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Music

Here are 5 awesome L.A. artists to support during Bandcamp’s COVID-19 initiative

Chicano Batman
Chicano Batman, from left: Bardo Martinez, Eduardo Arenas, Gabriel Villa and Carlos Arévalo.
(George Mays)

In what is turning into a monthly event, the online music platform Bandcamp is in the midst of a sale to benefit artists whose income has been hit by the COVID-19 coronavirus. Until midnight Friday, the site, which is popular with independent musicians due to its profit-sharing business model, will not take its regular cut of sales.

As with the inaugural sale in March, the site has been buzzing with activity boosted by social media enthusiasm. The pandemic has hit touring musicians hard, and fans who would otherwise be buying tickets and merch have been stepping up to channel dollars into wallets thinned since February.

Hundreds of Los Angeles-area artists have been alerting Bandcamp listeners to their new music, with many providing extra incentives such as limited-edition T-shirts, vinyl variants and compact discs.

Here are five recommendations for purchase that might lead you into your own labyrinthine journey through the wormhole that is Bandcamp.

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Various artists, “Quarantunes: Songs From Self-Isolation”

As the coronavirus spread, the Fullerton indie powerhouse Burger Records did what it always does: whip up a huge volume of young bands on a moment’s notice. In this case, the cassette-driven imprint asked artists to write “Quarantunes.” That plea went, er, viral. Each of the seven numbered volumes contains 20 songs by 20 bands, and costs $20.

A buck a band and worth every cent, the indie-spirited collections feature garage punk, power pop, experimental electronic and noise artists. Sample titles: “Exile in Virusville,” “Clean Hands,” “Will the Virus Come Again?” and, best, “Store Pigs.” A cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” its lyrics are adapted to our current situation: “The store pigs keep on hoarding / As the Trump machine keeps thwarting.”

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Knxwlege, “1988"

The Grammy-winning hip-hop producer, best known for work on Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly,” has issued somewhere around 100 albums, EPs and mixtapes, along the way building a Deadhead-like following of fans who track them with jam-band-like compulsion. The 22 deep instrumental rhythms that make up his just-released collection, “1988,” are a roller coaster of moods, most of them infused as if steeped in THC concentrate. The producer has made available a double-LP version for Friday’s sale.

Chicano Batman, “Invisible People”

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Released Friday, this album from one of the city’s most bankable bands is, according to its Bandcamp blurb, “a statement of hope, a proclamation that we are all invisible people, and that despite race, class, or gender we can overcome our differences and stand together.” Better, its mix of borderless 1960s and ‘70s rock and percussive contemporary tones mesh to make it a uniquely of-the-moment record. Yes, the album is available on major streaming services. But the $10 buy goes straight to the band. It’s also selling a limited white vinyl copy through Bandcamp.

City Girl, “Siren of the Formless”

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With more than 15,000 followers on Twitter, City Girl’s woozy, soothing electro-acoustic tracks, mostly instrumental, vibrate at a frequency that seems to entangle eardrums. In lower-case notes for the release of her just issued “Siren of the Formless,” she writes, “i wish to be among the lilies, among the curls of sun as they embrace the water. to float as one with a purpose. a being of tragedy, but a being nonetheless.” This sounds like that. A limited package with original artwork has already sold out, but directing money toward such lovely music seems like a no-brainer.

Ariel Pink, “The Doldrums”

Ariel Pink has of late been back in the press for (rightfully, kinda) claiming his influence on the sound of some pop music. Returning to discuss a batch of reissues and archival recordings, all of which are being offered on Bandcamp, he told Billboard, “I know what mark I left, I know what I contributed: it’s a melodic thing. I was never exactly credited for contributing a specific thing or production quality,” he said, adding that he hears “a melodic motif that blossomed in a lot of people.” Whether true or not, Pink’s work on his newly available work, much of it from the early ‘00s, sounds as out-of-time now as then.


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