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 Texas shoegaze/dream pop and expertly crafted alternative pop, so check them out below.
5. Kingdom Of The Holy Sun — In The Shadows
This Seattle group does their best to embody the spirit of classic psychedelia in 2019, and they do a pretty fine job at it. Songs like “Buffalo Byrds” would feel at home in the flower power era. Elsewhere on the album, there are plenty of satisfying journeys back through time, perfect for those looking for a nostalgia hit minus the songs they’ve heard a thousand times already.
4. Liam Duncan — If I Don’t Feel Better
The status of rock is always in question nowadays, but big nostalgic rock music is having a moment, one that Liam Duncan intends to be a part of. He included The War On Drugs in his tags, and at times, that feels appropriate, like on “The End,” which could be the result of a more pop-influenced Adam Granduciel. That’s true of most of the album, actually, which is far from a bad thing.
3. Friday Night Fires — Won’t
Often, the term “pop rock” refers to accessible, rock-style music that just doesn’t have any teeth. That said, Friday Night Fires could be considered pop rock, but the Vancouver alt-rock band has bite. On “Everything,” for example, there are big soaring guitars and other rock instrumentation, which build a nest for a rhythmic pop-style vocal to lay its head. Won’t is full of moments like these, which makes for an engaging listen.
2. Flowerbed — Flowerbed
Shoegaze and dream pop aren’t the same thing, but they share similar goals: create a warm blanket of a world in which to get enveloped, and to keep listeners securely in there. Both genres can just sound messy if they’re not done right though, but Flowerbed have managed to blend them and keep things moving. Songs like “Hyacinth” have a rocking shoegaze intensity, but peeking through the chaos are moments of atmospheric bliss that hit the ear oh so gently.
1. Rainbow Chan — Pillar
Billie Eilish has shown that alternative music is a big part of pop’s future, and that seems to be the lane in which experimental Australian pop artist Rainbow Chan is traveling as well. There’s a definite pop bend to the songs on her sophomore album, but she also embraces opportunities to get a little “out there,” like on the electronica-influenced “CSR” or the meditative “A Horizon.” It’s not easy to strip pop music of its core elements while keeping it engaging, which is what makes Pillar so interesting.