Like a bullet the song “Surprise” hits you. It’s a modern rock track, with cool riffs and blended bass and percussion. It’s just one of the nine gems that Richmond, Virginia rockers, Camp Howard, flush out in the robust Cañon. Released this past October 11 via Egghunt Records, Cañon is rock on a new level. Quirky and refined, this four-member band is tight and proves its arsenal is full with each song.
From the title track to finish, Camp Howard keep the listener engaged and alert. These songs are not flashy and not overdone. They are concise and lyrically move into spaces of the heart, mind and definitely the grooving soul. Something about the way lead singer Nic Perea breathes life into lyrics in both Spanish and English never feels pretentious or forced. In the title track (and track number one), he sings all in Spanish and the flow is superbly woven with killer guitar riffs, memorable bass groves and perfectly timed percussion. It’s a confident rock track.
Joining Perea in the band are Wes Parker, Matt Benson and Brian Larson. The four carry on Richmond’s diverse musical offspring that includes Carbon Leaf, D’Angelo, GWAR and Lamb of God. The depth and layering found in Cañon falls into several places on the musical spectrum and it’s logical to think that Perea, Parker, Benson and Larson took all the rock, soul, rhythms, funk and punk from their upbringing to create such splendor. “Out of The Blue” differs from “Don’t Say Shit You Don’t Mean” in mood, as does “Placid” and “Low Calibre” from “Swimming At Night.” The points of view and musical beds are all thought-provoking and take the listener to spaces of the mind and grooves of the heart.
One doesn’t have to speak Spanish to feel the energy and the passion in Cañon. It’s universal. Digging a bit deeper, and after a few listens, the layers of onion can be peeled and these songs have depth. In “Bubba Two Shoes” the percussion arrangement never feels patterned. It’s fresh and innovative. In “Out of The Blue” the dreamy wave and the crisp guitar textures feel more Beach Boys-sounding, but it’s not straight pop. Camp Howard finds ways to create different moods in each of the nine songs on Cañon and the listeners are all the well better for it.
The only song that didn’t do it for me on this album is “Light On The Moon”. It’s the fifth track, and things get right back to rolling with the sixth and pretty fun “Bubby Two Shoes.” I really enjoyed the title track, “Surprise” and the last song, “Swimming At Night”. Again, these are all great songs, but if I had to rank them, those three are tops. They all have a distinctively way of creating this wall of sound, an escape to modern music that isn’t computer generated. It’s such a welcomed change and these East Coasters find a way to bridge together all that packs a punch in the explosive Cañon.