Campground Effect – S/T

The initial guitar riff of the opening track, “Take,” suggests a poppy, emo sound, which is quickly and brutally demolished by what follows. This is the exciting thing about Campground Effect’s self-titled debut; you never really know what to expect, and if you think you know, they’ll probably surprise you.
Campground Effect was formed in July of 1999, and the three-piece quickly began playing shows throughout Orange County and San Diego. In an effort to get their name out there, they began handing out free CD demos to anyone at their shows who asked. As a result of their efforts, they ended up handing out over 500 copies of a demo CD that was never intended to be heard by anyone. In June of 2000, they were spotted at a show by Glue Factory’s Kevin Knight, who approached them about recording an album. This brought about the band’s self-titled debut.
Their press release describes the album better than I could: “Songs vary from loud obnoxious noise to slower droning mishaps. The formulas and melodies lean away from the tired pop sense and direct themselves to more obscure and dissonant patterns.”
Because of the varying dynamics, songs like “Calmly” take some time to get moving, but for the most part, what the song eventually arrives at is worth the wait. There is plenty of aggression and energy, but it is the slower, more thoughtful moments like “Words Recover” and “Still Life” that stand out.
The first half of the album is the more aggressive half, and it suffers a little as a result. However, if you keep listening, the album ends on an up note (if you ignore the 15 minute hidden track). Four out of the five closing tracks (“Words Recover,” “Still Life,” “Last Half Champions,” and “Lifter”) stand out from the rest and show real potential, like a reward for listening to the album all the way through.
If you listen closely, the songs have a pattern to them: They start out quiet, slow and sad, then erupt into chaotic noise and, finally, blend the two into a semi-under-control, compelling middle and closing. Toss in some cloudy effects and guitar work, and you have an interesting 11 songs.