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 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 kinetic punk from Trash Culture, soothing alt-pop from Antonia Navarro, and some rock-solid rock from FonFon Ru, so check them out below.
5. The Kingdom Boogie Band — Music To Make Breakfast To
Music To Make Breakfast To may sit in the No. 5 spot on this month’s list, but The Kingdom Boogie Band have delivered my single personal favorite Bandcamp track of the month. Album highlight “Always/Never (Good Time)” is a hypnotizing, rambling, psychedelic country tune that lives somewhere between Kurt Vile and Real Estate with its chill atmosphere-making ability. It’s a song that’s easy to get delightfully lost in, especially during the instrumental latter half. The album is more than just that one track, though, and through and through, it’s a rewarding listen.
4. Trash Culture — Just A Ride
The London group claims they play “straight up raw punk f*ckin’ rock,” and there’s no denying that. The album is full of rollicking high-speed rides like “Get Out,” which has a catchy and delicious guitar lick serving as its hook. Just A Ride is a short listen, but it also doesn’t need to be any longer than it is. These songs weren’t made to be lived in: They were made to grab you by the collar and shake you around until your blood doesn’t know which way to flow anymore.
3. Antonia Navarro — Ciudades
Sometimes downtempo electronic pop scratches an itch that nothing else can, so allow Antonia Navarro to be your scratching post. The Argentinian musician knows her way around a calming aura, and she brings also a keen sense of melody to her songs, which makes them both relaxing and engaging. The only issue with Ciudades is that it isn’t longer. The five tracks here are a serene delight, though, so I’ll take what I can get.
2. Nappy Nina — The Tree Act
The Brooklyn-via-Oakland MC describes her latest record as “a sonic story” that tackles some weighty topics: “Corrupt marijuana laws,” “white women’s rights and black women’s work,” “the inner woes of a black queer body in Brooklyn,” and more. Through all those ideas, Nina delivers her message with a voice that’s soothing, a flow that’s fine-tuned, and an eye that’s keen to try things. Whether she’s pushing A Tribe Called Quest vibes on the title track, getting more experimental on songs like “Plastic Spoons,” or taking it to the chillest of places on “Degular Me,” Nappy Nina has delivered some of the most aesthetically fascinating hip-hop of the year so far.
1. FonFon Ru — Death And Texas
Portland, Maine group FonFon Ru rose from the ashes of Leverett, a now-defunct indie rock band with some electronic and alternative influences. Multiple members of the latter band are in the former, and now, they’re incorporating what made Leverett so enjoyable with a harder and more directly rocking edge. Indeed, FonFon Ru rocks pretty hard, like on the the breakneck and delightfully titled “ASMRGUMENTS,” the sludgy and slower-paced album-closing title track, and the post-punk-leaning “Last Chance.” Confidently led by frontman Harry James, Death And Texas is aggressive yet precise, a tribute to what made the rock of yesterday so appealing and what could make the rock of tomorrow worthwhile.
Disclosure: The author previously designed album art for Leverett.