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avatar for East Cameron Folkcore

East Cameron Folkcore

"Big, brash and charming!" - NPR All Songs Considered

"They are possibly the only band to site both Black Flag and Gustav Mahler as an influence." - American Songwriter

"A celebratory madness - music against the system, with brain, heart and clenched fist." - Rolling Stone

If their previous album, For Sale was the key to open the door to the outside, Kingdom Of Fear is the boot that crashes the door into pieces letting everything in: Light, Knowledge and Truth are so bright and obvious that nobody can try to say: I didn’t know anything, I didn’t hear anything.

“Many musicians write about their love life, their baby or their darling. They write about heartache and loss or desire and passion. But this type of emotional self-centering doesn’t interest me. To me, our music is a medium that connects people and addresses issues that are really important.” This is how Jesse Moore, lead singer, guitarist and musical leader of East Cameron Folkcore defines the claims the band is setting in their songs.

Kingdom Of Fear is a critical inventory of our world in 2014: From surveillance state to turbo capitalism, from plundering nature to corruption in economy and politics, from exploiting bosses to arbitrary policemen. There is no doubt that the issues coming up are uncomfortable. More than once East Cameron Folkcore has been accused of being “too political.” But there is still no alternative for them.

“We're going through our lives with our eyes wide open to the world and its injustices and this record is our response to the time and reality that we inhabit,” says Jesse about the anger and frustration important for the making of this record. “It’s not that I don’t know how to feel happiness or express love, it’s just that I wanted empathy and solidarity to be the main defining emotions of this record.”

On Kingdom Of Fear, East Cameron Folkcore assumes the empathetic third person identity to speak through the voice of others: Once it’s Chelsea Manning, a transgender US soldier who passed confidential documents about the war in Iraq to Wikileaks and was condemned to 35 years in prison. Next it’s the historian and civil rights activist Howard Zinn, who told the story of the USA from the point of view of the exploited in his pioneering book, A People’s History Of The United States. It’s also the nameless G.I., whose convoy is gunned down in Afghanistan and doesn’t know whether he should be stricken with grief or be happy to be going home.

Fear has many faces; the media stirs it up to achieve higher circulation, and it’s used in politics to restrict the rights of individual freedom. It’s not only virtual, it’s frighteningly real. It’s a misty veil that covers the planet and it’s a hole that opens up behind your garden fence. East Cameron Folkcore doesn’t shout out cheap platitudes or rebelliously empty slogans against the system. They know what they’re talking about. See, for example, “Fracking Boomtown“ – a protest song against an extremely controversial recovery method, in which one can gain natural gas from deep layers of earth. “In Texas fracking is omnipresent,” Jesse reports. “There are earthquakes in Dallas where there shouldn’t be earthquakes, groundwater is getting contaminated with chemicals that are mixed with an abundantly large amount of water to pressurize and crack open deep layers of earth in order to release the gas and it causes water shortages that lead to extreme droughts. Fracking is one of many examples, that shows the cycle of greed that is constantly destroying the place we’re living in.”

Even in the face of all the depressing and negative issues that come up on Kingdom Of Fear, resigning is not an option. Jesse Moore manages every morning to get out of his bed and to face the world. What is his encouragement? “My wife. My family. Knowing that all over the world there are people like us. The hope that the time of silence and acceptance is over now, that everyone will raise their voices and try to do something. And of course, music.“

Despite the polarization of Kingdom Of Fear, with the somber and ruthless lyrics, East Cameron Folkcore doesn’t let their euphoria and devotion slow them down. The album is fourteen songs that knock you down with their power, musical finesse, their beauty and – yes – their optimism. punk, folk, gospel, country, classic rock and R’n’B – the list of styles is as diverse as the list of the musicians that make up the band. The actual number is between 8 and 12 members; depending on pleasure, time and other obligations the collective grows and shrinks.

While East Cameron Folkcore mostly turned over the ideas and arrangements of Jesse Moore on the debut Sound & Fury and the follow up EP, The Sun Also Rises, the band creates and arranges their songs collectively since For Sale. Kingdom Of Fear is now the temporary peak in the matter of catchiness and precision. The power of punk meets the down-to-earthiness of folk, gospel choir meets banjo-twang, fist meets soul, Jack White meets Tom Waits, melancholic cello-line meets in-your-face-power riffs, and Spartan introspection meets baroque opulence. East Cameron Folkcore are the E Street Band of the underground, the modern lawyers of Robin Hood. Like Joe Strummer and Martin Luther King, who consistently ignored the borders and walls, they let guitars speak instead of doubts. And trumpets. And cellos. And banjos. And mandolins.

You have to experience this record in it’s entirety. The one who skips or compiles will lose the whole thing. The introduction “What The Thunder Said” serves as a view to what happens in the next hour: The songs of the record merge without rests, repeat musical motifs and recycle lines which came up before. The fourteen songs are divided into four chapters. This has its special effect in the double-vinyl version: After “The Grand Illusion,” the view focuses “Through The Looking Glass”. Then the people raise their voices (“The People Speak”) until; finally, the “Ship Of Fools” casts off, ending the record and the story.

Not only will Kingdom Of Fear stand in line with classics like Refused The Shape Of Punk To Come, but parallels to Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground by Bright Eyes should not be dismissed either. Because exactly like when listening to Conor Oberst you can feel the urgency, the conviction and the heart of the artist in every note and every measure. A heart that pumps and knocks and is unable to do anything else but sing us these songs.

“Kingdom Of Fear”, “The Joke” and “969” are good examples for the musical variety of the record. The title song starts as a cozy folk song with acoustic guitar and gospel-like choirs until a rock guitar lead begins stalking, disappearing shortly, just to come back in full after a reduced verse: After the melodiously travelling circus choirs come snotty gang shouts, hammering drums and shaking riffs until a trombone in melodious sublimity steps in and leads the way to the spherical and reflective end of the song. The following “The Joke” is living through its warm, nearly soul-like vocal harmonies, which counteract by the hypnotic drumming, hysteric and mad street-dog-vocals shifting the song more and more to a punk attitude. And the feedback-alarm with crash whirling and background-loops in the end goes smoothly over into “969“, the most positive and atmospheric song of the record. A constantly increasing upbeat drives the song forward like a cowboy running his horde of wild horses. The vocals shimmers between rap, preacher and bar singer. And the long drawn-out horn section propagates longing and melancholy. There is a very special, almost physically noticeable pull, where instincts, experiences and emotions combine to form a heavy lump that weighs a thousand tons and can not be seen by any X-ray machine: the soul.

In conclusion, this phenomenal record is wise and thought out, searching and pioneering, hollered and breathed, until, at the very end, the fear is drawing the short straw. The solution is called “Goodbye To Fear”, as difficult as