Archive for the ‘A Camp’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: A CAMP-Studio Sessions on WFUV [available on NPR] (2009).

I rather enjoyed A Camp’s latest album Colonia.  I discovered this session while browsing through NPR’s archives.  There’s a pretty lengthy (and amusing) interview with the band and then they play three acoustic songs: “Love Has Left the Room,” “Stronger Than Jesus” and “I Signed the Line.”

Nina’s voice sounds fantstic, and in such a simple acoustic session it’s her voice that really sells the music.  But this is another instance where an acoustic, stripped down session reveals the strength of the songs themselves.  The album has a lot of production, but when it’s just bare bones guitar and bass, the melodies still hold up.  And again, Nina’s voice just soars through these meloides.  Anyone who got sick of The Cardigans needs to hear what Nina Persson can do in other settings.

Check it out here.

[READ: October 29, 2010] “The Comfort Zone”

The subtitle gives the foundation of the article: Franzen loved Peanuts when he was growing up.  This article was timed to coincide with the release of the awesome Fantagraphics collection of original Peanuts cartoons. I’ve only read the first of these Peanuts books, but it was really eye-opening and quite fascinating to see that such odd thoughts were published on a daily basis on the comic section!  And, I hate to sound curmudgeonly (that’s Charlie Brown’s job) but Franzen is right, the original Peanuts cartoons are far more existentially dark and satisfying than the fluffy Snoopy & Woodstock cartoons of the late 70s and 80s.

Anyhow, Franzen loved these early comics (and he makes a wonderful comment about spending a lot of time (probably age-inappropriate time) with talking animals: Snoopy, Narnia, A.A. Milne).   But as with all of these longer Franzen articles, it’s about much more than just Charlie Brown.   One night when he was a young boy, his older brother Tom had a huge fight with their parents and stormed out.   Franzen sets this up in the context of generation gap that was sweeping through the country in the late 60s/early 70s.

And it’s this unsettledness that also explains the popularity of the Peanuts cartoons. Despite all of the differences between generations, everyone agreed that they loved Peanuts (except for Franzen’s parents, evidently–his dad never read the funnies, and his mom only liked a strip called The Girls, which sounds like a prototype of Cathy).

The other angle that this article takes is about losers.  Charlie Brown was a loser, there’s no doubt.  But Franzen himself was a winner.  He was the king of spelling bees in his school. (This relates to Charlie Brown misspelling “maze” as MAYS, a perfect misspell for a sports fan).  And when a new kid comes to challenge him he steps up his game…and makes the kid cry.

This, of course, leads to guilt. Charlie Brown one said, “Everything I do makes me feel guilty.” And now Franzen feels guilty about the boy in his class, and about being mean to a frog as a kid and about the wash cloths at the bottom of the closet which don’t get used enough (Sarah and I have jokey guilt about that too) and even about the stuffed animals who don’t get cuddled enough. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: A CAMP-Colonia (2009).

This is the second album from the side project of The Cardigan’s Nina Persson.  This disc was created with her husband Nathan Larson from Shudder to Think.  Their first album had a country flair to it, but this one eschews that entirely for a pop feel that is entirely different from The Cardigans’ two main styles: the “cheesy” happy pop of “Lovefool” and the bitter guitar pop of their later discs.

Although like the Cardigans, Nina uses her beautiful, almost angelic voice to mask the critical, often bitter lyrics that fuel this disc.  The music is kind of sparse, which really allows for Nina’s voice to shine through. “Stronger Than Jesus” is a wonderful song about, of all things, love.  While “Bear on the Beach” opens with a delicate twinkling piano. And “Love Has Left the Room” has soaring vocals and a wonderfully catchy melody line.

The best track is probably “Golden Teeth and Silver Medals” a cool duet with a tongue-twisting chorus.

They also have a bit of fun with genres, so “Here Are Many Wild Animals” opens like a doo-wop song, but swerves into a cool minor key masterpiece.  Even the album closer, the slow, meandering “The Weed Had Got There First” works nicely with Nina’s voice (although I wouldn’t want a whole album like this).

Anyone who misses the Cardigans would do well to track down this disc; or, if you find the Cardigans too treacly, this is a great representation of the true side of Nina’s character.  I just can’t decide if the A in the band name is the indefinite article or the letter A.

[READ: March 3, 2010] “By Song, Not Album”

My friend and coworker Anna loaned me this issue of The Sun saying that she thought I would enjoy it.  I’d never heard of it before, but I’m always up for new things, so I decided to check it out.  I really enjoyed the Photo Essay “With Eyes Shut.”  And I read two of the longer pieces as well.

This first one, is, I believe non-fiction.  And if it is non-fiction, it is the least believable non-fiction piece I may have ever read.  I was interested to read it because of the title, which seemed an interesting conceit for a story.  And while that does come into play, the story is really about a young woman who is studying abroad in France who is suffering from a severe depression.

The only one who can pull her through is her father, who is similarly afflicted with depression.  He flies over to assist her and they wind up spending several days together.

What I found unbelievable, was the way her father behaves.   (more…)

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