Campfires is a pop punk band from Aberdeen, UK formed by three of the members of Autumn In Disguise. They started the band with a simple set of goals, which inspired the name. “The whole purpose of this new band is to get together as friends, write songs that tell a story and play fun shows. We felt like that was similar to sitting round a camp fire and telling stories – hence the name.”
The band released their self-titled EP Campfires a few days ago and after listening to it (more than a couple times…) I’ve written up a little review. You can check it out below.
Review by Meredith Szturm.
I came across Campfires online a few weeks ago, just in time to listen to “Same Streets” before the EP came out and I was hooked. Each of the components of Campfires is essential to their sound, and despite the fact that this is their first EP, I think they’ve already established something sonically unique and set a foundation for what we can hopefully hear more of in the future.
Before I break it down track by track, can I just say DRUMS. James Forbes is a monster on the kit and the drums on this EP really shine. I write (almost illegible) notes while I listen to an a album I want to review and looking back over them, I’ve written “DRUMS,” or “drums!!!!,” or “holy shit drums!” on almost every track. Forbes’ drumming is energetic and fast paced. There’s a driving quality to it that really is the heartbeat behind the band, at least in my opinion. Amazing.
The EP opens up with the song chosen as its single, “Same Streets.” The backing vocals and guitar melody during the verses create a bittersweet nostalgia behind Mike Hendo’s lead vocals. He sings with a well-developed, almost rough but in a good way sound on this one, and it seems to be about the easy-to-relate-to feeling of being stuck in your hometown, but loving it despite that. The lyric that stood out to me the most was “You’ve lost yourself among all these fake kids, but you still keep coming back on your own cause you know that’s home and it should be.”
“The Hardest Part” is up next and touches on those people in every group that build their life on lies and how hard it is to tell the truth once you start doing that. “The hard part is just letting go,” is what really hit me, because it is hard. When you hide behind false pretenses and wear a mask all the time because of insecurity, even when you decide to change your ways and tell the truth, it can be hard to let go of that protective wall you built.
“Pure Gold” starts out strong and slows down just before the first verse and the effect is beautiful. This song felt powerful to me because it makes a statement. It says to me that you’re finally done, you’re standing up for yourself and not letting this toxic person who thinks they’re so great poison you anymore. This song is a pop-punk diss track, really. Hendo’s voice really shines when he holds those powerful notes, and the breakdown after he yells, “the night is gone and we’ll see the sun,” is unexpected, but awesome. My favorite part is, “Save your breath cause now I’m done. You’ve blinded me for far too long.” I feel like those lines definitely have the potential to be a crowd chant at live shows.
“Like A Cancer” is the last song with vocals on the EP, and it’s also the longest track. Of all the songs, you can hear the vocals best on this one. Hendo’s voice punches through the driving drums and guitar and the clear, emotional sound to it is gorgeous, especially on the line, “You’re done!” The guitar in this song dips up and down beautifully and is the only instrument besides vocals during the slow breakdown until the drum builds up and finishes the song on a powerful, punch to the gut note.
The last track on the Campfires EP is an instrumental track, which doesn’t seem to be very common with pop-punk bands these days (although I think Knuckle Puck could kill an instrumental track). But DAMN, I am so glad it’s on this EP. My notes went between all caps and unreadable cursive on this one. It almost choked me up in a good way. I would say that I could fall asleep to it, but I couldn’t because I wouldn’t want to miss any of it. There is so much feeling even without lyrics, and that’s a tough thing to achieve. The high guitar part about a minute into the song is gorgeous and the cymbals at the end sound like rain. It’s relaxing and really beautiful. I read on the track by track description that the band is considering turning this into a full song on their next release, and I really really hope that becomes a reality because I need more of this.
Overall, this EP makes me really excited to see what Campfires can do in the future. You can’t really deny that a lot of what’s being put out in the pop punk world these days sounds similar music wise, but that isn’t true with Campfires. They’ve already developed a blend of sound that I haven’t heard before. The vocals are wonderful, but the music shines just as much and it’s something special. I highly recommend checking this out and keeping up with Campfires as they keep creating. Now if only they were touring in the U.S. soon.
You can (AND SHOULD) pick up the Campfires EP here.
Mike Hendo – Vocals
James Forbes – Drums
Stephen Napier – Guitar
Yogi McGregor – Guitar
Craig Donald – Bass