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Unbound Words

Bandcamp Friday, November 6, 2020

Amid all of the turmoil in the world right now, many of us find focus and enjoyment through music. A way to share direct financial support with musical artists is by purchasing their works on Bandcamp Friday, when Bandcamp waives collection of revenue for digital sales (not including subscriptions). In general, this means an extra 15% goes to artists or labels on these days.

Here are some of my recommendations for what to pick up this Bandcamp Friday (or any other day).

Rosie Tucker – “Never Not Never Not Never Not ~ I first saw Rosie Tucker play in 2019 at the Top Hat in Missoula, MT. I was really blown away by the set & ordered the vinyl for this album when I got home. Rosie Tucker’s lyrics are multi-layered, but approachable. Their vocal styling is creative and unexpected. The deft production choices let brevity do its work, yet allow certain tracks more time to build to dynamics and drive emotionally. All the while, the listener is drawn in by the California landscape, emotional struggles, and the joy of having really good friends.

Sentimental Records – “NO MORE BANDS: AUTUMN 2020 ~ I mentioned production choices in the previous album which brings me to this compilation. I started following the Sentimental Records label online when I realized what a genius producer Wolfy is. I’m looking forward to checking out this comp and other things on the label to hear song-writing from Wolfy as well.

Norah Lorway – “Future Void ~ This recent release via the Distant Bloom label exhibits live-coded sonic creations from Norah Lorway. Featured among the best experimental music releases of October 2020 on Bandcamp, “Future Void” welcomes us to a world aptly expressed by Aaron Owen‘s topographical cover art. Slow builds churn up echoes and glacial shifts reflect light at their high points.

Aloud – “Exile: 10th Anniversary Edition ~ The political turmoil of the past week (… year? decade? lifetime?) has made Aloud’s “Exile” album one to which I perennially return for inspiration. It has been great to watch the band evolve from “Fan The Fury” until present, and, as a fan, this album has always stuck for me. Jen and Henry shared retrospective videos with fans this fall & I look forward to the insert/liner-note details about this record that expresses hope & heart during political and emotional exile.

That wraps up my suggestions for this month. Stay safe & share some love for musicians!

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Unbound Words

Bandcamp Friday, October 3, 2020

Bandcamp has decided to continue its promotion of Bandcamp Friday through the rest of 2020. If you aren’t aware, on the first Friday of every month, Bandcamp agrees to forego their collection of revenue for digital sales (not including subscriptions). In general, this means an extra 15% goes to artists or labels on these days. If the Bandcamp model already piques your interest, this is a fun day to interact with the model & share direct support with some musical artists. These were, here are a few things I have checked out this month that I would recommend for listening today or on a future Bandcamp Friday.

Martha – “Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart ~ My friend sara had put a Martha song on a mix CD for me a while back & it’s so catchy that I quickly learned to sing along. I finally caught up with rest of the songs on this album, and I really enjoy the observations and insecurities captured in the lyrics coupled with the bubbling enthusiasm of the music. I saw Martha play one time at Off Broadway in Saint Louis, and this has become an enjoyable album that will get a lot of repeat listens from me.

Alice Bag – “Queen’s Quilt ~ I recently read a Razorcake interview with Alice Bag & really got interested in the stories she is telling with her music. Some of her songs are more general anthems for social situations that many people face, but this track gets very personal. According to the Bandcamp page, “This recording is from 1991, it’s from an old cassette demo. The band was called Goddess 13.” It’s a tribute to a time of life that wasn’t easy, but there were obvious things to celebrate. This memory of her parents dumpster-diving for cloth to make a living and to make something of value to honor their child is a tender one that even aging punks can appreciate.

Sa-Roc – “The Sharecropper’s Daughter ~ Sa-Roc has put out a few strong releases over time and has really honed her craft to tell the stories on this album. Unrelenting flow and defiance against a world that threatens a beat down, she crafts hooks that serve as food for the journey for anyone who has endured the financial and cultural exploitation that she outlines. Grabbing from various mythologies and literature, she crafts lyrics of the Black diaspora continuing to rise in Atlanta and beyond.

That wraps up my mentions for October 2020. Stay safe & share some love for musicians!

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Unbound Words

Bandcamp Friday, July 3, 2020

Since the beginning of COVID-19 shutdowns this year, the online music company Bandcamp has been promoting “Bandcamp Friday”, starting on March 20, 2020 and occurring on the first Friday of the month every month following until today. On these days, Bandcamp agrees to forego their collection of revenue for digital sales (not including subscriptions). In general, this means an extra 15% goes to artists or labels on these days.

While not a perfect model, the monthly occurrence provides a calendar marker for giving deliberate support to small or medium-scale artists and labels. This might be the last Bandcamp Friday of this wave of COVID-19, so I’m sharing some music that I find exciting on Bandcamp.

Tré Burt – “Caught It From The Rye” ~ Tré Burt put out this well-balanced album on Oh Boy Records (the independent label started by John Prine). He expresses heartbreak both public and private in deftly executed songs & rounds out the sentiments with songwriter’s wisdom.

Our Native Daughters – “Songs of Our Native Daughters” ~ This Smithsonian Folkways release caught my eye after listening to Kaia Kater’s “Grenades” from the same imprint. Seeing Rhiannon Giddens’ name, I expected something great. I was further impressed by the other musicians in Our Native Daughters. One reason to buy things on Bandcamp these days is that digital downloads are sometimes bundled with pdfs, videos, or other files. The companion pdf to this album yields scholarship and provides context to the music, serving as a jumping off point for more learning.

Nicole Mitchell and Lisa E. Harris – “Earthseed” ~ I have not given this a full listen yet, but I’m eager to hear their exploration of the themes of Octavia Butler’s science fiction. FPE Records’ listing of the recording drew me in.

Nana Grizol – “South Somewhere Else” ~ This album delivers on Nana Grizol’s fun folk punk sound, pushing beyond it here and there with fresh ideas. For long-time listeners of the band, their lyrics have matured with the bittersweet passage of time. They grapple with the ongoing task of undoing xenophobic social conditioning, acknowledging biased falsehoods and the resulting behaviors with acumen that allows them to be dismantled.

Oxherding – “Unfolded Along The River” ~ This is my friend’s most recent release on Distant Bloom, an electronic record label from Saint Louis, MO. I can imagine river confluence scenes past and present while listening to these two tracks. I also appreciate that the label has taken a stand on social justice issues. Through sales in June 2020, Distant Bloom donated $520 to ArchCity Defenders, a non-profit civil rights law firm in Saint Louis.

Using one’s voice and other means of leverage is something that appeals to me with all of the musicians and organizations I am sharing in this post. When they get some extra money from Bandcamp sales today, it’s going back into sustaining actions that will make their part of the world a better place.

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Archived Items

Show Throwback – May 16, 2009 – Illegal Tone Records – Belleville, IL

Eric Moeller and the Strummalongs Illegal Tone Recordings show flier - May 16, 2009

Digging back through my archives, I saw that it was eleven years since this show happened. I was playing with Eric Moeller and the Strummalongs at that time. I looked up the venue, which has indeed closed, and there are some interesting notes in this RFT article about Illegal Tone Recordings.