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:
Shellac’s first release was The Rude Gesture: A Pictorial History, which among other things (one other song), included “The Billiard Player Song” (perhaps their best song to date) and “The Rambler Song.” The latter of which still kicked ass- as much as a song comprised of one chord and a bunch of feedback could, anyway.
This release contains an alternate version of “The Rambler Song,” released several years later, and holy hell is it awesome. Produced even more minimally than the original, which seems impossible considering Shellac recordings are all incredibly minimal, this version sounds like it was recorded after an inspired by a marathon session of listening to ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres. I’m fucking serious, go back and listen to that album, specifically focusing on “Sheik” and “Master of Sparks” and tell me that it doesn’t resemble that album at all- I dare you. I dare you at the expense of losing nothing. This new production, coupled with adding a few extra notes to the song somehow simultaneously makes you feel like sportin’ some cheap sunglasses, yet feeling oddly emotional at the same time- and the song is just about a goddamn car! AND THERE IS A KEYBOARD PART AT ONE POINT! None of these things are contained in normal Shellac songs, which is why I thought it was worth highlighting.
I don’t really know much about Mule, except that some of them were in the Laughing Hyenas (I have one of their albums) a few years before. Apparently Mule is bluesier. “Beauteous” is produced with the same vibe as “Rambler Song,” except the vocalist is a little more nasal-y and traditionally blues-ish sounding. Apparently it was also recorded before, but basically sounds the same except with a different mix. I didn’t really write this review for that one, though. Sorry, Mule. Not a bad song though!
Ramble around right here, pal: