“Camp Poppa” sounds familiar to anyone who has seen the band perform live, but mastered recordings of the band’s music provide an entertaining experience to fans and first-time listeners alike. The Macks’ stage presence easily transcends into its recorded music. Sam Fulwiler’s quirky, nuanced vocals come through easily, and Bailey Sauls’ bass notes become more crucial to each song. Ben Windheim’s guitar licks will sneak up out of nowhere, and Joe Windheim’s drum beats emerge from the background.
The band has clear influences from musicians like Cage the Elephant, The Black Keys and even Led Zeppelin, but at no point during “Camp Poppa,” does any part of its music feel borrowed.
The 10-track album kicks off with “Freewheelin’,” a whirling track that sets the pace for the rest of the release. The energizing song doesn’t hold back, displaying The Macks’ arsenal of entertaining riffs and heavy sounds. The song exemplifies Fulwiler’s unpredictable vocal style as his voice tapers off into the background of the track, leaving room for one of many guitar solos to come.
“Flowers,” is the album’s first single. Lyrics about a toxic love interest (Hands tied put the money inside / flowers blooming in the weeds / I’ve tried now I’m growing on the side / she’s burning all my green) are driven by a subtle rhythmic tempo. The song is dark and the melody is almost eerie at times, but it carries over well into the more upbeat and bluesy “Daddy Sugarcane.”
“Daddy Sugarcane” is “Camp Poppa’s” longest track, clocking in at nearly eight minutes. A large portion of the song is an instrument-dominated segment over Fulwiler’s voice where Ben Windheim fully unleashes his skill on guitar. This song is a strong example of what The Macks are capable of — it’s a defining track of “Camp Poppa” and the band’s sound as a whole.
The Macks’ debut album begins to wind down with “Temple,” a downtempo, sultry song guided vocally and musically by Fulwiler and Sauls. Melancholy lyrics like (Please bear with me I’m out of my head / anger paints my peripherals red) and (your mother she doesn’t sleep well / with a pistol pressed to her temple) expose a deeper side of The Macks’ lyricism.
The tracks “Ugly Pills,” “Asscheeks” and “Runnin’n’Gunnin,” display more grunge, garage-rock elements of the band’s sound. Closing track “Joe Frog Jam,” exemplifies The Macks’ curated sound, in which every member of the band displays their own musical character. This is a track where the band’s musical creativity and skill flourishes.
Though at times the combined pieces of sound make some songs feel too busy in the background, overall, “Camp Poppa,” sets the bar for debut albums from local bands. The Macks’ spirit, enthusiasm and DIY attitude that rises through its music make the album worth the listen.