For the inaugural edition, we spotlight Wybie, Eggy, Pjenné & Cale Sexton and a new compilation from WAT Artists.
Hello and welcome to Beat’s best of Bandcamp, a fortnightly roundup of the 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 Melbourne’s finest.
Wybie is the art-folk project of Kyle Muir, whose music “exhibits the sass of Devendra Banhart and the kind of bold adventuring you might hear from Dirty Projectors”. But there’s also a touch of Cass McCombs’ wry demeanour on ‘Meet You Downstream’, the first single from his upcoming EP Wybie’s Mansion. “The steady stream of breath I’m longing/You pour it in my lungs/It dribbles/Through my body,” he sings, lethargically muttering the words as if directly into someone’s ear.
‘Meet You Downstream’ harkens back to classic freak-folk, particularly in the way the song’s crescendo erupts into a cacophony of creaky violin and fluttering, whimsical sounds. This is not just another Melbourne folk track – for starters, it’s recorded in an ammunition factory, and Wybie has gathered a talented group of collaborators including Huw Charles-Walsh, Flora Carbo and Jess Thame, whose haunting backup vocals bring a juxtaposing serenity to the track’s anxious underpinning.
Just like its lyrical themes, ‘Meet You Downstream’ plays out like a wobbly, bumpy riverboat ride downstream – all hazy acoustic guitar and trembling, sleepy-eyed vocals. If you’re still not convinced and you’re a fan of the effortlessly melodic Alex G, the emo-tinged country of Trace Mountains or the indie experimentalism of Spencer Radcliffe, you will find a lot to love here.
As the age-old saying goes, “If Mikey Young is involved, then it’s gotta be good, right?”. This continues to be true with Bravo!, the new album from the wonderfully named Eggy. Billed as an “expansion of the band’s surrealist-pop sound”, Bravo! is a delightfully weird album that crunches post-punk, garage rock and power pop and turns it into a highly melodic and addictive record of indie bangers.
On Bravo!, you’re just as likely to hear C86-esque keys and rampant drum breakdowns (‘IN’) as you are glockenspiel and… a water cooler. The band takes a fun and no-fucks-given approach to sound, resulting in an album that unspools like a twisted, tongue-in-cheek take on post-punk in the vein of Shopping and Porridge Radio.
But “never have no fun again“, they beckon towards the end of ‘Round Table’, which concludes with what can only be described as an attempt to break the free-jazz fourth wall and includes what’s described as “Minecraft commentary vox”. This is a band that can just as easily make you smile with effortless melodies (just check out the harmonies and keys in ‘HAL 9000’) as they can with junk shop trinkets and ambitious improvisation.
Recorded at Fishbone’s Tone Shack Studio by Fabian Hunter – which one can only assume was left in a state of bizarre trinkets and toys – it was mixed and mastered by Mikey Young, who allows just the right amount of lo-fi hiss to creep into the mix. Whether you’re a fan of weirdo jazz excursions (‘Another Day In Paradise’) or sci-fi garage rock anthems (‘Simon Says’), Bravo! has something for everyone.
Pjenné & Cale Sexton
Fitzroy bar Milney’s has launched Milney’s Mixtapes, a cassette series celebrating “good music and friendship from Milney’s Bar in Fitzroy”. There have been a bunch of hospo businesses entering the music game this year, including Colour Club, whose recently released VA001 compilation on the newly-formed Colour Club Records is worth a shout out for its brilliant bottling up of the nightclub’s soul and spirit. Revolver Upstairs have also entered the label game.
Milney’s first foray is a cassette, with one side sporting a 45-minute mix from Pjenné and the other side sporting another mix of the same length from Cale Sexton. While it’s only available at the bar or via Bandcamp, the Bandcamp page features snippets from each mix. Pjenné’s exudes effortless ‘80s cool and charm, conjuring a deep-in-the-night barside vibe that would go down a treat with dim lights and good drinks.
Cale Sexton’s on the other hand is more atmospheric and ambient. Combining laidback soft rock, rainy-day piano and dark and dreamy indie, the end result is a woozy barside daydream that will have you thinking of late nights and laneway bars.
100% of the profits from Pjenné & Cale Sexton will be donated to the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service. The VAHS was established in 1973 to address the specific medical needs of Victorian Indigenous communities. The organisation has expanded steadily over the past 40 years to provide a comprehensive range of medical, dental and social services for the community.
At Cloud’s Length
Melbourne booking agency WAT Artists are coming through with another great compilation, At Cloud’s Length. Released through their newly christened WAT Recordings label, the compilation assembles a dream team of Melbourne’s finest producers and DJs, including 30/70, Edd Fisher, Rings Around Saturn, Sleep D, Sui Zhen, Toni Yotzi and Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange. Those who purchase through Bandcamp also have the option of acquiring a zine, which features contributions from Andras, Katie Pearson, Simon TK, Monique Araujo and Natalie Jurjjens.
The compilation is born from a challenge set to the WAT artists roster to connect and create using isolation as a creative parameter from which to generate new music. The results are a “surprising and powerful musical cross-pollination”, seeing 30/70 team up with Alex Albrecht for the interplanetary track ‘Breaking Tense’, for example – a humid jazz number that sees the band’s wavy brand of funk reach new depths.
Elsewhere, there’s the glorious pairing of Sui Zhen with Rings Around Saturn for what’s destined to be a future club classic. Joyous and buoyant, Zhen brings an ethereal quality to RAS’ wonky production, which beautifully captures the diverse spirit of the Melbourne dancefloor.
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