“Home and Dry” by Tracyanne & Danny | With Camera Obscura in a bit of a flux lately (sad circumstances, partly) their vocalist Tracyanne Campbell has returned, teaming up with Crybaby’s Danny Coughlan (well, it really is mostly him) to form a group called, well, Tracyanne & Danny. It was nice seeing this announcement early this week: even if it isn’t the whole band, seeing some sort of new material come in is a comfort despite me having played a lot of Camera Obscura the past few months. And it sounds… well, familiar. Soft. Nice. Upbeat yet melancholy. A tinge of pain and a swathe of optimism. It’s as disagreeable as we’ve always loved it. Their debut drops this May. It is when they call it a day, after all. [NB]
“The Sweetest Thing” by Camera Obscura | Carey Lander, Camera Obscura’s keyboardist, died on Sunday, after four years battling a particularly aggressive form of bone cancer. The 33-year-old joined the band in 2002, after the departure of original keyboardist Lindsay Boyd, and has played on the band’s last four records to date, making her an integral part of their bright AM-pop sound. I’m sad to see her go. I’ve loved the band since my college years – think of it, it’s been ten years – because of three things: Tracyanne Campbell’s nonchalant delivery, Nigel Baillie’s mournful trumpets (which he still does on tour despite leaving the band to become a father), and Carey’s keyboards, which now takes a new dimension considering that the group’s last record, Desire Lines, was recorded in the midst of her cancer diagnosis. Carey’s fundraising campaign for Sarcoma UK will continue, the band says: it has broken the £25,000 barrier a month or so back. Now, Carey, go tinkle up there. Goodnight. [NB]
Camera Obscura’s done one thing well: riff on the occasionally French, slightly twangy, slighty swingy, definitely brooding side of the 1970s sound. The changes across their albums are not revolutionary, but their last two albums built up to this: 2006’s Let’s Get Out Of This Country embodied the AM sound, while 2009’s My Maudlin Career went further down the lush lane. Desire Lines adds a surprising new element: Tracyanne Campbell, master of the awkward and deadpan, suddenly has feelings. She was always shy, if not forlorn, on previous albums, but suddenly she’s sprightly on “This Is Love (Feels Alright)”, regretful on “I Missed Your Party”, and even giddy on “Do It Again”. But aside from that, and the added star power – Neko Case and Jim James’ efforts on backing vocals are barely noticeable – the little trills, the build-ups, it makes Desire Lines still a quintessential, albeit better, Camera Obscura album. | 4/5
“Do It Again” by Camera Obscura | One of my favorite indie bands, Camera Obscura, will get their fifth album, Desire Lines, out this June. This is their first single, a sunny, slightly California-ish (in a Magic Numbers way) track that’s not as twee as their previous stuff but maintains the vibe, thanks in part to Tracyanne Campbell’s voice, a bit happier but with a bit of a quiver. Like this, really, but not as lush. Now, listening to this track is pretty hard. The YouTube vid I posted up there is blocked to me (and to you, my readers in the Philippines) so I suggest you head on over here (that’s Marc Riley’s show on 6 Music, of course) and listen an hour and 45 minutes into the show. Dear band: please release a decent lyric video soon. Thank you. Bow. (Update: official video now posted. This should work for everyone.)
“Tears for Affairs” by Camera Obscura | Scottish band Camera Obscura made their presence felt on my Facebook feed last week, saying that their fifth record is getting close to being done, but not quite. Perfect timing to finally start writing about Tracyanne Campbell’s slightly lazy delivery, then? I love it, by the way. This is my first favorite song from the band, off their third record Let’s Get Out Of This Country. This struck me while having a relatively deep conversation with a friend I first met during my radio geek phase. We weren’t, obviously, talking about the radio. This song played and I found myself quoting it to her, thinking it’s applicable. I eventually listened to the whole album and got my mom to react, saying it sounds like a funeral dirge. I hope it’s a compliment. Or, if not, that it only applies to the tail end of “Razzle Dazzle Rose”, which does sound like a funeral dirge – a lovely one, though.