Circus of the West - We'll See Ourselves Out (2017)

Written by Pamela Bellmore, posted by blog admin

We’ll See Ourselves Out is the righteous debut from Minneapolis rockers Circus of the West.  Sounding like a lost record from the golden era of guitar-focused rock n’ roll, influences of everyone from American Flyer to The Outlaws to The Ramones to early Deep Purple to Joy Division and just about any great band that musicians are still attempting to recapture in the modern age come through loud and clear on this masterpiece’s 11 tracks.  There’s something for everybody here and thanks to immaculate performance, arranging, composition and production we’ve got a vintage debut that’s not trying to be retro for the sake of it. 

A bouncing, buoyant bass groove dished up by Jason Kapel adds thrust to the psychedelic organ intro of “Birdhand” and off the Circus goes into crashing, punk-leaned twin guitar runs while vocalist/keyboardist Edwin Caldie puts his back into a multi-faceted vocal disposition full of soaring highs, lower melodies and some great two/three part harmonies.  A breezy, trotting bass line and tender yet gritty blues/country vocalizations settle “Some Connections” in for the groovy long haul.  Anthem-ready guitar trade-offs go for atmospheric shots and bustling leads alongside the rich wall of keyboards and the pivotal, melodic vocal harmonies in the chorus.  It’s a laidback rocker that’s equal parts mind and muscle. 

“Boxes” takes folk/country acoustic guitar licks and implants them into upbeat post-punk crunch that’s all about taut snare drum cracks and looping bass lines.  It’s the intersection where Rare Bird, The Ramones and Hum meet to trade musical tales.  The chorus is a shot of progressive, Midwestern space rock that they just don’t make anymore, although Circus of the West interjects a bluesier, folksier bent to it.  Saloon ivories, a fully featured vocal performance from Edwin Caldie and sparse electric/acoustic accompaniment render “Nothing Special” a fine slice of balladry that launches into screaming, riff-y hard rock with growly vocals for the finale. 
“Resurrection” sees drummer Alan Einisman greasing the wheels of some snare flash as the song is driven primarily by the drum/bass shock tactics of Alan and bassist Jason Kapel.  Searing, western guitar twang covers a lot of ground here from 70s burnt hard rock to good ol’ boy southern swinging.  The dusty, tumbleweed organ furthers the glorious crunch. 

Humming synthesizer and organ melodies yield organic sweetness to the romantic “Valentine Eye” where the vocals sooth, the guitars loop in ambience and the rhythms nary rise above a hushed pulse.  The remainder of the album is full of smashes with the bull-rushing punk/hard rock of “Looking In” combining excellent vocal harmonies with an overload of energy for a pure winner, “Finale’s” mixture of fiery guitar riffs and theatrical piano/vocals, “Asma’s” Texas shuffles beats and post-punk/ska leaned infectiousness, “More” ruling over the ballad turf and album ender “Epilogue” a brief yet affected piece of country minimalism. 

We’ll See Ourselves Out is one of the finest rock albums I’ve heard this year.  It just happens to be many other things as well, giving it a progressive rock feel in 2017.  Unless you’re an elder statesman of the original rock n’ roll royalty that’s a rare thing nowadays.  Anyone who likes a hard-rockin’ dynamic display of sound is gonna love this one!