Camp Stag returns following debut album with anger-fuelled hit Hands

“That Camp Stag, eh? That Camp Stag, it just won’t go away. It might hibernate from time to time, and sink back into the swamp… But it’s always waiting there, just around the corner.” – Alex Turner, probably.

Following on from their long awaited 2021 album, Tremolo, which came almost a decade after their well received debut single, Sirens, Camp Stag has returned with a potent and timely record that’s been dubbed ‘a furious banger’. Released on May 3 via their own Northern Dream label, Hands is a powerful track that encapsulates the frustration and resilience of their home city.

Stoke-on-Trent has been the muse of many a Camp Stag song, with Tremolo being described as a love letter to the city, the band adding that ‘like the streets of that city, the album is equal parts desolation, love, anger, and hope. The crumbling nightclubs, the fractured politics, the changing light from night to day.’ And this theme bleeds into their newest offering, ‘written as a response to the UK’s current situation and, in particular, the way that Stoke-on-Trent is seen as nothing more than a pawn in the game of politics’.

As such, Hands is a track that doesn’t hide its anger, the record’s opening chords immediately setting a calm but intense tone. But, as is often the way with Camp Stag, that anger has been channelled into creating something that is somehow still hopeful and glorious. The chorus soars, anthemic and infectious, while keys bounce and guitars wind through the soundscape. And it’s this duality – fury paired with a glimmer of optimism – that is a hallmark of Camp Stag’s music.

The track’s production is polished yet retains an edge, preserving the band’s signature sound that merges alternative rock with a modern, anthemic sound. The influence of post-punk and new wave is evident, reminiscent of bands like Echo & the Bunnymen, yet Camp Stag infuses it with their own flavour.

“Take your hands off me, I don’t know where you’ve been” – Dan’a vocals are both urgent and poignant, while Ade Harrison’s driving keys are met with intricate guitar work providing a solid yet melodic backbone. The rhythm section, anchored by Tomos Hughes’ drums that propel the track forward, each cog in the Camp Stag machine working expertly in tandem to build and release tension for a cathartic listen.

With this release, Camp Stag reaffirms their place as a vital voice in the local music scene, and it’s so great to see them back at it. After all, they never really went away, did they? The band has been treading the murky waters of the industry for over a decade now, and in that time have had some incredible successes, growing from a band into a collective and a community – something few bands have managed successfully, save for the likes of South Wall Corner Club.

Sirens, released in 2012, received national airplay courtesy of BBC Introducing on BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music, and XFM, as well as featuring on BBC TV’s Newsround, which led to the band being invited to perform on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury Festival. The track has since been played on Jeremy Clarkson’s Grand Tour – the royalties for which funded Tremolo.

And fear not, they’re not sinking back into the Trent just yet – with a promise of more new songs throughout 2024 and a handful of live shows. With Hands, Cap Stag sets a high bar, marking a triumphant return for the band, who are without doubt an outfit that younger emerging artists can look up to.

Listen to Hands by Camp Stag here:

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