ESSENTIAL RELEASES Essential Releases, January 12, 2024 By Bandcamp Daily Staff · January 12, 2024

What the Bandcamp Daily editors are listening to right now.

Crying Over Spilt Milk

On Crying Over Spilt Milk, neo-soul newcomer babyeleanor wields her light-as-air by-way-of Ella Fitzgerald vocal stylings for a debut EP that processes the aftermath of a failed relationship. Across just four tracks the Brightonian singer—who, I would venture to guess, grew up to a soundtrack of Amy Winehouse and Sarah Vaughan—skillfully see-saws through the kind of bargaining you do with yourself in the wake of a breakup, when you’re fending off the desire to go running back to someone despite knowing better. An abrupt but coy “Angry at what I’ve become/ Loving ain’t easy but hardship is fun,” trilled at the close of the opening track, is a fitting thesis statement for the record. Case in point: On “Blue,” her defenses come quickly crumbling down at the first out-of-the-blue DM from an ex. “I’m so in love with you/ I’m still in love with you/ Why won’t this ever do,” she sings in repetition, at once confessing and crying for help. The EP’s fairly simple arrangements—the backing band mostly consists of drums and keys with washes of digital synths—provide just the right amount of texture to elevate the singer-songwriter’s talents. And she’s very talented; babyeleanor is one to look out for.

Stephanie Barclay

Bun B & Statik Selektah
Trillstatik 3

Bun B has been in the “victory lap” phase of his career for some time now, so it makes sense that the Trillstatik series is basically structured like an ongoing party. Once a year, the Texas legend decamps to NYC and joins the producer Statik Selektah at a different location—in 2022 it was the restaurant Sweet Chick; last year it was a hidden bar at the restaurant Fat Buddah—and crank out an album over the course of a day. Like any good party, they invite plenty of friends (this year, the guest list included Benny the Butcher, Method Man, Lukah, and Rome Streetz, to name just a few) and keep the mood light and freewheeling. The latter is one of the things that makes the latest installment so impressive: All of the MCs are so good at what they do that the bars just seem to slide off their collective tongues. Nothing is overworried or overworked: “Sippin’ cappuccino with Cappadonna” may not go down in the Meth hall of fame, but he sells it in how easily he tosses it off. And as the host, Bun is in top form throughout; Statik gifts him with gorgeous, summery beats, perfectly suited to Bun’s melodic delivery. It’s a blast from start to finish.

J. Edward Keyes

Mickey Diamond & Big Ghost Ltd.
Gucci Ghost 4

I’m going to be honest with you, I had a difficult time choosing between this installment of Mickey Diamond & Big Ghost’s Gucci Ghost series and the one that came before it, because their release was only separated by the space of a week. Both continue a series the duo began last year that has proven fertile creative ground for both. Diamond, a member of the Umbrella Collective—if you have not already tapped in on that crew, you are approaching “late pass” territory—has a wonderfully deep-set basso profundo that gives even his punchlines a sense of gravitas, and Big Ghost has had one of the more unlikely blogger-to-producer career trajectories in all of popular music. They complement each other beautifully: Ghost’s moody productions work best with a commanding voice at the center, and Diamond shines with a producer that will clear enough space for him to do his thing. The fashion house that gives the series its title is a jumping off point for bars that show off Diamond’s microphone prowess and allow him to ably belittle all challengers. Each of the installments is $10—treat yourself and buy them all.

J. Edward Keyes

Rogér Fakhr
Habibi Funk 025: East of Any Place

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

Rogér Fakhr’s Fine Anyway, a collection of songs recorded by the Lebanese artist in late ‘70s Beirut, was one of 2021’s best records, so what a treat to receive a companion in East of Any Place, which is made up of tracks that weren’t included the first time around along and some that have never been released before at all. Fakhr’s music could be filed alongside the intimate folk of the sort that was pouring out of Laurel Canyon in the 1970s or the jangly blues of Bert Jansch and friends—Fakhr made a conscious choice to sing in English to parallel contemporaries like the Beatles and James Taylor—though such comparisons may seem a little wan considering the political turmoil surrounding its creation (all of these tracks were, miraculously, recorded in a single day.) But music is a universal force for good in any circumstance, and like its predecessor, East of Any Place brims with beautifully crafted songs primarily based around the bright sounds of finger picked acoustic guitar, lightly psychedelic melodies, and Fakhr’s witty, poetic lyrics. Let’s hope there’s even more where this came from.

Mariana Timony

Folly Group
Down There!

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

Formed in 2019 at the height of South London’s DIY boom (otherwise known as the “Windmill scene,” in honor of the underground Brixton venue that served as the renaissance’s primary incubator), Folly Group make enigmatic, ultra-rhythmic rock that pulls upon nearly every musical nook and cranny of The Big Smoke: post-punk, trip-hop, dub, Afrobeat, art rock, jazz, jungle, and even drill. Their recurring performances at the Windmill, combined with their lethal allergies to easy genre tags and straightforward arrangements, inevitably draws comparisons to peers like Black Midi, Black Country, New Road, and Squid — and yet, the quartet’s remarkable debut album is lightyears away from anything the scene has spawned thus far. Don’t let the lean 36-minute runtime fool you! These ten tracks, whether heard individually or in sequence, amount to some of the grooviest, most animated worldbuilding I’ve heard all year, bolstered by spacious production and club-friendly, bass-intensive mixing, and trenchant social commentary; check the droll, dub-soaked highlight “Strange Neighbour,” easily the catchiest song ever written about urban housing shortages. Keep your eyes on these four in the weeks and months ahead…my crossover senses are tingling.

Zoe Camp

Thomas Walsh
The Rest Is History

Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Vinyl, 2 x Vinyl LP, T-Shirt/Shirt, Compact Disc (CD)

L.A.’s Curation Records releases music geared to lift spirits and The Rest is History by Irish artist Thomas Walsh does the job handily; a great work of flowery, baroque power pop replete with megawatt melodies and orchestral flourishes that’s both happily whimsical and unapologetically sentimental, the earnest combo something of a tonic for these dour and doomy, irony-poisoned days. Overstuffed but in a comfy way, Walsh’s rainbow-hued songs work overtime to earn the descriptor Beatles-esque, though the hairpin tuneful turns and galactic scope of ELO might be a better comparison. Trying to pick a favorite song on here is like trying to figure out which color of Skittle tastes the best when you could just eat the entire bag all at once.

Mariana Timony

Tournament Arc

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

Over six years in the making, Tournament Arc’s eponymous debut ranks among the most impressive video game cover albums I’ve encountered on this platform. The collection, released via Materia Collective, finds the Boston Ensemble leveraging their members’ various backgrounds and specialties (chiefly rock, metal, jazz, and classical) to honor—and ultimately re-invent—VGM classics old and new. Some sound swanky and dinner party-ready, like “Zelda’s Lullaby” from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and “Snake Eater” from Metal Gear Solid 3 (the latter being especially slinky, all resonant pianos and velvety sax). Others, such as “Let the Battles Begin!” from Final Fantasy VII and “Stickerbush Symphony” from Donkey Kong Country 2, take a more aggressive approach, pairing chugga-chugga guitars with fleet-footed strings. Persona 5, Chrono Trigger, NieR: Automata, Bastion, and Journey are also here, plus the band’s original song “Limitless,” a dramatic hard rock ripper à la Ghost. No wonder the LP and cassette editions are gold-colored: video game music doesn’t get more primo than this.

Zoe Camp

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