by Stephen Veith (@quakeroats91)
Richmond, Virginia four piece Camp Howard’s new EP Juice, released by Egghunt Records, shows the group in top form. Utilizing transitions from tight, dancy drums paired with slippery electric lines into fuzz rock breakdowns, the band highlight their lighter range as well as their harder tendencies. The vocal performance is warm, forceful and dynamic in tone, range, and language. The raw talent of this band is on full display as they fuse styles as foreign from another as latin lounge to buzzing slowcore in a single song, all while maintaining a cohesive sound for the record as a whole.
The album opens with “Haircut,” a slippery, eighties pop rock groove that develops with a collage of guitar tones and rhythmic dynamics. Ending with a distorted jangle that reaches forward from eighties pop to nineties grunge sets the standard for the aforementioned range Camp Howard puts on display.
A pounding headache. You’ve reached breaking point from mental exhaustion, and you quietly whisper to yourself “I’m fucked up,” at one point in all of our lives we’ve experienced some form of this moment and the aptly named “Fucked Up” is a musical projection of this feeling. A driving bass line keeps the spinning head of the song's main character together until overdriven, distorted guitars interrupt like a migraine, slamming against the inside of your skull.
The record makes a bounding leap forward with the track "Mismo" as the EP is pulled into a completely different direction. Sung entirely in Spanish, the track evokes a curious, art pop direction I had yet to hear fully realized, but hinted towards on Camp Howard's first self-titled release. Beach pop blends with moments of loungey krautrock resurrected from the grave of a latin Stereolab. The upbeat, shining moments divulge into a hypnotic, fuzzy, picking parade leaving a foreboding taste in the listener's mouth. That bad taste in your mouth foreshadows Camp Howard’s steps into the political conversation on “Country.” Punky drumming and oscillating hissing sounds fall into chugging guitars protesting for our country. They ask the listener, “This is your country, why are you silent?” The rage breaks into a moment of angelic vocal harmony that becomes quickly buried by the wall of sound from the guitars and bass. A short solo riff climbs to the top of a full wall of sound, only to peer over to see a short, skeletal drum fill end the song. It seems like the large wall of sound illuminates the scale of the problem, while the seemingly naked end of the song portrays an unfulfilled duty to deal with that problem
On the closing track, “I Will,” a stringy guitar line opens naked, with drumming escalating in the background. As the narrator expresses his desire's unrequited love, the track skyrockets from the fuzz rock feelings of previous tracks into a more spacious, shoegazing climax. The track digresses back into its infant form describing subsequent malaise; the blandness of food, the monochromatic nature of a wardrobe.
Juice shows great potential for a band that has so comfortably settled into such a unique and novel combination of genres and production style.