Surprise Me, Bandcamp: February 2024

Yes it is Groundhog Day, but no, you’re not experiencing deja vu. We kicked off this feature last month, and we’re back for another round of surprises from the Bandcamp algorithm. It’s pretty simple: we ask Bandcamp to randomly sort its releases from Canada, from any genre and any time, and then pick a handful from the first batch the site suggests to share with you here. Our criteria for picking these releases? Nothing specific: maybe it’s the cover art, an intriguing name, or pure gut instinct that’s led me to click play on that particular release. Here are this month’s surprises, as pulled out of the Bandcamp void by Em Moor and Jim Di Gioia.

Boogie Cats, A Journey To The Toilet

Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland
released September 11, 2000

Before I hit the “Surprise Me” button on Bandcamp, I was unfamiliar with Boogie Cats and unaware of their album A Journey To The Toilet. The Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland-based band partly describes their music as “absurd kitty pop/cat rock,” which fits their sound perfectly. With songs ranging from 21 seconds to almost 7 minutes, the band kept me on my toes with their blend of pop, nintendocore, alt-rock, and new wave. I never knew what I was going to hear next, from the recorder-driven “Poo and Pee Is The Way To Be” to the bouncy and upbeat “Kitten Door,” which ends with a sound reminiscent of a cat door swinging closed. All of the lyrics, except for an operatic interlude (sung in English) on “^..^” and a short spoken moment on “9 Lives”, are made up of cat sounds and contain countless “mews” and “meows”. A Journey To The Toilet is eclectic, strange, and fun, and it’s safe to say that I’ve never heard anything like it before. • Em Moore

Lightmares, LIZARDS

Sudbury, Ontario
released December 25, 2014

When LIZARDS by Sudbury-based Lightmare popped up on the screen, I was immediately drawn to the artwork. An adorable bright-green dinosaur-like lizard stands out against a white background and looks like it’s offering up its belly for a rub. I was also unfamiliar with this band before this and was surprised by the bluesy, punky, poppy, indie rock I found. The EP opens with “Aquarian Eyes,” which features blues-tinged howling vocals, harmonica, and plenty of great fuzzy distortion, and is followed up by the punk-driven “Money Woe,” which showcases the vibrato of the lead singer and has a chaotic energy that feels like the wheels could fly off at any second. The band shows their slower side with the lo-fi acoustic track “Cool With You” and the dreamy indie rock of “Fish”. According to their Bandcamp page, Lightmare has released two albums, one EP, and two singles since releasing LIZARDS, which I will have to check out. • Em Moore

Panter Beats, The Last Thing I Do

Canada (location not otherwise unspecified)
10 tracks, released June 9, 2023

Anyone for self-produced experimental hip-hop and trap with a female vocalist into instrumentals and melodic nightcore? That’s not what I expected when I clicked on Panter Beats’ 2023 release, but I’ve found some interesting textures that remind me a lot of Purity Ring and Black Dresses without the sensory overload. Their bio links to a Soundcloud and private Instagram account, but there’s enough on Bandcamp to suggest Panter Beats is a prolific producer tapping into a creative streak worth checking into. • Jim Di Gioia

Masters of Nothing, Djembe Jazz Luau

Canada (location not otherwise unspecified, until we found them on Instagram: they are from Ottawa)
15 tracks, released August 23, 2014

Masters of Nothing is coming at us from another unspecified Canadian locale. Still, their Bandcamp bio, which calls their sound “weirdo jams” and “psychedelic fish music,” is enough to suggest these folks live on another plane. Djembe Jazz Luau is a 15-song freakout where no track lasts longer than three minutes and twenty seconds, but each is packed with enough oddity to pique the curious. It’s probably not the best representation of the band’s experimental improv jazz sound, but if you’re up to it, Masters of Nothing has 19 other Bandcamp releases for the adventurous to explore. • Jim Di Gioia

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