Tag Archives: Low

Artist Reflections: Alan Sparhawk of Low on Taking Chances in 2018

artist-reflections-alan-sparhawkFor our “Artist Reflections” series, we asked artists responsible for some of the year’s best records to discuss a topic that’s been close to their hearts over the last 12 months. In this piece, Alan Sparhawk discusses a life-threatening injury and how that impacted the making of Low’s most adventurous record yet.

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The Best Albums of 2018: #20 – 1

best of 2018 20-1Let’s be honest for a second: No one clicks on these lists for the introduction. I don’t blame them! This is usually just the place where some routine throat-clearing goes, before we get to the main event. It’s also the place where I confess to the amount of anxiety involved with putting together a list like this—last year, I said, “Right now, there’s probably someone in their bedroom in Buenos Aires, making a record on their computer that is going to end up on next year’s list. So as comprehensive as we’ve tried to make this list, we realize that, even at 100 albums, we’re only scratching the surface of what’s available.” Guess what? That’s still true in 2018. That said, the albums that made the cut, to us, represent the breadth and scope of the many worlds available to discover on Bandcamp, and feel like the best musical summation of the last 12 months. When we make this list, we’re not only trying to assess the year’s best music, we’re also trying to tell the story of 2018, album by album, song by song. As always, being a part of Bandcamp Daily in 2018 was a true joy; we took a look at Extratone, the world’s fastest musical genre, got familiar with the New Face of Death Metal, and spent time with artists like Yugen Blakrok, Suzanne Ciani, and Kamaal Williams. Once again, the world of music is bigger than any one list can possibly contain, so consider this a starting point on the neverending journey to discovering new sounds, new scenes, and new voices. Alright, that’s enough throat-clearing. Let’s get to the list.

—J. Edward Keyes, Editorial Director

Best of 2018 Schedule:
December 10: #100 – 81
December 11: #80 – 61
December 12: #60 – 41
December 13: #40 – 21
December 14: #20 – 1

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Kranky Celebrates 25 Years of Independence—and Patient Listening

Kranky

What does it take for an independent record label to survive for a quarter-century? Joel Leoschke, the co-founder of independent stalwart Kranky, has the answer. “Well, a lot of work, of course,” he observes, “but also stubbornness, and a refusal to be sidelined or distracted from the core job of disseminating and promoting sounds we feel deserve wider attention.”

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The Best Albums of Summer 2018

Quarterly Report

To describe this summer as “turbulent” would be an understatement. And while you could say roughly the same thing about the spring and winter before it, something about the ever-present sense of global unease, coupled with (depending on where you live) oppressive heat made three months that are usually associated with beach parties and cookouts feel especially fraught. As always, though, there is music—not only to be a comfort and a lifeline, but also to be a vehicle to discover new perspectives, and to learn to look at the world through someone else’s eyes. As always, the albums in this list represent a wide range of sounds: there’s an album that fuses death metal and jazz, a meditative hip-hop record with soul-searching lyrics, a vibrant indie rock record made by four classically trained musicians and much, much more. These are our Best Albums of the Summer.

Read Bandcamp’s “Best Albums of Spring 2018
Read Bandcamp’s “Best Albums of Winter 2018

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This Week’s Essential Releases: ’60s Girl Groups, Hip-Hop, Metal, and More

7 essential

Welcome to Seven Essential Releases, our weekly roundup of the best music on Bandcamp. Each week, we’ll recommend six new albums that were released between last Friday and this Friday, plus pick an older LP from the stacks that you may have missed.

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Slowcore: A Brief Timeline

Low

Low, photo by Lego.

You could easily argue against the idea of “slowcore” as a genre. Unlike its late-’80s/early-’90s contemporaries in shoegaze and grunge, there was never a geographic focus or self-celebrating scene. Its key bands formed all across the country, rarely toured together, and never seemed to swap notes or compare guitar pedals. There were no formative moments, no Sex Pistols at Manchester in ’76. Nothing close to an ethos.

But, crucially, there is a sound—or, rather, a continuity of sound—a commitment to allowing songs the room to breathe, to stripping things down to their essence before something bigger can be built back up around them. Even when the songs are fast or loud or busy, they never lose that essential clarity, that push toward beauty as its own end. Continue reading