Sunday, December 02, 2012

Camber ‎– Anyway, I've Been There (1999)

'Think the epitome of maturity' is the description of Camber's new release by Deep Elm. In England, 'maturity' is a euphemism for when on the way to the recording studio, the guitarists broke their distortion pedals so all the songs sound like Oasis, but fortunately the same connotations haven't reached the shores of that big land accross the pond.
Anyway, "I've been there" is without doubt a far maturer record than their debut. Better playing, better songwriting and well, better songs. They take influences from all the greats from Promise Ring to Mineral, but at the same time creating a uniquely original sound. I think the originality comes from the occassional discordant guitar played on top of a beautiful melody, and while some cynics would say how the vocals are somewhat reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate and Mineral, singer Barry Lott isnt afraid of the occassional harsh aggression which i always thought was missing from the aforemetioned bands.
This new release is one of the finest releases of the year so far, pure ear candy. And as for the song '38th and Eighth', just forget about it.
Dan Baker

Second albums, to put it lightly, are a bitch. It's true in the mainstream rock world, for sure, and only slightly less so in the indie world. There's pressure to live up to your brilliant first album (or at least, your pretty cool first album), and a fumble can make a lot of people not bother with the third, if there is one. Now, couple that kind of intense scrutiny with the fact that your band's been pigeonholed into a genre that gets kicked like a redheaded stepchild by every music reviewer under the sun -- what the hell can you do? Well, in a perfect world, you reinvent yourself, but let's be honest: how many bands/people can do that, beyond U2, Prince, and maybe Madonna? (Sting does not count, by the way.)
Between those two poles, Camber've hit the middle ground with their own second album. Anyway, I've Been There still has plenty of melodic sweetness, particularly in singer Barry Lott's Jeremy Enigk-esque singing style, but instead of throwing out another album's worth of rock-out tortured love songs, guitars cranked all the way, they opt to be more minimal and quiet (ex.: album closer "Home Movies"). What's more, they throw in some really pretty different, rough-and-ragged sounds among the pretty stuff, coming closer to Jawbox at several points ("Punching Out," "Sad One") than Sunny Day Real Estate or their kin. Sharp, angular guitar lines balance out beautiful melodies and pained vocals, the odd-sounding notes pushing through and counterbalancing the sweetness. The end result? Well, I'm no expert, but I wouldn't call this "emo," or any derivative of it. What it is is a darned decent rock album, with some really good, passionate songs floating around on it. The moral of the story? Even a little bit of reinvention can go a long way. 

I have to hand it to Deep Elm...they don't put out any junk. Camber is another example of pristine production, strong songwriting, and impressive packaging. Beyond that, Camber is a solid band that walks the line between dissonance and a strong hook. If you liked their previous album, you're going to love this one even more. They tackle some more intricate song structures while maintaining a very focused approach to songwriting. The key element here is the amazing vocal abilities of frontman Barry Lott. Do not be fooled - that boy can sing. There's a certain passion in his vocals that brings the almighty Enigk to mind, but I'll try not to draw that comparison.
Plus: really cool cover layout
Minus: is life really this depressing?

With a barrage of fiery choruses and thunderous hooks, Camber unleashes an intelligent sonic opera on ANYWAY, I'VE BEEN THERE. Known for their keen ability to write effective and not-so-simple rock songs, this record is fueled by intense post-punk melodies, emotionally-charged vocals and masterful, tension-building guitars. Both melancholic and uplifting, tugging at your heart-strings with a sensitive prowess that's often illuminating but seldom predictable. It's rock and roll with feeling ­ something we don't see much anymore.

My mother used to say, "Patrick, you keep away from them there reckerds of the emotional variety. You know what I mean when I say -- don't you look at me that way! You know damn well that them emo reckerds always make you bawl like a baby." How true momma was. This record is brought to us by the Deep Elm people who put out those compilations known as The Emo Diaries . For crying out loud (no pun intended), don't put "Emo" in the title! Well, I liked those damn records and I like Camber, too. Anyway, I've Been There is full of bittersweet songs suitable for your first heartbreak. If you like your pretty parts with some noisy interludes, this is your stuff. These kids seem to like listening to those Sunny Day Real Estate records, but they don't let it ruin their song-writing. Anyway, I've Been There has some rockers, too. If you take the sum of all these, the product is a good record to make-out to.
Patrick Rafter

Camber's sophomore release on Deep Elm, Anyway, I've Been There, is a wonderful mix of emotional lyrics, creative songwriting, and Barry Lott's sharp, unique vocals. With ten miraculously sculpted tunes (none seem to tread on the heels of any of the others and yet the cohesiveness is remarkable), the band produces what some might hear as a soundtrack to life in New York City, the band's home base. The music is somewhat calm but can easily become classy, as with the trumpet on "Wait," yet on the next tune, "38th & 8th," Camber showcases a raucous guitar solo at the end of the song. The entire album is wrapped up with the dreary "Home Movies" and its tale of life's memories as home movies in one's head and the "endless hell" that only extreme depression can produce. It ends the album on a truly bleak note, and it's surely a darker side than anything else the band has revealed heretofore, yet it's not awkward. Sometimes the slow, depressing song is put last for a reason, to emphasize a point, and no doubt Camber has placed it as the closer as if to say, "If nothing else, listen to this part of our artistic expression." While not something most bands would heartily embrace, it's nevertheless a song that Camber pulls off with a passion and the bleak tone fits the band well, although surely the more upbeat tunes are less abrasive on the heart and soul. The crisp production was done by the legendary John Agnello; thus, nothing is lacking in that area. A truly solid, dynamic effort, Anyway, I've Been There is an album full of smart pop roots and somber undertones filled with intelligent songwriting from start to finish. A worthy follow-up to a strong debut.
Kurt Morris

password: thelastwordisrejoice


  1. Just wanted to tell you that I absolutely love your blog. Thank you so much for sharing this music with us. This is exactly the type of music I need right now.

    Thank you

    1. I'm very glad that you found the music for your soul :)

  2. Do you by any chance have the self titled album by Karate, released in 1996? I want it soo bad :)

    P.S. I love this band Camber they're excellent!

  3. i grabbed beautiful charade a couple of weeks back and it was just the sort of emo album i needed so i am back for more! thank you!

    1. btw, i commented whilst waiting for the download site to load - the file's been deleted so i'll look around elsewhere for the link.

    2. if you find another dl for this album can you link it here?