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A Voyage Through Bandcamp: Pt 2

Previously, A Voyage Through Bandcamp imposed on you some self-righteous opinions of female singer-songwriters. This time, it’s the guys’ turn: two dudes with guitars, and one band, who are also dudes, with more guitars, and a trumpet, and steel drums and shit.

Multi-instrumentalist Richard Tyler Epperson named his album Hourglass after noticing that many of the tracks were related to the realization of time passing, and the feeling that he had better stop getting caught up in daily stresses and live his dreams (fyi: he’s 29). Presumably, being a musician for a living is one of those dreams, and there’s no reason why he can’t pull it off. Deftly combining acoustic and electric elements, with catchy melodies and lyrics that speak openly about personal struggles in a way that makes mild angst sound quite relaxing, his first album is a fifty-eight minute long fourteen-trackathon that engages throughout. Kurt Vile comparisons have already been made, and I’ll repeat them here with the added specification that RTE is Kurt Vile’s equal in talent, and by no means a disappointing soundalike.

Speaking of disappointing soundalikes: is Darryl McCarty’s style more like Keane, Muse or Travis? Does he sing more like Tom Petty, or Bono? Hard to say, so it’s good no one cares. OK, probably some people do care, such as fans of his former bands, Chasing Arcadia and The Ceramic Flowers. On his first solo album, The Speed of Light, which has a picture of some lights on the front, Darryl plays almost every instrument himself, and makes every ‘oooooh’ noise just as soulfully as any respectable Brit-poppeteer, if you’re into that.

The Brit pop plodding at one point takes a diversion in a slightly country direction on Misunderstood. This simple little ditty addressed to a ‘so needy’ woman who ‘got the wrong idea’ is ideal for anyone looking to terminate a casual involvement via a bandcamp link. By the way, you shouldn’t actually do that.

Moving on. World music! Hippie music! Prog rock! Stopped reading yet? Please don’t. The Plum Magnetic could be one of the most interesting and surprising bands you will have heard in a long time.

Emerging from New Orleans African/reggae/Afro-Cuban jamming circuits, the group consists of two Indian classical music enthusiasts (one who plays a six-stringed electric banjo) and two other guys with equally good beards and hair, who also play some instruments. Their music travels through so many cultures and genres that it would almost be easier to list what they’re not – like, er, Brit pop, goth, dubstep… OK, so there’s loads of genres they’re not, too. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, these guys take eclectic to another level. Listening to the album, Terra Animata, for the first time, you just don’t know what’s coming next, and it’s always a pleasant surprise.

It’s possible to get happily lost in the Plums’ meandering instrumental tracks, which often run to over nine minutes, making them like a more tropical Mogwai. The album also contains two lyrical tracks: one in English, and one in Spanish, the latter of which is the title track and last on the album. Trent Ciolino sings: ‘Somos nada […] más que tierra animada’ – ‘We are no more than animated earth’. His relaxed celebration of our unimportance is contagious.

Prediction: every hippy traveller will have this album on their iPod by 2015.

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