On March 20, as the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic was just starting to be understood, indie music retailer Bandcamp made the bold choice of waiving their share of revenue for artists and labels who were cancelling shows and delaying album releases left and right. The result was more music bought by more fans than any day on the site, a record broken on the first Friday of May. Bandcamp Fridays have since taken place in June, July and August – plus the first of an annual occurrence when the service will donate its share to the NAACP Legal Fund on Juneteenth – and that spirit of giving will officially extend to the first Friday of every month in the remainder of 2020.
The Second Disc has proudly supported these events by highlighting not only our favorite catalog releases on the site or our most treasured “legacy” acts releasing new work, but also occasionally shining a spotlight on acts that deserve a first look as well. (Our spotlight artist in June, Meet Me @ The Altar, was named one of the 50 best current bands by SPIN.) Join us once more as we highlight some of our faves, old and new, for Bandcamp Friday!
Wallace: Self-billed as a “poignant Philly power trio,” Wallace (named for lead singer/songwriter Wallace Gerdy) specialize in sticky-sweet melodies like “Sunny Monday” and “Oh Well,” both found on their self-titled 2018 album. More recently, they recorded a cover of Woody Guthrie’s unfortunately timely “All You Fascists Bound To Lose,” with all proceeds going to the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund.
Broken Baby: Think of all the live shows you’ve missed in the last six months. (Don’t think about them too hard – we’re not trying to be depressing.) The raucous energy of live music is hard to beat, no matter how old or how limber you are. Los Angeles’ Broken Baby is one of the West Coast’s most dynamic punk bands, and until shows come back, you have to check them out for that head rush. Led by vocalist Amber Bollinger and guitarist Alex Dezen (of TSD favorite The Damnwells), Broken Baby have been active recently, issuing a must-hear single, “Manic Panic,” last month, and exclusively previewing “CTRL+ALT+DELETE,” a collaboration with labelmate Tummyache (the musical project of singer/songwriter Soren Bryce) on Bandcamp today only – a week ahead of its formal release.
Pylon: When Rolling Stone named Athens, Georgia’s R.E.M. as America’s best band in 1987 – the same year they scored their first Top 10 hit and appeared in a documentary about the music of the city they formed in, they were quick to correct that record, giving the honor to Pylon, an alt-rock quartet that had been broken up for four years at that point. On November 6, New West Records will honor the Pylon legacy with Pylon Box, a new 4LP set that collects the group’s first two, newly-remastered albums, 1980’s Gyrate and 1983’s Chomp – plus a new compilation of rare and unreleased cuts and the unheard Razz Tape, the group’s first-ever recording that predates their 1979 debut single. It also Includes a 200 page hardcover book featuring unseen images and a definitive history featuring quotes from surviving members of the band plus testimonials from members of R.E.M., The B-52’s, Gang Of Four, Sonic Youth, Interpol and more. You can pre-order it on Bandcamp right now, and will get several of the bonus tracks in advance!
Mort Garson: Electronic music devotees owe Mort Garson a debt of gratitude; in the ’60s, he made an incredible transition from songwriter (“Our Day Will Come”) and arranger for the likes of Doris Day and Mel Tormé to Moog synthesizer master. In the last decade, his music has risen from recognition by hardcore fans to more general acceptance, culminating in the reissue of cult favorite Mother Earth’s Plantasia (1976) by John Carpenter’s Sacred Bones label in 2019. On November 6, Sacred Bones will release four more albums from Garson’s oeuvre on vinyl and digital: Didn’t You Hear? (1970), Lucifer – Black Mass (1971), Ataraxia – The Unexplained (1975), and a new odds-and-ends collection, Music From Patch Cord Productions, which will also be available on CD.
The Modulators: Call it nostalgia, but we were recently reminded of this hidden power-pop gem from a New Jersey band that was reissued in 2017 with a host of bonus material. (The lyrics were written by a Jersey music legend, Vintage Vinyl Records owner Rob Roth, whose son Dylan is a member of one of TSD’s favorite rock bands, The Hell Yeah Babies.) This one’s another great vintage find on Bandcamp; there’s even a pair of copies of the remastered vinyl for sale there.f
Good Music To Avert The Collapse Of American Democracy: Heavy title, but this is a real eye-catcher for a number of reasons. This new collection will be available today only on Bandcamp, retailing for $20.20 with proceeds benefiting the voters’ rights group Fair Fight and the racial justice organization Color of Change. It’ll include 40 exclusive tracks by the likes of R.E.M. (a 1989 live version of “Begin The Begin”), Death Cab For Cutie, Hayley Williams, Courtney Barnett, Jeff Tweedy, Weyes Blood (covering Joni Mitchell’s “River”) and more.
And from old friends… Miracle Legion have unearthed their 1983 cassette demo A Simple Thing and frontman Mark Mulcahy has digitally released his 1999 solo single “C.O.D.”. You can hear the first act of Julian Velard’s new album, a soundtrack to a musical about fortysomething fatherhood that may exist only in his head. And our pal Nick Miller has released a handful of new tracks, including the newly-recorded “Can’t Catch a Break” and a pair of ’70s-style piano demos.