August 10, 2012

SPOTLIGHT: The Camerawalls

Pocket Guide To The Otherworld, the head-turning debut from The Camerawalls stamped Clementine Castro’s credibility as a craftsman of sensitive pop—slightly in the same league as his last work in Orange and Lemons’ underrated Moonlane Gardens. But unlike the last Orange and Lemons offering, PGTTO is a more focused and cohesive record in terms of production and style. It is a collection of songs built on ambition, melding the sensibilities of ‘80s British pop with lilting folk tunes and Rondalla orchestrations that channel traditional Philippine music during the Spanish colonial era.

The force behind the creative push is Clem Castro, the romantic Bulakeño whose penchant for whimsy melodies and flamboyantly sentimental songwriting matches that of a younger Ian Brown, Roddy Frame, even Morrissey. I could go on and on, write about how Clem captured the true musician’s spirit and how after the heartbreaking Orange and Lemons break-up he tried to reinvent what is left of his former band’s legacy, and turn it into some maudlin piece of literary bravado set to music. He knows what he’s exactly doing and his vision to push the envelope of pop music to something mesmeric and empowering remains unrivalled up to this day.

The Camerawalls’ follow-up record, Bread And Circuses— a metaphorical reference coined to describe the superficial attempts of an institution or an establishment to get the approval of its constituents—somehow dispels any notion of the band gearing towards the mainstream wonderworks despite the strong following that supported their debut. On hindsight, it could just be a personal rambling ascribed to what Clem actually felt during that moment: frustration or maybe just plain disappointment. “I’m tired of being fed with bread and circuses, this world view seemed incredibly conservative,” he sings on the title track. There’s some sense of nonconformity to it, that idea of merely rejecting what’s been there and then. And it just gives the over-all push of what the album is all about when played on full volume: an easy listening, guitar-pop record completely devoid of ambition and pretense, and more of the fuck-you-I-won’t-compromise kind of record that they seemed to advocate.

Fast forward 2012. The Camerawalls remains to be one of the primary movers of the independent music scene, releasing consistently stellar singles that trail into modern indie classic territory. Their new single “Wanderlust” off their still-untitled upcoming album, brims with inexplicable charm that reeks of pastoral beauty and warmth, pretty much a return to good old, Rondalla-inflected folk-pop that we instantly fell in love with. In the band’s official site, they describe the track as “a mellow departure from the band's usual driven tempo. A downtempo tune that prompts the listener to sigh for the nomad's life, if not immediately bring out the backpack and slip on a pair of walking shoes. An invitation to wander is an invitation to discover, to breathe, to take a moment to appreciate what life on the slow lane has to offer -- and "Wanderlust" captures this beautifully.”

As an effort to provide financial help to the victims of the recent flood in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, The Camerawalls will be donating 75% of the proceeds of the song’s digital download to DAKILA. The money collected will be used in buying relief goods and stuff needed to aid calamity victims. If you have the heart of the good and willing to help out even in your own little way, please click here to find out how you can donate and purchase the single. Btw, here's "Wanderlust" available for streaming.

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