As I get older, I seem to reflexively tune out pop culture. The constant churn of trends gets increasingly exhausting. Even for things I have a great interest in, like music, I don’t try to keep up. I was aware of Caamp. I’d heard they’re an Athens band. It was a coworker of mine that clued me into the fact that Caamp was formed by two buddies who grew up in the same suburb I did - Upper Arlington. Caamp just released their third album, Lavender Days, at the end of June. The single Believe topped Billboard’s Adult Alternative Airplay chart, their third single to do so. They’re set to headline Nationwide Arena in October. Not too bad for a couple of 2012 UA grads and their band.
Mom + Pop – LP-MP-587
According to Amadeus magazine, CAAMP stands for Consuming abnormal amounts of Makers and PBR. Could that be true? It’s still hip to drink PBR? In any case, beer appears to be a part of their lifestyle, as you hear one being cracked at the start of Believe. The band began as a duo while Taylor Meier and buddy Evan Westfall were still in high school, playing reggae and covers. Then Meier left for Athens to attend Ohio University while Westfall stayed in Columbus for community college. After three years, Westfall decided he wanted to focus on music and with Meier’s urging, moved down to Athens before what would have been his senior year to rejoin his old UA buddy so they could play the clubs and open mics and have some fun.
Longtime Columbus musician and Spikedriver Jesse Henry has served as something of a mentor to Caamp founders Taylor Meier and Evan Westfall, with Meier calling him “the man who’s taught me most everything I know about music” in a 2016 Facebook post. Henry co-produced their self-titled debut in 2017. The band repaid Jesse by having him open for them at the historic Ryman Auditorium last November. How cool is that?
Musician Matt Vinson, who was performing as Wonderfool, met Taylor and Evan during his senior year at OU. He moved to Denver after graduating but ended up recording Caamp’s 2018 album Boys. After playing bass on some Caamp tours, he moved to Columbus to become a full-time member. Keyboardist Joseph Kavalec completed the current lineup before recording 2019’s By & By.
I recently read an article about Caamp in Relix magazine as I streamed Lavender Days. This was extremely helpful as the article explained the thoughts put into the simple, melodic folk tunes I heard. The fact that this type of music is resonating with at least some of the younger generations is heartening in the context of the current pop environment. “It’s so easy to overthink your way out of the best, simplest and most direct ideas,” Meier was quoted in the Relix article. “I’m a staunch believer in unadulterated art; I don’t want to overanalyze my songs.”
It occurred to me that Meier may have articulated what it is about Caamp that's connecting in these times - when the world is chaotic, we look to art to relate to each other and center ourselves. Maybe Caamp’s brand of “folk powerpop,” as Westfall calls it, is just the medicine we need. In some ways, their music and philosophy can be seen as a distillation of midwestern humility and simplicity. The first photo you see on their website has Westfall in a Clippers hat. One of the next pictures I found had Meier performing in a Crew jersey. Columbus to their core and touring the world, if Caamp are ambassadors of our city, I’m good with that. I’m pulling for them.
A3 The Otter
B3 Garden Song
B6 Sure Of
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – By And By Records
Copyright © – By And By Records
Licensed To – Mom + Pop
Recorded At – Oranjudio Studios
Recorded At – Betty's
Artwork By – Brothers Design Co, Lena Run
Banjo, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Drums, Mellotron, Harmony Vocals – Evan Westfall
Drums – Jon Ashley (tracks: A4)
Drums, Percussion – Matt McCaughan (tracks: A1, B1, B4)
Electric Bass, Double Bass, Baritone Guitar, Harmony Vocals – Matt Vinson
Mastered By – Bob Ludwig
Mixed By – Beatriz Artola
Piano, Keyboards – Phil Cook (tracks: A5, B4)
Piano, Piano [Rhodes], Organ, Keyboards – Joe Kavalec
Producer [Additional Production] – Brad Cook
Violin – Liz Fisher (tracks: A1, B5)
Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Mellotron, Percussion – Taylor Meier
Written-By – Taylor Meier