It’s been six years since the Hidden Cameras brought their “gay church folk” to Minnesota, but tonight, they and front man Joel Gibb are back! Minnesotans will have a chance to see Gibb and the Hidden Cameras on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry. Show starts at 8 pm.
While “gay church folk” it once might have been, their new album Origin: Orphan departs from that sound. Gibb, always contrarian about what his music is or isn’t (he definitely fits a post-gay definition), rejects labeling his music in just about every interview I’ve read.
You may know the Hidden Cameras from the soundtrack to John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus, an improvised film about sex, sexuality and emotion. Their hauntingly beautiful track, Boys of Melody from the album The Smell of Happiness, was featured in Shortbus movie trailers.
Together with The Smell of Happiness, the band’s other albums, Ecce Homo, Awoo and Mississauga Goddamn, convey church music with gay and kinky sex undertones. Listeners will find themselves dancing and clapping along to cheerful tunes only to realize “Golden Streams” is about exactly what you think it is. And there’s little mystery behind “I Want Another Enema.” But don’t get the idea that the Hidden Cameras are just a gay version of Peaches on Prozac; the band hits some serious post-gay themes (“Ban Marriage” for instance).
Here’s a video from “I Believe in the Good of Life,” a track off their third full-length album Mississauga Goddamn.
The band goes much more serious on their new album, Origin: Orphan, released in late September. The album features a darker, psychadelic sound and a real grab-bag of musical styles, but still manages to bring out their old gay-church-folk flavor from time to time.
The album begins with “Ratify the New,” a piece of psychadelica that would feel home on Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. “Origin: Orphan,” the title track is a deep, psychodelic, and in my opinion, excellent song. Other tracks include “He Falls To Me” featuring an organ and a catchy falsetto singalong, “The Little Bit,” a happy tune with mariachi horns, and “Kingdom Come” a moving Elton John-esque ballad. Continuing the mix of styles is the soft and dramatic “Silence Can be a Headline” and the Irish folk song-like “Colour of a Man,” and the plain silly “Underage”, a throw back to what the Hidden Cameras have done best in the past — but this time set to disco beat and horns.
Then there’s In the NA: It’s probably more beneficial for you to hear the song yourself. It’s the only video from the album:
If you haven’t heard the Hidden Cameras, they are very much worth an iTunes download. And the new album is a welcome departure from the “gay church folk” that the band excels at creating. Origin: Orphan demonstrates that they can depart from that formula and still entertain.