Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bad Circus: Sense Of Motion

Imagine watching a muted television screen filled with static. Now unmute. The void is now a sensory overload of white, anarchic noise. In an era where information is a click away, we are clogged with a smorgusborg of voices competing for the coveted labels of “fact” and “truth,” only some of which achieve such status; self-governance is an obstacle and social media is now the static (cue Facebook statuses and Tweets everywhere). Bad Circus alludes heavily to this concept in their first EP, Sense Of Motion, where their mix of sounds and textures blast them into a more experimental realm filled with whimsy and edge.
Formed in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Banner Elk, North Carolina in ­­­­2009, Bad Circus sculpted their sound as a loose jam rock quartet, whose muses range from Widespread Panic to Pearl Jam. Comprised of brothers Will and Taylor Smith on vocals and bass, respectively, Gary Addison on lead guitar, and Mitch Heishman on drums, they uprooted from the tranquil mountains and into the hustle and bustle of Raleigh. Thus, Sense Of Motion, is a collaborative effort by all band members to depart from their jam band roots and to explore more deeply the heavier sounds and concepts of the avant-garde realm in which they have established themselves.
As their first EP, the album’s concept alluded heavily to Ray Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451 – set in a dystopian world where television is the main course and books are left on the backburner to char. Sense Of Motion is loaded with samples of frenzied sounds and narrations paralleling the novel’s chaotic world of uncontrollable word vomit. This decoupage of the band’s experience mirrors the collage of sounds and textures through a more electronic medium.
The album’s musical arrangement, with edgier tracks like the rasp-bluesy “Mechanical Hound Blues” and the wispy “Snow Covered Island” is a testament to the band’s departure from their roots and toward something new and visionary. The simple lullaby “Strange World,” a lo-fi track composed of airy guitar strums is a contrast from the epic progressions and digital sounds prevalent throughout the album. Smith’s faint vocals gently croon, “This strange world that I call mine/teaches us to occupy our minds,” as if the perpetual noise from media’s static has drowned out his voice.  Surprisingly, the interludes “Elm City” and “Parlor Walls” were more of a tease than complete, independent tracks, as they both would have added that extra electronica spice to the album’s mix. The fusion of electronic, acoustic, and climactic progressions similar to My Morning Jacket (“Touch Me I’m Going To Scream, Part 2”) brings a more futuristic feel, channeling the sporadic sampling of Hi Fi Killers supported by jam roots.
Bad Circus is on the up, as they have a lot of room to play around with different styles and sounds. As a band that is driven to make music their day jobs, these explorers clearly understand that change is the only constant.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Feast on RVA Hedonism

With a bit of oddball timing and a peach moonshine buzz, I was able to show my girls, ZannyEm and LibLove, Richmond hedonism of getting dolled up, grubbed down, and grooved on all on a Thursday night.

Starting out with a hurricane of exploding suitcases - 4 pairs of shoes for a one night fest?
Eh, traveling light is overrated - gotta have your options on the road.
A mish-mash of flapper, goth, ballerina, and even disco - we find our evening attire amidst the mini consignment shop that became my room.
**Props to the navy leather chain-mail top courtesy of ZannyEm's mama -- paired on top of a vintage Victoria's Secret white lace leotard and an American Apparel blazin blue pair of disco pants with grey suede Apepazza knee highs - one of my favorite ensembles to date**

Funky Fraiche 

Bootlegged, we stomped on over to Ipanema -- RVA's finest in South American-style vegan dining. Sipping on margaritas and munching on polenta fries dipped in kalamata ketchup (one of the best twists on a condiment as I've never met an olive I didn't like) and jalapeno and queso fresco pupusa cakes paired with salsa (a mouthful in many ways).
The braised tofu sandwich is a staple-- whatever they do to this bland-tasting block of soy is a pure gastronomical delight - tastes like chicken! (An omnivore's comparison as my compadres are vegan). The tempeh with black beans and greens were a favorite -- vegan comfort food at it's finest!

With bellies on the brink of a food coma, we paid our bill (around 30 bucks each for appetizers, entrees, and drinks) and headed out to work off the itis at my own version of a gym: dancing at the Camel (shout out to the bouncer for offering to hold on to our savory leftovers, while we cut a much needed groove)

The three of us had no problem carving out a boogy spot as Yarn played some good ol' fashioned blue grass that makes you dance with a twang. Pair it with some bourbon and we might as well be back in the Blue Ridge mountains (check out Sedalia, Virginia).

Come 2 AM, the feast we saved was the creme fraiche on a delectable pupusa cake of a night!