A few weeks ago I reviewedStrange Like We Are, the new record by local band Campfire OK. Overall, it was a positive review. I said "While they're every bit as organic as nature-loving artists like Fleet Foxes or even the Moondoggies, Campfire OK are also a bit more complex, involving many orchestral characteristics—sweeping, dramatic piano and perfectly placed blasts of horns."
I also said the title track of the album, was "a marching folk-rock anthem aimed at taking back the streets from 'pastels and deep V-necks' (which are obnoxiously plentiful in Seattle) and finding a place where the band can fit in, where people are 'strange like they are.'"
But one comment (the only comment) on the review points out that I might've totally missed the mark on the song's meaning:
I'm pretty sure the deep v-necks are referring to scrubs, since the rest of the song seems to refer to a hospital—sirens,murphy-style beds, etc.
Also, this band doesn't really sound much like the fleet foxes at all.
While I will not correct my Fleet Foxes mention, because I never said they sounded like the Fleet Foxes but rather were just as "organic" and nature-loving (which is true—were I to ever go camping with either band I would demand they bring their instruments for campfire sing-alongs), I am actually pretty embarrassed about the fact that I might've totally fucked up the meaning on the song—of course it's about hospitals! Sirens, beds, blue pastels—why didn't I catch that before? Sigh. (For the record NPR wasn't completely sure, either).
But instead of assuming that commenter as right, and fretting over completely missing the point of the song, I asked band members Mychal Goodweather and Brandon Milner if they could possibly clarify the situation:
Did I indeed completely misinterpret the meaning of the song?
Brandon: It's delightful when people ascribe their own meanings to songs. A song might be about a can of soup and someone will think it perfectly captures their inner loneliness. That said, I'm all for songs being called "anthemic," so thank you.
Mychal: I agree with Brandon, and we are so glad you like the record. "Strange Like We Are" may be about taking back the streets that are riddled with pastel deep-v's and may also be about a hospital. I can neither confirm nor deny what the song is ACTUALLY about. I just write the words, I don't know what they mean. With that in mind, we should write a song about plaid shirts and utilikilts. That would be a smash hit.
So if the song is not about taking back the streets from the current influx of the chillwave/V-neck wearing trend, are Campfire OK chillwave fans?
Brandon: First, I had to actually go look that term up. Apparently it was invented by a blogger, after eating a dubious brownie, trying to tie together some bands he thought sounded alike. Anyway, I listened to some bands in that genre to see what the fuss was about. I'm all for using strange noises and laptops in music (the Campfire OK album has lots of ear candy recorded that way) but I generally thought they all sounded like early New Order or early ’80s synth pop combined with really shy guys who mumble a lot with reverb.
Mychal: I, like Brandon, had to google the term. I think that there are some really cool aspects to it, and like all varieties of music if it is done well and tasteful it can be great. An over-use of anything can get annoying, but when done well it is fantastic!
Here's the band performing the song live on KEXP. Watch, listen, and decide for yourself what you think it's about (the album version can be heard at campfireok.com):