CD Review: Campfire OK — Strange Like We Are

[ 1 ] January 31, 2011 |

Campfire OK
Strange Like We Are

Ana-Them

By Ellen Eldridge

A warm feeling, like that of sitting at a campfire surrounded by chilling winds (and, possibly, wolves) comes across when the syncopated drums and vocals close in on the peaceful piano intro for Campfire OK’s debut Strange Like We Are. The imagery in the titles of the first three tracks alone cries out to a sense of eccentricity, like a hike in the woods on a broken leg. “We Lay In Caves” ends with a chaotic mesh of horns which give way to the drums starting “Hard Times,” the album’s second track which is punctuated with the twangy pull of a banjo’s strings. The third and title-track of the debut rises from a far-off call, like something one strains to make out across a forest. The gliding vocals recall Ten Story Relapse and a similar emotive of The Very Foundation, but not as frantic.

Campfire OK possesses the necessary factors to elicit a rousing catharsis while still driving chords played on synthesizers, as in “I Would Like Everything,” with the repeated line, “So, your relapse is more what I call a cry for attention.” This track may even speak to some audiences or grab attention more quickly than the singles that start the album. Lyrically, this upfront line allows for a narrow width of interpretation and fits well into many situations where addiction to anything from street drugs to love can make a listener feel a connection to the song. Well done.

One could classify Campfire OK as Americana, with its blend of vocal harmonies and silky piano driven by drums. The pop melodies across Strange Like We Are keep the songs going while the lyrics and tone seem to want to sink or give up. The psychology behind the way that the melodies contradict the rhythms may tap into the truth of how and why music keeps us going when we feel like slouching deep into the couch cushions. The toe-tapping keeps you moving as the lyrics mask a deeper sense of sadness. To a casual or superficial listener, this release could pass as pop, but more educated audiences that take the time to indulge will enjoy a satisfying secret.

Simple piano chords propel the lines, “I’m not surprised I’m not taken aback by you,” in “Magic Tricks,” and then the song swells into a concoction of writhing horn instruments, which relent to the next track. “Brass,” which starts ever so quietly and softly, shows the dynamic of Campfire OK and marks the band as one with serious potential. The addition of brass and folk instruments, including banjo, and multiple backing vocals make Strange Like We Are a luscious treat for fans of groups like As Tall As Lions, The Very Foundation, Ten Story Relapse, and Fleet Foxes.

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