The golden age of music is now.
January 24, 2022 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Thought old music was killing new music? Bandcamp's Essential Releases of the 2021 - just one of their extensive Best Of 2021 lists - and Soundcloud's 2021 Playback are here to prove you wrong.
posted by mhoye (27 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Thank you! I'm always baffled when articles (like that previously) just completely overlook Bandcamp and its immense importance to different genres and artists. Heavy metal, for example, is perhaps the most creative it has ever been, and there isn't a better spot to find new and exciting extreme music than Bandcamp.
posted by TheKaijuCommuter at 8:44 AM on January 24 [15 favorites]

Oh yah, this list has a couple of my favourite releases from last year: Rogér Fakhr’s Fine Anyway and L'Rain's Fatigue. Yay bandcamp.
posted by Alex404 at 8:50 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

I also discovered Cosmonaut by Pickle Darling through Bandcamp daily, though I guess it didn't make the "essential releases" cut. Maybe not the deepest album, but some of the most listenable indy pop-rock I've heard in a while. Is it time for Pickle Darling? Yes it is. (Excellent band name, in the very least)
posted by Alex404 at 9:02 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

I know nobody here needs to be told this, but Bandcamp is fucking exceptional.
posted by rorgy at 9:11 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]

Online musical equipment retailer Sweetwater has a list of new bands expanding on old rock styles. Play it loud.
posted by Ber at 9:16 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Bandcamp Friday has done wonders for getting me buying more music. "You mean if I time it right, I get a monthly batch of music to look forward to *and* the artist gets more of my money?"
posted by CrystalDave at 9:17 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]

I did not know about Bandcamp Friday! I need to look into that.
posted by snwod at 9:42 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

Ah, not what I was thinking, but still cool. I thought maybe it was like the old Amazon "Artists on the Rise" playlist they used to (still?) do. I found so much cool music through those playlists.
posted by snwod at 9:47 AM on January 24

but Bandcamp is fucking exceptional.

couldn't agree more except I am concerned by this Best Of stuff. I hope I'm wrong but it feels like a wrong turn, a slippery slope (insert your own metaphor). Because what Bandcamp is so exceptionally good at is providing a foundation for an entire other music industry -- the means for artists to independently publish and share their stuff with minimum interruption/intervention from vested interests.

But as soon as I see Best of the Year lists from such a high profile site, I smell the old music industry (crooked and corrupt but still way too well funded in some quarters) looking to intervene/interrupt, game things so that their artists get more focus. It just feels inevitable. I can already see the inboxes etc of Bandcamp's Daily Staff filling up.

No doubt, this has already been happening for a while. I just haven't noticed it. But if my now almost forty years in and around indie/alternative radio has taught me anything, it's that once these bigger players take an interest in your operation, things get decidedly Faustian.

I really do hope I'm wrong.
posted by philip-random at 9:48 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

I suppose it's inevitable that the gold mine of really good curation is always in danger of starting a gold rush when lots of people discover it, but for now, that Essential Releases of 2021 is fantastic. I can't remember when I last got this delighted by such a wide variety of music.
posted by straight at 9:57 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

It seems like the kids aren't falling for the same focused-grouped, carefully curated top 40 model that we did. They seek out their music on alternate platforms. That includes the vast catalog of "old" music that we were limited in our ability to explore by money and bandwidth. I downloaded a ton of old music in my teens but my DSL connection kept it capped at a certain rate. And I could only afford to buy the CDs of a select group of artists that really mattered to me. But even in the early aughts, Led Zeppelin was more popular among my friends than any modern rock band.

I'm really glad Bandcamp is a thing now. After many years on spotify-only, I'm starting to rerip my collection of CDs to FLAC and store on a home server. I remembered the albums I bought on Bandcamp Fridays and they were all there, ready to be downloaded as flac, which I thought was awesome.
posted by dantheclamman at 10:01 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Bandcamp’s essential release are 90% a rehash of the Pitchfork best of - or at least, they have been in the past. I’m almost always so much more intrigued by what has the highest volume of sales: oodles of Vaporwave, weirdo fake Japanese city pop/house/funk, video game soundtracks, something popular by a famous artist you've heard of, metal, a compilation of Los Campesinos covers that dang rules, and who-knows-what-else. I honestly have no problems with critical consensus -some things can exhibit more craft than other things, some things are more important than other things- but getting a window into what people like that isn’t masked by the forced, artificial dominance of Top 40 is a joy.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:05 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

I remembered the albums I bought on Bandcamp Fridays and they were all there, ready to be downloaded as flac, which I thought was awesome.

Oh, also, my eternal reminder to always download bandcamp content instantaneously. Sometimes an artist will remove the digital version of their sweet sweet Kuduro mixtape and you won't be able to grab the FLAC version you had meant to pull when you had the space for it.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:17 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Ha. I knew when I gushed about the Bandcamp list that someone would let me know how cool it isn't. Never change, Metafilter.
posted by straight at 10:21 AM on January 24 [10 favorites]

O, it’s a great list! I just know what I prefer to check.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:23 AM on January 24

bandcamp fridays are indeed great and it is very nice to know that more % of our $ spent goes to the artist ... still, I have no qualms about purchasing more music on other days, because I'd be almost equally happy for my $ to go to artists or to bandcamp the company ....

how many times can one say that about *any* business that is or ever has been affiliated with promoting and supporting music?
posted by clandestiny's child at 10:27 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

Here's a question: Are there good ways to keep up with a larger percentage of international music? A bandcamp for Chinese pop, for instance? I know that some international music is on Bandcamp, but I assume that it's not as universal a source for every country.

If anyone would like another good list, I will say what I always say and recommend the Quietus list.

This year, I haven't done a really good listen-through but they are pretty big on The Weather Station's Ignorance, which I have heard. It is as if you made a jazzy sophisticated pop album in 1985 except about climate change. So far I like that one (although bear in mind it's very listenable, like it really is a sensitive jazzy pop record from 1985.) I also like the Mirage album which is really not very much like the actual best of Scritti Politti no matter what they try to tell you and the Squid album which is quite shouty in places. These are of course on Bandcamp.

I wish I could get as much into Black Country New Road as everyone else because that one single where the singer is all "I was born to run" and it's not a good kind of running, I like that one a lot.
posted by Frowner at 11:12 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]

I think they're not doing Bandcamp Fridays anymore though? Originally it was going to be a couple of months, then they extended it because COVID isn't over, and last I saw they wound it up with December 2021.

I hope I'm wrong, I have a bunch of stuff on my wishlist and I'd like the artists to get all the moneys.
posted by Foosnark at 11:20 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

If anyone would like another good list, I will say what I always say and recommend the Quietus list.
Totally agree - I figure I have a good finger on the music pulse, but then I get shamed by Quietus - example being the new release from Scotch Rolex (including DJ Scotch Egg in another of his many incarnations). Top stuff!
posted by aeshnid at 11:39 AM on January 24

Thirding The Quietus. Best music publication online, imo. Give them your money!
posted by rorgy at 12:55 PM on January 24

(Spoiler: they say the next Bandcamp Friday is Feb 4, which Bandcamp confirms.
posted by kristi at 2:53 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Wow that Fake Fruit track sounds EXACTLY like Pavement. Not a criticism really as that one of my all time fave bands, just … the guitars especially.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:38 PM on January 24

Frowner, I can say that Bandcamp is strong on New Zealand content, at least. Just looking through I'm seeing new and old releases, big names and stuff I've never heard of, in a wide range of genres.
posted by Pink Frost at 3:44 PM on January 24

Very grateful they included Low, both because they're good and because they were the one entry keeping me from batting .000 in knowing who any of these people are. I had not realized how much my podcast listening had wiped out my new music listening over the past year.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:41 AM on January 25

Thank you for linking this, I've been bored with music for the last few years. But really it just takes effort these days to find the good stuff.
posted by coffeeand at 4:33 PM on January 25

My thanks, too. First thing I found was a new Tommy Guerrero thing so I'm quite pleased.
posted by BlunderingArtist at 2:34 PM on January 27

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