Tag Archives: Isobel Campbell

Recollection Volume 16 – The Green Fields of Foreverland…

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses… 

Album: The Green Fields of Foreverland…
Artist: The Gentle Waves
Released: 1999
Format(s) I own it on: CD

0000894370_500The first solo album from Belle & Sebastians then-cellist. She eventually left the band in 2002, but for the mean time The Gentle Waves was a side project. The album was released on Belle & Sebastian’s then-label Jeepster, and featured nearly the entire band (Campbell, Stuart Murdoch, Stevie Jackson, Mick Cooke, Chris Geddes, and Richard Colburn) only missing was then-bassist Stuart David and violinist Sarah Martin.

Campbell’s voice is a whisper, it seems it’s often difficult for her to push the air out of her lungs as she sings. As she sings “I will change my mind” in “A Chapter In The Life Of Mathiew” you can hear her struggle to get that first “I” out. Near the end of the song, Murdoch’s vocals are doubled with Campbell’s, the two voices complimenting one another echoing what made Arab Strap-era Belle & Sebastian so good. It’s the only song on the entire album that feature vocals other than Campbell’s which I believe to be a mistake. Campbell’s voice is weak and has trouble carrying the 31 minute album. If there were other vocalists to allow for contrast, it would create a more enjoyable experience for the listener. As I type this I realize that I’m writing a thesis in support of her work with Mark Lanegan, but we have to wait for the 2000s and 2010s for that.

Highlights

“Weathershow,” duh. That rhythmic pounding guitar accentuated with handclaps. Stevie outdoes himself on guitar. This is probably the only song on the album that wouldn’t sound out of place on Belle & Sebastian’s The Boy With The Arab Strap, or a Velvet Underground album. I imagine that’s much of Jackson’s influence; something that Murdoch held him back from on “Judy And The Dream of Horses.”

“Evensong” is another of the album’s songs that feature a full band and even adds flute and trumpet. Campbell is really utilizing the band she’s around but also this time adding her style that might not meld so well with a Belle & Sebastian record.

The album’s opening track, “Hangman In The Shadow” sets us off on the adventure. It really successfully demonstrates what an Isobel Campbell record will sound like.

And “A Chapter In The Life Of Mathiew” as discussed above.

Lowlights

After three great songs, the album’s fourth is probably its weakest. “Emanuelle Skating On Thin Ice” is a plodding song featuring Isobel’s lacklustre piano playing.

Men 12.25 (77%) | Women 3.75 (23%)
Canada 5.8 (36%) | USA 7.53 (47%) | UK 2.66 (17%)
Ontario 2 (33%) | Quebec 0 (0%) | Nova Scotia2 (33%) | New Brunswick 1 (16%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 0 (0%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%) | Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (16%)
Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

 

 

Enlevez vos pantalons et de la danse sans soucis.

Some performances at my favourite record store.

Music Roundup

Hawk by Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan

This album can only be described as pure beauty. The insanely high and twee voice of Campbell’s matched with the gruff, deep, strained voice of Lanegan are perfectly matched. The album starts off with “We Die And See Beauty Reign,” a soft sober song, which brings the listener into this vocal pairing. Immediately after, it gets heavier with one of the highlights, “You Won’t Let Me Down Again.”

Campbell, who wrote all but two of the songs1, isn’t afraid to play around in genre. The soul song “Come Undone” could easily fit on a Sharon Jones record, and doesn’t sound out of place on this record at all. Then there’s the rockabilly “Get Behind Me,” and the folk “Cool Water” in which Campbell ditches Lanegan temporarily in favour of Willy Mason. Then there’s “To Hell & Back Again” which wouldn’t be out of place on a Gentle Waves2 record.

Fantastic record.

Travellers in Space and Time by The Apples in stereo

The Apples In Stereo have been around for a long time as the definitive pop band of the ’90s. Their sugary melodies have made a name of Robert Schneider’s songwriting. Travellers in Space and Time is their first record without Schneider’s ex-wife Hilarie Sidney, who would traditionally provide one or two songs per album. While her songs were never what defined the band’s sound, they were always a highlight, and it feels as if that’s missing from the record.

The album lifts heavily from the early disco sounds which Toronto’s new mayor is a big fan of. Unfortunately it’s not a song that can easily support a full album, let alone an hour long, sixteen track record.

There are definitely highlights, among them are “Hey Elevator” and “C.P.U.” but the record is too much of a rehashing of other things they’ve done. The aforementioned “C.P.U.” could have easily fit it with Her Wallpaper Reverie.

Give’r a pass.

The Shilohs by The Shilohs

I was in Vancouver, and my ex-sister-in-law, who was nice enough to show me around the city, took me to Zulu Records. I asked the employees there to recommend a few CDs. They gave me a few options, and this one stuck with me. Turns out he, along with his fellow employees were in the band. The EP is a a throwback to post-Gram Parsons 1970s country-rock, they do very well at emulating what those who once emulated Parsons himself, such as The Rolling Stones.

The EP’s a nice snack of six songs, easily taken in, and will be interesting to see where this band goes from here. If they come to Toronto, I’d certainly head out to see them.

  1. The others being Townes van Zandt covers. []
  2. The name Campbell released two albums under while still in Belle & Sebastian. []

Isobel(le, sans Sebastian)

Isobel Campbell seems to hate Toronto. In 1999, her then-band Belle & Sebastian were scheduled to play a show here, but she got sick, and the band had to cancel what was to be their first Toronto show. The next time they came around to Toronto, they played at one of the city’s worst venues, The Kool Haus. She didn’t seem to be too happy up on stage, and lo and behold, she left the band the next day. Since then Belle & Sebastian have been without a cellist1 and they seem happy about it.

A few years later, Campbell was on tour supporting her new record, an album she made with Mark Lanegan called The Ballad of Broken Seas.She was starting this tour in Toronto at a venue called The Revival. I showed up at the venue, only to find out that the show had been cancelled. She was sick. Now after two Gentle Waves albums, two solo records, and three albums with Mark Lanegan, she’s come to Toronto.

So here I was, en route to Criminal Records, with my old 1999 Gentle Waves 7″ tucked into my jacket pocket, half in doubt that she’d arrive. The time clicked on, as the small crowd assembled, waiting for her to arrive, waiting for her to join the rest of her band. We were told that she’d be there just shortly after 6, I doubted.

Suddenly, the doors swung open, and in walked Isobel Campbell. She made her triumphant return to Toronto, it actually happened. She played about five songs. They were really good. Then she signed by 7″, and I departed for home, where I left my ticket. Seeing as I had some time. I took some time to write this, but now, alas, I must leave for Lee’s Palace, where she will be joined by Mark Lanegan.

See you soon… with more pictures2

Opening was Willy Mason, who sings on the new Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan album, Hawk. His “down home” country voice is absolutely gorgeous, and he sets out some beautiful songs. It was quite a great opening act.

Then came out Campbell and Lanegan performing the soft and beautiful “We Die And See Beauty Reign” from their latest collaboration from which the immediately transitioned into the rocker “You Won’t Let Me Down Again” which I think was probably the cue to hit the stage lights, but they didn’t go on, and they stayed off the entire night. I was confused.

The set list was almost exclusively songs from the three Campbell & Lanegan albums, which appeased the many Mark Lanegan fans in the audience. I was slightly confused by that notion, as why would a Mark Lanegan fan be at an Isobel Campbell show. I always saw Lanegan as simply a hired hand to provide vocals, seeing as Campbell is the songwriter. It seems however, that Lanegan fans are not only fond of his beautiful deep voice, but as well fond of high quality Scottish songwriting.

That’s one of the most important points of this. Isobel Campbell has grown as a songwriter. To listen from her early Gentle Waves albums to her current output, you’ll certainly see a steady progression, and while the twee, beautiful, soft songs of those early records have a warm place in my heart, her songwriting on Hawk is by far better.

Kinda wished she’d played “Weathershow,” but I never expected it… oh and “Is It Wicked Not To Care?”

  1. Who’s a member of the band, not a backing member. []
  2. I’m making the assumption that I’ll add pictures from the in-store. []

Music Monday

Music Monday

Whale Tooth’s “Hibernation Song”

Don’t back down like you always do. THE INBREDS WILL BE PLAYING IN KINGSTON IN JUNE!

Isobel Campbell sings “Time Is Just The Same”

Jonathan Richman is a little dinosaur.