Welcome to the Avocado Music Club, each week a new album will be discussed based on a massive pile of suggestions made by ourselves. Listen to new music or revisit an old favorite and discuss anything you wish related to the album with other lovers of music. These are different than Album Spotlights which are great and people put a lot of effort into, don’t let these discussions impede writing your own. This week’s album:
Camp Cope – How to Socialize and Make Friends
I found Camp Cope by chance in 2016 on a message board I used to frequent and was just stopping by for a second to see who was still alive. Someone sent me a link to ‘Done’ and I was instantly intrigued by them. I was probably at the height of my obsessive love for Hop Along, and the way Georgia Maq yelled on that song I knew I would have another great band to go with them. Their self-titled debut was the reason I signed up for a bandcamp account and I listened to it over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. As life started to get bad and then terrible for me I would keep coming back to the album more and more. It is an incredible debut, one of the bests and one of the bests albums of the last decade in general and I hope anyone who liked anything from this album goes and checks it out.
Since then I’ve made a trip to New York City the last three years to see the band play. I even got to be there for their first American show! Seeing the band play that show in 2017, opening for Jeff Rosenstock in a now closed Brooklyn co-cop, is one of my absolute favorite concert going experiences. Being as close as I could, screaming the last lines of ‘West Side Story’ along with everyone else there. Talking to Thomo (Sarah Thompson, the drummer) outside about a disastrous flight from Australia to America, and smoking a shitload of cigarettes with strangers in between sets (or during Jeff’s which was by then too hot and packed to be right inside). This year I just missed out on seeing Georgia Maq supporting her solo album about a month after Covid really hit. It’s a bummer not to be able to keep up this weird, accidental tradition with my sister so I’ll instead make you all listen to this album with me.
So, while I do think their self-titled album is an overall stronger album, I think on How to Socialize & Make Friends the band goes from an already great band to a great, confident band with something to say.
Fittingly it starts with ‘The Opener’, a fuck you song to a shitty, selfish man that halfway through turns into a song for all those same men that fill out the music scene. Bookers, promoters, managers, and other musicians who are all eager to marginalize female musicians but quick to claim their success for their own. The first time I heard ‘The Opener’ I braced myself for disappointment. I fell hard for the debut and I usually have a hard time warming up the follow up to any album I love. But I have a clear memory of lying in bed listening to it, and hearing Georgia yell the line “now tell the dead man that you’re the one dying!” and losing my mind. I was immediately in and excited as hell for the rest of this album. It is an immediately gripping song, starting with (and carried throughout) by an instantly earworm of a bassline from Kelly before the rest of the song explodes around Georgia’s lyrics and performance. One of my favorite music moments in general is the yell of “show ‘em Kelly!” followed by nothing happening – it’s stupidly funny to me.
The other big moment on the album is ‘The Face of God’, a song that once again starts off describing a specific personal moment before switching to a bigger issue of men (and especially those in the music scene). Georgia sings of leaving the apartment of a man crossing boundaries and violating consent before calling out the people who would defend the man or question her role in it. People who make excuses or ignore accusations because they’ve “got that one song that I like”. It’s a song I think about a lot when I talk about music online, trying hard to omit from my own conversations people that don’t deserve to be spoken about. There’s an absolutely chilling verse in the song that hits impossibly hard, about opening up and telling people her (and other women’s experiences):
“And I saw it, the face of God
And he turned himself away from me
And said I did something wrong
That somehow what happened to me was my fault”
The rest of the album is still emotionally heavy, but deals more with the personal than the world itself. Like the title track, a moving on from a relationship song that feels confident and stronger than most other similar songs. This song is one of my favorite bits of songwriting from Georgia, big emotional moments grounded by the everyday. The end of this song is beautiful “I can see myself living without you – and being fine / For the rest of my life, it’s just me on my bike / Yeah I’ll wave to you as I ride by.” ‘UFO Lighter’ is another highlight later in the album that is more or less a bunch of bits about relationships in her life: friends, bandmates, her mom, romantic partners. It never really feels like it’s about much, and was a song I was slow to warm up to, but now I love it a ton for some random lyrics and the way the band (especially Kelly’s bass and Thomo’s drumming playing with eachother) all clicks together.
I think the other songs on the album are also pretty great. They may not hit the specific emotional highs or the reaches as the others, but overall, Camp Cope is a band that for me will always sound great no matter what’s going on. Georgia is such a strong songwriter, singer and performer that she can sell the shit out of some otherwise filler sounding songs with an interesting lyrical detour or a yell. Like the pair of songs in the middle (on my copy ‘Anna’ and ‘Sagan-Indiana’ are back to back to their detriment) that are made great by just how hard Georgia is going. Specifically on the latter, which ends with her yelling “I found me! I found me!” over and over in different emphases.
I want to at least write something about Kelly, even though I have a hard time describing specific sounds of music. In most bands I listen to the bass is just sort of there, it does what it’s supposed to do and anchors the song but mostly stays out of the way. I don’t very often get pulled in by what a bassist is doing, but in Camp Cope most of their ongs are made more memorable by Kelly’s playing. Their best songs even (‘The Opener’, ‘Done’, ‘Keep Growing’ etc) are completely led by riffs. It’s easy for me to say she’s my favorite current bass player.
I can’t wait for what comes next for this band. They’ve only put out two short albums but they’re both immediate classics for me. Their discography is just 19 songs (20, if you count their cover of Maps) but I’ve completely worn all of them out repeatedly and I’ve never gotten sick of them at all.
So, come talk about this album. Is it great/good/bad? Does it mean anything? Favorite parts/lyrics? How does it hold up? What are its influences? Has it influenced anything? How does it compare with the rest of the year’s music? Talk about anything, even if it’s (politely) negative, have fun!
Next Week: Faith no More – Angel Dust