Crate Digging is Uproxx Music’s monthly exploration of the depths of DIY music distribution platform Bandcamp, in an effort to unearth some hidden gem albums that just might find their spot among your favorites.
There’s a reason that certain artists define our culture: Their work is exciting, thought-provoking, fascinating, or just flat out fun. It’s important to recognize those who have risen to the top and appreciate what it is that got them there and how they manage to stay there. At the same time, however, it’s also valuable to understand the broader musical context. There’s a lot going on beyond the chart-toppers, and sometimes, some truly great work goes under-appreciated. That’s why every month, I dig through DIY music distribution platform Bandcamp and share my favorite albums that hit the service over the past few weeks.
The best Bandcamp albums from this month include summery garage pop from France and a little bit of everything else from just about everywhere else, so check them out below.
5. Chiefland — Wildflowers
Post-hardcore can get a bad rap among non-fans for just being screaming and loud noises. That’s just not true, though, as Chiefland prove on Wildflowers. The German group shows off its versatility on album opener “Moving Parts / Fever Dream,” which begins as a sort of atmospheric post-rock track before the hardcore kicks in and brings the track to a huge apex. Post-hardcore always has the potential for a big payoff if the genre’s intensity is properly handled, and Chiefland know what they’re doing on that front.
4. Pony Dreams — Too Soon To Tell
There’s always room for some lo-fi bedroom pop if it’s done well, and this LA-via-Sydney project proves it’s more than just an aesthetic. The aesthetic is definitely there, but underneath the production style are some genuinely solid songs, like “Your Shrine,” which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on one of Car Seat Headrest’s Bandcamp albums. Pony Dreams proves throughout the rest of the album that they’re not a one… trick… pony… and that songwriting trumps all.
3. PENPALS x Junclassic — Tell Your Uncle
Bandcamp is very much an indie-dominated platform, but every now and then, some genuinely worthwhile hip-hop stands out. Case in point: This collaborative album from New York rap group PENPALS and Junclassic is a highlight, thanks to the dense production and smooth flows present on songs like “Full Metal Jaguars.” Whether they’re rapping over old-school jazzy samples or the track is dominated by synthy bass, Tell Your Uncle is an aesthetically compelling hip-hop record only made more interesting by the rappers spitting over it all.
2. Wine Lips — Stressor
It’s easier than you might think to make bland garage rock, music that has speed but not adrenaline, guitar but not rock. Those are pitfalls that Toronto band Wine Lips have avoided on their latest effort. They kick things of with a bang on album opener “Shark Eyes,” a punk track that feels more open than many others due thanks to its extended run time, which allows moments to breathe and energy to be basked in. There are plenty of other moments like this on the album (like “Slip Away”), and all are worth exploring.
1. Beach Youth — Second
Surfy garage pop is often associated with the California sun, but Beach Youth prove that the genre can thrive in France as well. The French group knows how to get it done on songs like the upbeat album opener “Classroom,” an instantly catchy and energetic tune led by a driving bass line, a strong sense of melody, overdriven guitars, and some lighter-sounding ones as well. We’re in the depths of winter at the moment, but for at least the 21 minutes this album is playing, it feels like summer.