By: Bryen Dunn –
There comes a time when we wake up one day and realize we’re getting older. That can come at any point in one’s life, and can happen multiple times during a lifespan. For many this is triggered through a specific moment in time, such as listening to a song and realizing that it’s now 10 years old. Perhaps that’s where lead singer Joel Gibb, of The Hidden Cameras, is coming from with the release of the band’s latest full length album release, simply titled “Age”.
The album is a collection of released and unreleased tracks spanning the band’s career, beginning the journey with, “Skin & Leather”, an imploding anthem with a resonating BDSM dark rhythmic trance. The lead single, “Gay Goth Scene”, has been a staple at live performances for over 10 years now, yet this is the first time it’s appearing on record. An accompanying video was also produced that seems as timely, if not more timely, now as when Gibb first wrote it. Cleverly directed by Berlin-based Kai Stänicke, with recording by Ohad Benchetrit (Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think), and accompanying vocals by the iconic Canadian singer Mary Margaret O’Hara, the topic of bullying and being an outsider is place at the forefront.
For those unfamiliar with previous material, this not a greatest hit collection tossed together on a whim, but a great compositional piece that Gibb admits he had planned for years. “It feels like it took an age to make”, he chuckles. The introverted musician travels regularly between Toronto and Berlin, but still calls Canada his home. One of the advantages to living and working in both locations is the network of fellow artists he’s been able to connect with. He was able to get O’Hara to guest on the single just by asking. “I called her up, explained what I was looking for, and she agreed. It was that simple”, he explains.
It’s pretty much the same scenario on how he collaborated with Chilly Gonzales for piano accompaniment to the second single release, “Year of the Spawn”. As with O’Hara, his admiration for Gonzales is immense. “He plays piano harder than anyone I know. It’s like he’s channeling the devil”, Gibb claims. Listening closely, one can hear the faint chords of the Bauhaus gothic anthem, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, another homage to the dark side of music and life, and fittingly the closing track on the album.
“Age” mustn’t be translated as seniority alone. There are multiple meanings to the album title. “Age” is anything. In the first place, “Age” expresses the pertinence to take over one’s moral duties. So it is not a coincidence that Bradley Manning’s illustrated image is on the inlay of the album, courtesy of another fellow artist/musician G.B. Jones. “We already live in the Bradley-Manning-Age. He is the last person on earth with decency, who does his human charge justice as an obstreperous fighter for freedom”, he declares.
When songs are often heard as one-off singles, it’s comforting to hear an album play through from start to finish, and understand the meaning and composition behind how it is together. Gibb points out that the B-Side of the album begins with “After Party”, the unexpected lengthier dub-reggae influenced track. “I’m very surprised at the amount of positive feedback we are receiving on that one, considering it’s an obvious diversion from our other recordings”, he says.
On “AGE”, Gibb is no longer concerned with who he is, but rather how he came to be, a sort of coming-of-age repertoire. The album is a manifest of truthfulness mostly written in F minor, the key of complaint, the key of melancholia, but also the key of desire and dark, helpless dejection.
As for the future, Gibb acknowledges that he already has the material written for a follow-up album that will also feature a bevy of musical guests that includes Feist and Afie Jurvanen (Bahamas). “It’s going to have a whole different sound to it, going back to the roots of traditional Canadiana music”, he divulges. He wasn’t willing to speculate on whether it would also be released this year. “I’m focusing on this current album, and the touring that goes with it at the moment, but who knows how things will go”, he teases. As with life, time will tell.
The Hidden Cameras play Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St W, Toronto) on February 15th, with other dates in Ontario and Quebec.
Click here to enter to win a pair of tickets to The Hidden Cameras in Toronto on February 15th (19+). (Deadline: February 14th at Noon)