Good Music For The Free | Bandcamp Edition
Back again for another roundup of musical finds worth listening to and even allowing to take up precious space on your hard drive. This time around, TSR is taking a look at some FREE. 99 Albums, EP’s and Singles we’ve found on Bandcamp.
We’re privy to a lot of music around here by either email submission, word of mouth, Twit-Face or by the good ol’ standby, Lurking. Needless to say, sometimes that doesn’t always direct us to artists that haven’t broken through the tough exterior known as the “Social Consciousness” yet. That said, we’re always looking for new artists and new “GOOD” music and this site may just be the ticket.
#sidenote You should really check her Bandcamp page out as there is a new FREE.99 single listed there for the taking where she incorporates Prince Rodgers Nelson’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” with the instrumental of Kanye West’s “Runaway” track.
Of course the layout of the site piqued my interest and after a bit of research, I found that it’s a website/tool that artists (household name & off-the-radar) can utilize to host their work. The LP’s listed there are easily searchable by tags such as Genre, Location, etc. but Bandcamp’s real attraction will more than likely come from the perks it gives to the artist and the listener. It’s quite flexible for the artist, as it allows them a great deal of control when it comes to how their art is presented to consumers. Bandcamp utilizes a professional looking page, a customized header, audio streams with large buttons for listening and links for downloading either by song or all in one shot.
Behind the scenes, when an artist is uploading their music to the site, it is done in WAV or FLAC format. Bandcamp then converts the tracks into various different formats for the consumer to choose from for download. Of course Mp3 is still a widely used formatting and it is on the list in various bit rates but for serious audiophiles in the know about Lossless Audio files, FLAC and Ogg Vorbis formats are available too.
One aspect where Bandcamp really shines is it’s power of choice. Anyone can upload their work and either give it away now like #anthonykledis or sell it for a reasonably set price or for next to nothing #nopunintended, as there is an option the artist can choose that gives the buyer back the purchasing power by allowing them to pay what they think the music is worth.
There has been a recent development with the purchasing structure though as outlined here, but regardless of that change, Bandcamp is still a nicely constructed site that also boasts a sharing matrix giving a variety of codes and links for copy/paste into different social networking platforms if the artist’s offerings are of such a caliber that you feel the need to share them with your social circle.
But enough about Bandcamp’s many features, you wanna know about the music. So I’ll take off my #techspeak hat for a few moments and replace it with my #musicnerd one.
We found the artists we’ve selected by doing random searches in the different tags on the site. Admittedly, we didn’t click on every album that the search returned as we quickly found was that there are A LOT of albums listed, but we did make an honest attempt to bring you what we felt were the best ones we could find within the 150 pages of the Soul/R&B tag. To keep it realistic, we only clicked on the ones with covers that caught our eye or song titles that seemed interesting and even then, a good bit of the ones that we fancied either weren’t FREE or very good AT ALL once we got to the other side of the link. So, we left that music there and hit the back button on the Chrome browser to continue searching. So, after a few hours worth of hit-or-miss, here are a few that we did listen to, genuinely like and download. All other albums that aren’t listed here fell victim to a swift “Select All > Delete”.
Alright, with the pleasantries now out-of-the-way, let’s first get started with the Albums and EP’s we found.
I read about this duo over at The Smoking Section and since the writers there are normally on point with musical selections, I took a chance on a click. I normally stay away from this “New Hip-Hop” just on the principle that a sizable chunk of it is crap. It’s not because I don’t like to experiment but more so because it’s hard to tell these days if my current state of mind is going to mesh with the epistimophobic words and sentiments they’ve recorded.
But to their credit, I quickly found that The Paxtons‘ sound isn’t a carbon copy of those other artists that I normally bypass. It’s more reminiscent of the music with substance that resonates more with where my mind is at. Surprisingly, I found myself enjoying Chris & Dave’s in-house production and crafty wordplay from the very beginning track
It caught me off guard, yet impressed me enough to continue listening to the next track
which continued to display a certain level of lyrical prowess that I do like to hear. The back story behind the album title didn’t hurt towards making up my mind either. So, I added it to my collection of LP’s to place on my phone for later enjoyment on my daily commute. If you dug those two tracks then make sure to hit the link to get the full LP.
Download: The Paxtons – The Manhattan Project
I’ve heard the name Daru Jones more than enough times to know about his serious production skills. I’m also a fan of Ms. Asplund’s vocals, especially her accent when she sings. Hard to explain why but it just does something to me. So when I ran across this one, it went to the hard drive immediately. I’ve played it three times now since typing this post and will probably come back to it again once I get these other artist’s mini-reviews finished. The tracks displayed on this EP are just as the title states. One of the stand outs for me would have to be
It’s got just enough Boom Bap to keep it relevant plus Jones’ trippy melody accompanies Kissey‘s voice splendidly. In good measure there are also two instrumentals at the EP’s end that I imagine were added just in case you doubt Daru‘s chops.
Though I would have liked to hear one or two more tracks featuring Asplund, there are enough here to tide me and most listeners over until another project surfaces. Hit the link, grab a copy and see just how good this really one is.
I happened to click on this one just because the cover art intrigued me. Though I have no ink of my own, tattoos have always interested me. I’m waiting until I get a chance to cop one from the homie Miya Bailey @ City of Ink one day soon. The contrast of the red and orange flower petals in it, coupled with the artwork on the wall in the background, the Royal Blue blouse Mack-Davis is sporting and her racially ambiguous facial features (not that it really matters) compelled me to click the link. Plus there was something about her eyes that also subliminally told me I wanted to listen to her vocals. So I obliged and was quite impressed by
I’m not very familiar with producer Mikey Fresh but I most certainly can appreciate his musical sensibilities with this one as it fits AMD‘s voice to perfection giving her a sound that instantly invokes a relaxation vibe. The likes of which that it could easily be played while vibing with friends or as I usually do, on a Saturday morning while making sure my domicile is up to specs. For more of an example of what I’m referring to, check how it’s showcased a few tracks further in the form of
which convinced me to officially add this gem of an LP to my regular rotation. You should do the same and take a moment to see about Adrienne‘s musical process.
What could I really say about Everett James that I haven’t already? The guy is just freakin’ talented and he continues to create good music. Best of all, he has no qualms about sharing it with the lucky masses willing to listen and embrace it. So when he shot over an email from his newly branded 735 Music group, I naturally clicked the links to get in on his newest installment of Super Heavy Funk. His 80’s Baby EP is his ode to the decade in which he was conceived and he’s conveying his memories effortlessly with tracks like
Doesn’t that just sound like one of those tracks from back then that kept dance floors packed? I’m especially diggin’ the guitar and background slaps as they give it a very Patrice Rushen “Forget Me Nots” feel throughout yet the backing vocals at the end invoke memories of George Benson‘s “Give Me The Night“. Plus I can’t help but give props for the Asheville S/O at the begining too. Another track that instantly caught my attention is
Tone Trezure is quickly becoming a regular on my playlists as well. Remember us telling you about her stellar “My Destiny” EP in our last music roundup? Well, we’ve been enjoying that but at the same time we’re patiently waiting on an LP or at least some loosies to follow that up. She must have had her third eye wide open because out of the blue, she goes and drops these unreleased until now gems to the masses. The first track should be labeled as a clinic, for those that claim to be able to really sing, on how mastery of the lower registers should truly sound
I’ve been following Amy Serrata‘s music for the last year now since being put on notice by SoulUK. I instantly enjoyed her self titled LP, giving it a good run for upwards of a few months. Then disaster struck my hard drive and I lost my digi copy amongst other valuable recordings. It served as a major lesson in backing up EVERYTHING. I did get most of the lost files back but unfortunately this LP was a part of the un-restorable casualties. So my ecstatic response when I came across this again on BC is almost unfathomable. There is nothing like losing something of great value and then regaining it again. Amy‘s freshman album is one that I truly consider GOOD music and from what she’s been working on lately, her next effort will not disappoint as well. Until it become available, I can now again enjoy the playful melodies and spirited vocals Serrata lays down in tracks like
I can again go back and refresh my memory with her songwriting skills, lilting vocals and veteran like delivery on
In this journey across the BC site, I’ve come across many artists. Some where ok, some good, some better than expected. In the better than expected category, is where I feel Natalie Gardiner will inherently fall. From the moment I clicked the music player, I was completely enraptured by the timbre of her voice. I listen to so much music that it really takes a certain type of vocal quality to send chills through me. So when a track like
is playing, I couldn’t help but to wonder why she wasn’t on my radar from jump. It doesn’t stop there either. Though only part of an EP from a larger body of work, Gardiner‘s other track is just as lush and ripe with vocal affluence. But as I was browsing her page, I noticed that there was another FReEP listed as well. After what I had already heard, I shouldn’t have to tell you I clicked the player for that one as well. Again, I was blown away with the multi-faceted depth of Natalie‘s voice in
#sidenotebonusdownload: Natalie Gardiner - Summer Rain / Slowly, Softly EP
In my many conversations about music, I tell people on a regular enough basis that Carolina has a wealth of untapped talent. It never ceases to boggle my mind that there is an A&R for every major label here and in the surrounding area’s, yet you can count on 1 1/2 hands how many of those with true talent have actually gotten scouted, signed and received national attention. Just in the QC alone I’ve run into several people who, with the right grooming and contacts, could gain moderate success within the business. If I had the inside track to becoming an A&R, I’d surely give the ones around here a run for their money because it appears as if they just aren’t on their job. (If I’m incorrect with my observations, then by all means point out my error.)
Point being, such would seem to be the case with Quiana Zenobia. I happened to click on this because the title of the EP caught my fancy and made me wonder – Who exactly is this Qui was and why did she need to be simplified? The tags for her LP say she’s based in the Raleigh/Durham area and a Google search renders a hit for an upcoming performance in Raleigh, NC with various other talents on Eventful but unless she’s just getting into the industry, there wasn’t much more info that I could find. Which tells me that not many outside of the local area have come across QZ‘s talent yet. Well on
she certainly showed me that she may very well be ready for the next level. Instantly reminiscent of early 9th Wonder production, Zenobia sounds quite comfortable over the stuttering drums and my only qualm with the track is the shortness in length, though I’m fully aware of it’s intentions as an intro. But she makes up for that later on in the project as showcased on
It has been many years since anything about rojo zapatos caught my attention in this manner and though the song is sadly sans #davidduchovny, it will more than do, ultimately ending up on my Baby Maker mix as well. Again, why aren’t these A&R’s out in Durham searching for new talent? While I further explore that “becoming an industry insider” idea from earlier, you should simply make with the link clicking.
Download: Quiana Zenobia – Simply Qui
**Bandcamp Bonus Singles**
Regular readings of TSR should have already make you aware of my penchant for Bonuses and Extras. That said, here are eight FREE singles that we found as well on BC.
Though these artists may or may not have had other music available for Nathan or even for purchase, these tracks just happened to stand out to me and I thought you’d enjoy them too.