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Chamberlain - Exix 263

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 27 / 3 / 2002

Chamberlain - Exix 263
Label: Ignition Records
Format: CD


Recently rereleased final country rock offering from the always eclectic Chamberlain, who broke up last year

Long-term readers of Pennyblackmusic may recognise Chamberlain as the band that I decided had made my favourite ever album, with their penultimate release 'The Moon My Saddle'. That record came out in 1998 on the influential hardcore label, Doghouse. Chamberlain are one of the many groups that just never got the recognition they deserved in their lifetime. They started out as an emo band, with a distinct hardcore sound, but in the mid nineties switched direction and started producing rock music that drew on the music of Dylan, Springsteen and the folk/country scenes. So the band managed to go from being the world’s finest hardcore punk band (in their previous incarnation as teenagers as Split Lip) to the world’s finest emo band (a good seven years before the NME jumped on the bandwagon they released the genre’s defining moment, 'Fate’s Got A Driver' – their first as Chamberlain rather than Split Lip) to the world’s finest alt-country rock band. The reason for all this is that their music always transcended genre and scenes, and centred on great musicianship and finely crafted songs. And on top of that, their vocalist, David Moore, has an awesome, authoritive voice that sounds like a Bob Dylan who can really hit the high notes.. His words survive the Bob Dylan comparison as well. Honestly, at times they are a work of genius! Last year the band sadly broke up, but left on a high note with the release of a brand new album, 'Exit 263'. A limited edition self release has all but sold out, and now the British label Ignition Records have stepped in to give it a full release. This time the record comes with a complete lyric sheet, and a hugely impressive sleeve design, characteristic of all Chamberlain’s previous releases. In fact, one of the reasons that I was drawn to Chamberlain is the sleeve artwork. Ignition is the label run by some of the members of Rydell, another of my favourite bands who themselves are often compared to Chamberlain. Their label tends to concentrate only on hardcore so this is a bit of a departure for them. But when I interviewed Milo and Dave from Rydell last August they were shocked when I said I hadn’t heard them saying that Chamberlain, along with Hot Water Music are “two of the best bands ever. They are amazing!” So, naturally, I was inclined to check out their records. The new album is impressively recorded, but it doesn’t sound modern exactly. More, the timeless sound of a band that would have been outsiders in any era! Music fans love scenes, movements and fads. Chamberlain were emo before emo was anything more than a tiny bunch of fanzine reading ex-hardcore kids, and now they are a country-rock band that have no hope of getting anywhere because of their affiliation to the rock scene. The sad fact is that any of their records would be universally popular if only someone would put them on the radio! The guitars are warm and gentle. The drums are subtle and peaceful, (rather than the full throttle assault that characterised the drumming on '“The Moon My Saddle'.) The reason for this is that drummer Chuck Walker left the band prior to the recordings to join New End Original with former Far vocalist Jonah Matranga). Chuck is one of the finest drummers I have ever heard so his presence is naturally missed but his replacement, Wade Parish, is more than adequate. A new bass player, Seth Greathouse, also appears and even pens one of the songs, the impressive 'Chivalry'. Despite the setting of the album, recorded immediately prior to the band breaking up, the music makes for compulsive listening. The two key figures in the group, Adam Rubenstein and David Moore, have established a songwriting partnership that sounds natural and complete. Just like when The Smiths broke up, it feels such a shame because the songwriting duo is so well suited, and is at the point where it feels they have reached their inventive peak. This is a music fan’s album, pure and simple. There are no concessions to a music scene or to fashion, and it results in a band playing beautiful, moving songs simply for the love of it. When this was recorded they didn’t even know if it would come out. I find it hard to choose between 'The Moon My Saddle' and ''Exit 263' because they are both so brilliant. 'The Moon My Saddle' sounds more striking at first and has a cleaner sound augmented by various keyboards, but this album is raw and feels like a band playing for fun. They manage to capture the spirit of the live concert with the perfectionism of the studio, but, having said that though a good proportion of the record was recorded in an old log barn rather than in a studio, so I guess the spirit comes from that setting. Either way, this is a record I recommend unconditionally. If you’ve never heard Chamberlain, you need to discover what you’re missing.

Track Listing:-
1 Lovely And Alone
2 On My Side Of The Street
3 That Was The Best
4 Hey, Louise
5 The Last Time
6 Steady Tryin' To Holler
7 Strange Days
8 Santa Fe
9 Chivalry
10 Wherever I'm Standing Now
11 You Can't Have It All
12 Masterpiece

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Interview with David Moore (2003)
Chamberlain - Interview with David Moore
Chamberlain were a massive influence on both the hardcore and the emo movement. In one of his first interviews since leaving music, former frontman David Moore talks to Ben Howarth about the group's history

favourite album

The Moon My Saddle (2002)
Chamberlain - The Moon My Saddle
I haven’t been listening to Chamberlain all that long to be honest, so perhaps this choice will prove flawed in years to come. But right now it is my favourite album. There are other contenders but I won’t list them because that might just make the final


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