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Home on Native Land

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Album Review

The aptly named Home on Native Land sees head Hidden Cameras operator Joel Gibb returning to his Canadian homeland after a long stint in Berlin, Germany. The sonic antithesis to 2014's relatively dark, electro-pop-heavy AGE, the 14-track set can be downright bucolic at times, with Gibb's signature amalgam of sordid imagery and heartfelt ruminations carried along on a foundation of country-, folk-, and pedal steel-driven Canadiana. It's also chock-full of guest appearances, with Mary Margaret O'Hara, Rufus Wainwright, Feist, Neil Tennant, Bahamas, and Ron Sexsmith all stopping by to lend a hand. That sense of community, which always felt so integral to the group, began to disappear around the release of 2009's uneven Origin: Orphan, but Home on Native Land is positively spilling over with singalongs, sugary choruses, and Brill Building-worthy string sections. Gibb's knack for conjuring up simple, infectious melodies and allowing them ample room to stretch pairs well with the country-folk format, and some of his saltier lyrics "He is my walrus and I am his blubber" invoke, oddly enough, Ween's 12 Golden Country Greats. That said, there's a sweetness that runs throughout the entire set that hearkens back to peak Cameras outings like Mississauga Goddam and Awoo, especially on standout cuts like the fetching "Counting Stars," the nostalgia-laden title track, and the beguiling "Big Blue." A juke joint take on the soul standard "Dark End of the Street" and a Sexsmith-assisted, full-on bar band rendition of Tim Hardin's "Don't Make Promises" are fun deviations from the Gibb norm, and a campfire-ready reading of beloved Canadian folk jam "Log Driver's Waltz" feels appropriately campy, but it's Gibb's well-honed originals that ultimately deliver the goods. After 15 years of winkingly calling themselves the premier purveyors of "gay church folk music," the Hidden Cameras have finally delivered on that promise with a collection of songs that find the sweet spot between homey and fabulous.

Customer Reviews

What a laugh!!

Log Driver as entertaining as Monty Python's Lumberjack!

Wonderful evolution!

I have been following the Hidden Camers since I was 16 and their music just continues to grab me, making me dance and sing! This ablum is a great return to some of their roots. I adore the country and camp under (and over) tone while their core remains the same. A beauitful combination of new, newer and the wonderful old.

Biography

Formed: 2001 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

With a mix of queer politics, explicit sexuality, symphonic indie pop, and theatrical spectacle that borders on the religious, Toronto's the Hidden Cameras are the brainchild of singer/songwriter/guitarist Joel Gibb. The 2001 debut album Ecce Homo -- a collection of four-track demos released on Gibb's own Evil Evil imprint -- introduced a stripped-down version of the Hidden Cameras' witty, acoustic-based songwriting, which drew comparisons to the Magnetic Fields and Belle & Sebastian. Ecce Homo also...
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Home on Native Land, The Hidden Cameras
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