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"Let`s get out of this country" article

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Camera Obscura Are Ready to Get Heartbroken
Moody Glasgow six-piece hits the U.S., armed with third album


In Let's Get Out of This Country, Scottish indie outfit Camera Obscura may finally have the breakout release they've been waiting on for nearly a decade -- and they had to get out of their country to do it. The six-piece, used to staying home in Glasgow and recording in bursts between day jobs, this time took the plunge and headed to Sweden to work with a producer for the first time. The result takes its familiar sound -- Sixties-influenced beats layered with singer-songwriter Tracyanne Campbell's wry soprano -- and gives it a good dose of rock. The album has already peaked at Number One on the college radio chart.

"It's an exciting time for us," says Campbell. "I think we've grown."

Often linked to Belle and Sebastian -- in sound, and as fellow Scots -- Campbell formed Camera Obscura with bassist Gavin Dunbar and drummer John Henderson (who has since left the band) in 1996. They released their debut, Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi, in 2001, and found U.K. support from the late, influential BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel. Their 2005 tribute to Peel, "I Love My Jean," became their breakthrough into the U.K. independent chart.

While Biggest Bluest and 2003's Underachievers Please Try Harder were self-produced in a local studio during bursts of time off from jobs, the band was ready to commit to a more focused process. "It would have been a big mistake for us to carry on like that," says Campbell, "because we would have never developed. I wanted to make a record that was going to sound fantastic and be better than anything we'd ever done."

So the Camera crew -- Campbell, Dunbar, organist Carey Lander, guitarist Kenny McKeeve, drummer Lee Thomson and trumpeter Nigel Baillie -- busted out of this rhythm and headed to Stockholm to work with Jari Haapalainen (the Concretes, Ed Harcourt). What they created is a pack of catchy pop tunes and wistful breakup odes.

In Let's Get Out, the well-honed six-piece also manages to show off its musicianship like never before. Lander's organ provides the perfect intro to the single and album opener, "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken," while Campbell responds to the original Lloyd Cole and the Commotions song ("Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken") by crooning, "Jealousy is more than a word now I understand/I know you can stay a girl by holding a boy's hand." Later, McKeeve's toe-tapping guitar riff grabs hold and drives "If Looks Could Kill." And Baillie wraps up "Razzle Dazzle Rose," the album closer, with a soaring, resonant trumpet melody.

"It's mainly us playing live and getting a good take with as little overdubs as possible," Campbell says of Let's Get Out's feel. "But then again, Jari's production makes it sound so much better than just six people playing in a room."

After playing industry showcase South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and a sold-out show at New York's Knitting Factory -- "It was nice to play a sold-out show in New York when we hadn't really been doing anything!" says Campbell -- Camera Obscura are currently touring North America. Hopefully, Campbell and Co. are well on their way to making some new memories in the States this time around -- considering what the singer remembers from their last jaunt through the country.

"We were driving from San Diego to San Francisco, maybe, and there was a big field of cows," Campbell says. "There must have been hundreds of thousands of cows. I'd never seen anything like it in my life. It looks like a cow carpet or something, and it smells for miles."

Camera Obscura are on the road through July 30th in Newport, Kentucky.

Camera Obscura [Rolling Stone]
picture: Archivo Elefant










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