Cameron McGill
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Cameron McGill

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“Either I’m a terrible music writer or Cameron McGill is simply an exceptional, unparalleled artist. Let’s go with the latter.” – Abby White, Performing Songwriter Dec 2005 - Performing Songwriter Dec. 2005


“…very accomplished…surprisingly accomplished…to come out with something this strong for your solo debut says a lot about your ability as a songwriter.” - Richard Milne, WXRT Chicago - WXRT Chicago, Richard Milne


Cameron McGill is a Chicago-based singer-songwriter with an impossible-to-deny sensitive side and the musical and lyrical acumen to shape this sensitivity into pop/rock songs that are as good or better than the artists who influenced him to write in the first place. That is no small accomplishment, considering that a list of those artists would include Elvis Costello, Wilco, Jeff Buckley, The Replacements. McGill's music inhabits the thin air where memorable melody coincides with intelligent, meaningful lyrics. The result, displayed on his debut CD, Stories of The Knife And The Back, is a collection of songs that live up to the rarely-delivered-upon promise of pop music: to be hummable and thinkable all at the same time.

McGill's sound is pop/rock/alt-country/indie, with an irresistible orchestral side that puts strings, trumpets, Hammond organ, and harmonica on top of the usual complements of rock 'n' roll instruments. The opening cut, "Long Way Back to California," is classic radio fare, with gentle acoustic guitars, breathy vocals, and a crunchy, electric chorus that really satisfies. Another stand out is "What the Hell (I Love This Girl Danielle)," which swings exquisitely and includes a trumpet part that makes this already strong song impossible to forget. Mr. McGill has turned in an impressive debut effort, to be sure, and it will be interesting to observe how he progresses in his art, seeing as he is starting out at a level that is better than most. - Mike O'Cull



Singer/songwriter Cameron McGill is all heart on his debut album, Stories of the Knife and the Back. While the title might suggest otherwise, McGill learns from those moments of betrayal and dirty tricks for an endearing set of songs. What makes McGill a star among stars is his one-of-a-kind honesty. He's not overly ambitious on Stories of the Knife and the Back; he's not out to prove himself to be more than just a regular guy with his heart on his sleeve. He succeeds in blending threads of roots rock, country-rock and indie rock, and unlike Ryan Adams, Pete Yorn, and whoever else is being touted as the next country boy superstah, McGill's focus on allowing the songs to mesh with simple production speaks for itself. McGill's a poet, one obsessed with the glamour of old Hollywood while living his life according to Literary classics and standard punk rock anthems. Songs like "The Ballad of George Dobbins" and "The Summer Dress Step" showcase McGill's vocal passion á la Adam Duritz while embracing classic country and folk stylings for his own rock & roll signature. Violins and pianos waltz throughout the more sublime reflection of "Coal Miner's Son" for one of McGill's hidden treasures, and if he plays his cards just right, it could become one of those underrated classics in years to come. McGill's earnest attempt in making a solid rock album might make Stories of the Knife and the Back come off a touch manicured, but who cares? It's free of the slickness of a major label release. If anything, McGill will kill you with kindness. - MacKenzie Wilson



Cameron McGill's at-times breathy, at-times grainy voice might call to mind Mark Eitzel, and these four tracks have an air of American Music Club lugubriousness about them, but they are performed with a youthful crackle. The lyrics are both penetrating and clever. - Eliot Wilder



Smooth talker, blues wailer, and soul seeker… Cameron McGill has the sweet vibes of a troubadour lost in the waves of alternative country- indie rock. Wilco influenced, his songs have a poppy melody that will haunt your memory for days after hearing ballads like Long Way Back to California.

There is even a folksy Dylan vein to McGill's guitar twangs and the electric piano keys that echo his choruses in the song, What the Hell (I love this girl Danielle). He is often accompanied by The Shame, (Matt Thompson-bass, Chad Gifford - violin, Jim Barclay - drums, and Nate Wolcott - keys), but with or without the band he is a one rocker you cannot miss.

Cameron began his music career fronting Chicago based trio, Morris Minors, and since then he and The Shame have opened for such up and coming stars like Damian Rice and even John Stirratt of Wilco. - Jennifer Hughes



Skillfully-accomplied debut from a Chicago singer-songwriter who's not afraid to rock out when he has to. "Long Way Back to California" benefits from McGill's willingness to crank up the guitars. "What the Hell (I Love This Girl Danielle)" playfully abducts Elvis Costello and takes him to the Midwest. McGill also proves that he knows his way around gentler tunes like "The Summer Dress Step" and "Coal Miner's Son." He revs things up toward the end on "Stitches" to wrap up a confident and promising debut. - Album Review


Cameron's Midwest Music Summit Performance

Cameron McGill from Chicago offered what was quite possibly the evening’s most impressive performance. His songs of the lost and the lonely can come across as a bit slight on his CD; in person, he has the persona of troubadour, if a slightly seedy one, banging his foot along with the songs and making the audience feel his music in every way possible. McGill’s lyrics are thoughtful and dreamy, which befits a man who seems a bit lost in his own world. In an amazing display, he picked up his guitar and struck some chords, fed them in to a machine, and looped them. They played on as he strummed another part, looped it, and let it play on. He did this twice more and then, when he had created his “band,” he sat down at his piano and proceeded to play. The effect was beautiful and McGill made it look effortless. - Jim Dunn



Cameron McGill is a poet. His lyrics, accompanied by guitar/keys, range from heartfelt stories about a coal miner's son trying not to follow the path of his father to the various depressed emotional confessions in all our lives. However, it is the overall song, regardless of style, which is the most important aspect here. - Mystie Chamberlin


Discography

Stories of The Knife and The Back released on Post-Important Records in November 2003.

Street Ballads and Murderesques release in January 2006 on Post-Important Records.

Two LP's scheduled for release in October of 2007.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Cameron McGill; n. (so'lo', solo, so-low)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born in 1877 in Calw, on the edge of the Black Forest, Cameron McGill was brought up in a missionary household where it was assumed that he would study for the ministry. McGill's religious crisis (which is often recorded in his songs) led to his fleeing from the Maulbronn seminary in 1891, an unsuccessful cure by a well-known theologian and faith healer, and an attempted suicide. After being expelled from high school, he worked in bookshops for several years--a usual occupation for budding Chicago songwriters.

His first album, Stories of The Knife and The Back (2004), describes a youth who leaves his mountain village to become a poet. The lush instrumentation and beautifully crafted melodies, belie the dark nature of the song content. Mostly focusing on personal admissions of guilt and failure, the album's characters struggle with coming to terms with mortality. All throughout, they simply try to find a friend and fall in love.

This was followed by Street Ballads & Murderesques (2006), the tale of a schoolboy totally out of touch with his contemporaries, who flees through different cities after his escape from home. The collection of songs on Streets ...takes pop music to the dark libraries of your old house, inhabits a stark and desperate corner of the mind, and simply tells a good story. The wildly vibrant characters offer their most honest interpretations of their understanding of life. They travel time, they fall in and out of love, they miss and are missed. These are songs of imminent regret, class IV rapids, European gypsies, pre-renaissance Germany, cities with chips on their shoulder, veterans of domestic war, handwritten letters and handmade harmony, foreign wines and local girls, break-ups and breakdowns, and post-war divorcees.

World War I came as a terrific shock, and McGill joined the pacifist Romain Rolland in antiwar activities--not only writing antiwar songs, but editing two newspapers for prisoners of war. During this period, McGill's first marriage broke up (reflected in "It's Not Right" off of Street Ballads & Murderesques ), he studied the works of Freud, eventually underwent analysis with Jung, and was for a time a patient in a sanatorium.

In 1919 he moved permanently to Switzerland, and brought out Cameron McGill and What Army, which reflects his preoccupation with the workings of the subconscious and with battles against depression...but mostly focuses on learning how to have fun. His forthcoming works, The Company of Great Thieves EP is slated to appear in May of 2006, followed in September by the Hold On Beauty EP. He never won the Nobel Prize, but his mother always loved him. Until his death in 2056, he lived in seclusion in Illinois.

Recent Dates and Appearances:

• Lollapalooza and Summerfest 2006
• 11 date tour in May of 2006 including opening slot for Ben Kweller, 18 date tour in March of 2005
• Three well-attended 2007 shows at SXSW, CMJ showcase in 2005 at Arlene’s Grocery
• Successful February 2005 residency at Schuba’s in Chicago
• Appearances with Rachael Yamagata on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, the Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, Tonight Show with Jay Leno
• National tour with Rachael Yamagata as she opened for Liz Phair in March/April of 2004
• Opened 3 sold out shows for Rachael Yamagata at the Hotel Café in LA in July 2004
• Opened national tour in September/October 2004 for Rachael Yamagata and Tom McRae

Radio Airplay:

• Spent three weeks in Oct. and Nov. 2005 in XM Unsigned’s top 20 most spins and two at number four
• Generous support and on-air interviews from both Richard Milne (WXRT) and Chris Payne (Q101) for his CD release show in 2003 and Schuba’s residency in February 2005
• Recent on-air performances for WXRT (Chicago), WPGU (Champaign), WEFT (Champaign), WPCD (Champaign)
• Spins on WXRT (Chicago), Q101 (Chicago), WLUW (Chicago), WRDP (Chicago), 107.1 The Planet (Champaign), WBEZ (Chicago)
• Featured and interviewed on Chicago’s Fearless Radio in October of 2005 and March 2006

Other:

• Received honorable mention in American Songwriter Magazine’s lyric contest for “When it Could Hurry” in the Nov./Dec. issue and for “Birmingham” in the Jan./Feb. issue
• Winner of 2005 Acoustic Live songwriting competition
• Recent press in: American Songwriter, Time Out NY, Harp, Country Music Today, Hub Weekly, Innocent Words, Performing Songwriter, Playback STL, Hyperactive Music Magazine, Splendid
• Has appeared with: Damien Rice, Ian McCulloch, John Stirratt from Wilco, The Autumn Defense, Butch Walker, Ours, Jesse Malin, Tom McRae, James McMurtry
• Part of the ASCAP/Heineken Emerging Artists Promotion Summer 2004
• Took part in a co-writing venture with Rondor Music in May of 2005

Press Quotes:

“Either I’m a terrible music writer or Cameron McGill is simply an exceptional, unparalleled artist. Let’s go with the latter.” – Abby