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Camera Obscura

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Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

All Music Guide:

The Scottish ensemble Camera Obscura formed in 1996, when vocalist Tracyanne Campbell, percussionist John Henderson, bassist Gavin Dunbar, and guitarist David Skirving began creating lush indie pop with orchestral flourishes and romantic lyrics. They went on to release a number of singles, one of which included contributions from Belle & Sebastian's Richard Colburn, whose band served as a stylistic touchstone for the young Camera Obscura. Three years after the band's first releases, Lee Thompson joined the lineup as a permanent drummer and David Skirving jumped ship, only to be replaced by Kenny McKeeve. Keyboardist Lindsey Boyd also climbed aboard not long afterward, defining the band as a six-piece.

Camera Obscura received an influential endorsement from John Peel in 2001, when the British DJ deemed them one of the most promising bands of the year. Their first full-length album, Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi, was released the following year through the AndMoreSound Records catalog, with production help from Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch. Trumpeter and percussionist Nigel Baile joined the band soon afterward, swelling their ranks to seven. The group's next effort, the luminescent Underachievers Please Try Harder, was released by Spanish label Elefant in 2003; an American release followed in 2004 by the stalwart label Merge, which also reissued Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi. For the band's third Peel session in early 2004, they were asked to put music to the words of Scottish poet Robert Burns, a task they enjoyed so much they ended up recording studio versions of two of the songs: "I Love My Jean" and "Red, Red Rose."

After touring the world and reaping critical success, the band returned to Scotland and suffered two losses: first, the death of Peel, one of their biggest supporters; second, the defection of John Henderson. The band released the I Love My Jean single as a tribute to the late Peel in early 2005 and decamped as a six-piece to Sweden to record with noted producer Jari Haapalainen. The resulting album, Let's Get Out of This Country, was released in June of 2006 on Merge and Elefant. A series of singles and EPs followed, culminating in the release of 2009's full-length My Maudlin Career. The band began work writing a follow up in 2010, but illness and personal issues put the process on indefinite hold for a time. In 2012 they traveled to Portland, Oregon to work with producer Tucker Martine on what would become 2013's Desire Lines, the group's fifth and most confident record to date.


Camera Obscura are a Scottish indie pop band from Glasgow, Scotland. The group formed in 1996 and have released five albums to date.


Camera Obscura were formed in 1996 by Tracyanne Campbell, John Henderson and Gavin Dunbar. Several other members performed with the band before David Skirving joined as a permanent guitarist. Their first releases were the singles "Park and Ride" and "Your Sound" in 1998. The band's line-up changed in 2000 and 2001 when Lee Thompson joined as its permanent drummer, Lindsay Boyd joined as a keyboard player, and Skirving left and was replaced by Kenny McKeeve.

Camera Obscura's first album, Biggest Bluest Hi Fi, was released in 2001. The album was produced by Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian and was supported by John Peel. The first single from the album, "Eighties Fan", came in at number eight in the Festive Fifty in 2001, and charted in several independent music charts. Nigel Baillie joined the band as a trumpeter and percussionist in 2002 and Carey Lander replaced Boyd. In the summer of 2002, Peel asked the band to do their first Peel session.

The band's second album, Underachievers Please Try Harder, was released in 2003 and was followed by Camera Obscura's first full tour of Britain and Ireland and the band's first tour of the United States. Founding member John Henderson left Camera Obscura following this tour. In early 2004 the band recorded the songs "I Love My Jean" and "Red, Red Rose" following their third Peel session, in which Peel had asked them to put these poems by Robert Burns to music.

Camera Obscura recorded their third album, Let's Get Out of This Country, in Sweden over the course of two weeks with producer Jari Haapalainen. The album was released on 6 June 2006. The first single, "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken", is an answer song to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions' song "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?"; it appears during the opening credits of the 2007 film P.S. I Love You. The title song was featured in episode 5 of Friday Night Lights.

In November 2008, the band announced that they had completed recording the follow-up to Let's Get Out of This Country, and in February 2009, they announced that they had signed to 4AD. The new album, My Maudlin Career, was released in April 2009, and preceded by the first single "French Navy". London jewellery brand Tatty Devine created brooches and necklaces to coincide with the launch. The album was the band's first UK Top 40 success, and it also reached the top 40 in Ireland and the US Billboard Top 100. Around this time, the band announced that "due to family commitments (including being a proud dad) Nigel will no longer be a full time member of Camera Obscura".

On 18 April 2009, Camera Obscura released a special edition Record Store Day 7"" called "French Navy" for independent record stores. "French Navy" was also used by Echo Falls, who are the sponsors of Come Dine With Me, at the start of each episode and during the commercial breaks.

Their album, Desire Lines, was produced by Tucker Martine and released by 4AD on 3 June 2013. The album was the band's second UK Top 40 entry and narrowly missed the US Top 100.

^ "Camera Obscura Biography". NME Artists. NME. Retrieved 2009-06-16. ^ "Camera Obscura". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-06-16. ^ "Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - Festive 50s - 2001". BBC. Retrieved 2012-04-03. ^ "Camera Obscura". Interviews. Pitchfork Media. 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2009-06-16. ^ Keresman, Mark (19 July 2006). "If It's Not Scottish, It's Crap!". SF Weekly. Retrieved 19 October 2014. ^ Perry, Jonathan (2006-06-30). "Camera Obscura Sharpens its Focus". The Boston Globe. ^ "P.S. I Love You (2007) Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 5 July 2013. ^ Webb, Rob (2009-02-04). "4AD announce trio of signings / Music News // Drowned In Sound". Drownedinsound.com. Retrieved 2012-04-03. ^ "Camera Obscura's New Album". 2009-02-09. ^ [1]^ Thomas, Fred. "Desire Lines - Camera Obscura : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-06-03. 


Members1.1 Current1.2 Former1.3 Tour musicians


Tracyanne Campbell – guitar, vocalsCarey Lander – piano, organ, vocalsKenny McKeeve – guitar, mandolin, harmonica, vocalsGavin Dunbar – bassLee Thomson – drums
Nigel Baillie – trumpet, percussionJohn Henderson – vocals, percussion (1996–2004)Richard Colburn – drumsDavid Skirving – vocals, guitarLindsay Boyd – keyboards
Tour musicians[edit]
Nigel Baillie - trumpet, percussionTim Cronin – trumpet, percussionFrancois Marry - trumpet, percussion, guitar
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