Reviews Circles When the Big River Floods

Circles

When the Big River Floods

When the Big River Floods sounds like Circles recorded it in a basement while drunk. Rough and ragged, the influences that are melted together to form the seven song mini-album slur their way along through confused drum-rhythms, low mix horns and a hell of a lot of rock, country, folk, and jazz. But not in a way that's ever really been done before. It's not the good-old-time rock and roll of Van Morrison / The Eagles / Lynard Skynard et al/, it's more like a strung-out ...Trail of Dead meets Modest Mouse meets some brass band, meets psycho-yelling, meets mental-patient cool... When the Big River Floods is just music and mayhem. Madness let loose and formed into seven very different songs that hold themselves together just well enough to work as a collection. Everything could be by a different band, but it isn't. Circles are just good enough to get away with the dramatic, stylistic shifts that so many try to create and fail miserably in their attempts to do so.

"Circles" is a song that's just some Hendrix-like guitar weirdness. "Something the Cat Dragged In" has some ...Trail of Dead ambience that always feels like teetering over the edge and into madness but never quite does. "Song for the Suburbs" is Belle and Sebastian gone punk. "Ghost Town" is unleashed fury, disturbed yelling and plenty of split brass notes with some Minute Men in there somewhere. Everything on When the Big River Floods could be familiar, but it never actually is. Even with influences that are there to be heard, Circles have managed not to sound anything like any of them.

Hints of Modest Mouse and Hendrix, hints of ...Trail of Dead, hints of Minute Men... It's all somewhere to be found in a sound that ranges from deranged to almost scary. Unhinged, improvised and uncontrolled, it crashes around in the dark not really looking for something and not really finding it anyway. Circles are rough the way so many bands try to be rough. Interesting and enigmatic the way so many other bands try to be enigmatic and interesting. With When the Big River Floods, Circles have managed to create something implausible and self-contradictory. Something that so many have tried to create and so few have actually managed. Justice demands a bigger audience.

9.3 / 10Neil F.
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