Bandcamp Friday Recommendations

You’ll probably be aware by now that online music store Bandcamp has been waiving its fees on the first Friday of every month during the pandemic, providing the many independent labels and artists that use the platform a much needed boost by ensuring that 100% of all money from sales on these ‘Bandcamp Fridays’ goes directly to them. This has led to many music fans flocking to the site to support their favourite musicians and grab some top notch music and merch at the same time, but with so many to choose from, where should your Bandcamp Friday cash be spent? Here are a few suggestions from us of long-standing Joyzine favourites with excellent new records just waiting for your custom.

Stephen EvEns – Employee of The Month

From the squelchy garage pop of ‘Dustbin Man’ and ‘I Hate Shop (I Am Shop)’ to the stark piano and vocals of ‘Freakshow’, Employee of The Month, the second solo album from Stephen EvEns, crafts a skewed carnival hall of mirrors in which nothing is quite as you would expect and surprises await around each dusty corner.

The lyrics concoct a potent mix of the personal and societal, venting rage at the political classes, the emptiness of the 9 to 5 in a consumerist world and anyone else unfortunate enough to have ended up on the wrong side of EvEns’ ire, none more clearly than within the throbbing invective of ‘Push Yr Thumb in Yr Eye’. But this is far from a one note album, with pivots in tone and tempo taking in the touching duet ‘George & Kathleen’ and the confusion and isolation of ‘The Crystal Palace’ – it would have been easy for such a jumble of styles and atmospheres to have ended up a disjointed mess, but EvEns and his assembled cast, including members of Joyzine faves Hurtling, Hot Sauce Pony and REAL(s) (of whom more later), steer a crooked course around every blind corner and somehow come out in the right place every time, even if that right place is not quite where you thought it would be.

Employee of The Month is out now via Onomatopoeia Records on standard black or limited edition ‘Cornetto coloured’ vinyl, CD and digital download – get your copy here. While you’re there you might also want to consider investing in label-mates Hurtling and Barringtone‘s similarly excellent LPs.

Mega Emotion / Lady Di – Move Motherfucker / I Know You Know I’m Perfect

Mega Emotion are a Norwich based synth-pop trio made up of former members of cult indie heroes Bearsuit.
Lady Di are a Norwich based melodic grunge punk trio made up of former members of cult indie heroes Bearsuit.

If that sounds like I’ve finally given up any pretence of being any sort of ‘proper’ reviewer and resorted to copying and pasting, you may well be right, but in this case at least it’s justified as Mega Emotion and Lady Di, who provide a side each of this excellent split LP, are indeed made up of the same three members. That however is pretty much where the similarities end.

Robe wearing psychonauts Mega Emotion’s A-side Move Motherfucker is comprised of mechanical beats, beautiful waves of synth washing over ethereal vocals and pulsing motorik keys. From icy opener ‘I Want So Much More Than You Can Give’ to the rabid chorus of single ‘BRAINS’ it draws as much from pioneers such as New Order and Kraftwerk as it does from modern proponents like The Knife and Metronomy, all the while adding their own hallucinatory touch to blur the edges in rainbow smears. If you’ve been fortunate enough to catch them live, you’ll likely have been hypnotised by the combination of mesmerising sounds, geometric patterened robes and light up jellyfish outfits (no, we’re not joking’), and quite incedibly this records manages to transport that same feeling into your living room.

Flip the record over, still a little woozy from Mega Emotion’s intoxicating sensory overload, and Lady Di are there to sober you right up with the bucket-of-cold-water-to-the-face grunge pop blast of lead track ‘AAAAAA’, which races straight into an exhillerating run of stratospheric guitar thumpers – ‘Peanut Cup’s Dinosaur Jr-esque thrills evoke a feeling that must be somewhat akin to that experienced by pilots of aerobatic sky-writer planes, before ‘Do Better’s shrieking tub-thump sends the listener into a hair-raising tailspin, pulling up just inches from the ground with the slacker pop nonchelance of ‘Young Savage’.

Either half of this record, released as a stand-alone EP, would be a remarkable achievement, but for the same triumvirate to have made two selections so contrasting in style is nothing short of astonishing.

Move Motherfucker / I Know You Know I’m Perfect is out now on limited edition transparent magenta vinyl and digital download. Get your copy here.

REAL(s) – D.S.L.B

Inspired by Mark Fisher’s influential book Capitalist Realism, London space-punk disrupters REAL(s)’ debut album D.S.L.B matches its political zeal with fervant runaway train rock and roll that touches on influences from 50s rockabilly, through 60s garage rock, 70s punk, 80s new wave, early 90s shoegaze, post-millenial post-punk and beyond into a hopeful future of a world freed from the deeply entrenched injustices keeping the established societal order in place and destroying the planet.

It’s a tough job to get a meaningful political message across without sounding preachy and still making music to ignite a frenzied moshpit, but REAL(s) take this in their stride – it’s one of those rare albums where pretty much every song could be a single, primed to have you pogoing around your bedroom and longing just that little bit harder for the return of live music so you can do the same at full volume in a sweaty pub backroom.

D.S.L.B is out now as a limited edition bundle featuring a double-sided poster, #votingtorykills sticker and a manifesto containing “exclusive artwork prints, mindbending propaganda, secret cypher codes to enter the rabbit hole and more”, along with the LP in a bespoke hand-made cover. You can also buy the record on 12″ vinyl without the extras or get it as a digital download – get your copy here.

An Urusei Yatsura Bobblehat!

One of the great things about Bandcamp Fridays has been the number of bands combing their lofts, basements and boxes of tapes under the bed to uncover previously unreleased material to tempt us into parting with our cash. It will come as no surprise to our regular readers that I’ve been particularly excited about freshly released archive recordings from Scottish geek-rock cult heroes Urusei Yatsura, who have been steadily unveiling bootlegs, demos, live recordings and alternate versions on the first Friday of every month – I would of course recommend them all, but if you’re looking for just one, you can’t go wrong with their collection of b-sides and rarities Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura, currently available to download on a pay-what-you-want basis.

Just as exciting to a middle-aged music nerd such as myself has been the new merch that they’ve been selling alongside the recordings – a run a t-shirts sold out in hours, and I’m particularly looking forward to getting my hands on this month’s offering – an Urusei Yatsura bobble hat, perfect for outlining your indie credentials whilst also keeping your ears warm.

You can get your hands on both the recordings and headwear here.

Article by Paul Maps

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