After insisting that everyone in 1980s Chicago did not, in fact, use the same drum machine, along comes Breaking Circus’s first EP to taint my credibility, yet again. The Roland TR-606 makes another appearance in the Midwest noise rock scene, leading me to believe that either everyone thought it sounded really sweet or was too lazy to find a reasonable drummer. Although I like the sound quite a bit when applied to those bands, it makes it a hell of a lot more difficult to not just say “sounds like Big Black!” immediately upon hearing this record. Well, I’m here to prove to you that Breaking Circus does not sound exactly like Big Black, but brings a much more melodic, yet MANLY SOUNDING (you’re relieved, right?) set of songs on The Very Long Fuse.
I say manly sounding, because this definitely has that sing-speak “I’m a steelworker, I kill what I eat” Chicago thing going on, and I hate anyone with feelings. However, there’s a little bit more than that occurring here, as evident in the second track, “(Knife in the) Marathon,” which seems to be fairly heartfelt, incorporates what seems to be an acoustic guitar, and according to the moderately deceitful Wikipedia, somewhat of a college radio hit. This is immediately followed by the atmospheric, keyboard-heavy “Lady in the Lake,” which stands out mostly due that, because the vocals are still in that manly speakin’ thing! Amazing.
These two tracks are the most extreme departures from what you would expect from an album with cover work by Steve Albini, but that’s not to say some of these mechanics aren’t worked into the other, more (Chicago) punky sounding songs. I’d like to say more, but I think I’ve said “Chicago punk” and “manly” far too many times already, but if you’re into that sort of thing, The Very Long Fuse is very (LOL) worth checking out. Just don’t expect it to BLOW YOUR MIND, unless your mind is blown by something being unexpectedly enjoyable.
SIDE NOTE: I have two full lengths on deck in my mind to review next, so my next two updates (at least) shouldn’t take eight years to be posted like this one.
Break your circus all over the place with this link:
Congratulations America, I’m pretty sure this is the most recently recorded album to be reviewed on your favorite blog, Records and Beer.
The Narrator is a band hailing from Chicago, and I’m not going to lie to you- I have no idea what the band members’ names are at this moment in time, nor am I going to take the time to look them up- and the reason I’m not going to look them up is ’cause they just sound like “dudes.” And by “dudes,” I mean that the guy singing sounds like he comes from the Tim Kinsella school of ROCK. Does the fact that they happen to be on Flameshovel Records influence him to sing a bit like Mr. Kinsella? Who knows. What I do know is that this album is totally overlooked, even though it was (shockingly) reviewed on Pitchfork and given a pretty good rating. Oh, and I like this album because it just kind of sounds like 90s rock.
So yeah, I guess because it sounds like “90s rock,” it’s not really anything groundbreaking, but goddamn did I listen to the shit out of this a couple years ago. The mood is definitely “hopeful, yet apathetic,” which is something I (and hopefully YOU) can rock and roll to. Also, I’m pretty sure I stole the part about them being apathetic from a review of this album I read somewhere else once, so please forgive me for the unoriginal thought. Anyway, back to the whole 90s rock thing. This is pretty much all guitars- bass-drums stuff, with nothing particularly standing out in the mix except some occasional out-of-nowhere vocal hooks.
There are some songs about going nowhere in life, having not really accomplished anything in life, smoking a joint with your sister, a cover of a weird Bob Dylan song from that Self Portrait album no one likes, and “Surf Jew,” which better have been a goddamn single, because it sure sounds like that’s what The Narrator was trying for, and it rules. If there is one song that I can say, “Hey, this may interest you in listening to this album,” then by Jove, that one is it. That up-and-down bass line, palm muting, raspy-vocals-in-the-chorus, “anthemic but not quite as downtrodden as the rest of the album” quality really makes it the focal point of the album. Not that the other songs are shitty, mind you, as that is immediately followed by “Panic at Puppy Beach,” which, despite the chorus sounding blatantly like early Modest Mouse, is quite good as well, and almost touching, until you realize how depressing and occasionally mean-spirited the lyrics are.
And there you have it, I can pound out an incredibly vague review in a small amount of time when I’ve had a few beers feel the need to accomplish something. Honestly, I was just listening to this really loudly while I was driving around a couple of weeks ago and felt the need to put it up here even though I don’t really have anything constructive to say about it. Also, I first heard of it from someone ELSE’S blog! How charming and appropriate. I know, this might not have been up to par, but believe me, I can’t always pump out stuff as engrossing as that “I gave you absolutely no reason to be interested in this” Alice Donut review I did last time.
Don’t let THIS unreliable narrator steer you towards a WALL- download the album here (ROFL- books):