Eric Lau – Re-Lax

Image courtesy the artist

Eric Lau is a London beat maker known for his work with an array of hip hop artists like Oddisse, Lupe Fiasco, and Guilty Simpson.

His newest solo record Examples is a collection of bouncy head-nodding instrumentals. There a bunch of favorites on this one, starting with ‘Re-Lax' above and more gems below.

Blast off into blissful beat land…



Oddisee – NNGE (feat. Toine)

Image courtesy the artist

Beats, rhymes, and pieces. That's what you'll hear from prolific musician Oddisee, a native of the Diamond District. He's back again with his third release in a dozen months with The Iceberg, an album that sees him grapple with the issues related to culture, race, and politics. The White House barred him from performing at Obama's Farewell for his “controversial” lyrics on the track ‘Lifting Shadows.'

If the tune ‘NNGE' is any indication, Oddisee is prepared to sharpen his words to meet these darker times.

“I grew up witnessing many protests come to Washington DC. This song continues that tradition by using words of encouragement over production inspired by the native sounds of DC music.” — Oddisee

Christian Löffler – Myiami

German producer Christian Löffler describes his music as melancholy combined with euphoria. I closed out my Best of last year with his magical track ‘York.’ As he describes on his Bandcamp page:

“All my music is connected by a gloomy spirit, which is minted by a warm sincerity. I try to merge all kinds of different acoustic colors to obtain this feeling in my music.”

Sound mimics environment

The young producer makes his tracks in a log cabin overlooking the Baltic Sea. Tracks on his latest album Mare place you in his wandering, coastal environment. His subtle field recordings and moody synthesizers create a Walden state of mind.

Favorite tracks: Myiami, Haul, Swim, Krone

Download Mare on Bandcamp

Ensemble Entendu – Peel Back

Sam O.B., one half of Ensemble Entendu

Ensemble Entendu is Brooklyn-based duo Sam O.B. and Photay, both representing the Astronautico dance label. Their debut album Selected Rhythm Works, Vol. 1 is a melange of sounds including house, dub, reggae, and dancehall. The track ‘Peel Back' is a particular bouncer that pairs 80s funk to African drums. Proper listen.

Download the album on Bandcamp

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Mood Tattooed – Outsider

mood tattooed

‘Outsider' is the lead single from singer/producer Mood Tattooed AKA Hagan Knauth which drops this October on the Brooklyn-based Blankstairs label.

Knauth's rustic influences are apparent on the track — he grew up on a farm in upstate New York. ‘Outsider' sounds like the singer's internal dialogue while taking a solitary walk in the woods. It's the perfect downtempo song to kick off the beginning of Fall. Upon first listen, it sounds a lot like Elliot Smith's ‘Need in the Hay‘ but much trippier.

‘Hush Tarantula’ is a dialogue of textures that guides you through a cycle of growth and reflection. Marked by powerful subtleties, Hagan Knauth generates an incredible range of sound that speaks more to the nature of psychedelia than the typical sonic palette commonly found within “psychedelic” music.

Pre-order the album Hush Tarantula on Bandcamp.

Bandcamp is “one of the greatest underground-culture bazaars of our time”

bandcamp ethan diamond

You can make fun of the name all you want, but Bandcamp has been one of the great success stories for online music.

The New York Times calls it “one of the greatest underground-culture bazaars of our time.” Bandcamp feels like one of those specialized record shops, like the ones you find a section just for BEATS, which I never thought would be replicable in the online world.

Bandcamp is like all music platforms folded into one: you can stream, download, and buy merchandise such as tapes, CDs, and sweatshirts directly from the artist. Unlike the iTunes Store 30% take, Bandcamp keeps only 15% of each sale. Ben Ratliffe summarizes the company's growth:

Bandcamp, which started in 2008 and is run out of a number of small offices in San Francisco, Brooklyn and elsewhere, became profitable in 2012 and sells a record every five seconds. It grew 35 percent last year and has paid $169 million to artists, according to its website.

Bandcamp also invested in editorial talent to curate the best music discoveries on site, a strategy another fledgling independent music site SoundCloud should have implemented long ago. I dig new gems on the Bandcamp Weekly radio show every week. The host, Andrew Jervis, connects the dots between Electronica, Hip hop, and RnB like Gilles Peterson.

The next best thing for Bandcamp may just be the status quo, that is, to stay true independent music and keep highlighting the best artists on its platform. Bandcamp's success proves that there's still room to compete in a world of online music hegemons like iTunes and Spotify.


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Bandcamp Optimized For Mobile

Everybody still laughs when I tell them about the music site Bandcamp.  They think it's a joke straight out of American Pie.  

But this music company has been the most consistent direct to fan music network to date.  Its artist page templates are still clean and listener-friendly and the music is easy to download in various formats and share or embed anywhere on the web.  

Today, Bandcamp's CEO Ethan Diamond announced the optimization of artist pages on mobile.  They look superb. 

Still the best thing about Bandcamp is the music content.  That's why cratediggers like me keep coming back.  Bandcamp hosts tunes you can't find anywhere else, particularly hip hop instrumentals.  See Strictly Beats for some good recommendations.
Bandcamp keeps getting better and better by pursing design quality and hosting a good record store environment for artist and fans.