Foreword from The Ghost:
For months, The Ghost has been meaning to do a First Friday post promoting Bandcamp’s waiving of artist’s fee. The article would be a compilation of artists whose music is on Bandcamp recommending other artists on Bandcamp. I shared this concept with my friend Emmeline, and she dove into this idea head first. She submitted her picks, complete with editorial commentary so rich in detail, that I must confess to being a tad jealous of her writing skills. I would say that her picks are solid, to say the least, and that those who can afford to purchase these songs need to do so. Without further introduction, I present to you…
The Bandcamp FEE-FREE Friday Five by Emmeline
In a world dominated by streaming and singles, I still think there’s something special about an album.
When I was younger, I had a ritual. I would purchase a physical album on its “street date” (industry-speak for the day of release) at the nearest record store. Then, I would take the album home, lovingly remove the shrink wrap, and listen from beginning to end while reading the liner notes by lamplight. When heard in the relative darkness, with the artist’s words both visually and sonically present, the album felt like an intimate conversation between the musician and me. It was like hearing the best, most beautiful bedtime story, set to the most mesmerizing of soundtracks.
I felt heard. I felt understood. I felt like a story my heart had known forever was finally finding its voice in the world.
There’s definitely something special about an album.
Today, Bandcamp—the site that still supports artists and their quest to package their lovingly crafted narratives as albums—has waived its fees. This means that, on this glorious Friday after the most tense election of our lifetimes, all of your hard-earned cash will go directly to the musician whose music you purchase. Whether you’re a CD girl like me who still loves to read liner notes or a WAV collector who understands the importance of listening to songs in the order the artist intended, here are five artists whose albums will sing you the stories of all of our hearts:
1. Ellen Once Again
I met Ellen Once Again while hosting an open mic at Crown & Harp on Lower Greenville, and I was immediately moved by her sweet spirit and optimistic tunes. Ellen’s music speaks to the idealist in all of us. In her smooth, soulful pop songs, she sings about the world in which we wish we lived, one where possibility is everywhere and resilience reigns. In her free time, she’s a mom to two lovely girls and a graduate student who strives to explore the importance of the stories we tell online. All of her songs are spiritually fulfilling, but “Call The Doctor” will always hold a special place in my heart.
2. Christine Hand
Christine Hand caught my attention at an open mic at the flagship Half Price Books on Northwest Highway. Be it her introspective lyrics, her delicate vocal rendering, or her enthusiasm for the literature by which we were surrounded, I was immediately struck by the power in her sonic narratives. Christine captures the mundane in a brilliant light, reminding all of us that simplicity can be beautiful, that stories are the driving force of humanity, and that—sometimes—all we really need is a good book, a good cup of coffee, and a solid song to get us through the day. Her latest collection, The Book of the World, is a fantastic listen; “You’re Not Alone” is especially poignant.
3. Raquel Lindemann
Raquel Lindemann’s most recent release is called Sunrise, and few words are as apt in describing the elements of her personality that shape her music. Known affectionately across her socials as “Hippie Songbird,” Raquel is a bright light, a force for good, and a fierce female whose story is a testament to what we can accomplish when we believe in ourselves. Once sidelined by a medical condition affecting her vocal cords, Raquel has found the essence of her voice—and a strength of spirit that is undeniably contagious—on her first full-length album. She glides easily from stories about memorable moments with family to anthems about female complexity, and the DFW music scene is absolutely richer for her presence. For a burst of sunshine, start—just as the album does—with “A Little
4. Court Hoang
I went to college with Court Hoang, which makes me feel a bit like I had the benefit of learning a secret long ago that the rest of the Metroplex is just beginning to know. Court has incredible range, both vocally and stylistically—his music spans from acoustic explorations to bombastic soundscapes. His most recent release, Make or Break, features a delicious amalgamation of unconventional chords and familiar narratives. Court tells the stories we all know with new turns of phrase and sings them in a way that feels hauntingly familiar. The album’s first track, “Starting to Fall,” is a beautiful introduction to his
5. Bomethius (https://bomethius.bandcamp.com/)
Like so many of the artists on this list, I met Bomethius at an open mic—Dallas’s longest running open mic at the legendary Opening Bell Coffee, in fact. Both of us are classically trained, and we’ve had incredible conversations about the ramifications of that training—both positive and negative. On Bomethius’s many albums, though, only the positive is on display. He strives with each effort to serve the songs and the stories they contain. The result is a complex, unpredictable narrative that stretches across songs—but, through it all, his thoughtful storytelling and resonant voice remain consistent. The contemplative
tracks on Sweet Nothings are a beautiful place to start.
6. Joseph Fisher-Schramm
I know I promised the Ghost I would only recommend five artists, but…baker’s Friday Five? I would be remiss if I lauded some of my favorite musicians on Bandcamp without mentioning the multitalented Joseph Fisher-Schramm. I met Joseph when he agreed to let me play his songwriter round at Truth Vinyl, and I was blown away by his many musical talents—and the humility with which he presents them. I recently had the honor of lending vocals to a few tracks on his most recent release, Starving by Design, Vol. I. Joseph pursues his music with the same ambitious and adventurous spirit that led him to launch his label, A Study in Expression. Starving by Design, Vol. 1 showcases his keen observations about the human condition, couched in the sounds that incite deep thinking. “Malachi (Chapter 1)” is particularly poignant.
These links should only be the beginning of your time on Bandcamp this Friday. I encourage you to turn off all but one light, click “play,” and read along to these new songs so that their words begin to breathe new life in you. Listen to the stories these songs present. See if you find yourself between the lines. Allow the melodies to become old friends to whom you return again and again. And, if you’re feeling particularly anachronistic—or maybe just a little bit nostalgic—but the physical CD, unwrap the shrink wrap, and have an intimate conversation with the musicians who have so deftly and fearlessly flayed themselves open to tell you the deepest of truths: deep down, we’re more alike than we realize—and, as long as the music plays, we’re never really alone.