Tag Archives: Swarvy

The Best Albums of 2018: #60 – 41

Best60-41-1244-1Let’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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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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Artist of the Week: Swarvy’s Multifaceted Blend of Hip-Hop, Jazz, & Soul

Though Mark Sweeney, A.K.A. Swarvy, has released a dozen records through various labels, he doesn’t consider a single one of them to be his debut. Part of this is due to the beatmaker’s exacting nature. Born just outside of Philadelphia, Swarvy is a methodical and precise composer who plays bass, keyboards, drums, and guitar, and stresses in-person collaborations.

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A Guide to the Prolific Rap, Punk, and Soul of Pink Siifu

Pink Siifu

Photo by Yng Kara

No one will ever accuse Pink Siifu of making the same album twice. His prolificacy stems from his affinity for a wide variety of genres, including rap, neo-soul, and, more recently, punk. “I really have to [make music every day],” says the 26-year-old rapper/producer/singer born Livingston Matthews. Though he’s lived in Los Angeles since 2013, Matthews is spending the summer in New York with the hope of exploring more musical possibilities. “When I’m here, I have a different creative energy,” he explains. “There’s a lot of black and brown people here, so there’s cultural inspiration, too.”

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Biggest Ups: Over 40 Artists Share Their Favorite Albums of 2017

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Bandcamp artists pick their favorite albums of the year.

One of the features on Bandcamp Daily that generates the greatest amount of enthusiasm is Big Ups. The concept is simple: we ask artists who used Bandcamp to recommend their favorite Bandcamp discoveries. So, in honor of our Best of 2017 coverage, we decided to take Big Ups and super-size it. Here, more than 40 artists to tell us their favorite albums of the year.

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The Best Beat Tapes on Bandcamp

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Scroll to the bottom of Bandcamp.com; click on the ‘hip-hop/rap’ tag, then on the ‘beat-tape’ tag. Wade through and see what’s there. Pretty daunting, right? The list you’re about to read is the result of painstaking research from Bandcamp Daily contributors, who took extra steps to find new producers doing amazing things with their music. This isn’t a list of the usual suspects; rather, we wanted to dig deeper to find composers who need a closer look. Without further adieu, here are some of the very best beat tapes on Bandcamp.

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Album of the Day: Swarvy, “Bop”

We last heard from Swarvy on the impressive DUE RENT, a gritty collaborative album on which he and rapper lojii examined everyday survival in capitalist America. Now, five months after its release, the Los Angeles producer is back with another stellar addition to his already-great catalogue. Like his other records before it, Bop both adheres to and completely eschews what we’ve heard from Swarvy to this point, which is what makes this 22-minute album so compelling and addictive.

There’s an organic, childlike playfulness to the producer’s entire discography (just listen to his fantastic Leaving Records release, Elderberry). Even his most fully-realized ideas are characterized by an endearing messiness, full of random vocal clips and repurposed bossa and jazz that somehow work together. In that way, Bop resembles DUE RENT’s dusty, sloppy-in-a-good-way aesthetic, taking sonic cues from Madvillainy and its co-architect, Madlib. Just as Lib pushed himself after what many consider his magnum opus, Bop proves Swarvy is doing the same.

Bop is an abstract painting brought to life with Swarvy’s favorite machinery, sewn together for a final product that’s both fascinating and addicting. “Astrognats” is drunk, hypnotic funk, and “Scrapplefromtheapple” could soundtrack a subterranean dance party. The album’s two singles—“Circles” and “Krunchrap”—couldn’t be more different; the former bangs with hard-hitting percussion and playful synthetics, while the latter boasts deep Southern bass, sampled rap ad libs, and blunted keys.

Swarvy has taken his fans to countless places over the years, but all of them have been nestled between jazz and hip-hop. While Bop tinkers with those sounds, it also shoves them into an experimental abyss. The album’s adventurous nature proves Swarvy’s got plenty of tricks up his sleeve, and there’s no telling where he’ll end up next.

Andrew Martin

Album of the Day: lojii & Swarvy, “Due Rent”

On Christmas Day, while many of us were opening gifts and spending time with loved ones, rapper lojii and producer Swarvy were in a living room somewhere in Los Angeles, quietly compiling their expansive new album, Due Rent. The Philly transplants crafted several tracks that day, forgoing the indulgence of the holiday season to create their something of their own that was worth celebrating. If nothing else, maybe the LP could help them accomplish simple financial goals—like paying bills and having enough money to live comfortably.

The premise for Due Rent is simple. “We decided to do an album when lojii was short on rent one month,” Swarvy told Pigeons & Planes in a recent interview. Due Rent follows lojii’s struggle to find work as a young black man in modern America. You sense the rapper’s desperation, even if his voice—a calm, easygoing grumble—stays relaxed throughout the album. lojii mostly goes at it alone, aside from singer Nikko Gray, who appears on “do u,” Versis, who appears on “potion,” and Zeroh, who guests on “pay rent.”

Theres’s something of a “low stakes” quality to Due Rent—in a good way. Much of it summons the old-school feel of cassette beat tapes. Swarvy’s mix of dusty soul nods equally to 1970s Quiet Storm R&B and ’90s “boom-bap” hip-hop. lojii’s message of “getting by” is focused and plainspoken; even when he chides monetary excess, he never sounds pretentious. His rhymes feel sincere, and the producer’s jazz-infused tracks—“blok” and “potion” are two standout examples—rank among his best.

Due Rent is meant to serve a financial purpose, and it neither stumbles off that path nor reaches beyond its scope. In addition to showcasing lojii and Swarvy at the top of their respective games, Due Rent speaks to the monetary desperation we’ve all felt at some point. It’s a rap record with empathy.

—Andrew Martin