swelo has had possibly the most modern path to musical fame as there has been in recent years. With the advent of Youtube, social media, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud, the old way in which a musician could gain notice, via being signed with a record company, has all but vanished. Now major labels struggle to keep up with do-it-yourself music production and distribution as the market is flooded with hundreds of means by which an artist can be heard online for free.
swelo did the burgeoning social media music industry one better last year by simply posting his debut album, Escalator Music on the newest of social media hot spot, Reddit. Apparently, that’s all it took. The album was released in April of 2013, and by the following month it was Bandcamp’s most downloaded album, via the “name your own price option,” of course.
swelo’s follow-up, Helvetica was released last month in much the same way, but the difference now is that swelo, a New Orleans math teacher by vocation, has built up a following, and the album has been anticipated on Reddit and Bandcamp for months. Helvetica does not disappoint, though it does go in a rather different direction from Escalator Music, showcasing swelo’s diversity and ability to experiment with different instruments, styles and softwares, in this case. Where Escalator Music was heavy on funk and had lots of rap and R&B style, Helvetica is softer around the edges, more ambient with pretty vocals and swelling melodies. There is still a definite funk timbre to many to the tracks, and one single, #bangers, is definitively club-style, with an upbeat bassline and funky tune to match. More typical, however, are tracks like the title song, which is more downtempo and chill.
Helvetica is available to stream on swelo’s Bandcamp page, where it can also be purchased with the “name your own price” option, or individual tracks can also be purchased for $1. The stream of the album can also be heard by clicking the player above from SoundCloud, where listeners can also check out Escalator Music. swelo’s modern, chilled out experimental vibe will be a great compliment to any fall playlist, and hopefully he will be complimenting the new album with a fall tour as well.
Written by Layla Marino
Blog: (Dropping) Weird Science