splendid > reviews > 1/7/2003
Campfire Girls
Campfire Girls

Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Buttercup"

Buy me now
Your first thought on listening to Delongpre will likely be something along the lines of "This has a pretty solid mid '90s rock sound." There's a reason for that: the Campfire Girls recorded it in their basement studio in 1994 and 1995. Indeed, the eight post-grunge tunes here are the remaining numbers from the sessions that produced the CGs' seven-song EP Mood Enhancer in late 1995.

The band, then a trio, claims roots in the same Hollywood scene that spawned indie geeksters Weezer. However, any Weezer influence is only fleetingly manifested here. Listen a little closer and you'll realize that, hey, this sounds like Nirvana. Not big-production, over the top Nirvana a la "You Know You're Right"; no, it closely resembles the more organic sounding Nirvana of classic tunes like "Sliver" and "Been a Son", particularly on cuts like "Sneak It in Your Keeper" and "Buttercup".

Of course, by the time the Campfire Girls were cozying up to the microphones to record these tunes, Cobain and grunge we just about gone, and it sounds like the Campfire Girls knew it. You can hear the band trying to stretch its idiom on songs like the more subdued "Two Girls", which focuses on melody a little more than the other cuts. This song also provides fodder for kids aiming to find some cross-pollination of ideas between CG and Weezer; Christian Stone's voice takes a decidedly Cuomo-ish turn here.

The lo-fi brooder "Upon" sticks out as an album highlight. The short and spare tune sounds like a one-track demo, and the immediacy of the recording draws you in and conjures images of Stone alone in the basement studio with his guitar. Not to beat the Nirvana parallels to death here, but it calls to mind the story of Cobain recording "Something in the Way" while flat on his back with an out-of-tune acoustic guitar on a couch in the control room of a darkened recording studio.

So where are the Campfire Girls now? After releasing their Mood Enhancer ten-inch on Interscope in late 1995, the band was on the rocks. Addled by drugs and bad feelings among the principals, the trio soon split. But there is a light at the end of their Behind the Music tale: Mootron's release of Delongpre aims to whet our appetites for the band's return. Interestingly enough, the act's publicists say STP frontman Scott Weiland is a fan, and his support has been instrumental in getting them back together and with Interscope, who've been responsible for many of 2002's most credible albums.

Nirvana? STP? Campfire Girls? Is it really time for '90s nostalgia? Fortunately, most of Delongpre sounds fresh enough to shake off the dust of time (this is helped by the tepid state of commercial rock nowadays). So, instead of falling for the ruse of picking up the new Nirvana best-of (which features mostly stuff you already own) this holiday season, why not give Delongpre a spin? If you must revisit the mid '90s, you might as well hear something new.



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