DFW Music News

‘Leonbridges’ and Other Bizarre DFW Bandcamp Pages

We found some weird stuff on Bandcamp, and we're low-key into it.
We found some weird stuff on Bandcamp, and we're low-key into it. Westend61/Getty Images
Many contemporary DIY artists and labels owe much of their success to Bandcamp for providing a popular, user-friendly platform with one of the most acclaimed payout models in the music industry. Artists such as Car Seat Headrest and Soccer Mommy used the streaming service as a launchpad, and it is churning out even more success stories as we speak.

Because Bandcamp has no gatekeepers, it is also a haven for outsider music, and artists of this variety have also reached a dedicated following thanks to the website. For every outsider musician with a dedicated cult following, there are hundreds who are keeping it weird for a far smaller audience. As nature has it, many of these artists will fade into obscurity even by these already-obscure standards, but some may go on to be the next Jandek or Wesley Willis.

We scoured Bandcamp in search of unusual releases from DFW artists, and below are five that will either make you scratch your head, scratch your chin or scratch neither so you can use your hands to cover your ears.

Phil, Boris Johnson 2

Whoever “Phil” is, he is evidently half of Denton experimental band The Fred Karger Memorial Lump Band. He is also impeccably attuned to current events in Great Britain, as evidenced by the self-explanatory subject matter of the album Boris Johnson 2. There are millions of people who are writing songs about love, but only one person has the audacity to write one about a Guy Fieri restaurant stopping Brexit, and it is Phil who, according to his Bandcamp page, “Once saw a guy who kind of looked like Jeremy Corbyn on public transit.”

Leonbridges, Lemoncheesecake EP

The music itself isn’t even the strangest part about Leonbridges’ Lemoncheesecake EP. It shouldn’t weird you out, provided you have listened to Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. What’s so unusual about this EP is that it came out in September 2016, and after more than three years, the band Leonbridges has not received a cease-and-desist letter from the team of an artist whose name you could easily guess. If this artist’s legal team becomes wise to the name Leonbridges and does exactly that, it won’t be because of us. There’s no other artist with the name “Leonbridges,” so nothing we’re saying could possibly be incriminating.

carolxiv, <3 <3 2

If Merzbow made music for TikTok videos, or if every iTunes sample was drowned in white noise, you would get something rather similar to the music of Dallas’ carolxiv. But how exactly do you pronounce that name? “Carol-zihv”? “Carol-ex-eye-vee”? Or is it Roman numerals? Carol 14? More important, how do you pronounce the name of the album <3 <3 2? “Heart heart two”? “Less than three less than three two”? So many questions…

That’s Handy!, PLUNGE

That’s Handy!’s EP PLUNGE comprises only of two tracks, but still runs at about 27 minutes. Per the Denton outfit’s Bandcamp page, multiple recordings were layered on top of each other, creating the cacophonous, haphazard wall of sound you hear on these cuts. It’s the auditory equivalent of having a panic attack while on acid.

ODE Willie’s Funky Bunch, Primitive Sounds: I Want To Die

Some people call Fort Worth “Funkytown,” and if any band has helped the city earn that name, it’s ODE Willie’s Funky Bunch. Back in April, the band released an album titled Primitive Sounds: I Want To Die, and it consists of recordings in which they play notes on instruments such as a ukulele and improvise lyrics whose delivery would be considered spoken word to many. Many songs on the album run for about 10-15 seconds, and as loosely structured as it is, there’s actually a warm, Daniel Johnston-esque quality to the recordings.
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Garrett Gravley was born and grew up in Dallas. He mostly writes about music, but veers into arts and culture, local news and politics. He is a graduate of the University of North Texas and has written for the Dallas Observer since October 2018.