Lost treasure needn’t be found in the distant past; the 21st Century hides many artists who disappeared into the great wide yonder. BC Camplight is one such example. The alter-ego of American songwriter Brian Christinzio released albums in 2005 and 2007, both gems of a certain psych-pop vintage, combining eloquent songwriting with a self-destructive bent. Christinzio certainly knew it – he’s described himself as, ‘the guy who blew it’.
But this sublime talent with the keening vocal and fearless approach to lyrical introspection has another chance. His new album, How To Die In The North, recorded in his newly adopted home of Manchester, England, is a fantastically rich, stylistically diverse trip. From dramatic, layered pop to a haunted take on Sixties sunshine-pop, from blue-eyed soul to speedy surf-pop, from sparser piano balladry to psychedelic showstoppers and a grand finale that’s part Nilsson and part Broadway showtune.
Originally from New Jersey, Christinzio started playing piano aged just four, inspired by his mum’s Jerry Lee Lewis and Nilsson records and his dad’s classical collection. Depression and crippling hypochondria clashed with captaining the football team and a penchant for boxing. Post-school, he fell in with people, ‘willing to go through shit to be a musician’, which saw him relocate to Philadelphia where he occasionally played live with Philly faves The War On Drugs and guested on Sharon Van Etten’s album Epic.
He’s already done two sessions for long-term fan Marc Riley at BBC 6 Music, which featured Christinzio’s band of Mancunians who he met at The Castle Hotel pub, a watering hole in the city centre particularly popular with musicians. Christinzio also heard John Grant’s album on the jukebox there, which encouraged him to approach Bella Union. Grant’s cocktail of depression and self-sabotage thwarted an outrageous talent, but he took his second chance. The same deserves to happen to Christinzio, a similarly outsize, sharp
and funny personality with a non-conformist streak. Far from dying, BC Camplight has been reborn in the North!