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A Voyage Through Bandcamp: Pt 1

Music. There is so much of it floating around the internet hoping that one day somebody might actually pay to listen to it. But what is it really for? Bandcamper asks this question while listening to some of the would-be global ear infections of the moment.

First up, some kind of tranquilized emo band in which a man with the most generic soft rock voice imaginable and his friends try to sound exactly like a less frantic version of Muse – apart from about every third song, when they try to sound exactly like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers in their later days. They’re called the Monks of Mellonwah, or MOM for short, a name which seems to have as much relevance to anything as most of their lyrics. Here’s a sample from the track , Ghost Stories: ‘Turning, and burning, the apple falls so far from the tree.’ To be fair, I do find meaning and personal resonance in those lyrics, but that’s only because I’ve done fruit picking on acid.

Next, two records by female singer-songwriters: Lael Summer‘s album, Burden to Bear, and Marla Mase‘s EP, Half-Life. Lael Summer is a pop/soul/funk singer fron New York City, whose use of the personal in her lyrics, and the generic in her musical style, plus a sultry, self-hugging pose on her album cover should ensure commercial success. On one track she sings ‘It ain’t about my legs, it ain’t about my thighs… ‘ or her hair, or clothes, apparently: ‘It’s about soul’. Judging by the album cover, it might also be a little bit about her sideboob.

Marla Mase is a rock/punk/funk/spoken word singer from New York City, whose use of the personal in her lyrics has been described as making her appear ‘at once both confrontational and completely vulnerable’ – although not as vulnerable as her cat, who she hopes she did not leave in the dryer (Things that scare me). It’s funny, because you’re not supposed to put a cat in the dryer. Perhaps that’s also where she left her bra and shirt, because she’s forgotten to put them on for her photoshoot. But, unlike Lael Summer’s sultry sideboob, Marla’s mammary vibe is less soft porn, more ‘my jacket’s hangin’ open and you’ll see how much I give a fuck’. She hasn’t even had the sun spots airbrushed off her chest, perhaps inspired by Patti Smith’s famous refusal to have her moustache airbrushed off the cover of Horses. Smith’s influence can certainly be heard in Mase’s music, in which she ranges from punkish shouting to rambling freeform poetry, the absence of fuck-giving richly apparent throughout. She doesn’t even seem to care that she can’t actually sing all that well, and neither do I.

Marla Mase’s music is intended to inspire, amuse and provoke, whereas Lael Summer and the Monks of Mellonwah seem mostly intended to provide musical wallpaper. Having said that, I know MOM for one would disagree with me – guitarist Joe de la Hoyde said he wants their music to be ‘an emotive journey that takes the listener to the heart of their own inner selves.’ Anyway, either way it’s fine. Do enjoy MOM and Lael Summer, while you’re going for a drive on a Sunday afternoon, getting the bus to school, or having your first at-home dinner date with someone you met on OKCupid. I’ll be getting my imperfect groove on at Marla Mase’s psychotic feminist post-punk disco.