Photo Credit: Daniel Mendoza
If you’re a debut hound, i.e. someone who likes to sniff out music artists while they’re essentially still on the new side, you might want to point your nose (your ears would probably help too) in the direction of the Band CAMINO. As of this writing they don’t even have a Wikipedia page, which would indicate that they probably formed around, oh, last Thursday or so. Actually, it was about four years ago in Memphis, and the group has since signed with major label (yes, they still have those) Elektra. The band trickled out a handful of studio cuts one at a time (an increasingly common practice) before putting out their debut full-length release, tryhard. The record consists of eight tracks and is being categorized as an EP, but that’s all beside the point. Boasting at just the right length, the right number of songs, and most importantly the right songs, tryhard might well be the tightest rock debut of the year. Not a single track affords you the time to dislike it, and the whole piece of work is like a ride that’s over too quickly and will prompt you to get right back on line for another go.
The EP even starts out with an almost Olympic-sounding fanfare on the opening cut “What I Want,” as if to indicate to the listener that what they’re about to hear is something important that they should be paying attention to, and the remainder of the tune lives up to that promise. “Hush Hush” is a bouncy rocker that also gets right to it, along with an irresistible bass line. Both cuts are relatively synth-heavy, which is probably why the next offering “Daphne Blue” opens with a stand-alone guitar riff before evolving into a solid rocker with probably the EP’s best verse/chorus relationship.
“Honest” backtracks to the synths for a more pleasant ‘80s pop sound but still inserts the guitar solo at exactly the right point. The EP consists entirely of up-tempo tracks – CAMINO skimps on the ballads and even mid-tempos, but they’re not really missed. “Farsighted” is the only relative departure, at least thematically, favoring the type of lyrical introspection more reminiscent of ‘90s indie rock (“There’s a distance between me and myself somehow… // I can see the outside but it’s blurry when I’m looking in // How did I become a stranger in my skin?”) but luckily bypasses the corresponding dreariness once thrust upon us by third-tier grunge bands like Creed and Days of the New.
Apart from this one cut, boy/girl themes overwhelmingly dominate tryhard’s lyrical subject matter. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that in theory (the Beatles were nearly halfway through their career before they ever sang about anything else), between that and the slick production – unquestionably state-of-the-industry for 2019 – in the long run it will take just a bit more than simply stylizing part of their name in all capital letters for them to stand out.
Still, according to some of their press, the Band CAMINO have tagged themselves as “your mom’s favorite band,” which, in addition to indicating that they don’t take themselves too seriously (always a positive, particularly for a new band), suggests that despite the identity crisis described in “Farsighted,” the group has a very good idea of who and what they are in the current musical climate, and that they’re not planning to hold their breath waiting to win over Slipknot or Tool fans.
Meanwhile, the band’s ability – particularly this early in their career – to create songs that will grab the listener with so much immediacy should not be underestimated, and will more than carry them forward for now. After listening to the Band CAMINO’s debut EP tryhard, we can’t help but look forward to the inevitable sequels: tryhard with a Vengeance and Live Free or tryhard.
WRITTEN BY RICHARD JOHN CUMMINS