#2b. Camp Cope - How to Socialize and Make Friends (Poison City Records)
The Falls Music and Arts Festival is one of the biggest events on the Australian music calendar. Throughout late December and early January artists from all over the world perform at stages dotted across the country. It's a big deal.
Having recently sold out the Sydney Opera House, released an acclaimed debut album, won Breakthorugh Artist awards and been nominated and shortlisted for countless others, the all-female three piece Camp Cope were, to put it mildly, somewhat aggrieved to find that they were playing a mid-afternoon slot, fairly low down on the bill at the 2017-18 Fall Festival. Lead singer Georgia Maq had already made public her disappointment with the organisers for the lack of female artists being given higher billing on bigger stages at the festival, now it was time to make a furious public announcement. At the climax of ‘The Opener’ (a song that already highlighted such sexism in the music industry), Maq tweaks the lyrics and screams:
‘It’s another man telling us we can’t fill up the tent, it’s another fucking festival booking all done without women (sic)’
The crowd roars its support. The song ends with the bitter observation that gig promoters ‘…just get a female opener, that’ll fill up the quota.’ It's an ugly truth, but Camp Cope are not afraid to tell it as it is.
'The Opener' kicks off Camp Cope's second album 'How to Socialize and Make Friends,' with an infectious rumbling bass riff from Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich before the blend of Sarah Thompson's drums and Maq's jangling guitar creates a sound reminiscent of 'Dalliance' era Wedding Present and The Posies. Maq's conversational drawl is piercingly honest, when she breaks into the aforementioned scream you feel her hurt and rage.
The title track is a the glorious strumalong (think early P.J.Harvey), Maq's tale of getting over a bad relationship is exquisite, 'I'll ride my bike with no handlebars' is a perfect metaphor for her joyous, reckless escape. Furthermore, the errant ex gets a much deserved takedown:
'Maybe I'll tell everyone I cried while you
Sleep next to your wife for the rest of your life'
The closing assertion ('I can see myself living without you') is a powerful assertion of freedom, it stands shoulder to shoulder with David McAlmont's 'Yes' as one of the greatest valedictory 'fuck you' lyrics I know of.
'The Face of God' is a harrowing tale of a victims initial response to rape. Each line is filled with pain, confusion and shock. The abuser is a fellow musician, and there's a horror of disbelief in the line: 'You don't seem like that kind of guy Not you, you've got that one song that I like'.
Behind a deceptive public facade lurks predatory evil.
The awful fact that abuse victims are frequently filled with guilt hits hard with the questioing: 'Every light on the way was screaming at me 'red' ' Her voice is raw and agonizingly real. The realization that: 'I bet you didn't even think about what you did' reveals the viscousness of such perpitrators.
Throughout the album, Georgia deals unswervingly with many relationship issues whether it be about friends, lovers or parents. However, it's the closer 'I've Got You' that reflects on the death of her father (folk singer Hugh McDonald), that is the most haunting. A solo acoustic song that recounts the disorder that a teenager feels when told of a parents cancer diagnosis. It's a beautiful and heartfelt tribute.
'How to Socialize and Make Friends' is a brave album from a band that exposes the horror and hypocrisy of human behaviour. But it's fight to find a better society that is at the heart of it. This is an album that needs to be heard.
Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.