s freewheeling free-associarion, BRAVO’s focused, insistent delivery felt severe, a potent postscript to Nack’s surrealist wish list. He’s been sharpening that approach ever since, and REMY’S REVENGE, released at the tail end of January, is the best showcase yet for his steely rhyme style. Though the beats are culled from a laundry-list of underground boardsmen, they all hew to a similar lane, centering BRAVO’s delivery amidst menacing backdrops of strings and degraded soul loops. The consistently excellent duo The Mellos gift BRAVO with a tense, Henry Mancini-esque backdrop of shivering violins on “Ciao Bella,” and on “Chrome,” Korza floods every available pocket with oozing sound, recalling the great, hallucinogenic early work of al.divino (who, coincidentally, appears on the track). BRAVO marches through every song with force, arranging perfectly straight syllabic lines that give the fleshy instrumentals a rigid backbone. It’s lean and efficient—dynamite in a tight package.
Rafael Anton Irisarri
Originally released in 2017 in a limited, cassette-only run, Midnight Colours is a musical replica of the doomsday clock constructed by prolific New York producer Rafael Anton Irisarri. At the time of recording, we were two-and-a-half minutes from midnight; given how we’ve frittered away another minute in the seven years since it’s only fair that Irisarri would revisit and refurbish this out-of-print one-off to attract a wider audience. To that end, the remastered Midnight Colours expands the original’s sonics to transcend the technical limits inherent to the cassette-only format, reinforcing the existential dread lurking within each stunning, impeccably textured soundscape. The closer’s drone-heavy spacetime collapse aside, the path to oblivion doesn’t sound as imposing as the concept would suggest; “Two and a Half Minutes” and “Circuits,” with their fragmented, wind chime-esque synth loops and new age flourishes, render apocalypse almost soothing. Don’t mistake Irisarri’s graceful ambient as an invitation for escapism, though: this is a wake-up call first, meditation second. Oppenheimer would approve.
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
Orgone have been making swampy, soulful, old-school psych rock for over two decades now, both on their own and in partnership with groups like Say She She, who recruited the Los Angeles band as session and touring musicians for last year’s excellent Silver. Their latest effort, Chimera, is no different, assimilating the sleekest, most cerebral sounds of the ’60s and ’70s—dub, jazz, disco—into instrumentals that feel nostalgic, but thanks to the dynamic and rhythmic fluidity they exhibit on cuts like “The Husk,” also novel and refreshing. Special mention goes out to the guest vocalists, Terin Ector (whose smoky tenor guides “Lies and Games”), Jamie Allensworth (“Running Low”), and Congolese artist Mermans “Mofaya” Masengo. The two tracks featuring Masengo—”Zum Zum” and “Tula Muisi (Dance Like Them)”—are particularly excellent, threading connections between Afrobeat, soul, disco, and in the case of the latter, even hard rock, punctuated by Masengo’s spirited, tremolo-heavy vocals. Orgone were right to name this LP after a mythical creature…these grooves are legendary stuff.
San Francisco’s very own baggy band with a suspiciously large number of members culled from various eras of Bay Area DIY, Spiral Dub sell tie-dyed bucket hats at their merch table for good reason. But while the music is a great iteration of the already-great rhythmic psychedelic rock you may remember from bands like the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses, Spiral Dub is most definitely a punk band, as evidenced by vocalist Chad Kawamura’s witty, funny, caustic lyrics always foregrounded over all those rainbow guitars.
Growing Eyes Becoming String
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)
Those familiar with psychedelic noise purveyors the Telescopes’s relentless walls of guitar drone might find Growing Eyes Becoming String to be a markedly accessible record from the UK band, a quality that could partially be ascribed to the fact that it isn’t a “real” record in the traditional sense. Composed of tracks taken from two previously forgotten 2013 recording sessions recently rescued from digital purgatory after a decade, Growing Eyes benefits from a sense of exploratory curiosity as head Telescope Stephen Lawrie, backed by experimentalist five-piece One Unique Signal, finds intuitive ways to draw passages of hazy melodic beauty out of the mesmerically undulating form of one great riff chugging on forever and ever.