Posts Tagged ‘Campfires’

Unofficial Backyard Memories, Installments #7 & #8: Pill Wonder and Campfires

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

To conclude this year’s coverage of the Micro-Pixel-Rites showcase at SXSW, which only lasted one day but has somehow filled up over a month of retrospective blog time, I thought I would point out that Rangers was not the only one-man recording project that had mysteriously blossomed into a full rock band by the time they touched down in Austin. After reading Sawyer Carter Jacobs’ most lavish and writerly description of the new Pill Wonder record on the Underwater Peoples blog, I half expected main-man William Murder/Murdoch to climb up on stage and pound away on a toy drum kit, mac n’ cheese boxes, and a triangle for half an hour. Instead, he rolled up with an live instrumental powerhouse consisting of two drummers, a bassist, a lead guitar player, and a multi-tasking, bespectacled fellow “on” two laptops and a synth.

The signature vocal merry-go-round that we hear on the album version of “Wishing Wonder” was lost slightly beyond earshot, but this rendition made pretty much everybody in attendance as giddy as six-year-old on Christmas morning. When you catch a band for the first time and every third person in the audience seems turning to his neighbor and breathing an awestruck, “Who are they?,” it’s hard not to feel a little shiver here and there. With Pill Wonder, that shiver felt collective.

Pill Wonder from Samantha Cornwell on Vimeo.

Capping off the evening as the sun set over the city, Jeff Walls Campfires project — here, reincarnated as a traditional four-piece — rocked us out of our cumulative ultra violet stupor with a few high-energy song bytes — not dissimilar to the compact musical “short stories” he channels on recent cassette Burning Rivers, TV Flickers, Drifting Off to Bed (Leftist Nautical Antiques), but suddenly more vivid and three-dimensional, as though those stories had died and come back to life.

Campfires from Samantha Cornwell on Vimeo.


A Family Affair: Micro-Pixel-Rites Unofficial Backyard Showcase, SXSW 2010

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Like the supremely chill afternoon of live music and bbq that the Underwater Peoples hosted at a cattle ranch outside of Austin the day before, MicroPixelRites’ SXSW debut on Thursday, March 18 was a family affair — and not only because it united a host of musicians, label people, and “blogger types” who were already acquainted either online and off. Even if you rolled up to a sea of strange faces, the afternoon was so long and the summer camp vibe was so strong that you were pretty much bound to leave feeling like you had known everyone there since you braved your first canonball off the dock. I know we are adults now, but it was just that kind of day.


Monday, March 22nd, 2010

SXSW 2010 was as blissed-out an exercise in excess as an exercise in excess can be. All in all, the Visitation Rites mobile reporting team (videographer Samantha Cornwell and I) probably caught more sun, saw more live bands, walked more miles, ate more tacos, drank more beer, laughed more, bickered more, took more photos, tweeted more tweets, shot more video, and reunited with more old friends than in all of 2009 combined. After five consecutive days of non-stop partying and documenting, however, we couldn’t help feeling a bit crestfallen when we realized that SXSW wouldn’t last forever.


Tuesday, March 16th, 2010


Remember when I told you that Thursday’s Micro-Pixel-Rites SXSW showcase was inspired by an obscuro musical collab between none other than Annie Lennox and Aretha? Well here, coming at you just two short days before our very own Austin frolic of beer, bands, and babes, is Micro-Pixel-Rites’ official video homage to sisters everywhere, past and present, doin’ it for themselves. And also our brothers, of course.


Monday, March 1st, 2010

Micro-Pixel-Rites Presents: Unofficial SXSW SHOWCASE and BBQ

Thursday, February 25th, 2010


Elise Oh, Georgia Kral, and I had been contemplating throwing a joint SXSW showcase for some time when we stumbled upon this insano musical collab between Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin over at the Pixelhorse headquarters the other day. Needless to say, we realized that we, too, were capable of making our dreams come true. Visitation Rites, in collaboration with fellow lady-run blogs Pixelhorse and Microphone Memory Emotion, is proud to announce a sunny Austin afternoon of beer, barbecue, and babes — not to mention 10 of our favorite acts in independent music right now. The party will drop on the 18th of March into the same grassy backyard where After the Jump Fest hosted its own unofficial party in 2008 and 2009, and will feature the following friends, in no particular order:

Sightings: Campfires, “It’s Been So Long”

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

campfiresEver since I first tuned in to the solo work of Chicago lo-fi tape artist Jeff Walls, I’ve been starting to think that the effects of the internet on our listening habits go beyond the generational ADHD our elders are so fond of teasing us about. In addition to shortening our musical attention spans, it seems to be having the counterintuitive effect of making us return to formats and recording technologies that pre-date the digital age–or at least music that approximates the sound of doing so. Could it be because we are the last generation that actually remembers a world before itunes? And we feel a responsibility, somewhere, to preserve the memory of those warm and cuddly dark ages for our children, and our children’s children? When the man behind Campfires sent me his “Stormy Late Fall” 7 inch a few months ago, I immediately recognized him as one of the many emerging millennium artists to channel both of these impulses into a single strip of magnetic tape. Moreover, I remember being struck by the fact that while most of his songs seemed to peace out after hitting the two-minute mark (if not earlier), they packed a very rich and lasting punch.

Sightings: Campfires, “Stormy Late Fall”

Monday, December 7th, 2009

campfirescover500x5001“Stormy Late Fall,” the title track of Campfires‘ new seven inch, clocks in at a mere one minute and nineteen seconds. If we notice this before we give the record a spin, and consider that it was released in 2009, we are bound to expect one of two things: a) a “two-minute” scuzzy rock anthem that rages so hard that it passes out face-down in its best friend’s bathtub before hitting the final refrain, or b) something that never really wanted to add up to a pop song anyway, a collage of field recordings and half-baked melody lines that peters out like car radio slipping out of range. So which would you rather do if you were a one-man song from lo-fi Chicago, steeped in cassette culture and its affinity for shorter run-times and rapid-fire release schedules? Would you rather burn out or fade away? Jeff Walls, who cites the evocative impact of short format fiction as one of his inspirations, actually does neither. His music operates more like a tightly pulled shot of a espresso on a late autumn afternoon: all richness and warmth going down, with an aftertaste so strong you never notice that it’s over.