Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
Ratify The New
Review of The Hidden Cameras’ Origin: Orphan and giveaway
Norman WongEven though he coined it himself, I often wonder if Joel Gibb regrets encouraging the use of “gay church folk music” as a description for the music of The Hidden Cameras. Certainly they got a lot of mileage out of it in the band’s earlier days, as it was both attention grabbing and accurate, but now, four albums in, it probably deserves to be retired.
It’s not that it’s no longer descriptive – Gibb is still gay (one assumes), it’s still music and it’s still built on foundations of folk and church traditions – but it doesn’t give them due credit for evolving from record to record and shedding some of the Cameras’ more titillating/explicit facets in exchange for more musical and lyrical sophistication. Case in point, their latest album Origin: Orphan. It remains unmistakeably a Hidden Cameras record – Joel Gibb’s muse is simply too distinctive for it to be anything else – but there’s a clear effort to broaden the definition of exactly what a Hidden Cameras record is. I’ve always found past albums to feel a bit static, so the ranginess Origin: Orphan is a real eye-opener.
There’s also a heaviness to the record that’s new, and maybe it’s just the excitement of being surprised by a Hidden Cameras album, but I think they wear it well. While the signature whimsy remains, it’s accented by sounds and textures that give them a real weight – the shrieking outro of “Do I Belong?”, the insistent descending riff of the title track, and the glorious foreboding of orchestral centerpiece “Walk On” – and end up the most memorable moments. And it’s the contrast of those dark pieces that give the brighter pop numbers even more jump, like the giddy almost-closing pairing of “Underage” and “The Little Bit” which sound as buoyant as anything they’ve ever recorded. Having reached a point in their existence where they seemed to be faced with the choice of sticking to the tried and true and becoming predictable or trying something new and risking not playing to their strengths, The Hidden Cameras have somehow managed to not only do both, but turn in maybe their best record yet in the process.
The Hidden Cameras are currently in the midst of an extensive North American tour with Gentleman Reg that will wrap with a homecoming show at the Opera House in Toronto on December 5. Tickets for the show are $15 in advance but courtesy of Rootmeansquare, I’ve got two pairs of passes to give away for the show. To enter, email me at contests AT chromewaves.net with “I want to see The Hidden Cameras” in the subject line and your full name in the body and get that in to me before midnight, November 25.
Gibb talks to Spinner about how a trip to Berlin inspired the direction of the new album.
The Magnetic Fields will take the theme of their next album Realism to heart by playing songs from it in the flesh on a North American tour that kicks off shortly after the album’s January 26, 2010 release date. That includes a February 8 date at the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Toronto, their first visit since a two-night stand at Trinity-St. Paul’s in July 2004. Tickets are $30.50 plus fees, onsale this Saturday though a presale started yesterday – I got second row centre tickets, so they had good ones blocked off.
Beach House have released the first MP3 from their third album Teen Dream, due out January 26. I kinda think I like this song better than anything they’ve done yet.
Ever wish you could make your birthday last forever? Constantines do – their tenth anniversary celebrations have extended from a two-night stand at Lee’s Palace to a three night engagement, the third night taking place a full week after the second. So that’s December 11, 12 and 19 and with different support each night. The 11th will feature Attack In Black and Weakerthan John K Samson doing a solo set, the 12th has Oneida and Metz warming things up and the 19th has Julie Doiron and Ladyhawk on the bill.
A slew of in-stores have been announced by Sonic Boom. You’ve got Koushik on November 19 at 7:30PM, Lullabye Arkestra on November 21 at 7PM, Malajube on November 25 at 7PM, The Schomberg Fair on November 28 at 4PM and Everything All The Time on December 2 at 7PM. All shows are free, though a donation of canned food is encouraged and appreciated.
The Toronto Public Library’s Make Some Noise series continues through this month, with a number of performances and discussions of interest to, well, probably anyone reading this site. Katie Stelmanis will give a performance at the Bloor/Gladstone branch this Friday, November 20, at 8PM, Colin Medley of Morning Noon Night will discuss the finer points of videography and “Documenting the Local Music Scene” at the Kennedy/Eglinton branch on November 24 at 7PM and Steve Jordan, grand poo-bah of the Polaris Music Prize, will get into the nitty-gritty of just how much of a bribe it takes to make the long list, short list and win the whole she-bang, respectively. Kidding – he’ll be talking about the Prize and Canadian music industry in general at the Northern District branch on December 1 at 7PM.