The Bandcamp Fridays of 2023 are looking selective; there are only nine of them: Feb 3, March 3, April 7, May 5, Aug 4, Sept 1, Oct 6, Nov 3, and Dec 1. And while Bandcamp HQ is always pretty quick to point out that the celebrated day—where the audio platform waives its revenue share so more money goes to the musicians—only adds a little more scrill to your favorite artists' bank statements, Bandcamp Friday is still an occasion.
In that spirit, the Mercury and The Stranger teamed up to recommend some picks today. Maybe they released something recently, maybe they're playing Portland or Seattle soon. In the grand tradition of Portland and Seattle pretending we're the only cities in the Pacific Northwest, we give you TEN picks for Bandcamp Friday:
Karma Rivera, "You So Nasty"
Gotta start the list with a banger. And February calls for some "I’m singing to the pussy, not rappin," rhythms. Portland-based emcee Karma Rivera fluidly describes her objects of desire to flexing beats that playfully smack in your ear. Perpetually prolific, the November 2022 "You So Nasty" isn't even Rivera's latest release. Earlier, this month, Mercury music columnist Jenni Moore noted the release of “To Rico”—Rivera's collaboration with another local, DJ Lapaushi. You can catch them both at Lollipop Shoppe on March 4.
Say Hi, Elocution Prattle
This isn’t the Say Hi you’ve heard before. On previous Say Hi records, songwriter Eric Elbogen has used his lyrics to paint vivid pictures of fascinating worlds and characters—he sorts through relatable emotions and life experiences with indie pop songs about vampires, werewolves, and ghosts. (And yes, sometimes just plain ol’ humans.) However, when writing his new album, Elocution Prattle (out February 3), the lyrics never came. In an interview with The Stranger he explained: “It kind of came from depression, to be honest with you. When I say depression, I don’t know how much of that is clinical depression and how much of that is just the collective depression that we all felt in the height of the pandemic, but the way that sadness often manifests with me is silence. I just don’t really want to speak.” So song lyrics never made it onto the album, but his keen knack for melodies did. The result is a double-LP, 20-track instrumental sonic experience. It’s wordless, but even still, Elbogen manages to capture ~vibes~ that are as relatable as any song about a vampire. Here’s to shutting up. (Say Hi hosts an online Elocution Prattle listening party Fri, Feb 3 at 7 pm)
Spencer Doran, Season: A Letter to the Future (original soundtrack)
This vinyl drop won't actually deliver until May, but it's worth noting if: you're a fan of Spencer Doran's other music as one half of Portland ambient duo Visible Cloaks, you're intrigued by the concept of the "meditative exploration" video game Doran wrote this for, "in which the main character must save memories of a civilization on the verge of collapse," or you simply like video game scores 🙋. Montreal developers Scavengers Studio just released Season via Steam, on January 31, so it's also possible to listen to all or most of Doran's deft compositions through the medium for which it was intended: play-through.
Lori Goldston and Greg Kelley, All Points Leaning In
Lori Goldston and Greg Kelley’s new album All Points Leaning In sits on the opposite end of the instrumental spectrum from Say Hi's venture. The duo recorded the record live at Steve Fisk’s home studio, and it’s mostly improvised. There are no melodies, there are no beats. Goldston doesn’t simply “play” the cello, she draws with it, filling your mind with rough line sketches of deep woods, dark caverns, and thick fog dotted with shadows that move slowly, menacingly. Kelley’s trumpeting is just as abstract—it wails like a siren, churns like the ocean, howls like ghosts. At times it brings light to Goldston’s shadows—in the title track there is a moment when the noises Kelley makes are grounding and familiar—but it doesn’t last long. They hold your imagination captive and overrule any attempt to find comfort. I dare you to listen to it in the dark.
Woolen Men, "Forgotten 45"
There was a sizable stretch without any installments in "the Woolen Men singles club," which the basement rock trio (but it's a tidy basement) began releasing in May 2020. However, with the surf-flirting "Why Do Parties Have To End?" strolling in through the garage door, back in September 2022, it looks like we may hear from Portland's most-reliable indie rockers more often. "Forgotten 45" is a great little nostalgic track that moves forward with rhythm reminiscent of the New York New Wave—and the ways those bands synthesized feelings of emergency, and grounded them in sturdy, unshakable beats.
Taylar Elizza Beth, UNDERCOVER LOVERGIRL
Taylar Elizza Beth released her fantastic and ass-shaking dance record UNDERCOVER LOVERGIRL on January 17. In an interview last month she told Jas Keimig the record is for anyone who has "gotten hurt and had really gotten hard against love in a lot of ways, but knows deep down that love exists and love is real because they’re full of it.” Dance it out, lovers!
Neil S. Kvern, Doctor Dancing Mask: Pianoisms
On January 27 Freedom to Spend reissued an album, Doctor Dancing Mask: Pianoisms, by experimental Seattle musician Neil S. Kvern. The label’s co-owner Jed Bindeman (of Portland’s Eternal Tapestry) discovered Kvern’s work while digging through an old collection of cassettes in Portland. Dave Segal wrote more about it here.
Tourist Activities, Wrong Side / Oh For One
Impossible-to-Google Seattle band Tourist Activities released a stellar two-song single on Den Tapes on January 19. It’s bright, explosive pop with Sonic-Youthy fuzzed-out guitars that wrap around your brain like a weighted blanket. Just $2!
Death Cab for Cutie, Asphalt Meadows (Acoustic)
This week Death Cab for Cutie announced they’ll release an acoustic version of last year’s Asphalt Meadows in March. The first single, “Pepper” is out now. Even more notable is the release of their cover of “The Plan” by Low, in memory of Mimi Parker, who died of ovarian cancer in November. Just listening to it on loop, sobbing at my desk. It’s fine.
Kimya Dawson, Remember That I Love You
Finally, if you stayed up until midnight last night, you may have seen Kimya Dawson’s exciting announcement: She’s reissuing her coveted 2006 album Remember That I Love You on vinyl this year. The record has been remastered and this time around it’s being pressed on 180 gram red vinyl. Beautiful. The Bandcamp campaign was fully funded within in a couple of hours, but you still have 30 days left to order. Not into analog? The digital version is available for just $10.