'It's Complicated'

"It's Complicated, A Compilation" gathers tracks by Montana and Montana-tied bands. Sales benefit the MT BIPOC Mutual Aid Fund.

Twenty-eight bands and two Montana indie labels are raising money for the MT BIPOC Mutual Aid Fund, which offers direct help to local residents.

“It’s Complicated, A Compilation” gives a curated tour of underground acts from the state, or with ties to it, in a wide breadth of styles — laid-back indie-rock bands, electronic bedroom indie-pop, acoustic folk songs, to punk and heavier sounds.

The organizers are Anything Bagel, a cassette label based in Missoula run by Jon Cardiello and Sanders Smith of the band Wrinkles (among others), and Connor Lauchenbruh’s Rumble Gut Records, their DIY counterpart in Bozeman.

The idea dated back at least a year and picked up speed during the pandemic, when AB’s release schedule slowed down. The do-it-yourself label puts out full-length albums on BandCamp and on limited runs of cassettes with screen-printed art. Most of these are literal labors of love, transferred to tape one by one, that might break even, and housed in art they screen-printed themselves.

In that spirit, they decided the compilation should be for a cause, asking musicians to donate their music, and the label would donate time, to “have it be this community feel, and contribute something that then ends up giving back to people who are in need of it,” Cardiello said.

They chose the MT BIPOC Mutual Aid Fund, a DIY network of support that was started earlier this year and a cause they’d donated to personally before.

So far, the compilation has raised about $1,000 and only five of their 65-or-so tapes, with artwork by Mia Soza of Boyfeud, are left. Many people donated above the asking price, and on Friday, Dec. 4, BandCamp is holding another relief sale, in which it waives its fee and all proceeds go directly to artists, or in this case, the mutual aid fund.

The labels chose 14 tracks each. Anything Bagel was interested in including likeminded groups — underground rock bands and bedroom recording projects, and some acts that you may not get to see live in awhile. It’s not limited to a specific genre, so finger-picked acoustic singer-songwriter tracks share space with dance pop with lyrics dissecting minimum wage life (See Boyfeud’s “Working Girl”).

Since it’s a benefit during a pandemic, they were open to demos. A little scruffiness doesn’t hurt the hard-charging Celtic folk sound of Dusty the Kid’s “Down the Road.” Kale Huseby, of the late Missoula band Boys, contributed an acoustic-ish track, from his new project, called sturdy with a lower-case “s.” Ethan Uhl of Go Hibiki cut a cover of “Comfortably Numb” as a loping, Crazy Horse-esque mid-tempo emo-punk jam.

Some artists spent time in Montana but have since left — Em Violet’s “Hearts Beat Through the Night” injects some vocodered downtempo pop flavor; and Marlo Kapsa’s “Overtime” is a galvanizing rock song.

Rumble Gut brings some heavier acts to the table, like Lauchenbruh’s group Chairea and Anaconda Vise, the latter of which was recorded live at Labor Fest, Bozeman’s DIY music festival. Gallatin Ghost Train’s “Have You Seen My Baseball?” pairs metal intensity and double-drumming with slide guitar. Miss Massive Snowflake’s stoner metal piece, “Three Night Stand,” provides some experimental atmospheres with the heaviness.

As Cardiello said, it's welcome exposure for groups from Bozeman and Billings that Missoula listeners may not be familiar with.