RIYL: Tides of Man, pmtoday, Saosin
Circa Survive is in a rare breed of band. The group has very ardent fans, but each has a favorite album while the others pale in comparison. Despite not deviating very far from the sound on its debut Juturna, each successive release has brought in more new fans and pissed off old ones. That is why I can easily say “Welcome back, old Circa fans” with Violent Waves. This album is the first self-released record for the band, and it’s clear from the first moment that the band feels so much more cohesive and powerful than it has in years. At the same time, it’s the most varied release of the band’s history. The album begins with the seven minute psychedelic trip “Birth of the Economic Hit Man”, which meanders around successfully, but few bands would dare start an album with its longest track. That leads to the heaviest and most straightforward song on the album, “Sharp Practice”, which sounds like a sound-off to how little the band enjoyed being on a major label. The lyric “You get what you pay for; we can’t sell our God damn souls anymore” seems aimed right at the band’s less than stellar experience with Atlantic Records. Thankfully the song delivers and serves as a proper introduction to the album’s excellence. As I said before, the album’s ability to stay cohesive through sonic shifts is a major strength. Most of the album sticks in mid-tempo mode, but each song decides when (and if) it will build up to massive heights. Anthony Green’s vocals are a major player here, as he is at his best on Violent Waves. His unique tenor has always carried a twist, and while that nasal croon is still heavily present here, Anthony’s voice sounds more powerful here than ever before. Here is a band who sounds more confident than ever. Whether this is the band’s best work is hard to tell in the moment (Juturna was awfully great), but it’s evident that Circa Survive has its groove back. – by Nicholas Senior
>> Classification: Progressive Rock
>> Recommended Tracks: “The Lottery”, “Sharp Practice” and “Bird Sounds”
>> In Conclusion: Circa Survive are back in a big way with Violent Waves, an album that showcases why the band is at the peak of the modern progressive rock scene.
by Anthony Green
[January 17, 2012 – Photo Finish Records]
Verdict: 9.5 out of 10
Review by Nathaniel Lay
Anthony Green is a man who pleases with ease. Anything he touches turns to gold it seems, whether it was the best music that came from Saosin, or the amazing Circa Survive albums the band keep putting out. Beautiful Things is the singer’s second full length solo record, and it pretty much tops the first in every way. The thing about that statement is that Avalon was such an excellent collection, so taking it all to a higher level is quite impressive. The most notable difference between the two is that Beautiful Things feels a bit more experimental and instrumentally diverse. The opening track, “If I Don’t Sing”, sounds like an amazing Portugal. The Man b-side, and is then followed by the Capella “Do It Right” (complete with hand claps). With Avalon, a good majority of the tracks where pretty much acoustic and straight forward (saying this makes the album sound boring, but it was far from it). With Beautiful Things, everything seems more expressive and interesting. Each and every track has a life all its own that is memorable, beautiful, catchy, and amazing. Yet again, Anthony Green has created something damn near perfection. Any fan of this vocalist must buy this release. Your collection won’t mean anything if you don’t own it.
[---] Highlight Tracks: “If I Don’t Sing”, “Do It Right”, “Get Yours While You Can”
[---] Bonus: In December 2011, Anthony Green released a digital EP that included acoustic versions of several songs off Beautiful Things. Even better: it’s a free download.
Are You The Killer?
There is an important difference between clever marketing and deceit. The band claims on Facebook (a very viable source, I know) that they are influenced by two of the kings of progressive post-hardcore: CLOSURE IN MOSCOW and CIRCA SURVIVE. As a huge fan of both bands, I was certainly intrigued at what I was going to hear. The excitement waned by the end of the first song. Instead of the progressive nature of the “influences”, AHIMSA SUNRISE prefers to weave the tapestry of their sound around the modern “scenecore” sound, with high-pitched vocals, uninspired growls, and the occasional breakdown. It would also be a poor choice of words to call this album “bad”. While the vocals need improving, there are some clever riffs and, as usual, the music is quite catchy. Are You The Killer? isn’t littered with the bro-down hardcore breakdown that is disturbingly over-prevalent in today’s scene. The CIRCA SURVIVE influence is certainly there, so if the band can expand on that progressive element, then hopefully their future full-length can be more compelling than this EP is. For now, what we are left with is a competent, young group that plays a style that has been done to death. I say this often, but there is certainly potential with this group. If they can mature their songwriting abilities with age, then AHIMSA SUNRISE will be a band to watch out for in the future. As it stands, Are You the Killer? Is just the musical equivalent of a Tootsie Roll: it’s slightly different than the standard chocolate candy, but there’s little to nothing that sticks with you afterwards. -by Nicholas Senior
Volume 10 (2011 Tour)
[Hopeless Records / Sub City]
The last Take Action compilation reminded me of the recent Warped Tour discs in the sense that they were composed mostly of already released tracks. This made them mostly uninteresting and unworthy of purchase. However, this year’s Take Action volume is quite great and deserving your attention. Why? Well, a good 75% of these songs are previously unreleased or remixed, making them new to the listener. Amongst the brand new tracks, you’ll find Silverstein, Bayside, Four Year Strong, Chiodos, I Set My Friends On Fire, Former Thieves, Amely, Sparks the Rescue, Andrew Jackson Johad, Aficionado, and Fake Problems. Even better is that each of these new songs are great! Then, for those electronic lovers, you have a bevy of remixed tracks. If this is your sort of thing, then turn your attention to the remixes of Circa Survive, I See Stars, and Woe Is Me above the others. Amongst the acoustic version of older songs, you’ll find The Dangerous Summer, The Ready Set, We Are The In Crowd, and a couple others. The only real odd moment on this compilation comes from the cover songs. All Time Low chose to record an acoustic cover of “Alejandro” (originally by Lady Gaga), which seems like a strange choice. However, it came out great. You will also hear The Wonder Years cover The Weakerthens on the second disc of this volume. Overall, this is an excellent compilation that has a lot of cool stuff to offer fans of multiple genres. And, of course, the money spent purchasing this will go to a good cause, so bonus! – by Nathaniel Lay
Check out a SXSW video here of Anthony Green performing a new acoustic song, which has yet to be titled: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSbI1unwgEI&feature=player_embedded
ICARUS THE OWL
Icarus The Owl is one of those bands that should have been picked up by a label long ago. Their debut full length, The Spotless Mind, released about a year ago and was quite amazing. With a sound similar to a more upbeat Circa Survive or Jet Lag Gemini, Icarus The Owl are thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting. For their new EP, titled Qualia, the band has brought us four more fun tracks. The first one, “Mouse Trap”, is instantly energetic and bouncy. It is then followed by “Mythomaniac”, a song that band actually provided me with some six or more months ago. This track is so damn good, it is still my favorite song by them even after the hundreds of times I’ve played it through. The other two, “Vagabond” and “She Taught Me Minesweeper”, carry on this blend of fast and casual. While “Vagabond” has an extra emotional personality to it, “She Taught Me Minesweeper” takes it a step further by making a chorus that just raises your spirits and gets you moving. As a whole, Qualia is another success from an underrated band you should be playing. Icarus The Owl are destined for great things, so get to know them now before they blow up. (NL)
Following their recent third full length, Blue Sky Noise, Circa Survive have continued to please their fans with a brand new EP (sold both digitally and physically). The album, titled Appendage, features five new tracks: “Sleep Underground (Demo)”, “Stare Like You’ll Stay”, “Everyway”, “Backmask”, and “Lazarus”. If the song “Everyway” sounds familiar, that’s because the acoustic version of the track was a bonus on the deluxe Blue Sky Noise release. Why “Sleep Underground” is noted as a demo is beyond us, but the atmospheric opener does a great job in getting things started. It is then followed by “Stare Like You’ll Stay”, a song that has an alternative feel working for it. The acoustic version of “Everyway” had a slight bounce to it, but the full band version found on this EP doesn’t really. It is still a more reserved track in nature, but it relies more on beautiful melody than before. “Backmask” is the most diverse song on the EP, as it builds upon itself with each minute; the drums on this one really stand out above all else. Lastly, “Lazarus” brings things to a close with some almost sleezy feeling instrumentation and sly vocals. As a result, it feels quite interesting and unique. That being said, Circa Survive in general play very original music. Appendage is no different. This is an EP any fan should purchase upon its release. (NL)
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