Bocha courtesy of the artist

We're kicking off a new regular feature where we put the spotlight on exciting new music being released by Portland-area artists and labels, including samples of the tunes and links to where you can stream or buy the stuff that catches your ears.

Since April, Bandcamp, the online music marketplace, has been designating the first Friday of each month as Bandcamp Day. For 24 hours (until midnight tonight), Bandcamp will waive all the fees it takes from each transaction, with all the money instead directly to the artists and labels that ply their wares on the site. The goal is to help these music makers survive this ongoing pandemic—and its accompanying shutdown of clubs, concert halls, and record stores—a little easier.

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Recognizing the historic moment we are in, many artists are going a step further and donating some or all of the money they earn today to nonprofits and organizations helping those citizens that have been arrested during the ongoing protests against police brutality or supporting Black Americans.

With that in mind, before we get into a rundown of recent Portland music worth your headspace, here's a quick, incomplete list of how some local artists are paying it forward for Bandcamp Day. (If I've missed anything, please email me and I'll do my best to get it added before the end of the day.)

Now, on to the music...

Cool Nutz: Father of Max

One release from this year that ashamedly slipped below our radar was the new album by Portland hip-hop mainstay Cool Nutz. The rapper known to his family as Terrance Scott chose this past Valentine's Day to drop Father of Max, his first album of the new decade. The record's sweet cover art—a picture of Scott gazing lovingly at his young son—suggests a softening or maturing, but the music tells a different story. His lyrics don't shy away from the anger and frustration of being Black in America but carry a measure of hope for the future. Scott's elder statesman status in the Portland rap community also allowed him to bring in a wealth of local talent for features, including Portland Trail Blazer Damian Lillard, Rasheed Jamal, Mic Capes, and Maniac Lok.

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Bocha: I Like U

While Cool Nutz has been holding it down in Portland for his whole career, we've seen a wealth of young hip-hop talent make their name here before leaving for sunnier climes (Aminé, The Last Artful, Dodgr). The next one out the door may be the rapper Bocha. His new EP may be the next big step toward international acclaim. His laidback flow is hypnotizing, especially when accompanied by the downtempo production of his regular collaborators Sxlxmxn, Tawrence, and EYRST Records co-founder Neill Von Tally.

The Helio Sequence: Acoustic Live at the Triple Door

The Helio Sequence has been using its Bandcamp presence to sneak out a handful of special digital releases, including a collection of demos that they recorded ahead of making their 2015 self-titled album. This month, it begins with a recording of the indie rock duo playing an acoustic set at the Triple Door, the gorgeous venue in Seattle. With a little help from cellist Samantha Kushnick, the music survives the translation well, putting added emphasis on singer/guitarist Brandon Summers' affecting vocals and stinging melodies.

meroitic: jovilabe

Interdisciplinary artist Jamondria Harris, who records and performs as meroitic, participated in a virtual residency at an art space in Spokane and used their time to create this haunting and psychedelic collection of sound art that feeds their poems and speaking voice through a bank of effects and electronic manipulation. What came out at the other end is a flurry of ambient sound and stereo-panned oddities that float through the air like a burst of pollen.

Lindsay Fuller: The Wake

Singer-songwriter Lindsay Fuller has the kind of current cult renown that usually translates into mass acclaim 15-20 years after the fact. She's beloved by many of her fellow musicians like Casey Neill and Indigo Girls, but that has yet to translate into the kind of success that a talent like hers deserves. Your chance to tip the scales begins today with the release of The Wake, a finely wrought collection of impassioned folk and indie rock that features several of her fellow Portlanders—Decemberist Jenny Conlee, Kaia Wilson, and Blue Cranes drummer Ji Tanzer—in supporting roles.

Disarray: 1982-86

Black Water Records, one arm of a Portland media empire that includes a record shop and a dive bar, is perhaps your best local source for underground punk and hardcore, with an eye on fresh artists from around the world and keeping the music of the past in print. With the latter goal in mind, the label issued the first US release of an album collecting the work of Japanese hardcore band Disarray in 2014. Available this week digitally, the compilation is rife with short bursts of overdriven and often poorly-recorded anger and snot.

Daniel Menche: Atrophied Divinity

You cannot stop Daniel Menche, you can only hope to contain him. The ever-prolific experimental artist has returned with a new track, released this week by SIGE Records, that continues his exploration of string instruments (violin, cello) and electronics. Save this 19 minute ooze of dark menace for headphone listening and stoned self-reflection.

We're All Wrong: Nostalgist

Metalcore—the clipped, compressed heavy rock that gave us bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Trivium—has been in somewhat short supply here in Portland. Which is one reason to celebrate a new album by We're All Wrong. The debut full-length from this local trio is out today and it's everything a metalcore fan could hope for: growling vocals, chugging guitar riffs, and enough volume and energy to power a small European nation.

Luther's Boots: Darkened Road Ahead

Country crooner Danny Wilson has been doing amazing work through his Folsom50 program, which finds he and his band Luther's Boots evoking the spirit of Johnny Cash by performing concerts at area prisons. While he waits for the chance to do this work again (COVID-19 has forced a halt to volunteers visiting jails in Oregon), the group has released its latest album—a crisp collection of throwback honky tonk worthy of the Man in Black's legacy.