Other Bandcamp favourites from the first half of 2012

In the spirit of music discovery, here are 10 of my favourite Bandcamp releases from the first half of the year with none being a Pick of the Week or a mixtape contributor. Hope you find a new musical crush in here. In chronological order then, from oldest to newest:

Another top shelf release from Baltimore’s Friends Records, Secret Mountains have got that smouldering shoegaze sound nailed - pounding rhythm, plenty of reverb and the amazing vocals of Kelly Laughlin combine to create a killer brace of psychedelic songs. Terrific sonic clarity to these songs, those guitars are towering. More please.

A startling debut from New Myths,the work of three girls from New York City. There’s great maturity and swagger to these songs, produced by the band themselves and veteran  Seth Glassman. Lower Dens are an apparent influence however New Myths forge their own distinct sound in these three songs-there’s a hardened post punk edge to the bands indie sound. Can’t help but feel this is a tantalising glimpse of something big.

This album continues to amaze, a display of supreme musicianship that’s wholly arresting. Released on the wonderful Three Lobed Recordings, these songs from Gunn-Truscinski Duo (guitarist Steve Gunn and percussionist John Truscinski) are absorbing musical journeys, winding psychedelic rock songs that explore various genres as the two improvise and build superb sonic structures. Deserves full attention at high volume.

It’s been a real thrill to discover eyes, wings and many other things this year and Napalm Beach was one my most anticpated releases. The album fully delivered, another stellar collection of cosmic psychedelic songs from the Dallas group. There’s an undercurrent of dread to the EWAMOT sound - hazy jams that float down ink black waters under a post apocalyptic sky. Blazing.

Lower Plenty seemed plenty surprised at the enthusiastic reaction to this EP-a heap of radio play and many a sold out gig-but they shouldn’t be. It doesn’t take much effort to become fond of this EP’s blend of bleary eyed folk pop and detached noise, the perfect soundtrack to the middle of a Melbourne year. There’s something of sunny suburbia to the Lower Plenty sound that is (I hate this phrase but it’s appropriate) uniquely Australian. A simple delight.

I intended writing an in depth review of this album but time conspired against me and in the end I decided I couldn’t do it justice anyway. This album from Canadian James Irwin speaks for itself as one of the finest singer songwriter albums to emerge in recent times. Irwin has a peculiar voice-sometimes sounding like M.Ward, sometimes like Skip Spence-and he applies some beautiful phrasing to his at times oblique lyrics. He can be poignant too-“Hearts Like Old Cars” is one of my favourite songs of the year, so sad and pretty. Irwin is a ghostly poet, no doubt, but it really is best for his words to speak for themselves : "It turns out you don’t know how to be poor. There’s only one way to learn. When you fall off the broken wheel, lie in the weeds and watch it burn."

Another exciting discovery for me this year has been delving into the psychedelic semi-aquatic world of Panabrite (Norm Chambers). I loved the new album from Chambers though I was particularly intrigued by this collaboration with experimental musician Christian Richer. These are fascinating soundscapes that evoke images of the natural world through electronic and acoustic instrumentation, bubbling like a pixelated brook populated with so many shimmering holographic fish.

One of the real pleasures of running this blog for me is discovering a band and then watching their progress. Such is the case with Eidolons, a Portland band whose album from last year “Wolf Den” I was quite fond of. “China” is a progression from that album (superior production here) while sticking to the band strengths - smart indie pop with clever lyrics and infectious melodies. Cant wait to see what they do next,

I believe I found this album while at a point I sometimes find myself at with BCH - mindlessly hunting through Bandcamp and being totally disinterested in everything I find. The opening chords of this EP instantly hooked me and the drunken delivery of the slacker  lyrics had me sold. Great little lo-fi tunes from J, a mysterious cat from the Czech Republic. There’s such such a charming simplicity to these songs and I loved the touches of horn throughout. Plus it’s a free download.

The latest release from promising Brisbane label Lost Race Records is the psychedelic soundscapes of Caterpillar Hood, the side project of Cobwebbs. These hypnotic pieces are heavy with loops and distortion, at once disorientating and engaging. There’s something of Lee Noble to the pulsing drone and shimmering atmospherics of these tracks, seemingly borne of a dense hallucinogenic haze. Highly potent and terribly good.