Beat’s best of Bandcamp, featuring Cool Sounds, Ruby Gill, Dannika and more
18.12.2020

Beat’s best of Bandcamp, featuring Cool Sounds, Ruby Gill, Dannika and more

Ruby Gill - image by Michael Ridley
Words by Tom Walters

Spotlighting some of our favourite new releases on Bandcamp right now.

Hello and welcome to Beat’s best of Bandcamp, a fortnightly roundup of the best new Melbourne/Naarm bands and artists making waves on the internet’s most indispensable music platform. 

Bandcamp has been incredibly supportive of artists during the COVID-19 crisis with its Bandcamp Friday initiative, where for 24 hours, the site takes no fee and 100% of profits go directly to artists.

If you’ve been meaning to buy some new music, are a seasoned Bandcamp veteran looking for something fresh, or are simply intrigued at what Bandcamp has to offer, then this column will have you covered every two weeks with Victoria’s finest.

If you missed last fortnight’s column featuring Allysha Joy, Feign Jima, CS + Kreme and Sorry, Dave, you can check it out here.

Ruby Gill

The Wurlitzer chords that open Ruby Gill’s first new song in two years, ‘Borderlines’, are slyly disarming. Gently evoking a new-age sound not too dissimilar to Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s Keyboard Fantasies, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Gill’s ditched the pointed, heavyweight lyricism first heard on 2018’s ‘Your Mum’ to soundtrack the latest self-care app. 

But then that same incredible voice comes roaring back, and any hope for a chill time is quickly dashed as she goes for the jugular on bureaucratic nonsense, bridging visas and border bubbles. Ruminative and rhythmic, the song falls back into a pitter-patter of soft cymbals and kick drums, allowing Gill’s voice to stand tall and proud.

Across two stunning verses, Gill puts the frustratingly intangible feelings of being an immigrant in 2020 into piercing clarity; each line dropping like a flashbang on the powers that be in solidarity with those trapped in government bureaucracy. ‘Borderlines’ is a raw and powerful track that marks a new chapter for the Melbourne-based artist, one that sets her up as someone to rely on when it comes to conquering the chaos of the future.

‘Borderlines’ is out now on Bandcamp

Dannika

While Ruby Gill’s voice echoes the weight and wit of Joni Mitchell and Fiona Apple, Dannika embraces the warmth and woozy of Courtney Barnett and Tomberlin. ‘I Don’t Wanna Be With Anyone’ — taken from the forthcoming album Gems — sounds just like a dusty old diamond of a 12”, dug out from the corner of a record store and reissued for the first time since the ‘60s.

With its breezy chorus and crunchy lo-fi tones, ‘I Don’t Wanna Be With Anyone’ is a low-key summer banger and a strangely astute sentiment for our times. There’s a drowsy feel to the guitar lines — which float and shimmer like shrubbery in the late-afternoon sun — and an overwhelming sense of resignation in the vocals as they plead: “It’s just you and me baby.”

While the dreamy tones of early Real Estate and Best Coast are obvious touchstones, Dannika sounds more attuned to Werribee Gorge than she does a sunny California coast. There’s a distinctively Aussie flair to her lo-fi pop: ‘I Don’t Wanna Be With Anyone’ is hushed, mesmerising indie rock that’s like a window into a private creekside tryst. 

Gems is out on Friday January 29 on Bandcamp.

Cool Sounds

As if we didn’t need any more summertime stompers, Cool Sounds are back with ‘Back to Me’, the first single from their forthcoming album Bystander. And what a cool breeze it is. 

As the days get longer and the weather only gets hotter, Cool Sounds embody that distinctive Aussie backyard sound with the gravitas of a tightly-knit band who skewer the conventions of indie-pop with wurling guitars, low-key harmonies and feel-good optimism. It’s Spotify’s Feel Good Indie Rock playlist, but not as you know it. 

I miss you everyday, I miss how it used to be/but I’m surrounded by my friends/and love is coming back to me,” they sing before breaking out into soft psychedelics and country-tinged riffs, like an old outback legend stumbling across a discarded kaleidoscope while tripping on shrooms. 

Bystander is out Friday February 12 on Bandcamp

Pop Filter

One of the few gifts of this wretched year has been the lockdown album. And while it seems like everybody’s got one (or has worked on one), few have come out with one less than four months after another as Pop Filter have. Donkey Tree Gully follows in the footsteps of Banksia, which saw the band formed by members of The Ocean Party, regroup and restart after a tumultuous and tragic period.

Donkey Tree Gully is a loose and free-spirited album, recorded over four days in an old pub on the street of the same name in Castlemaine. Drifting effortlessly from indie pop anthems (‘Waiting To Be Now’) to kitschy tropicalia jams (‘DGR’) and a wonky closer (‘Fitzmaurice Kincaid’), Donkey Tree Gully is the sound of a band fully relaxing and finding their groove. 

The album is peppered with lyrics about midday naps, daydream escapes and longing to tour again, but unlike a few lockdown projects, Donkey Tree Gully doesn’t feel scrappy or incomplete. This is a fully realised record by a band who’ve properly found their stride, seeking escapism and serenity in the face of some of life’s toughest challenges.

Donkey Gully Road is out now on Bandcamp.

Check out last fortnight’s column here, featuring Allysha Joy, Feign Jima, CS + Kreme and Sorry, Dave.

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