It’s time once again for Bandcamp Friday. If you’re unfamiliar with the event, it’s pretty straightforward: To help musicians amid the uncertainties of the ongoing pandemic, the streaming platform Bandcamp instituted “Bandcamp Friday,” a day where the company forgoes its revenue share in order to pass on to bands an average of 93 percent of money spent on music and merch.
As of Oct. 1, per Bandcamp, the initiative has generated more than $81 million from nearly 800,000 fans. The next “Bandcamp Friday” is Oct. 7.
To help you prep, we’ve rounded up recent releases from five North Texas acts you might want to hear — and support. (You can also check out our prior “Bandcamp Friday” recommendations here, here, here, here and here.)
Snarky Puppy, Empire Central
Nineteen members strong, the Denton-formed collective Snarky Puppy is no stranger to ambition. After all, the Michael League-led outfit has amassed four Grammys in part by fusing much of what emanates from North Texas — jazz, funk, soul, blues, rock and pop, among others — into a singular whole. For its latest release, a sprawling double album recorded live over eight nights at Deep Ellum Art Company, Snarky Puppy deftly honors its past and its core inspirations while boldly charting a fascinating path forward.
Clayton Smith and His Enemies, Stranger
Most of Fort Worth singer-songwriter Clayton Smith’s latest EP breezes by swiftly. The longest track, “How Do You Deal,” clocks in a hair over five minutes, but the other eight songs rarely stretch more than three minutes. Within those brief sketches, Smith’s voice, which echoes of fellow Texan truth-tellers like Hayes Carll and Townes Van Zandt, conveys a bruised beauty that rivets your attention.
Are We Alive, Lost in Time
The debut album for Are We Alive — the name given Arlington-based guitarist Andrew Goode’s solo project — chronicles, per Bandcamp, “the span of a year and deals with themes of loss, addiction, love, time, life and death.” Heady stuff, but Lost in Time never feels like anything other than creative catharsis. Goode’s dexterous guitar lines thread through triphammer drum hits, giving wings to keenly felt compositions epic in length.
Klearlight is both a beginning and an ending. The jazz fusion group co-founded by Luke Sardello and Skin Wade makes its recorded debut on this 11-track album, recorded in July and August at the now-defunct Klearlight Studio in East Dallas. (This project is the last one owner-producer Jimi Bowman oversaw before merging with Niles City Sound in Fort Worth.) Sardello and Wade teamed up with bassist/composer Max Gerl, who unfurls a deeply funky, sharply rendered excursion to the boundaries of jazz.
Theodore Diaz, Surf-Goth
There’s a surreal quality to Dallas singer-songwriter Theodore Diaz’s Surf-Goth EP, as though you’ve stumbled upon the fragments of a half-remembered dream. Less than 10 minutes in total, Diaz conjures fragments of ambient instrumentals, gritty hip-hop and spoken word weirdness — there’s a moment where he repurposes a line from “The Lion King” I haven’t dislodged from my brain since I first heard it — to create one of the most absorbing, unexpected efforts I’ve encountered this year.
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.