I don't remember how I found this. It was linked to on a power pop blog or retailer maybe? That website seems to no longer exist, otherwise I'm sure it would be one of the 20 search results when I Coogle "this is camera" and names of the band members.
I haven't actually listened to much of the Strokes but I think a very obvious line can be drawn from them to Camera. It feels like that era of indie guitar rock, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs, kind of dance punky. Maybe more Hot Hot Heat because it's quite keyboardy. But it's high energy, always. It feels like the B-52s. It feels like Junior Senior if they only had one day in the studio.
This is one of those albums that sounds like it was recorded live. Guitar on the left, keyboard on the right. No need for overdubs. Sometimes there are saxes or backing vocals but that's it. The drums might as well have been recorded mono.
I need to shut up. The reason to listen to this album is to hear the bass guitarist. The credited bassist is Joey Dello Stritto, and you cannot find much about this person on the internet. It sucks because he is clearly very good at his job. The bass propels the whole album. He knows when to play lead and he knows when to step back a little. Often the bass licks are The Instrumental Hooks, but not always. They're not virtuosic. If you are learning to play bass guitar, you should learn to play these songs. They are fun to play, they are easy to play most of the time, they are simple and repetitive and feel great to play or hear.
When I was in college my friends were doing a T-Rex cover set and THE DAY BEFORE they were like "hey we don't have a bassist, do you want to be it?" and I was like, uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, short notice....... i've only been playing bass for two years........ i can try................ Reader, I did it. It was easy. I didn't know T-Rex before then. T-Rex is the kind of music that like, if you are a child in a cartoon from the 80s or 90s going to see a Rock & Roll Concert, that is what's playing. When you are a cartoon of a child playing air guitar, theirs are the sort of riffs you are imagining playing.
Camera is like that. T-Rex feels sleazier than Camera, but that might be because Camera relies on the breakneck tempos of new wave. But also the lead singer... before the word "himbo" was put into my vocabulary by 2020 Twitter, I think I had already ID'd the singer Shane Sahene (what a name!) as that particular archetype. He sounds like a glammed up airhead 80s pop singer. The lyrics have SO little substance, they sound like they were written by a middle schooler. You bump into beats, they bump into you? You bump into beats, that's all that you do?!?
But it's perfect. The music is simple most of the time. They're just trying to get the crowd to move. (HELLO FROM AFTER I WROTE THIS PART OF THE PAGE, I FOUND A QUOTE: "We just want to get the girls and everyone to dance," Dello Stritto said.) I'm sure he was paraphrasing something else that I also remember hearing, but I was in a bluesy band once talking about instrumentals and our bassist said "it doesn't matter what the lyrics are but it matters that you have lyrics." That's what this band is. "When I kiss, I kiss pictures picturing you." Look at that, it's like The Proclaimers' I'm Gonna Be stripped down even FURTHER. It's beautiful in its simplicity. Using words as a blunt object.
But then there's an extra layer of... HORROR that very occasionally leaks out of the lyrics. I haven't seen or read American Psycho but I would guess that Shane is similar to the titular psycho. "She's so good, she's a good girl! Ohhhhhhhhhhh. KILL EVERYTHING"
"Kill everything," he REPEATS a bar later.
"You might think you're all alone when you're sitting in your home, but you... you're not. And you might think you're all alone when you don't answer your telephone, but you.... you're not."
I don't know the emojis. I am sure there is one for the face I made when I first heard this. I think I'm thinking of a Something Awful emoticon. The one that is 😬 but looks like it's from AOL Instant Messenger. You know how back in the day some emoticons were like 16x16 and some were like 32x32? Like SNES vs Genesis? That's all I have to say about emoticons right now. Thanks for reading.
What else do I have to say. I feel like the songs are so compact, not overthought but obviously crowd-tested. Every note in its place, it fulfills its duties and gets out of the way. I like a short song. I like a simple song.
Ummmmmm, I guess I can name a phenomenon I experienced with this album that might not exist anymore. When I downloaded this from iTunes in 2007, track 9 just didn't download. I don't know why. And so I loved this 9 track album, not ever knowing there was something I was missing. And when I found out about it at a later date, it was like a bonus track. In fairness The Algorithm did me good, because the strength of track 9 (Somewhere Is Someone) does NOT lie in the bass guitar, the vocal hook in the chorus (and background vocals, notably!) does all the work. It is very catchy but not in the way the rest of the album is. I remember that around this time my friend Nik sent me Andrew Bird's "The Mysterious Production Of Eggs" and everything after track 11 just didn't download. So I thought it was a great album with 11 tracks. To this day I don't think I can hum or even readily identify any of the 3 others.
I think that's pretty much it. The music speaks for itself. Thankfully, someone is still keeping Camera available digitally as recently as 2015, when it was uploaded under publisher name "Silky Bubbles Holiday" (which, Coogling, only returns this one album.) I left an insane comment on a video once and their drummer got back to me, which was nice. I like these guys. I love this album.
Oh, hey, I did a little digging and found some press they got!!! Press?!? Remember that? Journalistic coverage of a local music scene? Here's one from their debut in 2004 at the Daily Collegian from Penn State: Pittsburgh pop band to debut tonight. It cost $3 to get into a show in 2004. TWO THOUSAND FOUR. Not like, when my mom was going to shows. I was alive in 2004. Probably most of you were alive in 2004!! THREE DOLLARS?! Anyway "We just play this kind of happy, dancey rock 'n' roll," Dello Stritto said. "We're not trying to consciously write this way; that's just how it comes out." Oh, and then 6 months after their debut, the Daily Collegian was already calling them veterans. College newspapers, am I right? I ran the radio station at my school for 3 years but the only press I ever got was when I made a sign that said SNAKES on it.
They got some real press a few years later around when the album came out though. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's website is absolutely awful so don't click these links if you don't want to but here is one about the album from 2006. Come back, Camera. Come to New York. I will play any instrument if you need me to. I just need one day's notice.