Monday, August 14, 2017

Circus of the West - We'll See Ourselves Out (2017)

Written by Gilbert Mullis, posted by blog admin

Infectious debut album from the organ-kissed, keyboard accentuated rockers of Circus of the West who mix indie, pop, rock and upbeat melodies together all across We’ll See Ourselves Out.  Opener “Birdhand” is what happens if The Killers molded their danceable indie into a more rocking product with plenty of sizzling electric guitar and soulful lead vocals.  It sets the stage for the swinging grooves to be found all throughout. 

“Some Connections” slows the pace to bass-centered, mid-tempo shuck n’ jive that showcases Edwin Caldie’s shimmering vibrato and introspective baritone alongside three part harmonies that sound like a sonic amalgamation of Interpol and Pure Prairie League.  Joel Leviton and Ben Court’s dueling electric/acoustic guitar shakes downs provide catchy lead components welded onto buzzing rhythm riffs that again reckon of a bluesy Interpol brimming with folky soul melodies.  Drawing down the mood, “Nothing Special” welds plunging bass figures to lonely, deeply textured keyboards and somber organ brushstrokes (courtesy of dual keyboard players Caldie and bassist Jason Kapel) that build the verse whispers into emotive choruses propelled forward by drummer Alan Einsman’s pocket snare fills. 

Perhaps the album’s most rockin’, rollin’ cut “Resurrection” is all about steamy, sultry blues, classic rock lead guitar matching wits with jangly acoustics, hearty vocal drawls and a heckuva groove foundation.  The gravelly, Mark Lanegan/Tom Waits’ inspired, whiskey-inflected singing of “Valentine Eye” slinks with side winding acoustic guitar sweeps, lush bass lines and a soft, steady drum beat that eventually gives way to a baroque melody drone where the instruments are layered immaculately.  A fuzzy, buzzing riff spirals “Looking In” into a godly, southern-tinged punk rock attack that embellishes soaring vocal harmonies reminiscent of forgotten 70s great Ashbury, walkin’ rampaging bass grooves and simultaneously atonal and melodic riffage.  It’s by far one of the album’s best tracks all told. 

The piano-laden, twin keyboard richness that kicks of “Finale” gives way to another expressive performance from Edwin, who wrings every drop of melodic grandeur out of each and every nook and cranny of this song.  A harder, rhythmic backbone fleshes the gentle grooves with some rock n’ roll attack as the organs dip into classic 70s runs and the electric guitar takes the spotlight as much as the acoustic.  Percussive syncopation and angular bass riffs lend “Asma” a split difference between jazz, indie and good ol’ fashioned hard rock flourish that nicely juxtaposes the beautiful “More’s” starry sky pianos and blue-eyed soul vocals.

 The album closer “Epilogue” harnesses some delicious finger plucked guitar melodies that drench the music in glistening country gallop (with vocal harmonies to match) before it ends surprisingly before the minute mark.  We’ll See Ourselves Out is a wonderful piece of work and a fine collection of songs from a band that throws caution to the wind when it comes to genres.  It would be interesting to hear them dial in on one particular sound more often but they keep things lively and progressive throughout with stellar musicianship and songwriting that stretches from 1970 till the modern day.  This is an admirably written, played and recorded album that should impress fans of many different styles. 

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