BANDCAMP FINDS: Amby Downs, Red Fang, BLAKMOTH

Nearly halfway through August already. Unreal how somehow this year is flying. Got some noisy, dark electronic stuff here this week, with of course some up-beat metal going on with Red Fang.

BANDCAMP FIND: Phoxjaw, fernab comp

Busy week, so didn’t get to spend much time on Bandcamp this week as I liked. A colleague turned me onto Phoxjaw, though. A bit of swanky rock, dripping with sass from the UK. Sign me up.

For those times you need some music running in the background while slamming through some work that you’d rather not have on your plate, but it’s gotta get done? Yeah, this is a nice compilation in any capacity.

Bandcamp Finds: Maggot Heart, Wilma Laverne Miner, Ropes of Night

Another week, another few albums of note, starting with Maggot Heart.

I’ve come back to ‘Used To’ from Wilma Laverne Miner, which came out earlier this year. Without road trips and new experiences because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been pretty much the last album that’s become an “album in time” for me.

The album art work grabbed me, and then I clicked play. Not usually into this darker, moody stuff, but I like this from Ropes of Night, which came out a few months ago.

Bandcamp Finds: An Albatross, Noveller

A slow week of Bandcamp digging. The weather has been brutal, so I’ve been doing my work first thing in the AM and doing my best to get outside.

I’ve known Ed Guida since the 90s, when he used to play in Bedford, and I played in a ska band called the Unmarked Cars. Oh, what a wild time that is. Now, 20 years later, we reconnected via Instagram (of course) and our love of running (he’s a big inspiration for me). So now that An Albatross has a new album out, holy shit, I had to devour it in a heart beat.

Noveller is Sarah Lipstate, creating some great cinematic sonic landscapes.

Bandcamp Finds: Jukio Kallio, Sierra, Harriet Tubman

I busted out the iPad and Procreate and decided to finally make some “branding” for my Bandcamp Roulette videos (you can see the evolution of those in this YouTube Playlist). I’m super happy with how it turned out, and stoked to be getting back to creating and producing more.

Since I dig through Bandcamp quite a bit, some gems don’t make it into these videos, so here’s some goodies from the past week.

This is from a video game soundtrack from back in 2018 apparently. While I’m not much of a gamer these days, I’ve always appreciated the soundtracks to the games, even the ones I’ve never heard of.

I’m always a fan of heavy, dark, and pissed off music, and this fantastically works.

Sometimes I’m in the mood for something loose and free, and this 2018 release fits the bill. The menacing bass tones and vibe kill me every step of the way.

It’s Hard to be Surprised on the Internet Now

I wrote this in a recent Metal Bandcamp Gift Club newsletter:

I don’t know when I’ll be able to thumb through any used CD bins, or be surprised by an opening band on a Tuesday night. At the moment everything is laid out in front of our face. There’s no surprises.

That’s why each birthday wishlist is hidden, a mystery! No mention in the subject of the email of whose birthday it is, and you can’t mouse-over to find out who it is, either. Do you dare click?!

When can we dig through a friend’s record collection again? Well, not today, probably. But today you can scroll through someone’s Bandcamp wishlist (today’s has over 800 releases), or their collection, and probably find something new, or a release you forgot about. 

It’s not the same, but it’s the best we can do for now, I guess. Thank you for clicking.

In those newsletters, the link to someone’s wishlist doesn’t mention their name, and mousing over the link only reveals a Mailchimp-created tracking link (at least in your inbox, on your desktop), so you still don’t know who it is. You have to click.

In this world of click bait headlines, it’s hard to trust any link. Thankfully the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club newsletter has a click-per-unique open of like 60%.

Build trust by giving, serving, filling.

Metal Bandcamp Gift Club exists to funnel traffic direct to people’s Bandcamp wishlists, where people buy albums as gifts for their birthday. In 2020. This is driving album sales, and putting money into the pockets of artists. It’s a wonderful thing.

Fresh, brand new, just for us

Okay, two weeks in a row of this stuff?

Another Bandcamp Roulette, and I’m so made this one today because I found this album from Brendan Byrnes – and it came out yesterday.

I’m as shocked as anyone that I go from geeking out on that sort of music to making another Goodnight, Metal Friend mix, with some of the darkest, grimmest, foreboding tunes on Bandcamp. But I tell you what – they put me right to sleep, and that’s the point.

And I don’t know… these two things aren’t for everyone, and that’s by design. Think ‘1,000 True Fans,’ or “minimum viable audience,” as Seth Godin says:

Stake out the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.

In search of the minimum viable audience

Will either of these things get a million subscribers anytime soon? Probably not, and that’s okay, because I know if I had “just” 1,000 people who were really into either of them, it’d be cool.

And the best part is this; I’m doing it anyways. I’m making sleep mixes for me first, to fall asleep to. Sourcing the music, arranging the mix, making the mix, crafting the artwork – it’s all meditative to me which helps me (wait for it)… sleep.

And the Bandcamp Roulette? I legit do this several times a day when I work, now I just take some extra steps and make them into videos.

I dunno… I just geek out to this stuff, and I’m stoked I finally slowed down enough to realize it.

Making Some Content During the Pandemic

Haven’t really made much “content” since shutting down Skull Toaster back in 2018. Got nearly 40 episodes into making a thing called “Later” in 2019 (archive of the audio available on SoundCloud), but that fizzled.

Now, though, I feel some good momentum.

Got a jolt to get working on Metal Bandcamp Gift Club again late last year. Moved the whole thing to an email list, redid the website as a hand-coded HTML site. The subscriber count is going up! Yay!

Started watching DJ sets on YouTube, you know, to sort of stay sane and experience people doing things besides just my cat yelling at birds. That inspired me to try my hand at the process, which led to making my own metal-leaning sleep mix called Goodnight, Metal Friend.

And now “Bandcamp Roulette” (at the top of this post) is a thing now, maybe?! I just really enjoy digging for and finding music, and it’s not that hard to set up. Two video shots:

  1. The initial Selling Right Now scroll, and the actual clicking around to listen to the individual band pages are captured with ScreenFlow.
  2. iPhone Xr on a tripod, which I then sync with the video captured using ScreenFlow.

I don’t have to prepare or research anything, as I’m picking stuff on the fly. I guess I might recognize some of the releases from time to time, but I’ve been writing about music since 2001, so I’ll be able to draw from that experience, and I love the free wheeling, spontaneous nature of this format. I guess it could even be live-streamed, maybe too? HMMMM.

These three things – running Metal Bandcamp Gift Club, making sleepy time metal mixes, and Bandcamp roulette have just been something nice to rattle my brain, and keep things fresh, and keep the curiosity stoked.

Cosmic Lips by Momocurly

Found via Bandcamp’s scrolling “purchased music” feed on their front page – that album art caught my eye! The music is stunning – so clean and minimal, filled with good vibes and lush dreamscapes.