The Smell of Our Own
 
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Product Description

The Hidden Cameras, like the Polyphonic Spree, specialize in swooning pop. The songs on HC's debut album revolve around communal living, gay love, and religious imagery. Singer/guitarist Joel Gibb's 15-member band (some of whom don little more than balaclavas when playing live) overcome possible charges that they're a novelty act thanks to Gibb's knack of creating expansive, uplifting songs layered with flute, harp, trombone, and sleigh bells. "Day is Dawning" begins as a gently strummed paean to creation and slowly builds into a lilting, choral-tinged thing of loveliness. "Boys of Melody" is similarly beguiling, as Gibb gazes "far out at sea bathed in breeze" over the most simple, affecting melody this side of Mercury Rev. --Suzannah Brown

Customer Reviews:
  • Not so impressed . . .
    I have to say, I bought this album after hearing about them somewhere (I can't even remember where or how). I read the reviews here on Amazon and thought I'd give The Hidden Cameras a shot. With reviewers claiming "The feel good album of the summer," and "infectious," and "album of the year," and, "the songs on this CD are so damn good. Every single one of them." I figured I couldn't go wrong.

    Well, I figured wrong.

    I don't get the hype. I find the music on the boring side. It feels like background music more than a stand out album that must be heard (as most of the reviewers claim). Maybe the hype is generated around the fact that many of the songs are about homosexuality. But I hope not, because I'm gay, and these songs don't represent me or my way of living. "Golden streams running down my cheeks" and come stained dirty rugs along with other images that the songs present make homosexuality seem like a dirty and disgusting way of life - which a wide majority of the population already believe, and this album simply perpetuates that misguided way of thinking.

    Unexciting music and sadly misrepresentative lyrics are what make me not want to listen to this album again and will stop me from purchasing Mississauga Goddam.

    Before you spend your money - I'd suggest hearing the music first. Just one or two samples of songs will be enough to get a taste of the whole album....more info
  • A Homosexual Pet Sounds
    I am surprised that I am yet to see The Hidden Cameras compared to Guided By Voices. I understand that comparisons to non-explicitly heterosexual artists like The Smiths and Belle & Sebastian more readily present themselves. However, the lyrics on The Smell of Our Own are so unselfconsciously gay that they would make Morrissey blush. That, obviously, will put off some people, even the least homophobic among us. This is a real shame, as almost every song on this CD is as delicately and sincerely beautiful as the best moments by the latter two bands. So what about Guided By Voices? Well, if I am to think of The Hidden Cameras as just another band, not just another gay band, it is something about Joel Gibb's understated, singalong vocal style and the playful quality of the music that brings Cap'n Bob to mind. Then, of course, there are the more bombastic moments that suggest a tamer version of The Flaming Lips and The Polyphonic Spree.

    And as you will notice in the title, there I go again with a comparison to Pet Sounds, even though I said a long time ago that I am sick of such comparisons. Anyway, just as Pet Sounds is a song cycle (NOT A CONCEPT ALBUM!!!) about a young man with a love for girls,The Smell of Our Own is a song cycle about a young man in love with boys (men, that is). But while Brian Wilson was chronicling both the joy and heartache of young love, Joel Gibb is - so far, at least - loving every minute of it. He is so sincere and celebratory that one is left with no doubt that love and sex between two men (and, by implication, two women) can be as wholesome, joyous, and erotic as it is between a man and a woman: "We could be in the army or the klan/Cause if we're brothers in blood I think we're brothers in band." This CD sounds like the type of record that will be commonplace if the day is to ever come when people realize that this is possible. Until that day, we have Joel Gibb to give us the heads up (no pun intended).

    And the songs on this CD are so damn good. Every single one of them. I guess that it is difficult to like each song on a record this great equally as much, but if one were to ask 50 fans of this CD what their favorite song on it was, I imagine that each and every one of the songs would be represented. I think that the worst thing that can be said about any of them is that "Shame" might be a bit too long, and "Day Is Dawning" is a bit repetitive. Still, there is not a single track here that I do not really like, nor one that I am not happy to be hearing when it starts. (The random button is quite useful for this CD.) The tracks on this CD are impeccable slices of pop and indie rock, some of which happen to contain lyrics like "stayed up too late the night before from fingering foreign dirty holes in the dark", "it is the smell of old cum on the rug", "we proceed in stained bed sheets", and "he is peeing on my shoulders and knees". This CD could have been titled "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Gay Male Sex but Were Afraid to Ask".

    It could be argued that any CD with such explicit (meaning both non-implicit and openly sexual) lyrics is by its very nature a political statement. This is true, but the songs on The Smell of Our Own take on an actual political issue only once. The jaunty "Ban Marriage" is particularly relevant at a time when right-wingers are soiling themselves over the threat that gay unions supposedly pose to so-called traditional marriage. If only they were aware of some of the heterosexuals who were raising families, and marrying and divorcing on a whim, perhaps they would be agreeing with this song's cry of "Ban marriage, ban it all!" For the rest of the CD, multiple sonic textures abound. There are the angelic swirls of "Golden Streams", the Murmur-ish indie folk of "A Miracle", the poignancy of "The Animals of Prey", "Boys of Melody", and "The Man That I am With My Man", the straightforward indie rock of "Breathe On It", and the downright giddiness of "Smells Like Happiness". The Smell of Our Own is a beautifully realized triumph from start to finish.

    This CD could easily go down (again, no pun intended) as a landmark recording a la Pet Sounds. Even if it doesn't - and it probably won't - it still has ten great songs going for it, and ultimately, that is what should give it its well-earned long shelf life. I am not even going to dignify the claim that The Hidden Cameras are a novelty act. Like I said before, The Smell of Our Own is a collection of great songs that happens to be bookended by references to water sports.

    In 1993, the indie world lionized an album by a woman singing unapologetically about sex with men (Liz Phair's Exile In Guyville). Over a decade later, it can surely welcome a man doing the same thing....more info
  • joyful, sad, and exciting
    The Hidden Cameras could have come across as nothing more than a novelty act; but they are spared by the saving grace of having the gift to pen superbly beautiful songs! the stunning "Boys Of Melody" is my favorite song on here; it's delightful sound drifts and floats in a gentle way. it's one of those songs that makes you smile and gives you a little bit of a sad feeling at the same time. amazing how a well written melody has that affect on you sometimes. fans of The Flaming Lips should have something to rejoice about with this band, they both share the vision to write gorgeous and perfectly catchy pop songs with moments of errr...colourful lyrical imagery....more info
  • Perplexing...
    A really difficult, intellectually challenging album. Fascinating. Is it to be taken seriously? Or are the Romantic-style paeans (uh, pun intended...I guess) to gay fetishism to be taken with a wink? (Think Wordsworth writing for the letters section of a gay porno mag. Or Dan Savage writing a la Wordsworth.) And what of these overwrought arrangements? Mere camp? Simply bombast? Or earnest exercise? No matter: They work so wonderfully together--the ambiguity of the lyric and the lushness of the music--that they elevate what could be the reincarnation of the disposable three-chord novelty songs of Pansy Division by adding layers of texture, meaning and tone. It borders on a truly important, singular album. But, alas, only borders. My feeling: this album issues a challenge--go ahead and dismiss us...we dare you. ...more info
  • Catchy indie pop with a little twist of...gay!
    These are great, well-crafted songs, although I didn't really identify with the [...] imagery and ummm...songs about golden showers. It's still a great album though, and "Ban Marriage" and "Boys of Melody" are two of the high points....more info
  • "Gay folk music"
    Unlike their predecessors/influences, Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, Belle and Sebastian, the Magnetic Fields, Hidden Cameras are not afraid to talk about sex. This CD is full of (gay) sexual imagery. in my opinion its about time, there have been many a "gay" bands, from erasure, the pet shop boys, all the way up to Rufus Wainwright, but very rarely do they touch on the taboo subject matter that Hidden Camera embrace.

    Don't let the gay moniker scare you (it shouldn't anyway in this day and age) If you like any of the above mentioned influences, go out and get this. These are cleverly written pop songs, even if they are filled with sexually free thinking lyrics. Some of the best in years. These songs almost seem like a soundtrack to a musical.

    Though they tackle subjects as wide ranging as golden showers and gay marriage, you cannot deny that at heart these are delicious indie pop songs.

    And admit it gay and straight alike both have their dirty side, it just never sounded so good....more info

  • droll
    after reading all these rave reviews i had great expectations of The Hidden Cameras when i bought the cd in dec 03.

    how disappointed i was

    "catchy", "infectious", "melodic" are certainly not words i would use to describe this off-key grab-bag of droll, repetitive, self-indulgent fluff

    novelty act yes. this rubbish is aural mogadon.

    i strongly advise any prospective purchasers to get a whiff of "the smell" before opening your wallet....more info

  • Jolly Super Fun Time Music! Almost every song!!!!
    This is one of the best CD's this year in my view. Although I don't care much for "Golden Streams", the rest of the CD is a winner. I can't remember an album I liked to listen to all the way thru since The Shins or New Pornographers CD's came out.
    It is constantly in my CD player.
    I need to go see them live!...more info
  • Stunning new album
    I've just discovered the Hidden Cameras and was totally blown away by the quality of this stunning album. While most really good bands are able to come up with a couple great songs for each record, this is a full album of amazing cuts ranging in tone from They Might Be Giants-esque silliness to raw, folksy and powerfully melodic pieces similar in quality to the best work of the Indigo Girls. What a band! I suspect this will be one of those albums that is remembered for a long, long time....more info
  • Even Crazier when performing live!!
    My friends and I went to their 12-piece gig at Knitting Factory yesterday. Not only they can write melodic folk/punk..whatever but also give us a fabulous live concert! All audience were hot, dirty, and exhausted at midnight. If you like the album, you have to be in their upcoming show too. Highly recommended!!...more info
  • Exuberant!! Ecstatic!! Brilliant!!
    Joyous, exuberant! Full of catchy melodies and hooks. The lavish arrangements call to mind Phil Spector at his absolute best. Hidden Cameras have a unique sound but their music is not at all far out. This is the most fun record of the year. Happy, ecstatic, and brilliant! This disc should delight any one who loves smart pop songs....more info
  • A Pop Masterpiece...A Must-Have
    This CD is absolutely amazing. As the other reviewers have noted, there are beautiful melodies, lush instrumentation, and simply gorgeous gorgeous songs. It's not all harps and wings though, there are some poppy, infectious tracks that will force you to get up and dance ("Ban Marriage" and "Smells Like Happiness" are irresistable). This is the feel-good album of the summer. While the lyrical content might seem off-putting at first, at its core this is an album of simple, universal joys-no matter who you are, nor who you're with....more info
  • Album of the Year?
    Man, Canada just keeps churning out incredible indie music. We can now add the Hidden Cameras to the long list (Godspeed, New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene, Weakerthans...) From Toronto, and led by Joel Gibb, the Hidden Cameras have dropped an infectious indie-pop album that will be hard to beat for album of the year. Think the Beach Boys, Belle & Sebastian, and you kind of have an idea of what these guys sound like. If you're open minded and like good music this is a must buy. I can't put my finger on it, but for some reason, I don't think Southern Baptists will like this album....more info
  • Stunningly melodic and witty
    You just have to love a band that, quite seriously, labels itself as "Gay folk church music". Add to that infectuous melodies, wonderfully witty and provocative lyrics (don't even ask me what Golden Streams is supposed to be about..), the on/off similarities to R.E.M.'s debut masterpiece Murmur (something about the singer's voice and the instrumentation, I think) and an overall lush, fresh and intensely unique sound and you have a must-have album for all true music lovers out there. Highlights include the fabulously melodious single Ban Marriage, The Man That I Am With My Man and The Animals of Prey. Lovely spring time music that makes you realise just how important tunes are....more info