Black Camaro oozes raw power


Sitting in the moderately illuminated control room of his downtown Chrome Werewolf studio, Brian Garth admits that his sleep occasionally gets disturbed by that which it probably shouldn't.

"My biggest fear - I have dreams about it - is being in a sappy ass band," the frontman for Vegas indie rock square pegs Black Camaro says on a recent Friday afternoon, flanked by his longtime collaborator Tom Miller, who sings and plays bass, guitar and keys in the band, which is rounded out by drummer Scott Trujillo, percussionist/guitarist James "Fuzz" Berg and keyboardist/multi-instrumentlalist Al Norris.

Perhaps Garth's trepidations, as unfounded as they may be judging from his band's consistently compelling output, are what power the sense of exploration at the heart of the group's tunes.

It's a powerful engine, as evidenced by Black Camaro's new disc, "Black Camaricans," their first full-length album since 2005, which may be their best yet.

The album, which the band will make available tonight at a CD release show at the Royal House, begins with a three-song suite of pure pop sunshine highlighted by the irrepressible "Charlemagne," a funk lite confection with a buzzing synth line and a chorus that you'll be humming until October.

But from there, it drifts into French noir pop ("Bronze Metal"), high anxiety garage rock ("Fer-De-Lance"), chiming, xylophone abetted whimsy ("Umbra Penumbra") and an equally reflective and wistful lullaby ("Phantom of the Moon"), which features an appearance by saxophonist Tommy Marth, who played with the Killers, Halloween Town and others and who passed away in April. (Marth's siblings, Melissa and Ryan Marth of Vegas indie popsters the Big Friendly Corporation, were scheduled to play piano and guitar on the song prior to the album's completion.)

What Black Camaro does best on "Camaricans" is take tried-and-true pop structures and manipulate them subtly with an odd sound effect here, an asymmetrical song arrangement there, resulting in an album that's both immediate and infectious, yet also highly textured and full of musical head fakes.

"Sometimes we get carried away and try and do things to see if people notice," chuckles Garth, an affable, outspoken dude with a hearty laugh whose opinions on music come at you like a soldier's bayonet. "It changes the scope of the record."

And half the fun of listening to said record is getting carried away right along with the band.

"I think we got to the point where we're not trying to appeal to people," Miller says. "We're just trying to appeal to each other."

And therein lies the appeal of Black Camaro.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476.

 

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