bandcamp hunter

Best of 2012 - POP/INDIE/LO-FI

It’s been a big year for all things jangly and poppy, especially here in Melbourne. “The New Pop Underground” was the label given to the surge of guitar pop bands in our fair town as it seemed every week a new group popped up, armed with a hot little EP of songs that were often poignant, often funny, and always good. Of course, there were a million other wonderful “pop” and “indie"bands to surface on Bandcamp from around the globe but below are the ones I listened to and enjoyed the most. Often the term "slacker” is applied to these bands but I can tell you that whether it’s a solo bedroom artist or a full band, the artists featured here work harder than anyone I know, in any profession. So it’s not just their beautiful sunny tunes I thank them for, but also for the inspiration they’ve provided me through their goddamn hard yakka.

When Women Played Drums - White Birds

I recall being impressed by the initial White Birds release last year but I wasn’t prepared for the brilliance of this album. The project of one James Harvey from Pennsylvania (seemingly supported by a rotating cast of musicians), White Birds dip into a myriad of musical influences on “When Women Played Drums” to create an album that shines brightly on every track. Yes Harvey borrows-there are elements of doo wop, of soul, of garage rock, of nineties indie, of lo-fi folk-but the sonic bower he creates with these parts is so enchanting and so uniquely his own sound that the listener comes away feeling this is something fresh, new and quite vital. These White Birds are a terribly clever breed, and they have quite a song to sing.
Favourite tracks : Youths, Beehive, Veins Lined With Rust.

Summer Flake EP - Summer Flake 

After playing in a stack of great bands (Batrider, No Through Road), this was the debut solo release of Steph Crase and, man, it’s a beauty. There’s a laconic feel to these songs (I’m avoiding using “slack”) that swim by in lovely blur at times (“Inside Out”) though a perfectly placed buzzing guitar line is never far away. And oh those guitars. There’s a beautiful tone to the instruments throughout though the dance between the guitars and Crase's breathy vocals is a wonderful thing to behold, often recalling Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo. She’s a terrific songwriter to - these song have a real yearning, an authentic prettiness borne of finely crafted lyrics. I’m not even close to getting sick of these songs, doubt I ever will.
Favourite tracks : Run Run Run, The Wedding March (for Jess & Kynan), Inside Out.

I’ve got a friend called emily ferris - Courtney Barnett

Talk about hard working. Courtney Barnett had been playing around Melbourne for a while before this year but 2012 saw her playing more gigs than anyone I know, all on the back of this cracking EP. From the first listens and the initial gigs it was obvious these were songs that were both highly likeable and a little bit different than a lot of other guitar pop going around. Barnett likes to jam and these songs are never in hurry to adhere to any pop rules-see the extended “Are You Looking After Yourself?” and the circular, almost trance like feel to “Canned Tomatoes (whole)”. But she’s a music fan too and draws on her influnces to great effect- there’s country rock and roll here, there’s garage pop there, there’s Cobain and Dando hanging out having a Melbourne Bitter on the garden wall over there. Very much the sound of the suburbs we live in and the shit that goes on within them in 2012.

Favourite tracks : Are You Looking After Yourself?, Canned Tomatoes (whole), Lance Jr.

Wagga Wagga - Velcro

I carp on about honesty in songs a lot and if you know Curtis Wakeling you now these are honest songs. Not in a cathartic-blood on the tracks-crazy horse raw honesty kinda way, but in a “I got drunk and fell off my bike-awkward walk homes after a one night stand-getting high with my mates” sort of way. There’s a wistful longing to some tracks too - “Thawing Out” is a great little song about Melbourne's favourite subject and the vague nostalgia the changing of seasons provokes. The unassuming charm of these songs lays in Curtis’s simple lyrics and the simple sound-no bass, just Ocean Party cohorts Lachlan Denton on drums and the ubiquitous Snowy Nasdaq on guitar along with Curtis. So, less is certainly more here, but the irony in saying this is that the bands Curtis and the other members of Velcro are connected to have put out like 35 albums in 2012. I dug everything they did, but this was my favourite.

Favourite tracks : G&T, Thawing Out, Awkward Mornings.

Life-Size Deadbeats - The Gentle Stunts

Talk to Gentle Stunts main dude Cal McNamara about his band and he is unabashed in his biggest influence. Perhaps you can pick it. Have a listen ^. Yes, McNamara is a Guided By Voices devotee and proud of it. The GBV sound certainly permeates this album in the lo-fi production, obtuse lyrics and the contrast of noise and crisp guitar but McNamara is a fine songsmith in his own right, a Berlin native who at 20 years old has already produced two rather brilliant albums. I’m very fond of all the songs on this album; of their sweet harmonies and the unexpected twists and turns of their winding pop structures. Lose yourself in the payoff of “Hills in the Dark”, walk the streets at dusk while taking in the wistful (and Teenage Fanclub-esque) “Till You’re Often”, get drunk in your frontyard and dance with your friends while “Waving Rather Soon” blasts. This album wants to have a relationship with you. Don’t fight it.

Favourite tracks : Figments in Red, Tall Retrieve, A Past of Fast Lashings.

Other favourites

Wisdom Teeth - MPSO
Zingers | Milk Teddy
Pencil EP | Pencil
Laurentide - Campfires 


July 21st I’m back at The Catfish with Vacant Lake as part of The Gertrude Street Projection Festival.

The show will be a collaboration featuring live visuals by Anthony Megen, and a Purr x Vacant Lake improvised set. I will also be debuting some new songs.

Pretty excited about this.

Presented by Bandcamp Hunter and Formless Fields for Formless Mondays.



Thank you and good night from Bandcamp Hunter.

Listen to this song while you read this, if you like.

Bandcamp Hunter began way back in the Melbourne spring of 2010. Much has changed in my life since then. People, cats, houses, jobs, study, beards…all have come and gone (and come back again in the case of beards), though many things remain the same. Music is still my great love and discovering new music still thrills me. Finding a band or singer/songwriter or synth alchemist who connects with you through their art is a beautiful thing. I feel privileged to have shared all of this music with you. To have consistently found that you seemed to dig it too has provided me with great joy. 

However. Time is the thing. 

These days I am in the second year of a degree studying wildlife and conservation biology. In the first year of study I found the juggling of study, work and blogging to be reasonably manageable but-as fellow students will concur-in second year things step up a bit. The load has intensified. As such I need to bring Bandcamp Hunter to a close. I don’t like saying it’s “dead”, it’s possible I’ll bring it back at some point. Anything Could Happen, you know.The phrase a friend and fellow sci fi geek recommend I use is “in stasis”. I’m not ruling out bringing BCH back from its deep space slumber in a year or five years or ten years, or a clone of me bringing it back in two hundred years, but for now it is entering that frosty compartment and being jettisoned to the outer reaches. I’ve considered scaling the site back and not posting as often but the thing is I spend a lot of time Bandcamp Hunting - too much. BCH has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me but I’ve also developed some bad habits while running it. I need to spend less time on the internet.

The site will remain up for you to browse the archives. 2098 posts in all, accumulated over 3.5 years. Not a bad knock. I still have 3927 links in draft! Some of these have been posted already but most will remain in their purgatorial state, perhaps to be unearthed some day by BCH MKII or in some other form. If you ever sent me music and I said I would post it but did not, I’m very sorry. Things get lost in the backlog and, plainly, I’m a forgetful old bugger. (While I’m here, a little advice to musicians about contacting blogs : do not send giant emails full of band bios, press releases and descriptions of the music. I find it a real turnoff and I know other bloggers do too. Just send the music. It’s all that matters. Also : make nice cover art! Not that hard with technology these days. It matters too).

There are far too many people to thank and acknowledge - by far the best aspect of running BCH has been meeting all the like-minded bloggers, music fans and musicians from around the globe. Your support and kind words have been what’s fuelled the BCH engine, providing me with great inspiration and enjoyment. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to meet a few of you in the flesh some day. I have plans to travel over the next couple of years and if you’re ever in Melbourne do look me up. I’ll be happy to show you our local music scene, which, I maintain, is one of the best in the world. I’ll keep active on the twitter and my email is over there in About. Also be sure to acquaint yourself with my Friends running wonderful blogs and labels if you haven’t already.

Seeing this is my last post I’ll share a couple of my highlights of running BCH with you. Last year myself and Matty Barker of Hawkmoth Records and Water Music organised a benefit gig for the sadly departed Jason Molina. We raised a bit of money for his hospital costs but more important was the positivity we generated from uniting in our love of one mans music and in the singing of his songs. It was a night when I realised the blog had moved far from its beginnings as a time killing endeavour to something much more. It was giving me the opportunity me to meet good people, to share in my appreciation of music with others, and to give something back to that music. It was a very special thing.

The other event that stands out to me was a message I received from Matt of Dream Sick not too long ago. He was appreciative of me featuring his music and revealed that BCH making his album Pick of The Week came at a time when the band was having some struggles. He suggested the BCH post was a shot in the arm for the band during a rocky period, providing some impetus to battle on. So I think it’s fitting that their amazing new album “Morkkis” be the final Bandcamp Hunter post. There isn’t really much more you can ask as a blogger than to play a part, however small, in contributing to a great band putting more music into the world.

I’m going on I know, but I feel I most definitely should acknowledge Bandcamp. When I began it was in its formative stages and has since become a tremendous outlet for a mind blowing range of music from around the world (as has Soundcloud, which I like a lot too). It has been a pleasure to grow my blog alongside Bandcamp; to ride their ever increasing wave, scouring the universe of music that has proliferated within its waters. They are good people with good ideas and a determination to provide digital music with the platform it deserves. Kudos friends. Keep those flames flickering.

To close I urge you to keep supporting the music you love. The world of music has changed completely over the last few years, I believe for the absolute better. The state of music is in the hands of you, the fan, and this is a very, very good thing. Record shops come and go, record labels come and go, blogs come and go, but there will always be people making innovative, challenging and beautiful music. And there will always be people that want to hear it. There are more opportunities now than ever for you to hear that music, though as of today there is one less avenue. But that’s not something to be sad about. Browse the library. Hunt Bandcamp yourself. Keep searching for music that lights up your life, do not settle for mediocrity. Buy that bands music, wear their t-shirts, go to their gigs, tell them they’re great, and sleep well knowing that you are doing something that makes our world a better place. 

Thank you, a million times thank you. I’ll see you on the open road.

JJ Baker

Episode 90. Lost On Radio

Lost On Radio is a weekly showcase of incredible new, undiscovered, and under appreciated music from around the world. The show is curated and presented by Mark Knight, the founder of Right Chord Music. Lost On Radio aims to showcase incredible artists that have been overlooked by radio, or pushed to the late night fringes,…

Episode 90. Lost On Radio was originally published on Right Chord Music

Episode 88. Lost On Radio

Lost On Radio is a weekly showcase of incredible new, undiscovered, and under appreciated music from around the world. The show is curated and presented by Mark Knight, the founder of Right Chord Music. Lost On Radio aims to showcase incredible artists that have been overlooked by radio, or pushed to the late night fringes,…

Episode 88. Lost On Radio was originally published on Right Chord Music

Tussle - Day Ravies

An album of sparkling gems from Sydney band that sit somewhere in the lovely space between dream pop and shoegaze. Great combination of corrosive guitar and pretty harmonies. Multiple singers and songwriters create intriguing variety in the bands sound though the overall atmosphere of Tussle is a positive one, of sun soaked good times in Sydney’s inner west. Highlights are the tight groove of Pinky, the pure organ fuelled joy of Jasmine and Staring Is Caring, the realisation of a fantasy I had about Ride and Low joining forces. Whether it be canyons of guitar noise or buoyant pop bliss, Day Ravies nail it with every moment of Tussle. No good bands in Sydney someone said? Someone’s a fool.

All Mind In The Cat House - Repo Man

Tough as boots, All Mind In The Cat House positively bristles with uncompromising energy and intelligent, scathing lyrics. Released on UK label Lava Thief, the album has the desolate atmosphere of a post-apocalyptic world, recalling the visuals of Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Holds a mirror up to modern life however, especially in the domestic discomfort of Oh Cecil and bustling social narrative of Endangered Agenda. Throwing Kinskis perhaps the finest moment, a song of potent power that best showcases the influence of The Fall and Wire. Sax wigout towards song’s end is an utter headfuck. Kicks hard this album. Feels like a thrashing, a real good thrashing.

Shades 10" - Barbiturates

Detached psychedelic album from Brisbane band, released on “unpopular music” label Lost Race. Captures the feeling of the lingering effects of hallucinogenics, of clarity returning though light is coloured differently, glass continuing its slight melt, particles continue their quiver. Element of sly humour underlies songs, especially the self hate of Look What The Internet Did To Us. Nice contrast between woozy guitar jams (Gone Done It, Rinona Wyder ) and inventive electronic meddling (One Too Young ). They Were Here suggests drug fuelled paranoia while album closer Double Happiness recalls the psych-electro mischief of Gremlins. Drop it, go deep, come down soft. Shades is a great trip.

Stoner Nights - Special Costello

Fits comfortably into no genre but the multifarious sounds on offer here are best described as “psychedelic”. A collection of “out takes and oddities from various sessions”, opening pairing of the breezy Tronic Slizz and emotional Ceiling Sway give way to dark krautrocky Rippus Noice Choice and distorted post punk of Ivory Wallet. The Canadian band are truly chameleonesque; each song- nay, moment- an unpredictable twist into wildly different sounds and styles. Han Solo a beautiful composition with its minimal drone stylings and flourishes of strings, then, finally, “Home Owner”, a meditative drift into deep psychedelic depths. Someone said that a sign of a good band is how good their outtakes are. Special Costello are an amazing band.

No Pizza No Peace - Lil Daggers

Unrelenting midnight menace from Florida psychedelic rock heavyweights. Recalls finest of late 60s psychedelic pioneers and more recent southern US psych revival though Lil’ Daggers set themselves apart with the restraint of their sound, never resorting to histrionics in creating the sinister atmosphere of these songs. After The Flood is instantly appealing with its smouldering rhythm and enticing, reverb laden vocals. Noise and feedback used nicely throughout to add texture to beautifully recorded songs. Terrifc grooves, best experienced in the self descriptive Jazz Tom with its skittering beats and melting organ parts. Stray Chank a grand conclusion, building to almost anthemic heights. A scything display of psychedelic mastery, available on tape through Beyond is Beyond Records.

You should also check out…

Morkkis - Dream Sick

Disconnect - TV Ghost

Black Lassie - Keep On Dancin’s

Episode 84. Lost On Radio

Welcome to the 84th episode of Lost On Radio! Presented and curated by Mark Knight the founder of Right Chord Music, Lost On Radio is a weekly showcase of incredible undiscovered music overlooked by radio, or pushed to the late night fringes. Listen back to all previous episodes by clicking the menu button on the player below, or you…

Episode 84. Lost On Radio was originally published on Right Chord Music


                  BANDCAMP HUNTER BEST OF 2013 REVIEW

“Superbly realised album arresting soundscapes from former Melbourne-now-Perth resident Ned Beckley, inspired by around the world adventure. Beckley expertly melds modern classical with electronic elements and field recordings from travels, creating a distinctly nocturnal world to become immersed in. Powerfully atmospheric, Little Appeal should be experienced from beginning to end to absorb the subtleties of sound. Sparse moments (the gentle throb ofSanctity) are contrasted with heavier bass and beats, it’s an album that has been assembled with great care. Erasing Form and Isometric evoke a smoky underworld club while Hollow has a distinct middle eastern flavour, conjuring brilliant sunshine and bustling marketplaces. So many rich sonic moments, though the double of Heedless and Field of Glass contain perhaps my favourite passages. An album inspired by this world that reaches for something greater, something beyond the surface of this planet.“

Bandcamp Hunter Album of the Year 2013

Think Tone - Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk

I can scarcely believe that I have limits, that I am outlined and defined. I feel myself to be dispersed in the atmosphere, thinking inside other creatures, living inside things beyond myself. - Clarice Lispector

It’s been a very formless year for me. This word has continually cropped up in my life, not just in my online endeavours but in my day to day experiences and, increasingly, in informing my own perspective on the world. I have always held the belief that the pursuit of definition is a futile one, that rules are crushing impositions, that there is a place for structure though mostly we must embrace uncertainty. This past year I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the beautiful ambiguity of many things while coming to understand that the rapid change of modern life is incredibly exciting; it should not be feared but celebrated. I believe this is why Think Tone resonated with me so, it seems to be a capturing of these notions. As elusive as they are. I think I called it a “paean to the formless” when I first considered it back in the middle of the year. As such it’s a difficult album to describe, even more so than most music. I’ve been flicking through quotes to inspire this reflection and have found a few that get close to what it is I appreciate about Think Tone.

Ah! these sounds and this motion Must enter my poems and say For me the unsayable in my life, My stubborn childish life that moves only Toward an eternal aspiration for vague things.

- Closing lines of “Ode” (1908) by Valery Larbaud, from The Poems of A. O. Barnabooth, translated by Ron Padgett and Bill Zavatsky

(With thanks to but does it float)

“Eternal aspiration for vague things”. Such words have a more profound effect on me than any religious passage I’ve encountered. It makes sense to gain inspiration the vague things, to not seek answers but to be driven by wonder. I don’t want sing along choruses. I want art that connects to untouched places. Ventures to unseen depths. Lifts new rocks at the bottom of the garden.

We have understood nothing of life until we have understood that it is one vast confusion. - Henry de Montherlant

The songs of Think Tone are not what I’d call “atmospheric” though they are evocative of something. Something ambiguous. Blissful inward journeys. Not harrowing introspections. These songs conjure an atmosphere of the inner landscape. Philosophy and science reach only so far, it’s art that captures the intangible experiences of waking - and dreaming - life.

Music, states of happiness, mythology, faces belabored by time, certain twilights and certain places try to tell us something, or have said something we should not have missed, or are about to say something; this imminence of revelation which does not occur is, perhaps, the aesthetic phenomenom. - Jorge Luis Borges

For me Think Tone achieves a rare combination of aesthetic beauty and subtle existential probing. And it does with hardly any words. Formless phrases. Distorted incantations. Bodiless voices intoning from a late afternoon winter haze, urging you to join you in their ceaseless drift.

“He felt himself pulled outward toward the whiteness, which spread as far as he could see, and which was a part of the darkness from which it glowed, of the clear and cloudless sky without height or depth. For an instant he felt himself go out of the body that sat motionless before the window; and as he felt himself slip away, everything-the flat whiteness, the trees, the tall columns, the night, the far stars-seemed incredibly tiny and far away, as if they were dwindling to a nothingness.” - Stoner, John Williams

I listen to it now, fill my house with it, and I have that feeling you have for music that you’ve come to adore. I don’t seek words to sing along with. I don’t want liner notes, packaging, or any superfluous distraction. Who Baby Birds Drink Milk are does not matter. It matters to be with this music. To be enveloped within its shapeshifting bliss. Think Tone asks questions, it probes, but it does not expect answers. What you draw from its vast formless field is entirely up to you.

To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness. ― The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin