Review: Campfires – Tomorrow, Tomorrow

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-Greg’s Take-

Somewhere between the “found-footage” qualities of raw-purity and a dream there is a door. Like the door the worm in “Labyrinth” says is there when you think it is not, it might be hard to find. If you open that door, you’ll find a kaleidoscope of colors and sound.

Stepping into this world you’ll see posters of The Kinks and T. Rex lining the walls. Seated at an old wooden table in the middle of this constantly expanding and contracting atmosphere is Jeff Walls. There in front of him is a vintage turntable spinning pressed wax as a warming, yet trance-like sound emanates from seemingly nowhere.

The sound is Tomorrow, Tomorrow and the artist is Campfires; the moniker established by none other than Walls himself.

Campfires walks that incredibly fine line of feeling so familiar, but staying new and original. Tomorrow, Tomorrow tells you to think only of yesterday, but somehow spins you facing toward the future. Purposefully rough around the edges audibly, the Indie Rock portrays a time capsule-like timelessness.

Each track maintains a less than three minute run time, with six coming in at less than two. They ignite and then pass with a fierce folky presence.  If you close your eyes you can imagine Walls sitting in the middle of Haight and Ashbury surrounded by people eager to participate in the sound in a time where music was king and emotion was currency.

Campfires does well to play the honest suit on this record. The title track, “Fortune Teller” and “Simple Things” dance naked in the woods with no shame as they boldly define an already attention grabbing album. Each song exudes a sense of realism, but maintains an artistic form just abstract enough to draw you in.

And just like that, thirteen tracks at about twenty five minutes, the sound is gone. The door is closed, the room has vanished and all we have is memories. As we sit back in reality, having experienced the alternate universe that is Campfires, I can’t help but believe there are some obscure healing properties Tomorrow, Tomorrow carries if heard on vinyl through that vintage turntable; or perhaps some greater life lesson.  But alas, there are only 150 being pressed and only a lucky few will know for sure. For the rest of us, we can sit back and enjoy the classic quality of this proud, but never pretentious sound.

-Kevin’s Take-

I was trying to come up with a few words to describe this offering from the band Campfires, and I struggled. It has a retro feel to it, yes, but “Retro” seems so trite; “Happy” seems too simple, as does “Peppy”. I think I’m going to go with “Travel Back To 1965 And Splash A ‘Oui’ Bit Of French On It”.

I love early Who records (including, funny enough, the song “Fortune Teller”) along with early Herman’s Hermits and Bill Haley’s Comets. Campfires has somehow managed to capture that early, raw rock sound with fantastic vocal harmonies. In particular, “The Lighted Avenues” has a high treble mix that seems to work in their favor for that unpolished sound I enjoy.

I wish I could tell you it’s that early rock sound with a modern twist. But it isn’t. It’s simply super cool and fun music that sounds like it could have influenced the Beatles. That isn’t a typo. It could have influenced the Beatles. To be honest, I’m scratching my head at what audience they are shooting for here. I mean, it’s got to be a marketing director’s worst nightmare. Here’s a group that sounds like they were frozen next to Austin Powers, not only in musical style, but in production as well.

But please, don’t get me wrong – I like Tomorrow, Tomorrow; A LOT, I’m just struggling for why. Is it due to a hyper-sensitive sense of nostalgia? Perhaps. An Honest appreciation for the work that goes into writing towards a particular sound? Maybe. Or could it be that good music is simply good music and it can transcend time and trend? This has to be it. I know Franz Liszt was never combined with auto-tune, and yet “Piano Sonata in B Minor” is every bit as gorgeous today as it was in 1853. Campfires has found their niche, and do it well, albeit 50 years behind its heyday.  It has a “Hollies-meets-The Tennessee Three” kind of blend that’s smooth and sweet as aged bourbon.

I praise the consistent sound on this collection of recordings. All light hearted in musical texture, twangy guitars and loose-snared drumming make this a great example of why I love solid bands who can play solid music, and I would recommend that every teenager trying to start their first band should listen to Campfires and hear what it means to master the origins of what makes early rock and country so great. Kudos to Campfires on a sweet, harmonic album that shreds expectations!

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