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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Album Review: Closer by Camp Out

Camp Out is a band out of San Francisco consisting of Maddy Hanks (vocals and guitar) and Jackie Law (keyboard, drums, backup vocals). According to their bio, they like to eat burritos and camp out. Two of my favorite things.

The guitar, bass, and drums are not complicated, and that's what gives the music strength. The sound is crisp but not robotic; it's alive and complimentary with the vocals. Speaking of which, the vocals are clear and muddle-free. The recording itself sounds very good; clear, crisp, precise... everything comes through great.

Camp Out layers the vocals, which doesn't come across as a gimmick or cheesy. The effect actually makes the songs sound more earnest yet fun; like children singing rounds. Which is interesting because the lyrical content of the songs is generally somewhat sad and depressing. It is a nice contrast and Camp Out makes it work very well.

Some songs, like Leave a Light On, and Small Steps, utilize an acoustic guitar playing a nice melody to back the vocals. Small Steps takes me back to a summer night after a particularly bad day. Music that takes me back and elicits such an emotional response definitely has something special about it.

My only complaint about the album is the last song; Crossed Out Face. There is just way too much going on. The vocals, the effects... all are very distracting. Perhaps that was the intention, but it doesn't come across very well.

For comparison purposes (for those of you who need to compare things), this album is similar to Metric or even the less manic songs by Be Your Own Pet. This is mostly due to Maddy's ability to sing very innocent one moment, and then bust out with a much more mature voice the next moment. The best way to describe her voice is "pretty." I don't mean any of that as an insult; I like both of those bands and I find that style of singing to be very pleasing to the ear.

This isn't disposable pop garbage, or soulless indie crap. I want to listen to this album again and again. There is a depth and beauty to the music that you don't often get these days. Or any days for that matter. Thanks Maddy and Jackie, hope to see you sometime.
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