The coronavirus pandemic has put indie musicians in a tougher spot than most have ever been in before, with no ability to tour traditionally — and, therefore, sell more merch in person — due to social distancing measures and bans on large gatherings. It’s also given fans a conundrum: What’s the best way to support independent music right now? One answer is to buy music and merch on Bandcamp today, March 20, when the music-distribution site is giving 100 percent of profits directly to artists until midnight PT. Many labels have given up their share too, and some have even made all their music pay-what-you-can. (Most music for sale on Bandcamp has a minimum price, but you can always pay more to go directly to the artist.) Here are 15 musicians across all genres, along with one record label, worth checking out any day on Bandcamp, but today especially.
Black Belt Eagle Scout
No doubt Northwest Washington, especially Seattle, has been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic so far, as one of the first outbreaks in the U.S. Katherine Paul grew up an hour or so away, in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, which informs her music as Black Belt Eagle Scout. Now based in Portland, she postponed her Turtle Island tour due to the coronavirus, but you can buy her lush, celebratory 2019 record At the Party With My Brown Friends now.
Bare-bones Philly hardcore trio Control Top put on one of the most electric live shows I saw last year, and it’s a shame their spring tour for anti-capitalist debut album Covert Contracts is a casualty of this pandemic. Good thing their tour merch, like T-shirts that say “Eat Shit,” double as a perfect expression of everything we’re feeling right now — pair it with polished new single “One Good Day.”
Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats
One of the hardest producers in hip-hop right now, Kenny Beats, who’s recently produced full projects for Rico Nasty and Vince Staples, teamed up with razor-sharp Miami rapper Denzel Curry on February’s UNLOCKED, an EP that’ll give you whiplash. Find more where that came from in Kenny Beats’s and Denzel Curry’s discographies.
If you’ve been meaning to do a deep-dive into Brooklyn indie giants Dirty Projectors, now’s your chance. The band is forgoing its own profits through April 3, instead donating toward MusiCares’ COVID-19 Relief Fund. They also recorded a cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation” to benefit the fund.
An emo record named after a video game just screams social distancing — sometimes even literally, like when Dogleg’s Alex Stoitsiadis sings, “Get drunk with your friends and stay home / I don’t care if I’m the one that stays alone.” Melee, the Detroit band’s debut on Triple Crown, is an early contender for the best rock record of the year, 35 ear-splitting minutes of poignant, symphonic chaos.
These days, there’s never a bad time to listen to radical garage-rock band Downtown Boys. Their songs touch on socialism, anti-racism and racial pride, community support, and overthrowing the rich, all of which feel particularly relevant in this pandemic. Plus, their first album Full Communism includes a burning cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” for when you get tired and bored with yourself.
Wanna take a journey without leaving the confines of your home? Just pop on glass beach’s first album the first glass beach album, a jazzy emo epic like, well, nothing you’ve heard before. Get it on cassette, CD, or neon-red vinyl. Warning: A song like “bedroom community” might hit a little too close right now.
Bedroom pop usually means music made in a bedroom, but Jay Som’s music toes the line between chill and dancey in a way that can fit any bedroom mood during your social distancing. Melina Duterte had to postpone a European tour for third album Anak Ko, but you can still buy some merch, like a hat or pair of socks.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Quell your anxieties by getting lost in one of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s lush soundscapes, such as her new ten-minute single “Expanding Electricity” off upcoming new album The Mosaic of Transformation. It sounds like discovering a community of wood nymphs in the middle of a magical forest, and if that’s not what you need right now, I don’t know what is.
You might only know Knxwledge as an Anderson .Paak collaborator in their duo NxWorries, but the prolific, soulful hip-hop producer’s solo work vibes just as much — maybe more, actually, with nearly 100 releases on Bandcamp in his decade-long career. Scroll through his page and stop on a random release, or just work backward with a preorder of 1988, his forthcoming second “proper” album on Stones Throw, out March 27.
After making one of the best albums of 2019, the intense and moody Patience, Mannequin Pussy recently had to cancel the rest of their spring tour opening for Best Coast. They’re selling merch from that tour on Bandcamp, including a wonderful pair of underwear to wear around the house during your quarantine.
New Amsterdam Records
You could pick one artist off innovative new music label New Amsterdam, whose flagships include Pulitzer winner Caroline Shaw and MacArthur “genius” grant recipient Mary Halvorson, or you could get it all by purchasing a subscription for just $85 a year — which gets you 14 back-catalog releases along with 15-20 throughout the year.
Chicago pop-rock duo OHMME released their first single off new album Fantasize Your Ghost earlier in March, and “3 2 4 3” is fittingly one of their darkest, thickest cuts yet. Going for something a bit lighter? Pick their breakout 2018 album Parts instead, or the sketched T-shirt for their 2017 debut.
When you lose track of what day it is, as you inevitably will, just put on Laura Stevenson’s new song “Time Bandits” and remind yourself it’s not your fault. The New York folk singer-songwriter came up as a DIY hero in Bomb the Music Industry!, and recently released a heartwarming EP of Neil Young covers with former bandleader Jeff Rosenstock.
Laetitia Tamko’s latest, self-titled album as Vagabon is a collection of dense, almost-orchestral indie pop, drawing from rock and R&B while foregrounding her syrupy voice. It won’t leave you bored, and there’s no better time to check it out than now, after she’s had to cancel her spring tour.
Breakout R&B-inflected experimental musician Yves Tumor (née Sean Bowie) has to postpone his spring tour for upcoming album Heaven to a Tortured Mind, but the coronavirus won’t stop the release from happening on April 3. Preorder the record, marked by a grander sound from a fuller band, or snatch some of the tour merch.