Camera Obscura (band)

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura live at Debaser, Stockholm, Sweden
Background information
Origin Glasgow, Scotland
Genres Indie pop
Years active 1996–present
Labels 4AD, Andmoresound, Elefant, Merge
Tracyanne Campbell
Gavin Dunbar
Carey Lander
Kenny McKeeve
Lee Thomson
Nigel Baillie (part time)
Past members
John Henderson
Richard Colburn
David Skirving
Lindsay Boyd

Camera Obscura are an indie pop band from Glasgow, Scotland. The band formed in 1996 and have released four albums to date.



Camera Obscura were formed in 1996 by Tracyanne Campbell, John Henderson, and Gavin Dunbar. Several other members performed with the band before David Skirving joined as a permanent guitarist. The band's first releases were the singles "Park and Ride" and "Your Sound" in 1998.[1] The band's line-up changed in 2000 and 2001 when Lee Thompson joined as its permanent drummer, Lindsay Boyd joined as a keyboard player, and Skirving left and was replaced by Kenny McKeeve.[1][2]

Camera Obscura's first album, Biggest Bluest Hi Fi, was released in 2001. The album was produced by Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian and was supported by John Peel.[2] The first single from the album, "Eighties Fan", came in at number eight in the Festive Fifty in 2001,[3] and charted in several independent music charts. Nigel Baillie joined the band as a trumpeter and percussionist in 2002[2] and Carey Lander replaced Boyd. In the summer of 2002, Peel asked the band to do their first Peel session.[1]

Tracyanne Campbell in 2007

The band's second album, Underachievers Please Try Harder, was released in 2003 and was followed by Camera Obscura's first full tour of Britain and Ireland and the band's first tour of the United States. Founding member John Henderson left Camera Obscura following this tour.[4] In early 2004 the band recorded the songs "I Love My Jean" and "Red, Red Rose" following their third Peel session, in which Peel had asked them to put these poems by Robert Burns to music.[2]

Camera Obscura recorded their third album, Let's Get Out of This Country, in Sweden during 2005. The album was produced by Jari Haapalainen and was released on June 6, 2006.[2] The title song was featured in episode 5 of the Friday Night Lights. The first single, "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken", is a response to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions' song "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?".[5]

In November 2008, the band announced that they had completed recording the follow-up to Let's Get Out of This Country, and in February 2009, they announced that they had signed to 4AD.[6] The new album, My Maudlin Career, was released in April 2009, and preceded by the first single "French Navy". London jewellery brand Tatty Devine created brooches and necklaces to coincide with the launch. Around this time, the band announced that "due to family commitments (including being a proud dad) Nigel will no longer be a full time member of Camera Obscura".[7]

On April 18, 2009 Camera Obscura released a special edition Record Store Day 7” called, French Navy for independent record stores.



  • Tracyanne Campbell – guitar, vocals
  • Carey Lander – piano, organ, vocals
  • Kenny McKeeve – guitar, mandolin, harmonica, vocals
  • Gavin Dunbar – bass
  • Lee Thomson – drums


  • Nigel Baillie – trumpet, percussion
  • John Henderson (1996–2004) – vocals, percussion
  • Richard Colburn – drums
  • David Skirving – vocals, guitar
  • Lindsay Boyd – keyboards

Live Players

  • Nigel Baillie - trumpet, percussion
  • Tim Cronin – trumpet, percussion
  • Francois Marry - trumpet, percussion, guitar



Year Album details Peak chart positions






2001 Biggest Bluest Hi Fi
  • Released: 12 November 2001
  • Label: Andmoresound (and 17)
  • Formats: CD
  • Reissued in 2002 on Elefant (ER-1090)
  • Reissued in 2004 on Merge (MRG256)
2003 Underachievers Please Try Harder
  • Released: 15 September 2003
  • Label: Elefant (ER-1104) (Europe)
    Merge (MRG239) (North America)
  • Formats: CD, LP, DL
2006 Let's Get Out of This Country
  • Released: 6 June 2006
  • Label: Merge (MRG276) (North America)
    Elefant (ER-1123) (Europe)
  • Formats: CD, 2CD, LP, DL
2009 My Maudlin Career
  • Released: 20 April 2009
  • Label: 4AD (CAD 2907)
  • Formats: CD, LP, DL
32 37 87
"—" denotes a release that did not chart or was not issued in that region.


Song Release date Release info Formats UK Singles Chart


"Park and Ride" 2 March 1998 Andmoresound (and 09) 7" vinyl Non-album single
"Your Sound" 14 December 1998 Andmoresound (and 11) CD, 7" vinyl
"Eighties Fan" 25 June 2001 Andmoresound (and 16) CD, 7" vinyl Biggest Bluest Hi Fi
"Teenager" 26 May 2003 Elefant (ER-352) CD 182 Underachievers Please Try Harder
"Keep It Clean" 28 June 2004 Elefant (ER-355) CD
"I Love My Jean" 21 March 2005 Elefant (ER-358) CD, 7" vinyl 101 Non-album single
"Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken" 15 May 2006 Elefant (ER-362) CD, 7" vinyl 124 Let's Get Out of This Country
"Let's Get Out of This Country" 11 September 2006 Elefant (ER-364) CD, 7" vinyl 144
"If Looks Could Kill" 29 January 2007 Elefant (ER-366) CD, 7" vinyl 191
"Tears for Affairs" 23 April 2007 Elefant (ER-368) CD, 7" vinyl
"French Navy" 13 April 2009 4AD (AD 2912) CD, 7" vinyl 141 My Maudlin Career
"Honey in the Sun" August 2009 4AD Promo-only CDR
"The Sweetest Thing" 2 November 2009 4AD (AD 2926) 7" vinyl
"The Blizzard" / "Swans" 7 December 2009 4AD (AD 2937) 7" vinyl
"The Nights Are Cold" 17 May 2010 4AD (AD 3X25) 7" vinyl Non-album single
"—" denotes a release that did not chart.

Compilations and EPs

  • Rare UK Bird (December 1999, Quattro) Japan-only

Other contributions

  • Acoustic 07 (2007, V2 Records) - "Let's Get Out of This Country"
  • The Saturday Sessions: The Dermot O'Leary Show (2007, EMI) - "Super Trouper"


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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