Breaking Down Bandcamp: Reviews of Free EPs

by Lydia Felty ’17

Once every three months or so, I face a crisis over how small my iTunes library is, even though I use iTunes for little other than loading my iTouch* with music for commute around campus. Unfortunately, as Chase Bank will happily text me upon request, I have roughly three dollars to my name. Three dollars can buy a lot — Justin Bieber Mint Floss (SkyMall, $2.99), the CD Songs Kids Really Love to Sing: 17 Playtime Songs (Walmart, $2.98), and Music Note Print Tweezers (Forever 21, $2.90) just to name a few — but not much in the way of actual albums. To satisfy my lust for a fuller library, I usually turn to the online music site Bandcamp, scouring pages of albums for anything that might fit my loose criteria: (1) a cool album cover, (2) an interesting name (for the album or band — I’m not picky), and (3) a “buy now” price of $0.00 or less.**

As a result, I have become a connoisseur*** of free Bandcamp albums and am here to share my brilliant wealth of knowledge with you. You’re welcome.

*Who uses iPhones these days? So 2014.
**Yes, I’m one of those people. Sorry.
***Whether or not this usage conforms to the technical definition of the term is debatable.

Her Name Was _French Cinema_ — Jordan O’Shea (2012)

jordanAlbum Details: 5 tracks, 19:08 minutes
Favorite Track: “
From the Dirt”

What struck me most when I discovered this album was its cover art — simple but beautiful. And the music followed suit. I’ll admit: as I started listening to the opening track, “Sleeping Birds,” I was extremely skeptical. The vocals feel imperfect, and the song is interspersed with clips of what sounds like sections of an audiobook. But as I continued listening, I found that it all ties together beautifully, as does the rest of the album. “The Coracle” is perhaps the most relaxing of the tracks, and “From the Dirt,” a duet with Danica Hunter, is a bonus track that combines Hunter’s and O’Shea’s voices to pleasing effect. Although the sound was sometimes off (I felt as though I was continually adjusting my computer’s volume), I was overall delighted by the album. O’Shea’s Facebook page uses the descriptor, “Music you can escape to,” and it is certainly a pleasure to unwind to the acoustic melodies of this album. Jordan O’Shea has a split EP with Robb Burr releasing on Bandcamp on Feb. 16, and if it is as good as Her Name Was _French Cinema_, it just might be worth shelling out the £3.

Check out Jordan O’Shea on Bandcamp and Facebook.


Change (EP) —Reggie Williams (2012)

reggieAlbum Details: 5 tracks, 19:52
Favorite Track: “Keep Breathing”

The first song opens, “Well, every scar tells a story,” and every track on this EP tells a story as well. Each song uses varied instruments and vocals, but the album flows seamlessly from track to track, and by the end, I had thoroughly fallen for its soft but upbeat melodies. I feel like my mother as I compliment this, but there is certainly something to be said about the clarity with which each word on the album is sung. “Simple Things” could be the generic love song that proclaims fondness for the fundamentals of the singer’s object of affection, but I still found it enjoyable. Extra voices join Williams for a few tracks, and just as Jordan O’Shea’s “From the Dirt” contains beautiful blending of voices, those off of Williams’s album are integrated expertly and a delight to hear. More than anything, I adored the transition between the last two songs on this album (“Keep Breathing” and “Change”), but the album as a whole engrossed me. The album lasts all of twenty minutes, but Reggie Williams could have kept me entertained for hours. If you have the time to incorporate this album into your life, do it. If you do not have time, make some; I promise it will be worth it.

Check out Reggie Williams on Bandcamp and Facebook.