Action Camp EP
(Duquesne Light Orchestra)
Action Camp’s Maura Jacob (vocals, bass) and Bengt Alexsander (guitar, vocals) performed and recorded extensively as a duo before Joe Tarowsky (also of the Park Plan) became their drummer two years ago. Pop structures and tension-and-release dynamics can be felt at the core of their new self-titled, four-song EP. What they add to each song makes all the difference. “The War at My Side” and “Turn of the Blade” featured drop-tuned bass and baritone guitar, and could’ve sunk in heavy-metal quicksand. But the band never takes the sound over the edge with flashy fretwork or excess. Jacob’s husky voice, which could have come up a little in the mix, maintains an understated Polly Harvey-esque tone, which adds to the tension, even at a slow tempo. “Nameless” recalls the early experimentation of My Bloody Valentine, where the vocals and drums are awash in a sea of distorted guitar chords, the results sounding blissful rather than excessive. After all that, the disc closes with an intriguing take on the early rock ’n’ roll classic “Shakin’ All Over.” For the first half, the band strips it down to just Jacob’s voice and Alexsander’s guitar and backing vocals. When Tarowsky finally enters, the release kicks the mood into high gear. Within only five songs, Action Camp has a lot of sonic ideas running wild, and the band makes them work together.