Christmas posts 2013 part 6


This was a single that Camera Obscura did for Christmas a few years ago, a cover of Jim Reeves’ ‘The Blizzard.’

Hope enjoy -and if you are enjoying the Christmas posts, please leave some feedback…

I notice the end of year charts have started appearing, the blog’s will appear very soon.

Camera Obscura -‘The Blizzard.’ mp3

Also – I have never seen this commercially released – their take on ‘Little Donkey.’

Camera Obscura -‘Little Donkey.’ mp3

Album Review: Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura Desire Lines

Camera Obscura -‘Desire Lines’ (4AD)

There’s a lazy sort of pigeonholing which sees Camera Obscura being simply filed next to fellow Glaswegians Belle & Sebastian in the twee-pop/c-86-type indie. Fact is, there’s a lot more to it than that, and their fifth album (and second for 4AD) sees them offering up yet another appealing selection of tunes.

Whilst there have been some suggestions that this album doesn’t bring anything new to their sound, there’s more of a country-americana feel to their sound than ever before, and whilst it’s still recognisably Camera Obscura, there’s definitely less of the ‘twee’ about this album than any of their others (not that I am being dismissive of twee-pop, you understand).

This may be due, more than just in part, to the fact that it was recorded in Portland, Oregon with producer Tucker Martine, and features guest vocals from Neko Case and My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. Case -also just about to drop a new album -can be heard on the album’s strongest track ‘Fifth In Line To The Throne.’ This is Camera Obscura delivering their bittersweet pop in one of their finest recorded moments.

Traceyanne Campbell is actually rather underrated as a lyricist, and she’s at her strongest on ‘New Year’s Resolution’ resolving to ‘write something of value’ and suggesting that I’ve been cool with you …The sooner you admit it, I will, too.”

I don’t know if this is their strongest album -I’ve really lived with Underachievers Please Try Harder
and Let’s Get Out Of This Country the most. But it probably says something about how high a standard the band have set over the past decade-plus that this isn’t necessarily their best album, but it is most definitely a strong record and a very good place to start if you haven’t heard them before.

Desire Lines is out now on 4AD.

Camera Obscura -‘Fifth In Line To The Throne.’ mp3

The return of Camera Obscura


Any new release from Camera Obscura is always a cause for celebration, and so it is that the band have annoucned that June will see the release of their fifth album (and second for 4AD) Desire Lines.

Recent single ‘Do It Again’ is an upbeat affair…

…meanwhile, ‘Fifth In Line To the Throne’ features Neko Case on backing vocals and is almost unbearably sad.

Camera Obscura -‘Fifth In Line To the Throne.’ mp3

According to the press bumf, the band’s singer Traceyanne Campbell has said ”Fifth In Line To The Throne’ is a song about someone in a seemingly perfect relationship but there is a dark underside to it. We wanted to sound menacing and give folks the creeps. I believe Princess Beatrice is fifth in line by the way.”
The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. Intro
2. This Is Love (Feels Alright)
3. Troublemaker
4. William’s Heart
5. New Year’s Resolution
6. Do It Again
7. Cri Du Coeur
8. Every Weekday
9. Fifth In Line To The Throne
10. I Missed Your Party
11. Break It To Me Gently
12. Desire Lines

Christmas 2011 Posts #8


Whatever your views on religion, chances are if you grew up in the UK, at some point you went to a Christmas Carol Concert.

And much as I would no more wish to hear tuneless singing of these perennial favourites than many of you will, Christmas Eve’s essential soundtrack has got to include Carols from King’s College, Cambridge to hear them done well.

So, for today’s post, a selection of half a dozen songs you might hear at a Christmas concert done in the bands’ own inimitable styles. There may be many more of these out there, though I drew the line at posting Cliff Richard’s version of ‘O Little Town Of Bethlehem’ or Bros doing ‘Silent Night.’ There’s post-modernism and then there’s being stupid.

Can -‘Silent Night.’ mp3

Belle and Sebastian -‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel.’ mp3

Bare Naked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan -‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.’ mp3

Blondie -‘We Three Kings.’ mp3

Fall -‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.’ mp3 {Mark E. Smith above)

Camera Obscura -‘Little Donkey.’ mp3

In honour of Rabbie Burns


I have made some odd decisions in life -but something I am very glad I did was to move to Scotland, ten years ago this August.

Robert Burns was Scotland’s national poet, and very much a hero still. he’s probably best known for writing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ but he also wrote many other fine numbers, including ‘My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose’ ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That’ and the epic ‘Tam O’Shanter.’

So as today is January 25 -Burns Night in Scotland and in Scottish communities across the world – I give you four of Burns’ best known songs, done by Scots artists.

Delgados -‘A Parcel Of Rogues.’ mp3

ballboy -‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That.’ mp3

Camera Obscura -‘I Love My Jean.’ mp3

Camera Obscura -‘A Red, Red Rose.’ mp3

One thing i would love to post here -but have no knowledge of any footage in audio or video form is of Belle and Sebastian performing in Sweden singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. In Swedish. As you do…

Christmas posts part 7


Hello again.

Snow still on the ground here in Edinburgh -but it’s getting easier to get around, thankfully.

These two tracks I’m posting today have appeared here before -but I thought you might like to hear them again…

Camera Obscura -‘The Blizzard.’ mp3

Camera Obscura -‘Little Donkey.’ mp3

Hope you’re enjoying these Christmas posts -feedback welcome, as ever (like the 111 folk who have downloaded Idlewild so far and left no feedback whatsoever!)

The final Christmas-related track


Hope everyone had an excellent Christmas and got what they wanted!

A lovely quiet day here in Edinburgh -and I sure as heck won’t be braving the sales today either.

Lots of lovely presents – including a very impressive haul of no less than 7 LPs (yes, vinyl!), Wii Fit Plus, lots of sugar-free goodies, Restless Natives – and the sight of Rage Against the Machine on Top Of The Pops. Result!

Meanwhile, Camera Obscura have made their Christmas single ‘The Blizzard’ available as a free download over Christmas so here you go:

Camera Obscura -‘The Blizzard.’ mp3

(NB if the link doesn’t work, it’s cos they have taken it down by the time you read this. Go and buy it)

Be good XX

A Camera Obscura Christmas


Camera Obscura have had a great 2009, and they’ve done a Christmas single. It’s called ‘The Blizzard’ which is an old Jim Reeves song, and here is a live performance, so go and buy it!

This is an older Camera Obscura cover of a festive fave/Christmas classic:

Camera Obscura -‘Little Donkey.’ mp3

BONUS! A classic Camera Obscura cover version and the title track of this year’s LP.

Camera Obscura -‘Super Trouper.’ mp3

Camera Obscura -‘My Maudlin Career.’ mp3

Album Review: Camera Obscura


Camera Obscura -‘My Maudlin Career.’ (4AD)

This has to be one of my most longed for releases of the year and this does not disappoint one iota. The follow-up to 2006’s Let’s Get Out Of This Country, Camera Obscura’s fourth album is finally here. Recorded once again with Swedish producer Jari Haapalainen in Sweden, it’s another fantastic album from the band responsible for the best album of 2006.

Whilst there are still people who keep comparing them to Belle & Sebastian, Camera Obscura prove here once and for all that they are standing in no-one else’s shadow and are firing on all cylinders. There’s the familiar touch of malancholy, and even more of a country and soul influence across the album, as a whole. First single ‘French Navy’ was, according to lead singer Tracyanne Campbell a song she wrote for Al Green to sing. I think he’d like it. The title track also features Abba’s grand piano, which is appropriate, as Camera Obscura are one of the few bands who can do sad like Abba could.

In her notes, Tracyanne Campbell talks about the relationship difficulties she’s had that have influenced this album lyrically. But you don’t feel like a voyeur listening in and reading these, rather privileged that she’s sharing it with you. And whilst there is a Camera Obscura ‘sound’ emerging, tracks like ‘James’ show that there are more, new ideas.

Don’t rush the follow-up guys, on this evidence, it’s been worth the wait.


My Maudlin Career is out on April 20 on 4AD.

I’ve posted these before here, but, well, why not?

Camera Obscura -‘French Navy.’

Camera Obscura -‘My Maudlin Career.’ mp3

Camera Obscura website/Camera Obscura myspace