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BC CAMPLIGHT

BC Camplight

Hide, Run Away / Blink Of A Nihilist (RSD21 EDITION)

    THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2021 EXCLUSIVE AND WILL BE AVAILABLE INSTORE ON SATURDAY JUNE 12TH ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVED BASIS, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

    IF THERE ARE ANY REMAINING COPIES THEY WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT 6PM ON THE SAME DAY (SATURDAY JUNE 12TH).


    One Little Independent Records is proud to present a limited-edition marble-effect coloured vinyl pressing of BC Camplightís first two albums Hide, Run Away and Blink Of A Nihilist. Featuring brand new artwork, it's the first time these two records have been available on vinyl.

    BC Camplight

    Shortly After Takeoff

      “This is an examination of madness and loss,” says Brian Christinzio, the inimitable force behind BC Camplight. “I hope it starts a long overdue conversation.”

      Fired by his ongoing battle with mental illness, Shortly After Takeoff is the final, and finest, chapter of what Christinzio calls his “Manchester Trilogy”, following 2015’s “How To Die In The North” and 2018’s “Deportation Blues”. All three albums were created after the native Philadelphian had moved to Manchester. Like Deportation Blues, Shortly After Takeoff spans singer-songwriter classicism, gnarly synth-pop and ‘50s rock’n’roll, with Christinzio’s similarly distinctive, flexible vocal carrying a fearless approach to lyrical introspection, but the new album is a major leap forward in songwriting sophistication and lyrical communication.

      “It’s important to stress that this isn’t a redemption story,” he says. “I'm a guy who maybe lives a little hard and I’m in the thick of some heavy stuff. But as a result, I think I've made my best record.”

      The “heavy stuff” has come thick and fast for Christinzio. Just days before How To Die In The North was released, he was deported and banned from the UK because of visa issues. Estranged from his new home, his girlfriend and his dog, unable to promote his album and back home with his parents, Christinzio sunk deep into the dark. An Italian passport, care of his grandparents, eventually allowed him to re-settle in Manchester, but then just days before Deportation Blues was released, his father Angelo unexpectedly died.

      “I went into a spiral that was worse than any time since my twenties,” he recalls. Hence the title Shortly After Takeoff: the feeling of being suddenly thwarted by what life throws at you. Making matters worse was a neurological disorder that returned after years in remission: “I see TV static, and it messes with how my brain interprets everything from sound to my own feelings.”

      One way to process tragedy is comedy, which elevates Shortly After Takeoff to a heightened plateau, from grief-stricken vulnerability to armoured bravado, from the black dog of depression to gallows humour. None more so than ‘Ghosthunting’, which opens with an extraordinary (fabricated) passage of Christinzio doing a stand-up routine, centring on the memory of hallucinating his father’s ghost. “I want to drag the listener into this world and hopefully they question why they feel uneasy,” he explains.

      “I also wanted to make a record totally free of whimsy and irony, that was just clear and open and honest. I don’t think you really heard the chaos in Deportation Blues, but in Shortly After Takeoff, I can hear I’m finding undiscovered places to go, only because I was so lost. Lyrically, I wanted people to hear and understand me this time. Before, if I would have written about my father dying, I would have made up some weird bullshit, like an analogy about a tree shedding leaves or something. That Brian is gone. I have a direct line to the listener now. I have a direct line to myself too. It’s a benchmark moment for me.”

      Shortly After Takeoff ends with the gorgeously tender 93-second ‘Angelo’, “a little fleeting moment for my dad. I wanted his name on the album, and something that sounded like a goodbye. It ends with the drums, like a heartbeat stopping…”

      That’s Christinzio and Shortly After Takeoff: his best, most honest, open and frequently heartbreaking record.

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Andy says: Surely this must finally be the record which brings Brian Christinzio the attention he deserves. He is simply an incredible melodicist and creates tracks full of surprising twists and unusual turns. Dark, crazy but funnily inspirational lyrics are offset against the sweetest voice and catchiest songs you’ll hear all year. Just brilliant.

      TRACK LISTING

      1 I Only Drink When I'm Drunk
      2 Ghosthunting
      3 Back To Work
      4 Cemetery Lifestyle
      5 I Want To Be In The Mafia
      6 Shortly After Takeoff
      7 Arm Around Your Sadness
      8 Born To Cruise
      9 Angelo

      “You shouldn't have a tough time finding the angle to Deportation Blues,” claims Brian ‘BC Camplight’ Christinzio. “The past few years have been a fucking nightmare.”

      But what a fucking great record he’s made off the back of his nightmare. His second album for Bella Union, Deportation Blues is an exhilarating, dynamic document of calamity and stress, relayed through richly melodic and bold arrangements spanning singer-songwriter classicism, gnarly synth-pop, ‘50s rock’n’roll and various junctures between, mirroring their maverick creator’s jarred emotions and fractured mindset.

      For the full story, you have to head back to before Christinzio’s Bella Union debut, 2015’s How To Die In The North. Born in New Jersey, but living in Philadelphia, Christinzio had released two albums while battling addiction and mental illness. Both albums won rave reviews and earned Christinzio a reputation as one of independent music’s most forward-thinking artists. Soon after, however, as illness rendered him unable to function as a working songwriter, Christinzio retreated to a life squatting in an abandoned church. Despite some notable appearances as a session pianist (Sharon Van Etten) and occasional live work for Philly faves The War On Drugs (Robbie Bennett and David Hartley were in the original BC live band) he knew a sea change was needed in order to regain his career and sanity.

      Feeling he’d be “dead or in jail if I stayed”, he acted on a friend’s suggestion to cross the ocean to Manchester. There, Christinzio found new inspiration, new friends, a girlfriend, a dog, and finally a new album (his first in eight years).

      So, imagine his mood when he fell foul of UK immigration. “I’d had such high hopes for How To Die In The North, and I was told I was being deported two days after it came out, and banned from the UK. The next thing I know, I’m playing Pac Man in my parents’ basement, thinking, this is my life now.”

      Occasional gigs in Europe, where his Manchester-based band could meet him, and extended sojourns in Dublin and Paris, broke up the monotony, but it was still like “living in a constant panic attack.”

      But then the cavalry arrived! Courtesy of his grandparents, Christinzio secured Italian citizenship. It cost time, money and a portion of his sanity, “but after a year and a half I could finally shove my Italian papers in their faces at the airport and return to sunny Manchester. The thing is, despite being American, I feel Mancunian, and I couldn’t think about making another record, until I got back.”

      To add insult to injury, “Brexit happened, like a day after I got back. Can I get a fucking break here, please?”

      Once the dust had settled, Christinzio realised, “I didn’t feel any better, I had so much anger, I felt destroyed. The demons were back and had lost me friends, I’d drunk too much, and I felt nothing but dread and disease. I thought, I can’t wait to hear what this next album is going to sound like.”

      Recording in Liverpool’s Whitewood studios, Christinzio locked himself in the windowless studio and recorded almost exclusively in the dark. “The thoughts and sounds that began to flow out of me were pretty scary. I’m pretty sure the engineer started carrying a shiv in his pocket after about the second day. Nothing playful sounding came out. If the last album had elements of whimsy, the thought of any on this album made me want to vomit.” “A couple of months later we had finished Deportation Blues and emerged from the studio like mole people”. Christinzio recorded the album mostly on his own, plus drummer Adam Dawson, occasional guitar by Robbie Rush, and a couple of session horn players. The lead track is ‘I’m Desperate’, “an ominous synth burner,” says Christinzio, with a Suicide-style throb and a haunting female vocal counterpoint that underlines the album’s manic, careering edge, fantastic hooks and instrumental verve. It’s an uncompromising way to introduce Deportation Blues, likewise the album’s title-track opener. Bookended by metallic power chords, cascading synths and a gorgeous downbeat mood lead into slower doo-wop complete with howling falsetto. “It’s instantly a different, darker record than How To Die In The North,” Christinzio notes. Deportation Blues is also noticeably more electronic than its predecessor. “I was feeling cold so every time something sounded pretty, I replaced it with something that sounded like an ice pick. The apocalyptic nuclear feel really appealed.” Throughout, Christinzio sounds as if he’s walking a knife-edge. Take second track ‘I’m In A Weird Place Now’, a heady conflagration of Spector and Springsteen, with Christinzio confessing “And there’s something about Manchester town / And the silly little things she makes me do.” “I like the oppressiveness of the weather in Manchester, it brings everyone down to my level” he explains. The fried mood continues on ‘Hell Or Pennsylvania’, splicing woozy noir jazz lounge-drunk cabaret by way of ‘50s legend Jerry Lee Lewis - Christinzio’s entry point to music through his mother’s record collection. “It’s the first time I’ve reflected that on a record,” he says. “Jerry Lee was this guy bashing at a piano who didn’t give a shit, and I didn’t give a shit.” The lyrical reference to “lemon twirls” meanwhile, represents Brian’s struggle with substance abuse: “The big choruses are a celebration of cocaine whilst the jazz sections represent the lament, the familiar loathsome aftermath.” The sudden changes of mood and style are also metaphorical. For example, ‘Am I Dead’ embraces cinematic horns, broody pop and synth-bass afro-funk. “I go through highs and lows and have trouble staying entertained,” he admits. “A musical part can state its purpose in fifteen seconds, sometimes it doesn’t need repeating. The trick is tying everything together without it sounding confusing.” ‘Am I Dead’ is segued between ‘When I Think Of My Dog’ and ‘Midnight Ease’, two plush, heart-aching piano ballads with rippling saxophone. After ‘Fire In England’, a greasy, nervy rocker, is a bitter ode to British PM – and former immigration controller (as Home Secretary) Theresa May (“dresses like a bus seat, doesn’t she?”). It’s a complex, bleak record I guess” Christinzio concludes. “As dramatic as it may sound, this album was made by a dude who wasn’t sure he’d be alive the next day. Nothing is there for any other reason than it’s the truth. It’s not trying to sound cool or get on the radio.” Though Christinzio points out “this is no redemption I-saw-the-light story,” he is allowing himself a little bit of hope for once: “I’ve never been as pleased with where I am artistically as I am right now.” On top, his new band, “is phenomenal.” Alongside trusted drummer Dawson is Luke Barton (guitars, synths), guitarist Tom Rothery and multi-instrumentalist/ backing singer Ali Bell. Leading them is a man that a bartender in Manchester recently described as “like Mozart and Tony Soprano had a kid." Brian Christinzio, and BC Camplight, genius and pain, may be here to stay at last.

      TRACK LISTING

      1 Deportation Blues
      2 I'm In A Weird Place Now
      3 Hell Or Pennsylvania
      4 I'm Desperate
      5 When I Think Of My Dog
      6 Am I Dead Yet?
      7 Midnight Ease
      8 Fire In England
      9 Until You Kiss Me

      BC Camplight

      How To Die In The North

        Lost treasure needn’t be found in the distant past; the 21st century hides many artists who disappeared into the great wide yonder. BC Camplight is one such example. The alter-ego of American songwriter Brian Christinzio released albums in 2005 and 2007, both gems of a certain psych-pop vintage, combining eloquent songwriting with a self-destructive bent. Christinzio certainly knew it – he’s described himself as, “the guy who blew it.”

        But this sublime talent with the keening vocal and fearless approach to lyrical introspection has another chance. His new album ‘How To Die In The North’, recorded in his newly adopted home of Manchester, England, is a fantastically rich, stylistically diverse trip. From dramatic, layered pop to a haunted take on Sixties sunshine-pop, from blue-eyed soul to speedy surf-pop, from sparser piano balladry to psychedelic showstoppers and a grand finale that’s part Nilsson and part Broadway showtune.

        Originally from New Jersey, Christinzio started playing piano aged just four, inspired by his mum’s Jerry Lee Lewis and Nilsson records and his Dad’s classical collection. Depression and crippling hypochondria clashed with captaining the football team and a penchant for boxing. Post-school, he fell in with people, “willing to go through shit to be a musician,” which saw him relocate to Philadelphia where he occasionally played live with Philly faves The War On Drugs and guested on Sharon Van Etten’s album ‘Epic’.

        He’s already done two sessions for long-term fan Marc Riley at BBC 6 Music, which featured Christinzio’s band of Mancunians who he met at The Castle Hotel pub, a watering hole in the city centre particularly popular with musicians. Christinzio also heard John Grant’s album on the jukebox there, which encouraged him to approach Bella Union. Grant’s cocktail of depression and self-sabotage thwarted an outrageous talent, but he took his second chance. The same deserves to happen to Christinzio, a similarly outsize, sharp and funny personality with a non-conformist streak. Far from dying, BC Camplight has been reborn in the North!


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