Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Bandcamp is the New Cassette Culture

If you make a recording for a record company or if you produce any art with the intent of selling it, it is only natural that you have at least a partial eye on the impact of said artwork. At least part of your effort has gone into thinking about how your piece will be received. Recording for a record company emphasises this point still further with engineers and producers and record execs to approve your product before it is allowed to reach market. Sooner or later, you end up making a compromise and more often than not you want to make that compromise and receive the approval of an audience.

Bandcamp is a site where anyone can upload music they have made and decide whether to charge or not to charge for access to it, or in some cases to allow downloaders to make a voluntary contribution of an amount of their own choosing. If you are giving away what you have created there should be no need for you to make a compromise and no need for you to address the desires of an audience.

Jaw Harp Potential are three girls from somewhere in America who have recorded a few songs and put them on Bandcamp. They do not have what you could call a typical rock group line-up and write and record in a naif style which could be cloying and twee but has a directness and honesty that more produced styles lack. They are certainly not about to win a Grammy anytime soon.

Harp, ukulele, toy xylophone, occasional accordion and unaffected singing meld into a sound reminiscent of primary school music lessons, in a "lets see what we can find in the music cupboard" way. They sing about domestic concerns in conversational voices. They sound like they are singing about their friends, as Mark E Smith once said to me about Dexys Midnight Runners.

The title for his post and the place where I found out about Jaw Harp Potential and Bandcamp is the excellent site Music for Maniacs, one of probably only a handful of places on the Internet worth a visit.

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