Wednesday, February 11th, 2009
Review of A Camp's Colonia
MySpaceThe first A Camp album came at an interesting time, with The Cardigans having proven themselves not just a one-hit wonder but a two-hit one (“My Favourite Game” to go along with “Lovefool”) but also rather burning out in the process. Nina Persson used the downtime to explore country music and Americana with the assistance of Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous and not only crafted an excellent record in their self-titled debut, but carried the influences back to The Cardigans to inform my personal favourite of their repertoire, Long Gone Before Daylight. That stylistic uniformity went out the window with their next record, the eclectic but still very solid Super Extra Gravity and with the Cardies again on a break, Persson has taken that grab-bag aesthetic back to A Camp.
Colonia, released in Europe last week but not out in North America until April 28, collects 11 songs that could have been Cardigans tunes in another life but could never be mistaken as such in the forms that they’ve been recorded in here. With the formal addition of Persson’s husband Nathan Larson (of Shudder To Think) and Niclas Frisk as members of A Camp, it’s now more of an official band than before but rather than imprint that band with a particular sonic identity, they instead reinvent themselves in whatever way necessary to compliment the songs. Persson’s vocals are unmistakable but the sounds that surround it incorporate elements of show tunes, electronica, glam and country to name just a very few – there’s enough of everything to make it sound familiar but never to the point of being able to place a song in a tidy pigeonhole.
If there’s a common thread, it’s the sonic richness and elegance each song is imbued with. No matter what they put in it, it sounds marvelous, even if some songs are less memorable than others. But the keepers are worth cherishing – “My America” is buoyed by jaunty horns, the languidness of “Chinatown” beautifully channels Television in its guitar lines and lead single “Stronger Than Jesus” boasts a melody that’s as indelible as anything Persson’s ever come up with. Though I wish as much as any fan that the Cardies break will be a short one – apparently Persson’s bandmates are all using the time to tend to fatherly duties – if it continues to yield more A Camp records then there’ll be no word of complaint from me.
Persson is engaged in conversation by The Sunday Mail, The Telegraph and The Independent. And perhaps as a way of making up for the fact that the album isn’t out domestically for another three months, Nettwerk have made available a live session MP3 of “Stronger Than Jesus”. Update: Stereogum is streaming another song from the record and talk to Nina about it.
Also with a new video – School Of Seven Bells.
Check out the title track of The Thermals’ new album Now We Can See, set for release on April 7.
Some in-stores of note to tell you about. The Von Bondies will hit up Criminal Records this Friday, February 13, at 5PM before heading down the street for their show at the Horseshoe. And next weekend,Alela Diane, whose To Be Still is coming out next Tuesday, will be at Soundscapes on February 21 at 6:30PM in advance of her show at the Horseshoe that evening opening for Blitzen Trapper and the next day (February 22) at 3PM, Sonic Boom will host Ben Kweller leading up to his show at the Mod Club that evening.
The National are returning. They’re at the Kool Haus on May 21, tickets $24.50.
And finally, The Chicago Sun-Times weighs in on what could be the most disturbing bit of music industry news in a sea of disturbing music industry news, the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster. No good can come of this, none at all. But my question is – how does this affect the Canadian divisions of those respective companies? I ask because I remember way back in the ’90s when Pearl Jam were boycotting all US TicketMaster venues, they still played TM-serviced venues up here and said that was because TicketMaster Canada was a separate entity from the US one they were protesting. Though it could/should have been pointed out that even if that were true from a corporate POV, they were still as asshat-acular as their Stateside counterparts when it came to price gouging and exorbitant service charges. And do you have to have bought tickets for a specific show to take part in the class action suit or can you just be generally irritated?