camera obscura

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Off topic, does anyone have an “entry song” into “Hazards of Love”? You know, a song you can listen to and it gets you excited to hear the rest? Excluding the Rake’s Song, that is. I listened to the first three tracks and it was like, snoozeville, so either I am way off base or I just haven’t found the way into it. Any suggestions? (Confession: I kind of hate albums where the whole thing is one story. Excluding “The Wall.” But even that gets on my nerves sometimes.)

Aaaand, back to topic in five, four three ….

The ladies are rocking my socks off these last few months, with some really great stuff. It’s so much fun to look at my playlist and realize that it’s all women singing/writing/playing (yes, guys are great too, that’s not the point). Let’s recap, for those people who have been hiding under a rock for awhile.

01. Lisa Hannigan — Sea Sew. Have I said enough about this album? I THINK I HAVE.

Lisa Hannigan — Venn Diagram

02. Camera Obscura — My Maudlin Career. This one is classic C.O. and very fun to listen to. It starts off with such a great track, “French Navy,” where Traceyanne Campbell laments the fleeting nature of love and its unholdability.

Camera Obscura — French Navy

03. Vienna Teng — Inland Territory. Her voice is so beautiful that she sneaks all kinds of social issues into her songs and you don’t even notice until you’re singing along.

Vienna Teng — No Gringo

04. Bat For Lashes — Two Suns. Spacy, nutty, gorgeous: it’s all still there in the fabulous mix that is Natasha Khan.

Bat For Lashes — Travelling Woman

05. Neko Case — Middle Cyclone. The usual mix of the unusual: startling violent images, mysterious lyric play, being stalked by a cyclone. You know; same old same old.

Neko Case — Polar Nettles

06. Jenn Grant — Echoes. Understated and beautiful folk with jazzy undertones; the lyrics almost remind me of Bjork sometimes :D but the music does not sound anything like Her Icelandiness.

Go forth and listen!

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Random stuff keeping me occupied:

[ed note: tracks removed. pls contact me for a copy.]

01. Immuzikation — Sweet Young Angel (Feist vs burial vs Jens Lekman)
      [Myspace — warning, this is the ugliest myspace ever]
02. Gangstagrass — On the Run
      [Site]
03. The Polyamorous Affair — Merry Go Round
      [Myspace]
04. Camera Obscura — Your Sister’s Social Agony
      [Underachievers Please Try Harder, 2004]
05. ABBA — Take A Chance On Me
      [The Album, 1977]

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06.
Camera Obscura
Let’s Get Out Of This Country
Merge
I Need All the Friends I Can Get (removed. contact me for a copy.)

This album came out of left field and smacked me in the face. I’d never listened to any Camera Obscura; never mind that they’ve been around ten years, I’d never even heard of them; and I don’t even listen to Scottish bands (unless you count that one song by Big Country), so “sounds like Belle & Sebastian” is a meaningless term. Sure, the blogs have been all over “Let’s Get Out” for months, but I’m slow on the uptake. But what makes this album so ultra-consumable? In spite of its uber-confessionalism, everyone’s put it on their year-end lists. And in a world where indie bloggers are male and early twenties, it surprises me. What does everyone like so much about this album?

Here’s my working theory. Number one, Tracyanne Campbell’s beautiful but accessible voice. You can imagine her coming into your place, plopping down on your couch, and telling you all about the rough night she just had. She’s your friend. She’s good-looking, but in an approachable way. Number two, the music is what it says it is. No having to dig through it trying to find out what it all meeeeans. This is music for anyone who wants to break up with a girl or boyfriend; with a job; with their parents; with their rent; with life. It’s a simple theme, but it resonates deeply with the listener, who is likely disaffected in some way (if you’re perfectly happy, feel free to put your head on your desk till I’m done talking).

Number three, every song on the album is a variation on the theme — you know the theme. It’s the title of the album. So I took one line from each song (10 total) and mixed them up and made my own Camera Obscura song. Now I just have to get Campbell to sing it for me:

Tell me where it all went wrong
Oh let’s not pretend I needed the lesson that you taught me well
I can tell you this for nothing / you won’t win
You can’t see that she’s just the same as all the stupid people you hate

I’ll admit I am bored with me
I like it my way with no limitation
I’ve got my life of complication here to sort out
Do you think it’s time I put it out of my mind
Expecting softness can lead to foolishness
Who’s being pessimistic now?

It’s deceptively easy music; you think to yourself, but why did she need to write ten songs about the same thing? Well, my answer would be that it’s in human nature to rehash your complaints. This album is the girl friend that calls you up every night to ask you why her man left her, what did she do wrong, next time she won’t make that mistake, he was a jerk anyway. Or the guy who comes in every day and says, “Today I’m definitely finding a new job. I can’t work with these people anymore.” We work through our problems that way, rethinking the problem in order to solve it.

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