Foreword from The Ghost:
Last year, I reached out to Noelle Hampton of The Belle Sounds, asking for recommendations for albums and singles to buy on Bandcamp Friday. She sent me a list of recommendations that due to time issues, I did not get to publish. Ms. Hampton sent me a new list of recommendations this past weekend, and I did not want to miss out on the opportunity to share these great artists with you, my readers. While I will not be publishing Noelle’s commentary on her original list, I will direct your attention to the artists she recommended last year: Dancer in the Sun, Michael Zapruder, and Jana Pochop (a long time GOBL favorite).
In addition to her choices, I would strongly encourage you to check out Stay Alive – The 2020 Singles. It is a compilation of all twelve songs the band released each month. There’s not a weak link within the string of tracks, but I would especially direct your attention to the defiantly optimistic Scissor Sisters vibe of “Until the Light ComesUp”, the 1980’s tinged “Love Will Change” (which also has a video that should be seen, though perhaps not at work), and “Stay Alive”, featuring Austin soul/singer-songwriter Ray Prim. And yes, they do an awesome cover of “I’ll Be Here Where the Heart Is” from the Flashdance soundtrack.
1. Riders Against The Storm – Flowers For The Living
I can’t say enough about this husband/wife hip hop duo out of Austin, TX. This album is on point from track one to the very end. Chaka shines on The Ones and Qi Dada shows us the ways of her magic on “Black Girl Payday”. The title track is amazing, pushing a little more into the land of electronica. The one and only Tameca Jones also makes a stellar appearance on “Red Lights”. The whole album is worthy of your love and attention. Something else you should know about these two is that they are the true embodiment of community helping community. Their organization DAWA has raised thousands of dollars to help out people of color who are experiencing short term life crisis. More specifically, people of color who are: musicians, artists, social workers, teachers, healing practitioners, and service industry workers. These are the people who GIVE to others/serve day in and day out for a living, and are often at the highest risk for mental health crisis. Do yourself and get acquainted with this duo that is a force of nature in the Austin music scene.
2. Zettajoule – Crab Rabbit
Another one of my favorite duos is Zettajoule. They were and Austin band, but relocated to New Mexico recently. They dropped a new album on Jan 1st that is so darn good it almost makes me mad. Well, not mad, just a little jealous of their insane talent. It takes you on a bit of a psychological ride, getting a little down and dirty before coming back up for air with catchy numbers like “Buried in the Mountain” and “Lost The Lottery”. Both Meggan and Matt’s voices are spectacular. She is like dreamy air, and he is like a twisted Bowie at times. This is synth-pop heaven if you don’t mind getting a little out there.
3. Decoyote – Wild Western Renaissance
This album came out last year, but it’s not to be overlooked. James Jean (Decoyote) is a friend of mine in Austin who always impresses me the scope of his talent. You can call it Americana, but you will be locking him too far into a box that he doesn’t fit in. It all leans a bit more indie rock. “Ready” is a good example of the crossover. James’ voice becomes something entirely different on this track. “Lovely” is truly lovely, and on “He Runs Hot”, hr gets full on WAR/Beck. This album is awesome, ending with two totally dream-like tracks, “Ghost” and “The Right Dose”.
4. Emily Shirley – High Road (Single)
Emily plays keys and sings sweet harmonies in our band, The Belle Sounds, but on her own has a solo career writing some of the coolest, unexpected songs in a indie folk/pop/songwriter genre. This latest track recalls the 60s/70s in a big way for me with Beach Boys/ELO type harmonies. Warning: It WILL get stuck in your head! When you are over on her page, go ahead and check out all of the other amazing stuff she has created.
5. Deer Fellow – Words Unsaid
With a “new wave soul twist.” Bandmates Matt Salois (guitar, vocals) and Alyssa Kelly (violin, vocals, piano) met at an open mic and were quick to collaborate. They are now a couple and their voices blend in a really cool way. They are like a more soulful Weepies. Her voice and style steer the ship more toward indie-soul. The production is minimal and perfectly placed. There’s modern but timeless quality to this EP. Check it out!