Friday, May 22, 2009

Camera Obscura and the Glasgow Sound

EVER since i first heard lloyd cole and the commotions at an impressionable age, i've been crazy for scottish rock n roll and especially bittersweet music of glasgow. it's one of the finest legacies in rock music history, putting supposedly sophisticated cities like san francisco and boston to shame. only, i think, portland, ore., and manchester, uk, have better batting averages. (i'm overlooking quarterflash here, btw.)

one band that both exemplifies glasgow's tradition of melody and intelligence (heard in glaswegian bands as different as the jesus & mary chain and teenage fanclub) and fights against its associations is camera obscura, whose new LP just came out. HERE is my interview, which advances a US tour and will run in various metromix papers around the country.

they are tired, TIRED of being told they sound like belle & sebastian, but if you cant wait for the new LP by stuart and the boys waste no time in picking up "let's get our of this country" or "my maudlin career." here's a video of the new single, "french navy," a song that begins "in a dusty library" and then travels the world.

i spoke to traceyanne campbell, the band's singer and songwriter, about music -- she grew up loving patsy cline, and her grandfather cried when roy orbison died -- as well as her own depression and how she deals with it in music. (i think of donne's line about "grief brought to numbers.")

(serious glaswegians will know that the wonderful "country" record began with "lloyd, i'm ready to be heartbroken," video here, an answer song in to cole's early "are you ready to be heartbroken?" i was pleased to hear from campbell that cole's work is still a major part of indie culture in glasgow and that bars and clubs play his stuff readily. more on cole's music in another post.)

as for camera obscura, they'll be in LA, at the henry fonda, on june 11. as i say in the interview, their show last time around was surprisingly extroverted and fun.


Eric J. Lawrence said...

Personally I've always prefered the ragged jangle of bands like Josef K, the Pastels, the Fire Engines, the Yummy Fur, and of a more recent vintage, 1900s and Frightened Rabbit, to the more gentle school of Camera Obscura, Aztec Camera, and even Belle & Sebastian (although they do truly transcend "school").

Lloyd is actually an Englishman - born in Derbyshire - but met up with his Commotion bandmates while attending the University of Glasgow, so he has only honorary Scottish standing. But it sounds like it's honored quite seriously there in the north.

Scott Timberg said...

at the risk of being pedantic -- lloyd was born in buxton, a roman spa town in england's (stunning) peak district, where i have hiked -- an englishman indeed tho as dr. j knows well, his most influential band formed in glasgow and is indeed associated with the caledonian tradition.