The 50 Best Albums of 2012
About five years ago, people were saying that the album was a thing of the past. How wrong that turned out to be! This year’s crop of albums was so absurdly good that it felt criminal to whittle it down to a hundred, let alone fifty. And the only way of getting it down to that number was to cut out all the “world music,” including reggae and Afrobeat and most of the gypsy sounds, because there was so much of that and it was all so good.
Bookmark this page and return often. Virtually all of these albums are streaming (click the links) or are available as free downloads: consider this your place to discover some amazing sounds that were too smart for the Bushwick and Wicker Park blogs, and too dangerous for corporate radio and tv.
12.. Love Camp 7 – Love Camp VII
An expertly wry, tuneful, catchy janglerock concept album looking at recent history through the prism of the Beatles, with a jaundiced eye and expertly labyrinthine polyrhythms. Given up for dead after the tragic loss of brilliant drummer Dave Campbell, the band has recently regrouped and is as playful and fun as ever. Stream it
LOVE CAMP 7: Press
Love Camp VII
…Love Camp 7 followed with a set of their own. Seemingly finished in 2010 after the sudden death of their brilliant drummer and harmony singer Dave Campbell, the three surviving members have recently regrouped and have been playing a handful of semi-acoustic shows. This one was a mix of new tunes as well as a bunch from their absolutely brilliant 2012 album, Love Camp VII, part tongue-in-cheek Beatles homage and part cynical look at the 60s. Hearing these wickedly catchy, wickedly lyrical songs stripped down to just a three-piece was a revelation.
The Beatles stuff blended bittersweetness and a cruel sarcasm that was often just as unsparingly funny as the Rutles, bandleader Dann Baker’s acoustic guitar mingling with Steve Antonakos’ stingingly precise, staccato electric, Bruce Hathaway taking a handful of lead vocals when he wasn’t adding harmonies. They followed the wry Rubbber Soul with the bouncy Beatles 65 and its recurrent Hollies reference, its baroque guitar duet of sorts in the middle a possible parody of the Fab Four’s neoclassical adventures…or just an attempt to outdo them at chamber pop. Either way, it worked.
They did a request for an older song, The World Is Full of Dianas, its snarky lyric and catchy jangle juxtaposed with jazzy, Brazilian tinged sophistication, and tongue-in-cheek Society’s Child quote. Three of the set’s best songs were new ones: One Turquoise Afternoon, blending catchy vintage-60s psych-folk with teens bite, and an absolutely gorgeous number that built from a steadily pulsing, apprehensive, chromatically-fueled verse to a jazzy pensiveness. Horseshoe Canyon Road looked at a fast-disappearing childhood through the envious eyes of child star Mickey Dolenz, who never got to hang out and ride bikes with the rest of the neighborhood kids since he was always getting ready to go onstage or get off it.
They parodied early metal bands like the Pretty Things with Beatles 6, a corrosively riff-driven look at the record industry and made fun of themselves and fellow music snobs with Other Music, a backhanded tribute to the Astor Place record store and its ineffably hip clientele. Abbey Road turned the Youngbloods Get Together into an alienation anthem, while Help put the failings of everybody in the Beatles under the microscope – except for Ringo, since there’s no need for a microscope with him. They took unexpected detours into hardcore, surf music, faux-Indian raga rock and finally wound up on the catchy janglerock note where they started. They might be back here – watch this space.
This is the most brilliantly conceived and executed concept album I've heard in a long time. All the song titles are of Beatles albums, and trace a life that frequently found inspiration, or refuge, in those albums. It also, in a sense, traces the progress of society across the years 1964-70. This could seem like just a gimmick, but even though comments about the Beatles and the albums slyly pop up, the main premise dominates. Ultimately, nothing that works as well as this album does can be called a gimmick. It launches, with "Meet the Beatles," in happy optimism, but also as a relief from something unspoken (the Kennedy assassination the previous year, of course); it ends in a metaphorical hangover with "Abbey Road." In between there is one amusing tangent -- "A Hard Day's Night" as inspiration for the Byrds -- but otherwise is quite true to its main premise. As the psychology darkens, so do the musical styles; this is not an album of Beatles pastiches, though certainly at times their style is evoked quite well -- there are even outbursts of hardcore punk in "Let It Be." This veteran Brooklyn band has made its masterpiece.
“Floating Above the Earth, Never Anchored to Time or Place”
by David Shirley
Love Camp 7 Love Camp VII (Bowlmor Records)
“My addiction to contradiction might cause a bit of friction.”
—Dann Baker, “Let It Be” (on Love Camp VII)
“I laughed till the tears ran down my cheeks.”
—Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception
The summer of 1964. David Crosby and Jim (“not yet Roger”) McGuinn are sprawled side-by-side in an air-conditioned Los Angeles cinema, checking out the new Beatles flick, A Hard Day’s Night. It’s an amusing enough diversion at first, a black-and-white, slapstick farce that gives the Fab Four ample room to project their youthful intelligence and charm onto the screen. But it’s certainly nothing life-changing.
Then, right in the middle of a silly skit involving a game of cards, the British band launches improbably into John Lennon’s “I Should Have Known Better.” The song’s opening bars feature Ringo Starr’s joyously vertical drumming, Lennon’s five-note freight-train blasts on harmonica, and—what really makes the two friends lean suddenly forward in their seats—the shimmering chords of George Harrison’s twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar. It’s a revelatory, transcendent sound that somehow absorbs and resolves all of the disparate musical influences that have lately been dragging the two young musicians and their bandmates, Gene Clark and Chris Hillman, back and forth across the musical landscape: the ecstatic meditations of Ravi Shankar, the free-jazz improvisations of John Coltrane, the raw urgency of Bob Dylan’s folk jeremiads, the sweet lyricism of bluegrass and old-time country music. With a single sweep of Harrison’s arm, everything suddenly makes perfect sense.
With the film’s soundtrack not yet available in the States, Crosby and McGuinn are back at the movie theater the following night, Clark and Hillman in tow, and in short order their band’s signature sound is born.
Crosby, McGuinn, and company make their youthful appearance in the song “A Hard Day’s Night,” the third track on Brooklyn band Love Camp 7’s brilliant new recording, Love Camp VII (the title and cover design a clever reference to the LP Beatles VI). The emergence of the Beatles, the Byrds, and the host of other wildly inventive pop bands that followed their lead during the mid-1960s was, as Love Camp 7’s songwriter, guitarist, and lead vocalist Dann Baker reminds us repeatedly throughout the song, “a new thing under the sun.”
Over the course of the new recording’s 13 listed tracks (a couple of offbeat treats are hidden away at the end), Baker and his longtime bandmates Bruce Hathaway (bass), Steve Antonakos (guitar), and Dave Campbell (drums) escort the listener on a spirited exploration of what exactly that “new thing” was and how, over seven brief years, it wove its way in and out of the turbulent world of Los Angeles and beyond, transforming the lives of the album’s protagonists and countless others in the process. In addition to the fledgling Byrds (who serve as musical proxies for a host of California bands whose music is suddenly transformed by the British invasion), we meet the Beatles themselves, who preen, bicker, compromise, and flex their musical muscles throughout.
We meet an emotionally estranged married couple, a prophetic lawn gardener, and a cynical record company executive, determined to cash in on the current music craze.
And, in keeping with the narrative theme first established on Love Camp 7’s debut recording, 1993’s Where the Green Ends, and nurtured throughout each of the band’s five subsequent releases, we wander repeatedly in and out of the life of the album’s not-so-fearless hero, a shy, bookish early-adolescent who does his best to navigate—using the spiritual and intellectual resources at hand (the poetry of William Blake and the late Romantics; the bizarre neo-mysticism of L.A. eccentric Aldous Huxley; and, most important, the remarkable “new thing” that he hears everywhere around him)—the complexities and contradictions of life, love, and loneliness in late-1960s Los Angeles.
The recording’s most daring conceit is Baker’s decision to use the names of the Beatles’ 13 (American) studio albums as the titles for his songs. Rather than a literal tribute to the recordings themselves, however, each of the songs recreates the day in the life onto which the album was released. “Meet the Beatles,” with its chimed guitars, infectious beat, and airy choral harmonies, initiates the listener into a magical world of sun-drenched picnics, teacup rides, and spinning rainbows. For a moment, at least, the rest of the world recedes before the wonder of the new sound.
Before you meet the Beatles, you must learn to the trust the word—
The word is
The magic is short-lived, however, as the world stubbornly reasserts itself on the album’s second track, “The Beatles’ Second Album.” Caught in the crossfire of his parents’ troubled marriage (a father who refuses to sit with the family at the dining room table, a mother who sits alone in her car, going nowhere), the song’s young protagonist struggles with the tension between the joyful sounds blasting from the speakers of his stereo and the muted turbulence of his home life, hoping against hope that the former will somehow redeem the latter.
Put on the hi-fi, it will rectify us for a while.
Make us cry and make us smile.
On “Help,” our brooding young hero is troubled by the mercurial life of his alter ego, John Lennon, another troubled and estranged “kid from the neighborhood.” In quick order, Lennon descends from creative accomplishment and religious enlightenment to infidelity (“getting it on in the Bahamas” with Yoko), personal betrayal (“stealing ideas from Denny Laine”), and shameless materialism (“stadium tours sponsored by Coors”). Yet, somehow he retains the essence of himself in the midst of it all.
Help me understand how he ended up so much the same…
He had a peasant’s understanding of the truth—
That understanding kept a watch over his youth, hiding it away.
“Let It Be” represents Lennon’s dismissive reply to McCartney’s facile attempts at diplomacy and consolation. With its sudden shifts between the furious punk rhythms of the verse and the lilting lyricism of the chorus, the song is equal parts confession, indictment, and plea for understanding.
You’re enterprising, quite compromising—
When were you last surprising?
You’re no fanatic—quite diplomatic—
When were you last ecstatic?
Near the center of the album, “Rubber Soul” announces the overall theme of the recording: the futile but irresistible search for stability and direction in a world of constantly shifting pressures and perspectives. I’m in possession of a rubber soul.
I go bouncing back and forth,
Back and forth between today and yesterday.
Never certain of the North, I go bouncing back and forth,
And guess the way.
At the end, the uncertainty expressed in the song is resolved in two parallel visions: the unapproachable girl of the narrator’s childhood infatuation and the “Capitol disc” that he stumbles upon in Hollywood.
“The Capitol disc on display,” Baker recalls, “was the actual Rubber Soul cover, which I glimpsed in a display case outside Capitol Records on Vine Street, I think before it was actually released. A weird, distorted harbinger of a new era!
“I’m characterizing my own soul,” continues Baker, describing the continually shifting perspectives of the song and the album as a whole, “as incapable of embracing the present, as floating above the earth, never anchored to time or place.”
Whatever its personal costs, Baker’s existential unease is the key to the music’s distinctiveness. It’s the constant vacillation of moods, styles, and points of view that sets Love Camp 7’s approach to pop music and the 1960s apart from many other treatments of the same deliriously troubled era. Consider, for example, David Wojahn’s elegiac depiction of the pathetic descent from musical authenticity to self-destruction and commercial compromise in the sonnet sequence Mystery Train; rock journalist Nick Kent’s lurid exposé of the seamy underbelly of pop glamour in The Dark Stuff; Love’s sun-tinged apocalyptic broodings in Forever Changes; or the Pretty Things’ dark, humorless odyssey from youthful innocence to the despair and abjection of old age in S.F. Sorrow.
In place of the gloomy, predetermined trajectories and either/or moralism of its predecessors in pop mythology, Love Camp VII presents a rich, kaleidoscopic vision of a world in which the complexities and contradictions of life are clearly acknowledged—if not outright celebrated—from start to finish. It’s a world that begins and ends with an equal measure of dark clouds and sunny skies, daydreams and deep secrets, harmonies and dissonances, confections and introspections. And the vital force that holds it all together is pop music itself.
After more than two decades of dutifully indenturing themselves to Baker’s adventurous, idiosyncratic take on popular music and culture, the Love Camp 7 crew is remarkably adept at holding the contradictions and complexities together and bringing the music to life. On earlier releases, the band’s musical eclecticism and turn-on-a-dime shifts in time, tone, and volume threatened at times to overwhelm the integrity of the songs. On Love Camp VII, even the most daring leaps and sudden transitions faithfully serve the dramatic unfolding of the lyrics.
From the pure-pop delicacy of “Meet the Beatles” and “Beatles ’65,” to the moody introspection of “Help!” and “Abbey Road,” to the feedback squeals and grinding rhythm of “Beatles VI,” to the frantic, hardcore aggression on the opening bars of “Let It Be,” the sounds serve the words with a directness and clarity that makes even Baker’s most eccentric musings immediately believable.
Instrumental highlights include Campbell’s manically lyrical drum solo during the abrupt break in the final chorus of “Meet the Beatles,” Hathaway’s beautifully ornate bass phrasings on “Rubber Soul,” Steve Antonakos’s majestic guitar solo at the end of “The Beatles,” and the bouncy, lighter-than-air, full-ensemble performance on “Beatles ’65.”
Love Camp VII is the band’s final recording featuring drummer Dave Campbell, who died in May of 2010 after an extended struggle with cancer. Campbell was a wildly inventive, nervous wreck of a drummer with a mastery of just about every musical style imaginable.
“What Campbell brought to the band was a truly manic energy,” reflects Baker, “which manifested itself in unpredictable playing that often teetered on the verge of chaos. Dave’s musical heroes were Max Roach and Elvin Jones, and he brought the jazz tradition of never playing the same thing twice to the band. Sort of a punk-jazz approach.”
While it’s difficult to imagine Love Camp 7 without Campbell’s distinctive presence on the stage and the recordings, Baker insists that the band will go on, though the shape it will take has not yet been determined.
“We’re not sure of our future course, but we will continue in some form. We’ve talked about having a ‘stable’ of people who could join us for shows and/or recordings.
“I’m probably too much inside of it to comment,” Baker reflects, considering the band’s legacy over the past two decades, “but I think our songs unfold in a unique way, following the logic of the words in a kind of musical adventure or journey—but also having a unity. I think the aesthetic might be rooted in the epistemology of Los Angeles, specifically the nature of freeway travel, where rapidly shifting scenery is observed, with an overall impression not of discontinuity but of seamless transition.
“I think we also have a ‘sound,’ ” he adds, “which any good band should have.”
Love Camp VII – Their Brilliant Swan Song?
If this is the last Love Camp 7 album – and it might be – the long-running New York psychedelic rockers went out on a high note. Aside from a brief set by two longtime members – frontman/guitarist Dann Baker and bassist Bruce Hathaway – at a Manhattan bar last year, and an upcoming cd release show by the three surviving bandmates (guitarist Steve Antonakos joining Baker and Hathaway) at the Parkside this Saturday, this looks like the end for one of the most unpredictably brilliant rock acts to ever come out of this town. Despite the tragic and unexpected 2010 death of drummer Dave Campbell – whose nimble, shapeshifting, jazz- and Brazilian-influenced rhythms in many ways defined this band – they have a brilliant album to show for some of their last studio sessions. Titled Love Camp VII, it features the full band playing fourteen songs (including a secret track), all using Beatles albums as their titles.
While there are plenty of wry and lovingly pilfered riffs here, this isn’t a Beatles parody. Nor is it a homage in the strict sense of the word: when the Fab Four first make an actual appearance, it’s after the band has broken up, a rather cruel look back on what John, Paul, George and Ringo’s solo careers should have been (ok, Ringo gets a pass) but weren’t. Rather, this album is sort of a history of the Beatles era, that band somewhere in the picture, usually in the background. Which makes sense, given Baker’s fondness for historical themes (particularly on the group’s fifth and arguably best album, 2007′s Sometimes Always Never).
For all the stylistic and tempo changes here, this is basically a janglerock record with numerous breaks for psychedelic mayhem. Meet the Beatles opens the album, taking a brightly jangly Merseybeat melody and twisting the rhythm, with a big choir of voices, a fragment of baroque guitar, and a rolling, tumbling Campbell solo all together in the middle, one right after the other. That’s Love Camp 7 in a nutshell. The Beatles’ Second Album is cast as a shuffling, harmony-driven reminiscence by a kid whose time in a dysfunctional family is soothed by that particular soundtrack. Arguably the funniest track here, A Hard Day’s Night subtly observes how the Beatles changed everybody’s lives, in this case the members of the Byrds (back when Jim McGuinn was in the band – the lyrics are priceless). It’s the most Spinal Tap moment here, in a comedic sense at least.
Beatles ’65 evokes the Hollies with its bracing major/minor changes, then shifts suddently from cheery Merseybeat to an ornately artsy anthem and then back again. Beatles VI completely switches gears, an unexpectedly grinding, proto-metal heavy R&B number, like the Pretty Things circa 1968, that cynically celebrates the “media saturation” that the Beatles spearheaded. With its layers of ironically blithe harmonies, Help imagines what Lennon might have done without Yoko, George without Krishna, Paul if he hadn’t stolen ideas from Denny Laine, and Ringo….”help me understand how he ended up so much the same.” It’s a beautiful ballad, something that Roy Wood could have written: reputedly Erica Smith (who’s opening the Saturday show at 8:30) has a version of this song in the can that’s even better.
Rubber Soul starts out as a look back at Love Camp 7′s trickily rhythmic, often dissonant earlier work and then rises to a roaring art-rock crescendo complete with horns, while Revolver cleverly recasts a summer pool party as portent of radical times to come. Ironically, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has more in common musically with earlier Beatles sounds, although at this point marijuana finally makes an appearance: “The moon will soon be manned; brave new world’s at hand,” Baker observes, not without apprehension. A somewhat radically reconstructed skiffle tune, Magical Mystery Tour explores Baker’s first encounter with the album – in a Sav-On department store at the corner of Laurel Canyon and Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles.
The Beatles is the second proto-metal track here and also only the second to (briefly) chronicle the band, in this case what seems to be their eventual demise. The most musically diverse track here, Let It Be juxtaposes hardcore punk with a coldly sarcastic pop melody and a blatant I Am the Walrus quote. The saddest track (and ostensibly the final one) is Abbey Road, gently quoting the introduction to the Cure’s Boys Don’t Cry and later the Youngbloods’ Come Together as the 70s creep in, “Lying in their beds, a fearful throbbing in their heads, wishing they were dead; nobody cares.” The mystery track, The Beatles’ Story, is a perfect match of pensive yet optimistically jangly, Arthur Lee-esque pop that ends the album on a less than optimistic note: arguably, being able to live vicariously through the Beatles is a lot more fun than actually being one.
A strong follow-up to Love Camp 7’s classic 2007 cd Sometimes Always Never, this is aguably their most melodic and straightforward album – a direction from which the band once seemed completely alienated. That was a long time ago. Here the rhythms are as close to four on the floor as Dave Campbell – the closest thing to Elvin Jones that rock has ever seen – has ever done in this unit (he also lends his tropical, soulful beats to Erica Smith & the 99 Cent Dreams). Bassist Bruce Hathaway (also a noted contemporary classical and film composer) is his typical tuneful, melodic self, and it looks as if Steve Antonakos AKA Homeboy Steve, lead guitarist in a million other excellent projects has become a full-fledged member of the band. Frontman/guitarist Dann Baker (also of Erica Smith’s band) plays with characteristic wit and incisiveness, alternating between innumerable tasty shades of jangle and clang. Most of the songs here – including a mini-suite with a Civil War theme – are imbued with historical references in the same vein as the band’s previous cd.
The album opens with a 20-year old song, the Killers, slightly off-kilter film noir-inspired janglerock wherein the victim forgives his murderers since they’re just doing a day’s work. Crazy Bet Van Law kicks off the Civil War section, the tongue-in-cheek tale of an unlikely Union spy, its bridge morphing into a tidy little march. Crazy Bet’s funeral scene is the pretty, sad, harmony-driven Nobody Here but Us African-Americans – it seems she only wanted ex-slaves and servants there. Letting the Brass Band Speak For You is Beatlesque with a slightly Penny Lane feel, a snidely metaphorical slap at conformity and its consequences.
No Negro Shall Smoke is serpentine in the vein of the band’s earlier work, an actual segregationist proclamation from Richmond, Virginia set to herky-jerky, XTC-ish inflections. The way the band just jumps on the word “smoke” and repeats it over and over again rivals the “stone, stone, stone” on Pigs by Pink Floyd. The version of the slightly Arthur Lee-ish Start from Nothing that Baker and Campbell recorded on Erica Smith’s most recent album beats the one here. Arguably the best song here is (Beware of the) Angry Driver (Yeah), a spot-on, deliciously jangly chronicle of road rage, one sadistic city bus driver after another careening through the narrow Brooklyn streets in Williamsburg and Greepoint.
Another highlight is Johnny’s Got a Little Bag of Tricks, a frankly hilarious send-up of masturbatory guitarists everywhere: “He plays a hundred notes where one would do/And if it fits the song that’s ok too.”
Antonakos, who can satirize pretty much anything, gets a couple of bars to show off the kind of chops he never shows off anywhere else (well, maybe in Van Hayride). Bobbing and weaving, Lady Ottoline Morrell is a vividly clanging tribute to a Bloomsbury-era patron of the arts. You’ll see this cd on our Best Albums of 2009 list in December. Love Camp 7 play Southpaw on May 20 at around 8:30.
Promising to perform compositions from records 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, Love Camp 7 returns to the Parkside Lounge celebrating the release of their latest CD, UNION GARAGE. Guitarists Dann Baker and Stephen B. Antonakos, bass player Bruce Hathaway, and drummer Dave Campbell have come up with another infectious collection of hyperintelligent flower-power psychedelia featuring lilting harmonies, wry lyrics, and jangling guitars. The centerpiece of the new disc is a sweet suite of songs dealing with race, slavery, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement, primarily set in Richmond, Virginia, consisting of "Crazy Bet Van Lew," "Nobody Here But Us African-Americans," "Letting the Brass Band Speak for You," and "No Negro Shall Smoke..." An absolutely delightful chorus drives "(Beware of the) Angry Driver (Yeah)," one of the best songs ever about New York City mass transit - "Here Comes the B48," Baker sings. "Tell me where on earth you'd rather be / than Greenpoint in its glory." Things get a little crazy during "Johnny's Got a Little Bag o' Tricks," including a fab drum solo during a Mountain-style jam. And the album closer, "Mock On," while seemingly an ironic alternative to Van Morrison's "Rave on, John Donne," is actually set to the words of a William Blake poem. On the opening track, Baker declares, "The killers aren't bad guys." Love Camp 7 ain't bad guys, either. LC7 will be hitting the Parkside stage at 10:00, followed by the Shaker Pegs and Rawles Balls.
Review of 6/2 Parkside show
The house was full by the time the band went on. There were a couple of tables full of yuppie puppies from Westchester or Connecticut, loud and oblivious as if they were on lunch break at middle school (even if that was ten years ago for them). It took Love Camp 7 about five minutes to clear them out of the room, opening up some space for the cool kids to sit. Love Camp 7 played interludes all night, an endless series of hooks, riffs and intricate guitar figures that rushed by, a whirlwind of beautiful, jangling, twanging, wailing melody. Their songs don’t follow any predictable pattern. Each is a winding back street through a casbah of the mind where every turn could be a dead end but always leads somewhere unexpected. Yet the songs are anything but random. Love Camp’s not-so-secret weapon, in full force tonight, is drummer Dave Campbell, one of the two or three finest in all of rock. He led his bandmates, redoubtable bassist Bruce Hathaway and frontman/guitarist Dann Baker (who also plays with Campbell in Erica Smith’s band) through one tricky change after another, through minefields of weird time signatures and abrupt endings. In the end, everybody emerged exhausted but unscathed.
To read the rest, go to website
Sometimes, Always, Never
On their fifth album, unsigned Brooklyn indie-rock intellectuals Love Camp 7 offer up a quirky little slice of life with a cast of characters from the group’s collective and individual lives. Populated by figures encountered in the flesh, in newspapers and yellow-paged tomes alike, Sometimes, Always, Never is chock full of odd, relatively unheard of references that will send listeners scurrying towards Wikipedia to discover who the band was talking about. The forgotten lore of neo-folk heroes who otherwise may have been left to the page margins of high-brow, liberal, cocktail party-level obscurity, were it not for Love Camp 7’s name dropping, is ever-present on the disc.
See website for entire review
The brilliantly eccentric Brooklyn band Love Camp 7 are rooted in the 1960s
pop operas of the Beach Boys, the Beatles, the Who, and the Kinks. On
SOMETIMES, ALWAYS, NEVER their songs hymn the lives of unsung heroes,
forgotten eccentrics, and minor personalities of American popular history,
such as the lesbian oil heiress who ruled her own Bahaman island, a
principled politician, and a courageous telephone operator. Their music is a
blend of neo-psychedelia and vintage rock & roll, as packed with surprising
twists and turns as with sly references to the sounds of yesteryear.
Their great shining moment. There will assuredly be others, considering how good the unreleased material that they’ve been playing live has been, but this is their best album to date. It’s a triumph of soaring harmonies, catchy hooks and general fearlessness for these authentic 60s psychedelic throwbacks. Rich with catchy melodies, steeped in history, the album gets better with repeated listenings, in the spirit of great psychedelic, garage and art-rock bands from the Pretty Things, to Nektar, to the Kinks.
Go to website to read entire review
Named after a cheesy 1969 women-in-a-Nazi-prison flick, New York-based Love Camp 7 makes jangly sixties-era feel-good pop, albeit with a surprisingly subtle — and sometimes not so subtle — political edge.
Go to website for entire review
Love Camp 7's Sometimes, Always, Never documents the gorgeous, smart, harmonic, psychedelically gift-wrapped songs the band used to play before their current engrossment with the very exciting alt.Beatle-Baker project - which I hear they are recording now. Remember the moving and unique water trilogy? The happy Mr. Elephant? Or Barbara Lee (who is having no trouble sleeping)? Buy the album and take this genus band's Wonka-rock trip anytime you want to.
"What makes listening to . . . Baker . . . and his longtime bandmates . . . Hathaway . . . and . . . Campbell . . . such a wild, fun-filled ride is that the guys refuse to take sides, finally, between the good memories and the bad. The band's music . . . is a sometimes delicate, sometimes not-so-delicate balance of extremes, from sweetly crafted ballads and bright Beatley pop . . . to the tense, angular phrasings of progressive rock and modern jazz. And it's all somehow pulled miraculously together by an insistent, psych-rock inventiveness that, for all the band's musical nostalgia, owes more to the loft studio than the garage.
For all their formal complexity, most of the songs on Vacation Village sound surprisingly simple and direct. The trio of Baker, Campbell, and Hathaway negotiates even the jerkiest rhythms and most abrupt time shifts with ease, pulling all the sounds and influences together with such apparent effortlessness that it's easy to miss just how rich and challenging most ot these songs are. What you will hear clearly, though, is just how gifted and seamless a unit the trio has become over the years.
"Remember how you felt the first time you heard Robyn Hitchcock's Fegmania? This is a thrill of that order . . . pied pipers of post-punk pop leading us back to our imagined childhood."
"Dann Baker and Love Camp 7 have made the rare record that pursues and thoroughly captures the spirit, if not the sound, of post-Pet Sounds Brian Wilson. Here you have the daydreams of adults who never aged past seventeen, and who refuse to denude their shirts of buttons proclaiming their heroes' names (Frank Zappa, and artist Arny Geller, who designed the Beach Boys' Wild Honey cover). They assign cutesy song titles, but their songs, like "Not Cool Enough for Daryl Genis's Party", fully capture the fragile, awkward moments of adolescence with honesty and love. If you're a big fan of the Beach Boys circa 1968-75, you'll love this. My personal favorite, "We Ended Up Talking All Night at Ben Frank's", is a great song to slip between Adult Rodeo's "Jesus, He Loves P.C.P. and Me" on compilation tapes for your friends.
If you aren't acquainted with Love Camp 7, you'll see my footprints still fresh on that same sand. Follow them, and you'll find yourself in a record store, browsing through the section in which Love Camp 7's previous, highly acclaimed albums wait to be discovered. As the group provides one of the most interesting and genuine voices on the culture of adolescence -- a subject few music lovers don't adore -- it's hard not to hear Vacation Village without making Love Camp 7 your latest semi-obscure musical obsession. I haven't invested in their back catalog yet, but I have to assume from Vacation Village that previous reviewers have been correct, and that Love Camp 7 are one of America's most neglected treasures."
Live in Las Vegas
"Live in Las Vegas is a pop-psychedelic masterpiece."
Conspiracy of the Flowers
"One of the top five albums of 1995."
"Achieves a rare level of excitement . . . a melting pot of styles, yet free of any cliches, a quality that makes it almost impossible to do the Love Camp 7 sound justice in only a few sentences."
Where the Green Ends
"The best cd of the month . . . under the dense and tangled sound is concealed a rich core that turns each of these 14 songs into a small jewel."
"One of the 5 most underrated bands in world history."
"This literate Brooklyn group . . . have a keenly developed sense of interplay, and their collaborative material could have been arrived at in no other manner. With all three core members singing — often in carefully arranged harmonies — Love Camp 7 presents a friendly sheen that stands in contrast to the quirky turns in the music and the peculiar lyrics. They can rock out when they want to, and they want to on most songs — but only for a little while, then they abruptly change direction. They're like a big funny guy who unexpectedly asks to borrow your eyeglasses. Confidently loopy without being comical and arty without being arch, Love Camp 7 comes up with either the oddest hooks or the hookiest oddities. And they occasionally turn the guitars up real loud.
"Easily the best psych-pop band in America today."
"Love Camp 7's crafty, rhythmic flights go where few have bothered to take rock's bass/drums/guitar/vocal thing before. Their style is quirky . . . and arty . . . but not overindulgent . . . a disjointed, cataclysmic marriage of rhythms and textures that righteously rallies by in the fast lane of avant-garage musicality."
"When the wide-branching rhythm of language is made into music, when bands take the effort to think of each sentence in musical terms, then the result is either unlistenable art noise, or a rich, blooming musical cosmos, as is the case with Love Camp 7.