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12 albums you should buy on Bandcamp today

With Bandcamp again diverting its share of profits to artists for the day, we’ve picked out a few of our favorite records on the platform.

12 albums you should buy on Bandcamp today

Bandcamp are again waiving their sales fees on all music and merch purchases today, and they'll do the same on the first Fridays in June and July, so even more of the money that you spend on the platform will go directly into the pockets of artists. The last time they did this, on March 20, fans spent $4.3 million in one day. The FADER staff has put together a list of its favorite albums to explore and purchase on Bandcamp. When you're done exploring these, check out our list from March.

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Hayden Pedigo, Valley of the Sun

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Hayden Pedigo ran for city council in Amarillo, Texas last year. The then-24-year-old’s bid had started off as a lo-fi joke, but it quickly gathered pace as his Lynchian campaign videos spread across the internet. And as young people started to pay real attention to Pedigo, he started to think carefully about the ways he could change his hometown. “I think people might want to see someone who is younger and genuinely interested in making Amarillo a little better for everyone,” he told Rolling Stone three months before the election. In the midst of this, he was preparing to release Valley of the Sun, an album that mixed meditative ambient sound (particularly on the stunning 21-minute closer “Skylark”) with the Takoma Records-inspired guitar that Pedigo mastered as a kid. If his 2017 LP Greetings From Amarillo was a tribute to his Texas by day, Valley of the Sun was his vision of home at night, when the darkness gets eerie, shapes start to dance, and everything appears to have been beamed in from another sphere. He came second in that city council race in the end, which is a shame. It’s fair to assume that no one else in the race had such a singular vision for the world around them. — Alex Robert Ross

Studio Barnhus, Serenity Now, Insanity Later

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Stockholm-based label and collective Studio Barnhus has a golden ear for symphonic, left-of-center dance arrangements. Its newest compilation, Serenity Now, Insanity Later, is notably less percussive and zappy than most of the label’s standard output, and with good reason: all of the clubs are still closed, dude. Instead, the vibe is much more ambient, but just as colorful as you would expect — weird, but always welcoming. Most of the material is entirely new here, and there are a handful of library essentials too: namely Bella Boo’s enchanting “Stars,” and Baba Stiltz’s sparkling “Hotel Exile.” Barnhus stalwart Axel Boman rounds the whole project out with the hovering and massive “How To Get More Space,” an 11-minute voyage with Själen and Nikki Royale that seems to offer a solution to the geographic constraints of modern life. — Salvatore Maicki

Shabazz Palaces, The Don Of Diamond Dreams

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Every Shabazz Palaces album is restorative for the Afrofuturism aesthetic. Ishmael “Palaceer Lazaro” Butler and Tendai "Baba" Maraire's music evades kitsch through conversations with its ancestral genre of freeform funk and the contemporary hip-hop pioneered by Lil B and Lil Tracy, Butler’s son. In press photos, Burler and Maraire look like royal stylists plucked from an Ursula Le Guin novel; Butler won a Grammy with Digable Planets and Maraire helms Chimurenga Renaissance, a hip-hop group inspired by African music, but even if you were unaware of their musical pedigree, their silk shirts and impossible furs left an impression. At first glance, “settled” may sound like an oxymoronic descriptor for a group like this. The Don Of Diamond Dreams doesn’t quite sound like any of the band’s projects before it, but they sound newly comfortable in the roles as hip-hop’s elder soothsayers. After debuting in 2011 as an anonymous project, Shabazz Palaces are now making songs about transparent lust (the effervescent “Bad Bitch Walking”) and familial bonds (“Thanking The Girls”). The effect is a counterbalance to their beloved and esoteric vibe: Butler is the same stargazing soliloquist, boastful and full of wisdom that’s not afraid to wrap itself into ornate riddles. — Jordan Darville

keiyaA, Forever, Ya Girl

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Chicago-born R&B singer KeiyaA performs with a world-weary sigh, as if she’s been around for a thousand lifetimes. If that’s the case then let's consider ourselves lucky to catch her in this one. Forever, Ya Girl, released in March, is a debut album that hints at great things for the future but is also its own living, breathing entity. keiyaA is now based in New York and has links to the city’s underground rap scene (MIKE provides some beats here under his DJ Blackpower guise). The dense murkiness of that world isn’t part of KeiyaA’s world though. Her voice floats above the lo-fi beats, skipping between an almost spoken word delivery and effortless melodic flourishes. She even pulls a Prince song (“Do Yourself A Favor”) into her orbit, taking the late icon’s funky original and giving it a laidback energy all of her own. There won’t be many debut albums released in 2020 that come so fully formed. — David Renshaw

India Jordan, For You

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Last year British producer India Jordan came out as non-binary. “For You” is a love letter to themself, a personal shout-out that deals with coming to terms with their identity and growing up queer in the North of England. “For You” packs a skittering beat and choppy vocal samples with an effervescent energy that will have you longing for wide open spaces and good company. The soulful track is a tale of personal acceptance that will unite many a dance floor when the time is right. A six-track EP will follow on May 20, and you can pre-order it now for the price of a fancy coffee. Jordan’s Bandcamp also features her 2019 EP DNT STP MY LV EP and follow-up single “WRPR.” Go ahead and treat yourself to the lot. — DR

Action Bastard, Old Bay Blunts

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At the top of last month, multi-hyphenate Baltimore-based artist Action Bastard dropped a self-produced six-track project hilariously titled Old Bay Blunts after his home region’s go-to seafood seasoning. There’s some comedic quality to the title, but it does frame the project as a true representation of Baltimore’s DIY rap scene. Lo-fi production and streams of consciousness about Bastard’s own lyrical prowess and love life make you yearn for being in a crowded compact performance space with beats being made on the spot. The project’s strongest track is its intro (“Druid Hill Park Renovations”), which finds Action Bastard speaking candidly and passionately about witnessing the beginning stages of gentrification on the city’s westside. — Lawrence Burney

Spike Fuck, Smackwave

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In her hometown of Melbourne, Australia, Spike Fuck’s Smackwave EP is already a classic. First released in 2016, the record has a surreal, mythic quality about it — clocking in at four songs and 21 minutes, a listen-through can induce a kind of reverie. Her name might engender a smirk, but Spike is a generous, powerful lyricist, and Smackwave’s blend of glassy post-punk production and tragic, almost Springsteen-like vocals is raw and beautiful. These songs tell stories of addiction, Catholic guilt, and tortured love, and they feel like classic pop tracks lost to the annals of time and found again. They’re also karaoke classics perfect for solo crying. — Shaad D'Souza

Onyx Collective, Manhattan Special

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I’ve never liked the word “standard” applied to music. It’s as rigid as petrified wood and just as penetrable, the smug bouncer outside the club who crosses his arms and smirks at your ID. Onyx Collective are a jazz-adjacent group that bleeds New York City: their Lower East Suite albums transmute songs from the group’s experiences with the city, and they're not content to let the city’s lustre do the heavy lifting. Onyx Collective stick their flag in its filthy concrete. In that sense, Onyx Collective’s new album Manhattan Special makes perfect sense. The project is a collection of songs originally co-composed by Richard Rodgers with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein. Its 10 genre-skipping tracks pay tribute to some of the music that helped form the world’s impression of New York City as a hub for daring dreamers, hopeless romantics, and other assorted misfits. Appropriately, it is full of collaborations: Nick Hakim smolders through delay and echo as piano tinkles out “My Funny Valentine,” Kelsey Lu aims for the rafters on the urgent, post rocky-y “Spring Is Here,” and Duendita helps turn “Glad To Be Unhappy” into a synth-driven breakup scene from a Michael Mann film. But it’s on the standout “Getting To Know You,” a paisley-coloured acoustic rendition with Okay Kaya and Julian Soto, that Onyx Collective reveal the truth of “standards” as empty vessels for new and exciting energies to inhabit. — JD

Cities Aviv, Immortal Flame

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If you’ve ever heard a Cities Aviv project then you know that, at every turn, you’re guaranteed to be taken on a journey of textures, themes, and moods. Earlier this year, the Memphis DIY vet released his latest album in Immortal Flame, building on his legacy of ambient rap storytelling. The production here is spaced out and delicate which is perfectly matched for the conversational bars he pairs it with. And as calming and trance-like those accounts can be, some of the project’s best moments come in the absence of words, when Aviv lets his production take your mind to other dimensions. It’s the perfect soundtrack to zone out to and get out your best creative thoughts. It also goes just as well with being completely still. — LB

Various Artists, Stay Inside – Songs from The Great Indoors

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Stay Inside is a Bandcamp compilation put together by a handful of Australian labels, including Osborne Again, Dinosaur City, and Hotel Motel. The 37-track record, comprised entirely of music completed in COVID-19 isolation, is a stylistic mixed bag, but one that provides a neat survey of the breadth of indie-rock and pop being made in Australia at the current moment. Spanning Blessé’s gauzed-out synth-pop, a My Bloody Valentine cover by Emma Russack, Cool Sounds’ slick soft-rock, and more, Stay Inside is a delightful, wide-reaching crash course. — SD

Clarence Clarity, Dead Screen Scrolls

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In a Reddit AMA last year the intentionally elusive London-born artist Clarence Clarity said he liked “the idea that melodies are bigger than the songs they're trapped in.” He certainly entertained the idea on Rina Sawayama’s gloriously excessive new album SAWAYAMA, which was produced almost entirely by Clarity. Now, on his new electronic-instrumental LP Dead Screen Scrolls, he’s layered his synths so densely that he seems to be bursting the songs open. These nine songs are intentionally overblown. The slyly titled “Paint, Drying” features a piped-in choir that seems comprised of a thousand people; “The Home of English Football” channels new age whale song; and “(Maybe) In Another Timeline We're Still Good (But I Doubt It) [Part 1]” comes off like a kaleidoscopic remix of Frank Ocean’s “Futura Free,” its vocals replaced by indistinguishable Auto-Tune. You’re trapped inside anyway — why dream of a day at the park when you could dream of a day out in utopia? — ARR

Big Thief, Demos Vol. 1 - Topanga Canyon, CA - Feb 2018

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Before the spread of COVID-19, Big Thief were set to spend most of the year touring the globe in support of U.F.O.F and Two Hands. Both of the records were demoed during a marathon session at a cabin in Topanga Canyon back in early 2018, from which plenty of material was left on the cutting room floor. Their newest EP, Demos Vol. 1, digs into that archive and presents an unvarnished look into what either of the projects might have sounded like, including full-band arrangements of “Abysskiss” and “Blue and Red Horses,” tracks that appeared in a different form on Adrianne Lenker’s latest solo project. All of the funds from the compilation are being directed towards the band’s road crew, who are temporarily out of work as the world continues to recover. — SM

12 albums you should buy on Bandcamp today