I bought a couple of CDs as part of an Amazon orgy a little while ago … and while I like ’em fine, right now I’ve set them aside and am listening instead to a bunch of stuff I downloaded off Bandcamp.
(Have no fear, Charles Mingus. I’ll get back to you.)
Just in case you’re looking for cheap thrills too, here’s what’s playing.
Squinch Owl, On The Goddamn Radio: Squinch Owl is pretty much one person — a singer and multi-instrumentalist named Sofia Pocket — and this marvelously titled release features her walloping the banjo and performing solo on WTBU-FM in York, Maine.
Pocket’s voice is a big, bruised, moonshiney yowl that suits her material well.
However, somebody seems to have told the engineer at WTBU that Blossom Dearie was coming instead, because they set the levels for someone much quieter. Every time Pocket even remotely opens up, her voice distorts into something thick, molten and mostly unintelligible. (When she really gets going, both her voice and her banjo go thick and fuzzy around the edges.)
I actually think it works nicely. The effect is akin to routing the Mississippi River into a channel too small by half to hold it. The pain and devastation is redoubled as a result.
It also hearkens back to the great old days when blues and folk singers made records with one ropey microphone, in whatever room they could use for an hour, and acoustic finery was the most distant of considerations.
bobbito pickles, old ones: I clicked on this mainly because I liked the primitive cover art. Then I found it was lo-fi beats and loops from Edmonton (!) and I figured I’d never heard those before, and life is short.
These tracks are probably inspired by some beatmaster (J Dilla?) I’m not hip enough to be familiar with. Basically, they sound like chopped and channeled bits of mellow-gold love jams, driven sideways by loopy production techniques.
Senor Pickles provides us with 20 tracks totaling 29 minutes, which is pretty much the point at which his skips, scrapes and spasms start to get old … so everyone leaves happy, except maybe a bunch of copyright lawyers.
Under the label of the Homegrown Music Festival, you’ll find a whole bunch of Bandcamp releases created by the hipsters — DJs, musicians, indie label owners — who populate the Duluth scene, all offering a mix of their own favorite bands and tunes.
And then there’s this collection, compiled by Duluth mayor Don Ness (he’s no longer mayor; the collection dates to 2011.)
I love the idea of the mayor of a city acting as your guide to its music scene, and Ness was/is youthful enough that I believe he actually did listen to these bands.
Hizzoner apparently digs a “low-fi, folky vibe,” though that doesn’t stop him from including a Sly Stone cover that’s played nicely straight — not thrashed up or Chili Peppered out or anything stupid like that.
We’ll see if the rest is as tolerable.