Archives for posts with tag: lo-fi

It’s that time of year. December. Christmas if you are that way inclined. A holiday for some, but not all. Bandcamp has been a musical and sanity saviour for years, especially these past two pandemic-blighted years. So I couldn’t help but do a quick search for “Bandcamp Christmas Single” just to see what what pop up. I clicked on the first song that looked likely and intriguing and here we are with Brighton, UK lo-fi troubadour Peter Hoggarth’s “Rail Replacement Service Christmas Party”. Enjoy.

“Rail Replacement Service Christmas Party” has a ramshackle charm, and gets extra points for the sleigh bells throughout. After enjoying this quirky festive tale please take the opportunity to journey back through the artist’s back catalogue.

Music formats have come and gone. Some have come back again. Bandcamp feels to me like it is now a format as much as it is an online record store. Over the past century music has been distributed on shellac 78s, polyvinyl phonographic long-players (10″ and 12″ LPs) and 7″ singles, 8-track cartridges, flexi discs, cassette tapes, DAT, mini discs, compact discs, USB sticks… now on Bandcamp.

“Bandcamp downloads” are a world-changing new format for me now. It’s different to MP3 filesharing, streaming, and corporate digital music stores like iTunes. It’s a direct medium between musicians and their audience, small labels and their audience and even some larger more established independent labels too. It’s a virtual record store, a place of discovery, and it’s instant.

Bandcamp is also a great way to send friends and families the gift of music. If you are looking for some last-minute inspiration here’s 5 PopLib favourites from 2021.

  1. XR” by XR

“XR” by XR is the album I have played most in 2021. It’s just low-key perfect and I’m not really sure why I like it so much. My Bandcamp downloads are transferred onto a USB stick which I play through a network CD player through a stereo system. “XR” was released as a digital download, with no physical release formats. I really craved “XR” in a physical format so burned a CD and made a sleeve for it. “XR” was written and recorded between Melbourne and Sydney between 2019 – 2021 by Raven Mahon and Xanthe Waite, and was released in June 2021.

2. “Lammas Fair” by Henry Parker

“Lammas Fair” is a self-released modern UK folk album which mixes a bit of tradition with some 70s electric folk influences and some more psychedelic guitar flourishes. David Kilgour (The Clean, Stephen, The Heavy Eights) posted the title track on Facebook a few months ago, liking the drop D tuning. I bought the CD through Henry Parker’s Bandcamp and have been enjoying it since. It would appeal to anyone who appreciates the best of the UK folk guitar legends (Jansch, Renbourn) and also more contemporary guitar explorers (Steve Gunn, Ben Chasny). It’s even made the UK Official Folk Albums Chart Top 40 this month, on the back of Bandcamp sales of downloads, CD and LP.

3. “Two of the Same” by Ludus

Pōneke/ Wellington electronic composer-producer Emma Bernard has been making music for 5 years under the name Ludus and with “Two of the Same”, released in March 2021, delivered one of the best NZ electronic albums of recent times, pulsing with lush, atmospheric music. The album blends more familiar minimal techno and electronic music styles with its creator’s own exploration of sounds, field recordings, tones, moods and subtle rhythms.

4. “What’s Growing” by Wurld Series

Wurld Series combine enchanting melodic song-writing, brilliant lead guitar lines, pastoral mellotron folk psychedelia, and Luke Towart’s bemused delivery of skewed elliptical philosophical lyrics for this charming homespun album of wonky Ōtautahi/ Chrsitchurch guitar pop weirdness.

5. “Dream #12” by Mess Esque, Mick Hunter, McKisko

A nocturnal album of transcendentally sparse and beautifully fractured lullabies combining the music and instruments of Mick Turner (The Dirty Three) with the lyrics and voice of Helen Franzmann (McKisko), Beautiful and strange, low-key and sleepy (mostly), while also experimental, euphoric, heavenly and moving. Perfect for these unsettled and unsettling times. Easier to listen to than describe.

Our Day 20 song for 31 Days of May Madness, attempting to post a New Zealand track every day of the month of May, is “Plume on Europa” by Ripship:

“Plume on Europa” is from the 2020 post-punk sci-fi lo-fi weirdness of Ripship’s “Greebles” EP. The song stands out for Callum Lincoln’s chiming guitar-synth arpeggio and drummer Eva-Rae McLeans’ lost-in-echoes spoken-word vocals, sounding like nothing much else.

The Auckland duo create something curious and different on the six song EP. It’s full of unexpected clanking cool strangeness, spoken word commentary, and all-sorts of musical, sonic and lyrical oddness.

shrapnel 2018

Here’s three songs segued together as an introduction to a new release upcoming from Sydney lo-fi guitar pop outfit Shrapnel, in the process sounding like something from an early Guided By Voices album:

Not sure if this is how these tracks will be assembled on Shrapnel’s “Wax World 5” album or if this is a three-up edit as a pre-release tempter, but either way this is a great way to experience three quite different flavours of Shrapnel’s scratchy, distorted pop goodness.

“Little Rockets” and “Milkman” have the highest GBV quotient, dangerously melodic and a bit mad (those “Milkman” choruses are extraordinary). In the middle is the prickly and furious beast of “Death Rug” which will sandpaper your ear-drums with the roughest fuzzed out guitar and overloaded (cassette porta-studio??) recording.

Shrapnel features Sam Wilkinson who was also in a couple of PopLib favourites – Sachet who in turn came out of the fine Sydney shoegaze band Day Ravies.  Check them all out please, if you haven’t already. Some very fine albums and singles from all.


“Running Out of Money” here, with its captivating Beta Band styled stoned groove and odd time signature, is from a recently released album from These Early Mornings.

These Early Mornings is/ are from New Zealand. The only named to be gleaned from the Bandcamp page for the self-titled album released on 7 October 2016 is one Jim Gaunt.

Whatever and whoever, this is a uniformly warm and weird collection of tunes. It starts with the brief and beguiling lo-fi not-quite rock steady groove of “Visa” before wandering with rhythmic abandon through other not-quite folk idioms in looping, lurching time signatures.

The eponymous third track is fractured stoner folk which might be imagined as an out-of-it Beck playing tribute to Harvest era Neil Young if it were not for the lo-fi recording and seriously off-kilter guitar solos and noise-reprise.

Overall it’s the loopy, grainy minimalism of the songs and the time signatures which makes this such a great collection of odd-pop. The closest thing to “Usually Waiting” and “Unco” for example is This Heat, and there’s a whiff of a folk Swell Maps to “Who Knows Nothing”.

This is the kind of album people will discover in 25 years time and an obscure boutique record label in the USA will re-release. Why wait that long? Get it now!



doubleu-quit-bandcamp“Quit” is the title of a fine 6 song EP from mysterious Auckland musician Doubleu. Here’s the opening track “Hero”:

Next track “Red” is equally impressive in its skillful minimal guitar layering, the subtle oddness of the backing sounds, and hushed melodic vocals. And the title track “Quit” after that. And… each following track, so stick around for the whole 12 minutes of this EP thanks.

It’s ALL pretty damned beautiful in a very understated and uncertain way, as if Doubleu doesn’t quite have the self-belief that these songs are in fact just right.

The last track “Words” offers a slightly different palette of sounds. The same shy, delicate and restrained songcraft but with more of an electronic sampled backing and playful sonic weirdness going on.

Everything about this 6 track EP by the mysterious Doubleu is intriguing. In it’s own quiet bedroom-pop-symphonies-in-miniature style, it’s a bit special. Don’t quit please.

CrumbsCrumbs is a punk/ lo-fi/ post-punk band from Leeds UK, consisting of Ruth, Gem, Jamie and Stuart. That’s all there is to know. That’s all we need to know. “On Tiptoes” is the 2nd song on a 5 song release called simply “demos”

The five songs are all somewhat rudimentary constructions built around rumbling basslines and crunchy guitar, sounding like live practice room recordings, as you might expect with that “demos’ title.

Despite the superficial rough-around-the-edges nature of the songs each is satisfyingly different from the other and all pack an undeniable DIY pop-craft charm, with rattling-good post-punk structure and momentum.

“On Tiptoes” is built on a big pushy Steve Hanley-ish bassline but this isn’t The Fall. The song is reflective and melancholy, with Ruth or Gem singing “hope this message reaches you” – and instructing or admonishing “mind your manners, when it matters, always be kind, never ever undermine” in a voice that sounds more like its channeling deep regret and sadness – or perhaps cynicism – than anger.

It’s all very mysterious, and all the better for that. In a world of overcooked, glaringly obvious pop, a bit of mystery and anti-style no-shine grit is a wonderful thing to lose yourself in for a bit.






Here’s some unholy lo-fi psych goodness in spades from Christchurch band Wurld Series and their “Orkly Kid” single.

“Orkly Kid” comes across with the sweetly melodic fuzzed up charm of early Teenage Fanclub via Pavement as recorded on a 4 track cassette (I’m guessing).

It’s a bit grainy and lo-fi but that super-psych heavy tremolo-fuzz guitar sound is messily wonderful.

The B-Side “Rabbit” is also great. Looking forward to hearing these one day on “the forthcoming ‘Anthology’ to be released through Voyager Golden Records (Portland, USA)” and on “a full length LP to be released in the NEAR FUTURE.”

Wurld Series also appeared recently on this (sold out) split cassette with Jim Nothing on Melted Ice Cream. Pretty sure that Jim Nothing is also in Wurld Series but they are refreshingly obscure (no FB page!) and I like it that way.

[PostScript: Wurld Series advise “Sorry but we got a FB page after all…” They also say Jim Nothing left a while back but “is forever an honorary member of Wurld Series.”]

Birdation 2016.jpg

Taking a somewhat opposite but apposite direction to the futuristic re-mix by Horse Doctor of Death And The Maiden, here’s a brand new song called “Sprain” from Death And The Maiden and Bad Sav shredder Hope Robertson under the guise of her other alter-ego as “bird racer” at Birdation.

Birdation is Hope’s solo lof-fi experimental noise ensemble of one. I say ensemble even though it’s only one person because there’s usually a pile of equipment – ancient and modern – on stage with Hope when Birdation plays live. Not all of it is always under control which adds to the tension and uniqueness of each Birdation performance.

In place of the futuristic glitchy Acid Pro looped-up madness of Horse Doctor, Birdation uses a more old-fashioned recording tool to distort, muddy and saturate the sound into disorienting textures – a 4 track ‘Portastudio’ type cassette recorder.

Birdation songs always come with an adventurous sense of downbeat euphoria and agreeable melodicism.

Louder vocals would be great but the submerged nature the vocals – sounding like they’ve been phoned in from space and recorded in a galvanised metal bucket – is all part of the subterfuge. Deliberately or not, it has the effect of forcing you right IN to the song as you try to work it all out.

There’s some very nice post-rock delay guitar work buried within the tape-sludge and a magnificently apocalyptic ending rounds it all off perfectly too.

The Biscuits

The Biscuits

Day 29 of PopLib’s May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month is another dip into the Stabbiesetc. catalogue for a scuzz-tastic song from The Biscuits.

“Secret Crisis” is a maddeningly listenable slice of classic home-made fuzz-pop. Great song. Just listen to it – you’ll either love it or hate it, I suspect there is no middle ground.

The Biscuits are Brenda Dwane – guitar and vocals, Brent Bidlake – drums, Indira Neville – guitar and vocals and also features Lucy Danko – lurking monster noises (whatever they are). The “Secret Crisis” EP was recorded by Stefan ‘Pumice’ Neville.

Day 27 of the May Month of Madness Marathon for NZ Music Month is the accurately-titled “Awful & Awesome” from Pumice.

“Awful & Awesome” is from a collection of songs from a couple of releases dating from 2006. “Recorded September 2006 on Chris Moons 4 track during an Artists Residency at AS220, Providence, RI, USA” is what it says on the Stabbiesetc. Bandcamp. It IS awesome, in that lo-fi fuzzy damaged DIY way Pumice’s Stefan Neville has made his trademark. The ‘awfulness’ becomes just another part of what we might euphemistically call “character” here.

Pumice is an acquired taste. If you are used to your music being like a fine wine, or maybe the half-decent cider of indie-pop, or even the Scrumpy of DIY-recorded music, then Pumice will come across a bit like the organic cider vinegar of music (the cloudy unfiltered, unpasteurized stuff with the floaty bits in it). You know it’s good for you in small doses, but most of us just can’t take a lot of it.

Anyway, that’s all just a roundabout back-handed way of telling you there is a huge treasure trove of Pumice obscurities (and other related lo-fi artists) reaching back into last century, all assembled on Stabbiesetc. bandcamp. There’s also a Stabbiesetc. website.

For those who lament the demise of great Scottish underground/ experimental music store Volcanic Tongue, then Stabbiesetc. might provide some of your unfiltered yeasty fermented music fix.