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Monday, January 28, 2008

B.C. Camplight - Hide, Run Away

Name: B.C. Camplight
Album: Hide, Run Away
Year: 2005
Style: Indie-Folk-Pop
Similar Bands: Grandaddy, Echo Orbiter, Polyphonic Spree, Belle & Sebastian, Shins
"One-Word" Review: Smarty-Pants-Dream-Pop
Based Out Of: Philly, PA
Label: One Little Indian US
Hide, Run Away Cover, Insert & CD
Hide, Run Away Inside
Hide, Run Away (2005)
  1. Emily's Dead to Me (1.58) (Sample)
  2. Hide, Run Away (5.19) (Sample)
  3. Wouldn't Mind the Sunshine (4.29) (Sample)
  4. Parapaleejo (3.17) (Sample)
  5. Oranges in Winter (4.37) (Sample)
  6. If You Think I Don't Mean It (2.01) (Sample)
  7. La La La (4.38) (Sample)
  8. Richard Dawson (3.26) (Sample)
  9. Sleep With Your Lights On (4.23) (Sample)
Album Rating (1-10):8.5

Band Members & Other Groups:B.C. Camplight - Vox, Piano, Keys, Guitars, Bass, Producer (Echo Orbiter)
Bill Avayou - Drums
Ramon Sender - Bass (#10)
Sean Byrne - Drums (#6, #9) Percussion
Nathan Slabaugh - Trumpet
Erin Ryan - Cello
Brian McTear - Bass (#5) Drum Seq (#2, #10), Producer & Engineer (Bitter Bitter Weeks)
Cynthia G. Mason - Vox
Dan Levine - Design
Paul Hammond - Mastered
Paul Sinclair - Mastered

Unknown-ness: I had heard the name talked about, especially being from Philly. I heard he was in Echo Orbiter, the first local band I took interest in. I also heard he was very popular in England. But I never heard a song by BC before I got this record. So just going on what I heard, I was planning to like this album. Ironically, I went all the way out to Ameoba records in LA to find this album on the $1.00 clearance rack.

Album Review: I've had a chance to listen to this album quite a bit, and I really like it. It is solid from front to back, not a moment goes by that you have to check the time to see if the song is going to be over soon. For the most part, it sounds very similar to Granddaddy (thus, the Thrills & Earlimart too). Especially in the Ballad "Sleep With Your Lights On" and in "Oranges in Winter" (which confusingly contains the lyric 'Sleep with your lights on').

The album begins with a loungey Tom Jones style piano, which quickly bounces into a Belle & Sebastian tempo song, complete with a suppressed trumpet and wacky keyboard sound. It is very catchy and so light and airy that you feel like you could float away with the vocals. "Blood and Peanut Butter" sounds like a Shins tune. It is very melodic, supported by synthesized fuzz bass, and very jubilant piano. The chorus is sung by a female, Cynthia Mason, assumedly, which adds a Belle & Sebastian feel. At the end of the song, the vocals are replaced by an electronic keyboard, echoing what would be sung in melody and spirit. The slow, Brian Wilson stylized song "Emily's Dead to Me" is a nice change of pace from the first two pop tunes. This also floats by with strings and what sounds to be light bongos in the background. "Hide, Run Away" follows the Brian Wilson song style, but is a little more upbeat. A light trumpet and some excellently chosen electronic keyboard sounds make this, a morning sunshine wake up call, a great simple pop song. The start/stop, bouncy nature of this and Parapaleejo combined with the style of keyboards chosen make them feel very much like Echo Orbiter songs, with the only difference being B.C.'s wispy voice.

Changing gears a bit, "Wouldn't Mind the Sunshine" sounds like a classic-country campfire song. The short chorus is very powerful, even jarring when compared to what has come before and after on the CD. The quick bursts of guitar strums and strong vocals wake you up from the lazy-cowboy atmosphere. The carnival-like Parapaleejo is an extremely fun, almost oceanic pop song. The start-stop song structure give you little bits of anticipation and delivery throughout the song, rather than one big build-up and release. "If You Think I Don't Mean It" is a 2 minute acoustic folk song, with minimal wood block beats for percussion. "La,La,La" also feels oceanic, but rather than a fun carnival cruise, this is a long relaxing pacific voyage. A child's xylophone is showcased along with a Hawaiian slide guitar, and perhaps a triangle. The 'La La La's' in the chorus are mesmerizing soothing (I don't know the high Llamas enough, but I get the feeling that this is similar to their material). Coming back from the vacation, "Richard Dawson" is quite the show tune. Quick bouncy trumpet and drum beats start the song off, and the song just rolls along at the same "ball down a hill" pace. The backing female vocals just add to make this feel like another Belle & Sebastian song. And the album ends with the ballad, gently ushering the listener into sleepy dream-land.

This is very up and down in pace and style when examined closely. Looking back at it as a whole, it is a uniform piece of light and airy pop perfection. Just enough weird instrumental sounds are minimally introduced to give the album depth and diversity. The whispery vocals never get old or too tired. As of this point, I have yet to see BC Camplight live, but I had planned to many times.

Standout Track:Parapaleejo

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