Local music: Joseph Anthony Camerlengo

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Joe Camerlengo swears he isn't a hopelessly morbid person.

"I don't want to be the bummer guy," he insisted.

The This Is My Suitcase frontman unveiled solo debut "All the Things That Should Have Killed Me but Didn't!" last week, a year after his band dropped "The Keys To Cat Heaven."

The meticulously constructed "Cat Heaven" camouflaged a fixation with death in snappy pop tunes about animals; this new record revels in our eventual demise. The tracklist don't lie: "Doomed to Die," "Stuck In the Ground," "Death and Dying," etc.

"The death theme of my albums, it's not supposed to be negative," Camerlengo said in his living room, where he'll host an album release party Thursday.

"A lot of the songs aren't negative at all in any way. They're just about death in some way."

The tracks still emanate Camerlengo's unbounded zeal. He calls it "freakpop" - humongous major-key arrangements buoy precious, heart-on-sleeve emoting, like LiveJournal poetry set to a tweaked-out "Pet Sounds."

Instead of micromanaging, Camerlengo opted for a collage that jumps from low fidelity to pristine clarity and back. He said the raw, haphazard approach was necessary liberation.

Camerlengo slaved over "Cat Heaven" for so long that he felt like it had to be perfect to validate him. This time, inspired by the roughshod recordings of a Dayton-area band called Sleep Fleet, Camerlengo just wanted to cut loose.

"Music should be kind of nasty" became his new mantra. "And music should be kind of raw."

If it still sounds like This Is My Suitcase, that's because the band's albums have been essentially Camerlengo solo projects. He wants to change that, so the band has been holed up bashing out arrangements for their next batch of songs.

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Joseph Anthony Camerlengo

6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21

Joe's House

79 W. Eighth St., Campus