Each week, we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week’s album is The Long Way, The Slow Way, the debut LP from Camp Trash.
Camp Trash used to be a meme, until they weren’t. For a long while, they were a Tweet (“Camp Trash is a real band, and I’m in it”), then they were a band with an EP, January 2021’s Downtiming, a four-song powerhouse that arrived at the perfect time for a collection of wistful songs about fighting through whatever ails you to do what’s next. It was the doldrums of the second year of COVID, pre-vaccine, arriving at a time when all of us just wanted to be with our friends again, Downtiming at least gave you the feeling of late-night talks with friends on camp chairs.
The group’s debut LP, The Long Way, The Slow Way, arrives in a different world, but crackles with more of the energy that made Downtiming one of 2021’s best releases. This is anxiety rock, this is emo for people on SSRIs, this is music about trying to find some semblance of normalcy and comfort in a world where that doesn’t exist, except in brief, fleeting moments. This is like joining a huddle of all your friends, and instead of chanting “Let’s go, team!” you chant “Let’s go to therapy!” It’s an album ready-built for AIM messages, if those still existed; it’s open-hearted, it’s big, it’s fun. It’s my favorite LP of 2022.
The Long Way, The Slow Way was recorded hot on the heels of Downtiming, as the Florida band toured intermittently and built their word of mouth one show, and one T-shirt, at a time. Its 12 songs are sonically in the neverland of the Venn diagram between Built to Spill, third-wave emo, a coffee house poetry reading, and that hard-core show at a Denny’s. Which is to say, you won’t have as much fun screaming along to a bunch of guitars on any other album out this year. Lyrically, it’s possible that any line on any song is going to knock you out on each subsequent listen. Sometimes, it’s “It doesn’t feel like anything is fraying at the edge,” on “Weird Florida.” Sometimes it’s “Counting up the anxious hours of everything I never did” on “Pursuit.” and sometimes it’s “I just wanna be a cog in a massive machine that breaks and makes the whole thing useless,” on “Let It Ride.”
I could continue this and explain how this album has been a salve for me since I got an advance copy last year (light flex), or how trenchant the riffs on “Another Harsh Toyotathon” are, or how “Lake Erie Boys” is the best song about the worst Great Lake, but The Long Way, The Slow Way is an album you need to hear, to feel in your gut, to rattle your cerebellum. As Camp Trash themselves sing, that’s enough explaining. Make your way to Camp Trash now, and enjoy your stay.
Andrew Winistorfer is Senior Director of Music and Editorial at Vinyl Me, Please, and a writer and editor of their books, 100 Albums You Need in Your Collection and The Best Record Stores in the United States. He’s written Listening Notes for more than 30 VMP releases, co-produced multiple VMP Anthologies, and executive produced the VMP Anthologies The Story of Vanguard, The Story of Willie Nelson, Miles Davis: The Electric Years and The Story of Waylon Jennings. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.