Album: The Hidden Cameras

Play the CBC Sessions, Rough Trade
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The Independent Culture

In these jaded times, it takes a bit of imagination to get the attention of potential punters - unless, of course, you have nipple jewellery and a captive audience of millions at your disposal. The Toronto ensemble The Hidden Cameras have tried everything - a Lambchop-style floating membership measured in double figures; playing unusual venues such as churches, porno theatres, and even an old folks' home; male go-go dancers wearing underpants and balaclavas; and songs that cover explicit gay themes. Fortunately, songwriter Joel Gibb has the talent to carry through such strategies without lapsing into the homo-erotic equivalent of Janet Jackson's corny-horny clichés. The result, when Gibb's uncertain melisma combines with the chugging violin and organ riff of a song such as "Boys of Melody", is open and engaging. The six songs on this limited-edition 10in vinyl mini-album were recorded in 2002 for Canadian Radio, before last year's debut album The Smell of Our Own, and feature a more rough-and-ready approach. There's a ramshackle charm to the scrubbed guitar and piano of "Music Is My Boyfriend" that recalls The Fall, while Gibb's vocal on "Worms Cannot Swim" has a piquant mix of vulnerability and intelligence akin to Loudon Wainwright. As, indeed, does the proud lyric, "Carrying the weight of the world/ We will have fun".