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 an adventurous record from Japan and an album by a Dev Hynes collaborator, so check them out below.
5. Human Age — Safe Emergency
Nowadays, everybody can make electronic music, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do well. Even if you’re a top-tier producer, songs still need to have a sense of structure and progress. Los Angeles producer Human Age has struck a strong balance between ambient and electronic music on his new EP, and songs like “Safe Emergency” should be a welcomed library addition for fans of Boards Of Canada.
4. Juu & G. Jee ジュウ＆G・ジェー — New Luk Thung ニュー・ルークトゥン (นิวลูกทุ่ง)
“Luk thung” is a style of Thai music that was at its popular peak in the ’60s, but now JUU has given the genre a modern facelift with his new interpretation of it. He and his collaborators incorporate hip-hop and other influences into the music, and the result is songs that don’t immediately sound comfortable or familiar, but once you acclimate, the experience is enriching. Songs like “かわいいキミ Niang (เนียง)” have a delightful reggaeton influence, while “Time 2 Yam〜深夜0時、僕は2回火を付ける” is a slinky alternative hip-hop tune.
3. Marblebust — Dream Imperium
Vaporwave is a movement that has decidedly hit its peak already, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things the genre still does right. Marblebust’s latest album isn’t pure “vaporwave” per se, but it really hits on the style’s ability to create a warm blanket of an atmosphere with sounds that are both nostalgic and not exactly familiar. Songs like the title track show off the versatility of the record: It’s ambient in nature, but songs are also moved forward with propulsive rhythms.
2. Angie McMahon — Salt
Angie McMahon recently completed her first headlining tour of her native Australia, and it looks like she’ll soon be on to things bigger than that. She cites Bruce Springsteen and Big Thief as inspirations, and like both of those artists, there’s a raw vulnerability to her music, like on the slow-burning “Play The Game.” She can rock, too, as she proves on the more upbeat and contradictorily named “Slow Mover.” This is an album perfect for an age where Boygenius and its members’ various other endeavors are defining contemporary indie rock.
1. BEA1991 — Brand New Adult
With influences ranging from R&B to electronic, BEA1991 has a layered album on her hands. The Dutch artist opens her latest album with “I See Trouble,” a meditative and ethereal track that sets the table for the adventure that’s about to unfold. She thrives when the tempo picks up, too, as she shows on the groovy and engaging “Did You Feel Me Slip Away?” BEA1991 also found herself an excellent collaborator in Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes: He plays bass on “Did You Feel Me Slip Away?” and provides additional production on “I’m A Goldmine.”