With a mix of queer politics, explicit sexuality, symphonic indie pop, and theatrical spectacle that borders on the religious, Toronto's the Hidden Cameras are the brainchild of singer/songwriter/guitarist Joel Gibb.
The 2001 debut album Ecce Homo -- a collection of four-track demos released on Gibb's own Evil Evil imprint -- introduced a stripped-down version of the Hidden Cameras' witty, acoustic-based songwriting, which drew comparisons to the Magnetic Fields and Belle & Sebastian. Ecce Homo also caught the ear of Rough Trade, whose signing of Gibb made the Hidden Cameras the first Canadian artist on the label in its 25-year history. Meanwhile, the Cameras' elaborate live performances, which include up to 30 go-go dancers, strippers, and musicians, as well as videos, projected lyrics, and heavy audience participation, won the group a widespread and devoted following in Canada. The Hidden Cameras' 2003 Rough Trade debut, The Smell of Our Own, reflected some of their more elaborate sound more so than Ecce Homo did and spread the group's subversively catchy music further afield. In 2004, the band released its long-awaited follow-up, Mississauga Goddam, named for the Toronto suburb of Gibb's youth. Awoo, which presented a slightly tamer version of the Cameras' "gay church folk music," arrived in 2006. Released in 2009, Origin:Orphan introduced electronic elements to the group's sound, a shift in tone that escalated even further on 2013's expansive AGE. Arriving in 2016, Home on Native Land saw the group celebrating its Canadian homeland via a bucolic set of country-folk songs. ~ Heather Phares