No matter how many times I warmly eulogize it, Bandcamp Friday keeps coming back, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Long live fee-free Fridays. Long live Bandcamp.
Coincidentally, I’ve had a few articles published within the last week or so that I’m excited about, and I thought I’d share recommendations related to those. I hope you find some fun potential purchases for your Bandcamp Friday, and maybe some fun reading as well.
I wrote a piece for Style Weekly about Renan Banjos, which are made in Varina, Virginia by self-taught builder J. Tyler Burke. I even had the opportunity to stop by Burke’s garage and see the operation for myself, which was such a joy. Not only was Burke generous with his time and conversation, he also sent me on my way with a number of top-notch listening recommendations, including this album of tunes played on the gourd banjo by fellow Virginian Adam Hurt. Now it’s my turn to recommend it — particularly if you’re looking for the perfect soundtrack for a trip back to Richmond from Varina along the James. That’s a drive I won’t soon forget. (Another killer album he’s recommended since: the beautifully atmospheric self-titled album of banjo, guitar, and bass from West Virginia-based duo Wizard Clipp.)
WarHen Records is turning 10 this year, and I got to chat with the great and good Warren Parker about his journey leading the Charlottesville-based label over the course of the last decade. Read the resulting Style Weekly article here — at the end you’ll find a playlist of some of the albums that Parker says were especially pivotal along the way, with a few words from him about the personal significance of each. Here’s what he had to say about Butcher Brown’s brilliant Fela Kuti tribute, AfroKuti:
That one is a high-water mark. I think any label would feel that way. That record to me is the ultimate vibe. It’s so masterfully done, it’s super-tasteful, it sounds great, it’s funky as hell. That record is phenomenal. I don’t want to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway: It might be my favorite that I’ve put out, ever. It brings me a ton of joy. All of them do – everything I’ve done holds a special place – but that one is undeniable.
Side note: Everything on WarHen’s page is 15% off today!
I loved getting to chat with Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats for this Style Weekly article previewing his new 20-year retrospective compilation and the two shows he has coming up in Richmond this year. The comp is great for new fans and old heads alike, with one disc of songs that have caught on over the years, and a second disc of rarities — some that have quickly become top-tier Fruit Bats songs in my book. “WACS,” from the sessions for his 2011 album Tripper, is one of them. (To the Dinosaur Jr. fans out there: J Mascis appears on it!)
Hotspit — CC
I had the great pleasure of FaceTiming with Hotspit for this RVA Magazine Q&A, and I’m more in awe than ever at the powerful sense of poise in their music. I’ve mentioned their 2021 EP entitled CC in a previous Bandcamp Friday post, but since their next single won’t arrive until March, I’m asking you once again, Bernie Sanders-style, to listen to these four excellent songs, especially the slow-building final track, which singer Avery Fogarty mentioned is a go-to tone-setter when they play live.
So my Style Weekly story on Curt Sydnor ran in July of 2021, so not as recently as these others, but I can’t resist shouting from the mountaintops about his new album, which just went up for preorder. These songs carved out permanent real estate in my brain while I was working on the article, as Curt was kind enough to share a preview of the album in conjunction with our interview. The album is full of indelible moments — the tense titular lyrics of “Not Even Past,” the impossibly graceful opening of “Covered in Clover” — and I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to soaking these moments in while a copy spins on my turntable at home.
More fun stuff I have my eye on today:
dhemo — “Motion”
Afro-Zen Allstars — The Buzz and the Bells
Ryley Walker — Charlottesville 01/23/22
syndays by ao — “bouncer” (These weekly modular synth tracks from Adrian Olsen are easily my favorite running musical subplot of 2022.)
Daniel Bachman — Lonesome Weary Blues
Deau Eyes — “Moscow in the Spring“