AbsolutePunk.net

AbsolutePunk.net (http://www.absolutepunk.net/forum.php)
-  Reviews (http://www.absolutepunk.net/forumdisplay.php?f=166)
  -  Circa Survive - On Letting Go (http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=240519)

Steve Henderson 05/28/07 12:33 PM

Circa Survive - On Letting Go
 
Circa Survive - On Letting Go
Release Date: May 29, 2007
Record Label: Equal Vision


There can be a great deal of expectations for a sophomore record - especially when a lot of people questioned if said record would ever even come to fruition. Luckily for fans, Circa Survive is indeed the “real deal” and not just some one-off creative sidebar for prolific frontman Anthony Green. So, riding the wave of success from the well-received Juturna, and an exhaustive tour schedule, the band is back with the hotly-anticipated On Letting Go to show just where they have been the past two years and what they have brought back with them.

How On Letting Go is perceived as an album is going to be largely predicated on what sort of anticipations listeners have for the record, and this fissure will ultimately split the public on either side of the thumbs up/ thumbs down fence. For those out there that are expecting On Letting Go to be some sort of dramatic sea change – a quantum leap up from Juturna, you are likely to be disappointed. This is not to say that On Letting Go is nothing beyond Juturna 2.0 by any stretch, though. It is rather that with Juturna, Circa Survive established an elevated point of entry for themselves, and marked progression from that plateau is a difficult proposition. So, as we delve into On Letting Go, we see an interesting sort of dichotomy, as the work appears to be a bridge between where Circa Survive originated and some higher level altogether where they might be headed, but just aren’t ready for just yet.

One half of this split is evident in the album’s tracks that sound like they could well be Juturna b-sides. Cuts like “Living Together,” “On Letting Go,” “Close Your Eyes to See,” and “Your Friends Are Gone” all center around the blaring siren-like guitar wails, crackling percussion, and hypnotic vocals we have been exposed to thus far. Not a bad thing by any stretch for any fan of the band, but by the same token, this is a trait that will frustrate casual listeners looking for much more beyond previously-blazed trails.

While this familiarity is indeed present, it does not suffocate On Letting Go, as Circa still manages to flex its muscles on the other half of the record to break out of the mold they otherwise cast for themselves. This spirit is most notable on tracks like “In the Morning and Amazing,” a prog-anthem that rockets out of the gate on a furious riff and pulsing drum lines, or the shimmering “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is in the Dose” – the closest thing to a pop song the band has written, which still manages to juggle random, irreverent lyrics, thoughtful instrumentation, and believe it or not, the type of massive hook notably absent from Juturna. The same type of pop-flirtation peeks out on “Travel Hymn” – a bouncy, mid-tempo number and “Carry Us Away” – a more spacey number whose lonely verses converge and swell into epic chorus arrangements. These numbers do not, however, signify the band pandering to the mainstream throughout, as they test even their own boundaries on other tracks yet. From the funky verse breakdowns of “Mandala” to the concussive guitar blitz of “Semi-Constructive Criticism,” new territory is explored, and opens the door for the magnificent “Kicking Your Crosses Down.” Arguably the most ambitious track the band has penned to date, the song combines lonely, melodic guitar notes over a pressing drum pulse to underscore Green’s otherworldly, sensual delivery – ingredients which are all shaken and stirred into an urgent, theatrical, and almost sunny chorus. The tune ends up being both unexpected and wholly appreciated for being such.

So, as the songs themselves can be analyzed on their own, the question remains how the record’s overarching aspects perform. In this arena, there is little surprise. Vocally, Anthony is absolutely stellar – he resumes his spot on a perch above all imitators in the scene, and provides a performance that is in line with his impressive back-catalog of work – that is to say, he is still the best out there, bar none. There is a reason straight dudes have man-crushes on Green, and his performance on this album does nothing to dissuade these inappropriate thoughts. Likewise, Nick Beard, Colin Frangicetto, Brendan Ekstom, and Steve Clifford are all at the tops of their games, limited less by skill, and more by the creativity of their constructions. The way the band layers their unassuming contributions lends the songs an uncharacteristic lasting appeal, entirely too uncommon in today’s music. Finally, to bring the entire package together, Brian McTernan’s production of On Letting Go is absolutely top-notch as well. From the crisp drum notes and diverse guitar tones he is able to massage out of Circa’s relay to the tasteful mix of the finished product, it is clear that McTernan is doing some jaw-dropping work this year (along with The Graduate’s Anhedonia).

While we are becoming a society afflicted with ADD, it is refreshing to see bands like Circa Survive that continue to give us music that hooks us early, but still values the prospect of rewarding us each time we come back. On Letting Go might not be the game-changer that Juturna was, but it is still an inviting exhibition by one of the scene’s most talented bands honing its skill sets. Pick this album up, and listen to it ten times before you make your judgment on it – if you do not find something new to love on each spin, you are not listening hard enough. All in all, when the record is finished, it sounds like Circa Survive picked just the right time to let go.


Recommended if you like: Saosin, The Sound of Animals Fighting, Facing New York, The Mars Volta, Coheed and Cambria, Portugal the Man

Blake Solomon 05/28/07 12:43 PM

wowza, i hope you have your armor on, steve.

sirensiren 05/28/07 12:43 PM

great review/great album

iamtaylorrr 05/28/07 12:43 PM

great review, definately impressed with how this summer is going for music so far.

Steve Henderson 05/28/07 12:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by utman8 (Post 6633110)
wowza, i hope you have your armor on, steve.

Yeah I know I am going to get shit on for this - the haters will be here in no time. Oh well.

Drew Beringer 05/28/07 12:45 PM

Good review, don't think I agree with the score, although I dig the album.

sirensiren 05/28/07 12:47 PM

in the "for fans of" thing it says, Facing New York. i've never heard of them, what type of music is it?

captainamazing4 05/28/07 12:47 PM

amazing review. very good job :]

blinkdude127 05/28/07 12:48 PM

Facing New York really good band, also great review completely agree with the score

bankrom 05/28/07 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sirensiren (Post 6633141)
in the "for fans of" thing it says, Facing New York. i've never heard of them, what type of music is it?


maybe go listen to them?

Blake Solomon 05/28/07 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve Henderson (Post 6633127)
Yeah I know I am going to get shit on for this - the haters will be here in no time. Oh well.




well, im certain that you have already gotten your point across 100 times better than any of the people coming in here to hate.

Mitch 05/28/07 12:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drew Beringer (Post 6633132)
Good review, don't think I agree with the score, although I dig the album.


Agreed.

Drew Beringer 05/28/07 12:56 PM

Living Together is the best song on the album, btw.

Steve Henderson 05/28/07 12:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drew Beringer (Post 6633198)
Living Together is the best song on the album, btw.

Really? I disagree with that.

Mitch 05/28/07 01:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Drew Beringer (Post 6633198)
Living Together is the best song on the album, btw.


Easily. I love that damn guitar in it.

Steve Henderson 05/28/07 01:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sirensiren (Post 6633141)
in the "for fans of" thing it says, Facing New York. i've never heard of them, what type of music is it?

Ch-ch-check it out:

http://www.myspace.com/facingnewyork

sweetforever 05/28/07 01:07 PM

very well written review, I dig this album.

Hobby 05/28/07 01:10 PM

90% for Juturna redux? lol. I thought reviews were supposed to be fair and unbiased?

Steve Henderson 05/28/07 01:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hobby (Post 6633297)
90% for Juturna redux? lol. I thought reviews were supposed to be fair and unbiased?

Did you read the review? Guessing not...check back after you do.

xjustinx 05/28/07 01:13 PM

Still trying to get into this.

sirensiren 05/28/07 01:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve Henderson (Post 6633228)

they're pretty good. they remind me of Dance Gavin Dance, a lot.

TxRepresent 05/28/07 01:14 PM

Great review, I am one of the straight dudes with a crush on Green for sure.

Vismund_Cygnus 05/28/07 01:16 PM

Just a few hours away...

...I'm definitely picking this album up tomorrow after work.

krishasaheadake 05/28/07 01:16 PM

nice review

mutualaddiction 05/28/07 01:18 PM

You read my mind with that review. Circa is definitely the kind of band you have to listen to multiple times before their songs really land, and its hard if not impossible to get people to listen to an album ten times if they've made their judgment from their first listen.

And I also agree with your description of "kicking your crosses down." That song and "Mandala" are probably my two favorite on the album.

Hobby 05/28/07 01:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve Henderson (Post 6633318)
Did you read the review? Guessing not...check back after you do.

Yes. And, although it's a well written review, I just don't see how releasing a near identical album two years later still justifies such a high score.

Steve Henderson 05/28/07 01:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hobby (Post 6633384)
Yes. And, although it's a well written review, I just don't see how releasing a near identical album two years later still justifies such a high score.

I understand what you are saying, but in the categories we grade on, they deserve that score, I feel. What would you mark down?

Corsair 05/28/07 01:24 PM

This is a really good review. I definately feel that the guitarists stepped it up on this album. It took a day to get used to this album, but now I'm hooked for sure.

Best tracks are probably "Living Together", "Semi-Constructive Criticism" and "Carry Us Away"

bobbo8 05/28/07 01:28 PM

Kicking Your Crosses Down, and Your Friends Are Gone are my favorites, I fucking love the guitars in both songs.

tacosforcharles 05/28/07 01:30 PM

Looking forward to this...

dildonicsboy 05/28/07 01:33 PM

Well-written review, it points out much of what I felt with this album, except my rating would be about a 5. Yes it has its moments, but I just don't see my self listening to this album in a month. Juturna was great (I listened to it yesterday and still love it), but this album seems to be the meaning of "Deja Entendu" (sorry for a lame Brand New drop). This was by far one of the biggest disappointments of the year for me. I know this band has fanboys/girls like no other, but c'mon this band has so much more potential. They might as well do what Streetlight Manifesto did to Keasbey Nights if they are thinking of releasing another album that is almost identical.

Praetor 05/28/07 01:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hobby (Post 6633297)
90% for Juturna redux? lol. I thought reviews were supposed to be fair and unbiased?

You're an idiot. By definition, no opinion can be unbiased.

This was pretty much an amazing review, Steve. Props.

eclipsegts1 05/28/07 01:37 PM

I can't wait for the new album, I'm actually waiting to hear it compared to other albums I didn't wait to listen for.

theDrivingSnow 05/28/07 01:43 PM

Circa Survive sounds nothing like The Mars Volta. And I agree that "Living Together" is the best song on the album.

TheCrazyFox22 05/28/07 01:44 PM

Extremely well written review, but the end made me feel that the writer felt his opinion was absolute ("if you don't find something new with every spin, you aren't listening hard enough"). Kinda icky.

Praetor 05/28/07 01:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by theDrivingSnow (Post 6633594)
Circa Survive sounds nothing like The Mars Volta. And I agree that "Living Together" is the best song on the album.

I think he meant that it sounded like TMV in the experimentation respect, not necessarily the overall sound.

Steve Henderson 05/28/07 01:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by theDrivingSnow (Post 6633594)
Circa Survive sounds nothing like The Mars Volta. And I agree that "Living Together" is the best song on the album.

Never said they did. Said "Recommended if you like." Big difference amigo.

Steve Henderson 05/28/07 01:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheCrazyFox22 (Post 6633599)
Extremely well written review, but the end made me feel that the writer felt his opinion was absolute ("if you don't find something new with every spin, you aren't listening hard enough"). Kinda icky.

Hehe, didn't mean to sound like that. I'll try to be less "icky" next time :-)

lauren<3s music 05/28/07 02:02 PM

great review and awesome cd. the more you listen to it the more it grows

snowtires 05/28/07 02:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by theDrivingSnow (Post 6633594)
Circa Survive sounds nothing like The Mars Volta. And I agree that "Living Together" is the best song on the album.


they do if you like albums with dudes noodling on guitar for 80 minutes

butt_code 05/28/07 02:05 PM

awesome review steve. ohh and nice closing sentence "All in all, when the record is finished, it sounds like Circa Survive picked just the right time to let go." nice job A+++++

ship of fools 05/28/07 02:16 PM

every cicrca survive song sounds exactly the same, old or new album

Steve Henderson 05/28/07 02:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ship of fools (Post 6633817)
every cicrca survive song sounds exactly the same, old or new album

Not even close.

Poochemist 05/28/07 02:22 PM

I'm surprised about the 10 for vocals. I know Green is good, but probably not better than his instrumental counterparts in the band. I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out for sure.

Steve Henderson 05/28/07 02:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Poochemist (Post 6633872)
I'm surprised about the 10 for vocals. I know Green is good, but probably not better than his instrumental counterparts in the band. I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out for sure.

For me, it is just hard to imagine anyone else signing on this record like Anthony does, and that is why I scored his vocals so high.

Poochemist 05/28/07 02:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve Henderson (Post 6633893)
For me, it is just hard to imagine anyone else signing on this record like Anthony does, and that is why I scored his vocals so high.


I'll give you that, man. It can't be reproduced.

concernedparent 05/28/07 02:29 PM

90? hahah. alright then.

wellhello 05/28/07 02:32 PM

dang, i wasnt expecting that high of a score. good review dude.

tedE 05/28/07 02:46 PM

The band themselves said they don't like how the production/mixing turned out and how they didn't want a Juturna 2.0 even though thats how it turned out. So how about all you haters STFU, considering even the band recognizes the album's faults?

CircaSin 05/28/07 02:48 PM

I think this whole argument about people not liking the new album is like a damned if they do damned if they dont situation..
If a band changes it's sound to something different people claim they soldout to a more likable sound, while people that like it say they just matured...

I mean how else would you like to hear Mr Green? You want pop go listen to him in early Zoloff. You want acoustic go see him solo and download the old high and driving demos. You want to hear him screech, listen to TSOAF ep, you want him to wine and scream like a scene band you have the saosin ep. This is Circa Survive, this is what they sound like.

Circa first off didnt make the same cd twice, even the songs like living together or on letting go (ones you said sound like Juntura B-sides) I don't feel sound like any other song on Juntura. The guitars are much more apparent and outfront in this cd, the production more crisp, the chorus' a bit more planned, not as much a mood record as it is an all together rock record...Last record they had obvious stand out songs that could be plucked out of the cd (act appalled, oh hello, stop the car, house of leaves) this one feels more like one solid flowing cd. All in all they've kept their sound but the songs still have a different sound and can be differentiated.

I feel if people hate this cd and liked juntura, they must of just had some pent up hate towards them for their fan base maybe, because i dont see how making a cd with solid music while staying true to their sound is a bad thing...it's still one of the best releases thusfar this year, and I think got a far lower score than it deserved to other cds i saw that were given better scores (an angle? are you serious?)