Music platform Bandcamp has become an oddity of heroic sorts here in San Francisco. Imagine a tech company putting their heads together for something besides stealing your personal information or trolling your socials with disinformation to re-elect a fascist regime. Nope, Bandcamp wants to give something back to the culture, help it in fact, not corrupt it. Imagine that.
When Covid-19 hit, Bandcamp announced it would waive its usual 15% fee for one day in order to support artists affected by the shutdown of live music. Since then fans have bought more than $75 million worth of music and merchandise directly from artists and labels, and to date, fans have paid artists over half a billion dollars on Bandcamp. That’s a lotta stacks for good, friendo.
Since the pandemic is far from over, we’ll continue to select artists, labels, and bands-from everywhere-for you to check out and support. Bandcamp Fridays, the first Friday of every month—meaning Friday, November 6—will be fully supported here at 48hills until 2020 leaves the frigging building. (But feel free to support these artists even when it isn’t Bandcamp Day!)
LUNCHBOX, AFTER SCHOOL SPECIAL (SLUMBERLAND)
The ever-upbeat Lunchbox, an Oakland based project consisting of guitarist Tim Brown and bassist Donna McKean—they’ve been at it for two decades—still puts out the mega-happy tunes that dip into all the pops: indie, sunshine, classic, power, and bubblegum, inspired by 1960s/’70s AM radio and TV show theme music, punk, C86, and mod à la The Creation and The Jam. Their new album, After School Special, is an 11-song buffet filled to the rafters with catchy hooks that embrace for the goofy. That’s the charm. Never mind the horns sticking the landing, every time, in double happiness elation.
Donna’s bass playing remains colorful and steadfast, while Tim’s guitar is in garage rock heaven. Horns by Gary Olson of Ladybug Transistor and longtime collaborator Jeremy Goody drive the project tip to tail. Evelyn Davis’ delay-drenched keyboards combine with whispers of analog tape feedback makes the subject matter of cats, autumn, love, death, ghosts, and reincarnation seem commonplace. Doltish and sincere, with a touch of that thrift store nostalgia (catch a whiff of mothballs in the music, it’s a strong spice) this project will alter your mood, for the good most indeed-y. Sure hope that the little kitty on the cover is alright. Check it out here.
NAPPY NINA, “WEIGHT” (MEXICAN SUMMER)
Nappy Nina, the Oakland-born writer, emcee, and producer, is a rare entity in hip-hop these days. Somehow she finds a spot in-between bravado and vulnerability—you’re compelled to hang on to every word she speaks and warbles in that percussive ‘Town’ drawl. What’s a quicker way to explain it? BARRRRRRRRS is what she got. “Weight” is the beaut of a new single, where her arrangement gets modal with eloquent drums, bass, violin, and piano supporting.
Nappy Nina explains, “This song is about being confident in uncertainty, working on this track was the first time I was in a studio with other musicians in months. It was inspiring to see some of my favorite folks feel free in the space and for them to create things we could pick apart and put back together again to build this song.” This is the second time we’ve mentioned Nappy Nina in this column and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Get in on the ground floor, she bout to take off. Check it out here.
BRUCKMANN/DJLL/HEULE/NISHI-SMITH, BRITTLE FEEBLING (HUMBLER RECORDS)
Sometimes things in the world do not make formal, linear sense. Having some type of music, or sound let’s say, to express that abstraction leads to a better understanding. Or just less confusion. What the hell am I talking about? The four musicians who made brittle feebling know how to score chaos.
Using an oboe, trumpet, floor tom, and the koto—a Japanese zither—this experiment in minimizing sound has the vibe of a dentist appointment that just went straight to hell. So why listen? As many forces try to persuade one type of thinking, SF, and The Bay, much like Austin, TX, were born and raised on weirdness. Much like getting stuck accidentally behind “Naked Guy” back in the day, sometimes getting comfortable, if only for a second, with the g’dang strange, can save your spirit. Recorded in Berekely in 2018, and released earlier this year in October, don’t get it twisted, brittle feebling is off its nutter. And we should be so lucky to have it around, readjusting our compass for understanding, if only for a second. Check it out here.
BALKAN BUMP, OSMANITY (LOWTEMP)
The Bay Area-based Balkan Bump project has performed at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lightning In A Bottle, and Electric Forest, fusing energetic Balkan brass with heavy electronic production and hip-hop influences. The story behind album name Osmanity? It’s a reference to Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire fused with the word “insanity.”
“Osmanity combines music from all over the former Ottoman Empire with EDM, hip-hop, and jazz” according to Balkan Bump trumpet player, producer, and ethnomusicologist Will Magid. “Between the 14th and 20th centuries, the Ottoman Empire stretched from Southeastern Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa. As trade routes brought spices and products between these regions, it also led to the cross-pollination of music traditions. Making the record was a bit of a history lesson in Arabic, Turkish, Jewish, Roma, Slavic, and North African Music. The music is inspired by shared histories, rhythms, and melodies.” Get in on the enchanting wizardry of Balkan Bump. Check it out here.
BÉZIER/VIN SOL, THRU-OUT (M-I-V)
San Francisco’s Robert Yang, who produces under the name Bezier, makes retro-futuristic electronic music. As detailed in his Apple music profile, that style brings together Hi-NRG and Italo-disco to new wave and synth-punk. Yang joined the Honey Soundsystem in 2007, the world-renowned clique started their weekly the following year and in addition began booking around the globe. Bézier reached out to us about an upcoming release he has on the books with fellow SF electronic mage Vin Sol, “Thru-Out” aimed to drop Nov. 17th. (You can pre-order.)
“Y’know…I really couldn’t let 2020 pass us by without having a Bézier release. So I reached deep into the hard drives to find a grip of tracks I recorded with a good friend many of you know: Vin Sol. 100% of profits will be going to a few organizations fighting for low-income housing and against tenant evictions around the Bay Area, paid out in perpetuity.” Check it out here.