Bandcamp Picks of the Week 4/25/18

Bandcamp Picks of the Week, as large and in charge as ever

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Hood Joplin

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Hood Joplin – HAZARD

Genre: Footwork

Favorite Tracks: “Keys,” “My Chain B,” “Hazard”

There is so much ferocity coming out of HAZARD, the work of Canadian beatmaker Hood Joplin, I raise my hands and surrender to its power. HAZARD sounds freshly modern, like if Heaven were a rave, sleek with intense warmth. “Keys” introduces hard house and techno components to the album, continually coming back to squeaky drips splattering around. “My Chain B” is great to turn-up in the middle of a party, or even to put on while painting or folding laundry: it sounds like an Adderall supplement and should not be exclusively reserved to party atmospheres. HAZARD is a giant collection of distorted synths, requiring the entirety of your body to relate to the passion of the music. It should be a necessity to listen to with headphones or to hear at a live concert, especially “Caution,” where eardrums would certainly burst from its rapid bass ripping into your ears multiple times a second. It’s the kind of music that requires full attention to be appreciated as a performance piece. “U” is a nightmare of a video game, starting with a heartbeat that gets replaced by quick spins of sounds like running incredibly fast, repeatedly announcing, “You don’t know who that is.” Hood Joplin is unapologetic in knowing how to produce beats that get your blood boiling. Title track, “Hazard,” seems to bring a haunting edge to the rest of the album and is equally as invigorating, throwing out a hard bass that refuses to relent for minutes on end. Hood Joplin exercises her prowess in loud monstrous beats, destroying speaker systems everywhere. Check it out on Bandcamp. [Nikki Reifler]

Bandcamp Picks of the Week Valley Queen

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Valley Queen – DESTROYER EP

Genre: Alt-Americana

Favorite Tracks: “Stars Align,” “Hold on You,” “Pulled by the Weather”

While I wait in deep anticipation for Valley Queen’s debut album (their new single “Chasing the Muse” is a solid taster of what will hopefully be a star turn for the band), I’d like to give some love to the Los Angeles quartet’s EP DESTROYER, one of 2017’s best releases. Refining stadium production with bluesy, folksy alternative rock akin to a sound made popular in the mid-2000s with acts like My Morning Jacket, Wilco, and Destroyer (who they cover here on bonus track “Painter In Your Pocket”), Valley Queen ride Natalie Carol’s soaring vocals to chilling and fantastical heights. DESTROYER’s sequencing delivers a prudent emotional journey, opening with driving anthem “Stars Align” and the sprawling mid-tempo rocker “My Man,” which chugs along with heavy but satisfying guitar solos from Shawn Morones, before transitioning into highlight ballad “Hold on You” and the stripped back alt-country shuffle “Puritain,” all before closing on the six-minute epic “Pulled by the Weather.” Carol’s vocals act as our guiding narrator through this excursion, hitting sweet highs and devastating lows while Morones, bassist Neil Wogensen, and drummer Gerry Doot tightly jam away on psychedelic Americana and folk rock. It’s a perfect 23-minute trip, and one that sounds far more polished and realized than it has any right to. Valley Queen show a range of song types, tempos, and textures across DESTROYER, and make a great case for why they should be opening for much larger contemporaries like Alabama Shakes or Kings of Leon soon. Mark my words: Valley Queen are going to be rock’s next big thing, and DESTROYER is a near-perfect introduction. Give it a listen on Bandcamp. [CJ Simonson]

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