Band: CIRCA SURVIVEGenres: Punk / Prog Rock / Post-Hardcore / Alternative
Related artists: The Sound Of Animals Fighting, Zolof And The Rock & Roll Destroyer, Jeer At Rome, Saosin, This Day Forward, Audience Of One, High And Driving, 200 North, Psychic Babble, Taken and Anthony Green.
Country: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
Years Active: 2004-present
Song: "The Lottery"
Album: "Violent Waves"
For fans of: The Sound Of Animals Fighting, Saosin, Coheed And Cambria, Moving Mountains, The Mars Volta, (newer) Cave In, Glassjaw, Stephen Brodsky, Little Tyrant, Waxwing, La Parade, (newer) Standstill, Manchester Orchestra, Brand New, Radiohead, Guiltmaker, Muse, The Killers, Anthony Green, Thrice and Canvas.
Label(s): Self Released / Equal Vision Records / Atlantic / Sumerian Records / Music Alternatives
This post's artist is from the November 2015 Mix. This is track #6.
This post's artist is from the November 2015 Mix. This is track #6.
CIRCA SURVIVE. Yep. They've been around for quite some time now (a decade as of this writing) and were talked about in the music world relatively quickly, as Anthony Green was the frontman for Saosin and twas the night before a tour began when he decided to walk away and start a rock outfit with Colin from the recently deceased This Day Forward. Green ditched the screaming for purely melodic tones and it ended up working out really well...most of the time. CIRCA SURVIVE has released quite a bit of material in the ten years they've been together so I will focus on their work from a full length album perspective rather than discussing individual songs or the entire discography, although killer songs will be touched upon.
CIRCA SURVIVE released two albums in 2005, a teaser EP called 'The Inuit Sessions' that housed a few tracks from the the band's first full length record and arguably best release, 'Juturna' as well as the exclusive tracks "Handshakes at Sunrise" and "Suspending Disbelief" which are fantastic songs and worth tracking down if you don't have them. 'Juturna'...holy shit. This stuff is vocally and instrumentally superior to 99% of stuff on the radio that it's actually taxing to listen to. The soaring vocals of Green reach insane pitches during his falsetto jaunts yet retains melodies so infectious you'll have to slather your ears in antibiotics. Although there are quite a few gems here, such as "Holding Someone's Hair Back", "The Great Golden Baby", "Stop the Fuckin' Car", "We're All Thieves", "Oh, Hello", "Always Getting What You Want" and the trippy lullaby "secret track", it's the stupid good songs that I'll quickly discuss in further detail. "Act Appalled" set the bar extremely high very early on in the band's career. This doozy is damn near perfect with angelic vocal melodies and heavier, darker instrumentation that takes the cake as the album's highlight. "In Fear and Faith" comes in a close second, although it is a very different song. It's upbeat but cautious simultaneously. The bass groove and, obviously, Green's vocals steal the show here and the two together have not had this effect since.
'On Letting Go' was a big let down for me, and I assumed the band was on their way out. The sophomore full length, simply put, seemed pretty lazy. There are a few exceptions, but 3:12 isn't a good ratio. Those exceptions are "Living Together", "In the Morning and Amazing" and "The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is in the Dose" with the latter two being downright excellent songs, especially "In the Morning and Amazing"'s chorus of, "this is wrong, this is wrong, I cannot sleep without the radio on." Although perhaps not the worst album in terms of good songs, I do find this to be the weakest overall release. Fans of the band may disagree with me, though.
2010's 'Blue Sky Noise' took me by surprise and was a darker and more varied journey than 'Juturna' but the vocal melodies and instrumentation were back on track. By the time the second song two rolls in it is quite apparent that this album is truly a different beast, as "Get Out" is a lively song with piercing vocals that trumps anything on the previous LP. "Glass Arrows" may surpass the prior song but track 4's "I Felt Free" is one of my all time favourite CIRCA SURVIVE cuts, as the chorus that first kicks in at 53 seconds is so fucking catchy and brilliant that it's stupid. The line of, "I fell apart in your arms for the last time and I felt free to do what I want because of the things you told me I felt free," is likely to lead you to madness via pleasure. Four more songs finish off the keepers from this LP: "Frozen Creek", "Fever Dreams", "Spirit of the Stairwell" and the fantastic "Imaginary Enemy" on which the vocal melody in the chorus is another jaw dropper and is basically the album's version of "In Fear and Faith". The acoustic versions of "Get Out", "I Felt Free" and "Dyed in the Wool" are worth a listen as well. The band's return to form was a very welcomed one from this camp.
In a surprise move, CIRCA SURVIVE dropped off all of their labels and self released 'Violent Waves' in 2012 with very little press. Although this record houses some great songs, the band's recent inconsistency became apparent with this release. The tracks seem to be either all or nothing in terms of sticking with me, and many didn't stick in a good way but instead stuck out like sore thumbs upon the first listen. That being said, this album deals out quite a few winning hands, the penultimate being track four's "The Lottery". This fucking banger is possibly the best written by the band to date and combines everything amazing about the band but has a heavy The Mars Volta vibe going on. Shit gets real when the chorus extends into the dual vocal back-and-forth at 1:40 that is both mesmerizing and mindboggling. "Sharp Practice" is another really good song that harkens the 'Juturna' era and combines it with spacey, semi-experimental and ever evolving CIRCA SURVIVE. "My Only Friend" has a rollicking good chorus that has Green hitting some great new falsetto territory and combining it with a near cracking of his voice using broken/dispersed patterns that just kill. "Blood From a Stone" is another good song that boasts a tranquil/soothing sound and pace.
Note to all bands everywhere, please don't start your album off with the best song - especially if it's by far the best song. The rest of the album is just a let down. So yeah, 'Denscensus' suffers from this affliction as the opener "Schema" is possibly the band's most aggressive song to date and absolutely rips. The rest of the album doesn't. "Child of the Desert" is pretty good with strong The Mars Volta influences yet again, which means it also sounds like The Sound Of Animals Fighting, "Sovereign Circles" is another track with some oomph and is worth mentioning.
So there's my relatively "short / pretty long" discography review of CIRCA SURVIVE. Regardless of any preconceived notions, this band (or at least certain songs) are definitely worth your time. There aren't many accurate comparisons in terms of bands that sound like CIRCA SURVIVE, so if for some reason you just read all that and are unsure of whether or not to check them out, just jam "The Lottery", "I Felt Free" and/or "Act Appalled" and let the band speak for itself, which will most likely blow you away.
2005 - The Inuit Sessions cd/12"EP (download here)
2005 - Juturna cd/12"LP
2007 - On Letting Go cd/12"LP
2010 - Blue Sky Noise cd/2x12"/12"LP
2010 - B-Sides 7"EP (does anyone have this?)
2011 - Appendage cd/12"EP (does anyone have this?)
2012 - Violent Waves cd/2x12"LP
2014 - Sunny Day Real Estate split 7" (does anyone have this?)
2015 - Descensus cd/2x12"LP
2015 - Juturna: Deluxe Ten Year Edition 2xcd
(2005) CIRCA SURVIVE - "Handshakes at Sunrise" (from 'The Inuit Sessions')
(2005) CIRCA SURVIVE - "Act Appalled" (from 'Juturna')
(2005) CIRCA SURVIVE - "In Fear and Faith" (from 'Juturna')
(2007) CIRCA SURVIVE - "The Difference Between Medicine and Poison Is in the Dose" (from 'On Letting Go')
(2010) CIRCA SURVIVE - "I Felt Free" (from 'Blue Sky Noise')
(2010) CIRCA SURVIVE - "Imaginary Enemy" (from 'Blue Sky Noise')
(2012) CIRCA SURVIVE - "The Lottery" (from 'Violent Waves')
(2012) CIRCA SURVIVE - "My Only Friend" (from 'Violent Waves')
(2015) CIRCA SURVIVE - "Schema" (from 'Descensus')
CIRCA SURVIVE random rare mp3/wma download / additional links