A weekly round up of the best (and strangest) action on Bandcamp from artists in and around Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh rapper and activist Idasa Tariq continues a familiar theme across his discography on his tenth(!) release, September’s Frames, centralizing the album around his dissatisfaction with American society, media and violence.
And why wouldn’t he? No matter how far we stick our heads down in the sand it is completely undeniable that members of white America (yours truly) enjoy the conveniences of a completely separate social system than our more ethnically diverse compatriots. Black Americans have talked about this for years. Dave Chappelle joked about police brutality in Killin’ Them Softly in 2000, yet there is still a significant portion of the American voting bloc that is overzealous to discount decades and decades of personal testimonies from the very people affected by social injustice. Get the fuck outta here.
Whoa, that was a detour. Let’s get back to the music here.
A lot of the tracks on this album are driven by the classic hip-hop dance beats a la The Honey Drippers, but Tariq doesn’t languish in the past for the entire album. Compositions like “Back 2 the Basics” and “Lenses (FILTERS)” feature more contemporary production, allowing Tariq to boast his vocal talents.
Frames is a audibly pleasant album, and Tariq and his team have quite the ear for hip-hop, soul and R&B staples. At times it feels like he is stuffing the album with clips and skits, relegating his message to other speakers, though he uses two of these opportunities to stuff some Chris Rock bits into his album and that will always always always win me over.
Hot track: Fear Factor 3000
Arbitrary emoji rating: 4 out of 5 rolled up newspapers
KYLE’S DOG’S HEAD
I’m at a point in my life where I’m trying to figure out if I just straight up don’t get acoustic solo albums. It has gotten to the point where I’ve gone back to albums I had believed that I really enjoyed, like The Tallest Man on Earth’s The Wild Hunt. Surely I still love it, right? Nope. I never did. Turns out I just really like “Love Is All”.
So excuse me if I just don’t latch onto Pittsburgh-born Kyle’s Dog’s Head’s newest release, New Year, the same way that I’m sure many of my listeners will. I’ll admit it – I just don’t see the appeal.
A majority album is frustratingly wispy, like the artist is trying to get you to lean into his guitar for his entire set. The dynamics don’t variate enough to make the 25-minute acoustic album exciting, and the points that do stray from singer songwriter acoustic mundanity don’t come off as premeditated at all. It almost seems like Kyle’s Dog’s Head stumbles into some of the better points of this album.
To his credit, these are demos (the bedside diary of a musician) so most of these tracks won’t see the light of day in any other capacity. There are legitimately pleasing tracks, as well, such as “Deep Seated Emotion” and “Hail Mary”.
As well, Kyle’s Dog’s Head clearly has an ear for modern folk music, and I can’t say his album is straight up boring, which means a lot for a one man, one guitar acoustic album. If that’s your shit then New Year might be, too.
Hot track: Deep Seated Emotion
Arbitrary emoji rating: 2.5 out of 5 wolf faces
WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST LISTEN TO?
Bandcamp allows any artist to upload whatever they want to the site. Some artists take that idea and run with it. Here’s the weirdest thing from Pittsburgh on Bandcamp this week.
It is pretty damn rare to find modern works of classical chamber works on Bandcamp, a creative space commonly dominated by indie hipsters, crust punks with inflated egos and people who just discovered that computers can make noises.
Yet, here we are.
Pittsburgh composer Chris Massa recently posted his composition An American Requiem, which was commissioned by Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, to the site. It sticks out like a hamburger in a sushi shop.
What ensues is wonderful, though. The compositions are powerful, dynamic and moving, gently transitioning from one composition to the next. All of the songs are given a contemporary track length (the longest clocks in at just over six minutes long) allowing even the most modern listeners a palatable opportunity to enjoy expertly crafted classical chamber music.
I recognize that not everyone appreciates chamber music. Hell, I didn’t think I would. But An American Requiem, a journey of vocal layers and poignant strings, deserves a listen.
Hot track: Oh! tis glorious