Blue Sky Noise | Circa Survive

| Cadenza Music Editor

The cover of Circa Survive’s newest offering, “Blue Sky Noise,” features a haloed and toga-clad young man being eaten by a five-legged winged antelope monster with a dozen beady eyes and a tubular mouth. It plays a horn, rainbows shoot from its hide, and gravity pulls it in at least four directions. It’s certainly an arresting image, but one that is ultimately too incongruous and absurd to be taken seriously. So it is with the album’s music.

Circa Survive is a talented group, as is clearly displayed on 2007’s “On Letting Go.” But here they give off a vibe of trying too hard, and in doing so, the self-styled “experimental” band strays too far from the simultaneously atmospheric and driving post-hardcore punk that made their last album so successful.

There are moments reminiscent of their past work, notable for its dense arrangement and ebbing and flowing melodic lines. “Through the Desert Alone” is such a song, in which frontman Anthony Green’s (of The Sound of Animals Fighting and formerly of Saosin) overdubbed vocals float high above dueling guitar lines and busily thundering drums.

The first single, “Get Out,” is also a winner, a carefully crafted wrecking ball of a song that at first blush might sound like any other emo punk song, but with further listens reveals some interesting rhythmic figures at play and superb, if understated, guitar work by Brendan Ekstrom and Colin Frangicetto. The lyrics leave something to be desired, but they are delivered in Green’s unique voice—a high caterwauling style (never screamed) full of bite and urgency.

Such a voice is perfectly suited for the album’s up-tempo numbers and even finds a place among some of the more meandering, atmospheric tracks. Where it doesn’t belong is a mid-tempo ballad, such as “I Felt Free,” which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the last Linkin Park album.

This inconsistency is the biggest problem with “Blue Sky Noise.” For every fun or engaging song (“Fever Dreams”) there’s one that wastes time spinning its wheels (“Frozen Creek”), lacks harmony (“Spirit of the Stairwell” at a long 5½ minutes) or is just plain forgettable (“Imaginary Enemy”).

Each track sounds detached from the others in this collection of singles, which is not necessarily a weakness, but it points to Circa Survive’s over-ambition. The band is capable of great work, but rather than pursue their talents, they seem content to experiment with all of their musical impulses. When they get cooking, they’re great, but too many tracks never get off the ground. This is a perfect album to buy online, where you can separate the aural wheat from the chaff.

For fans of: Saosin, The Sounds of Animals Fighting, Chiodos
Tracks to download: ‘Get Out,’ ‘Through the Desert Alone,’ ‘Fever Dreams’

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  • Erik

    Steve Hardy is a hater too. Your last paragraph emphasizes the importance of this album. Circa Survive is transitioning from an emo-core, fly by night, who gives a damn that you slit your wrists because your girlfriend cheated on you band?…to progressive rock pioneers. They are not there yet, but these are the first steps.. a “collection of singles…capable of great work…experiment on their musical impulses?” Would you rather them put out a compendium of mush, bo decent at stuff and stay the course on musical acceptance? Where is the progression, not only in the band itself, but in music in general? I commend the risk taking, the experiments and the growth they have shown.

  • Erik

    You Kota are DUMB. Circa Survive, Saosin and the sound of animals fighting +whatever else I cannot think of right now, have been the same feeling in ALL their albums. ALL the cds in that style are repetetive, BLue Sky Noise is a well done album, not groundbreaking but well conceived, conceptual and complete. On Letting Go No. 1, BSN #2 and Juntura a far 3

  • Kota M.

    i agree this album was junk and i have been listening to circa for years love Anthony green he is a great artist but if you listen the songs on the cd are repetitive, he never wrote like that on his other cds, this cd is mainstream all the way, it was a waste of my money, but i wont give up on them i will buy there next cd if there is one.

  • john b.

    Picking on someone’s spelling makes for a weak and often ignorant.argument.

    This album is nowhere near as good as the two preceeding it. Yes, they are playing the label’s game of making an album full of singles that will appeal to the LOWEST common denominator. (Like many of the immature children responding here.)

    It’s simply a mediocre album. It’s not great. Better luck next time, if there is a next time.

  • Timsurvive

    You guys dissin on circa an shit is funny . First of all stop with the whole mainstream bullshit just because you don’t listen to mainstream doesn’t make you cool at all for what u like and don’t like. This album is golden and definitely should not be compared to linkin park. If your a real circa fan you would know that Anthony greens weird and would write the kinda shit that’s exactly on blue sky noise and wouldn’t care what any of you pathetic people have to say about it. Each song describes different things in deep inspirational context .. Fuck all u circa haters

  • nemz

    BLUE SKY NOISE ROCKS just as allll other circa survive albums ! And John .. You’re an idiot!!

  • joey

    Psyched for Circa Survive’s latest release Blue Sky Noise out 4.20.10
    definitely one of the more epic listens of the year.
    I got a bunch of the details at Illumina Records All Area Access

    http://illuminaallareaaccess.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6

  • Nathan Clowdus

    oh my name is john im a 13 year old girl who thinks i know everything! i bet you listin to shit. so shut up and dont dis circa.

  • John

    and if you read into it alternative press was paid for that rating you people really are dumbshits and im not wasting my time with ppl that have horrible generic taste.

    good reviews dont mean shit.
    who they come from does!

  • John

    Your right i am not a fan…anymore ive studied music for 13 years now, i think i know simple rythmics and A minor melodys when i hear them. Mathmatically this can be compared to a brittney spears song and that is a fact.

    verse/chorus/verse/chorus/(bridge optional)/chorus
    melodys are written off the backs of childrens nursery ryhms which is why you can understand them and enjoy….me well i have more safisticated taste.

    this album is junk and i bet everyone who likes it loves mainstream bands guarenteed!!!!!

  • scott

    “Juruta”? What’s “Juruta”? Oh, you mean “Juturna”? Yes, also an amazing record. Just as “Blue Sky Noise” is. Just don’t call OLG Orn Luttig Gew. Thanks.

  • joe beniek

    ***** This album is a masterpiece!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=213601574 Tom F

    For those who are interested in some additional reviews to balance Steve Hardy’s comments, here are some links. Also, the user comments at amazon.com are also worth reading.

    http://www.sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=36085

    http://www.absolutepunk.net/showthread.php?t=1653522

    http://www.examiner.com/x-44633-Berkeley-Live-Music-Examiner~y2010m4d22-Blue-Sky-Noise-is-much-more-than-just-noise

    PLUS: Alternative Press (to be published, Cover Story, May1, p.105) – 4.5 stars out of 5 – “Basically, Circa have learned to write straightforward rock songs without sacrificing a shred of what makes the band so fascinating.”

  • http://myspace.com/joshsgreatesthits JoshJuba

    Btw, if they can keep old fans, bring in new fans, keep their GENERAL sound and make a shitload of money while doing it, More power to them. They deserve it, more than alot of bands out there.

  • http://myspace.com/joshsgreatesthits JoshJuba

    Yes Juntra, and OLG were awesome. Thats…..around 20 songs of awesomeness. Thats a tough thing to follow. With that said, I dont….like….mainstream….I mean…I like………………..music. Wtf does mainstream have to do with liking music? Just because you like an album….means you have mainstream taste? Sounds like a Gnat thing to say. But anyway, I liked the album. I’d give it a 4 out of 5 like the “kid” said. The lyrics arent as in depth as their previous records, but they switched lables (to a major label), you have to dance the way they want you. If you take time to listen to any of the lyrics, you’ll understand why their sound is different. I dont mind their new sound at all. Its still Circa Survive. My fav. songs on the album ARE Frozen Creek, Dyed in the Wool, and Spirit in the stairwell. “Get out” is….ok….best song on the album? Hell no.

  • Nathan Clowdus

    hahahah typical rockkkk haha show me a song by a band that sounds like this that is mainstream….you must be a retarded … and you are a bad judge to claim i like mainstream by liking this album. you obviously just arnt a circa fan

  • John

    Im sorry but i am going to untastfully disagree with you, if you knew music at all you would understand why he compared it to linkin park, (typical rock, simple arrangements paired with over determined under achieved insturmentals that fall into a manistream melody arrangement) And that falls in order with that particular song.

    Read the rest of the reviews on this album and ppl tend to share his same view on this album. I wish i never preordered it i will stick with my previous loves Juruta and OLG.

    You may have a particular taste…..mainstream, thus you like this album and the positive views that follow your immature taste (13 year old brittney spears fans) and never cared for the talent of previous circa love this album. Thus justifying their search as a band for easier money when creating their easy to understand among people who dont know music… YOU!

  • Nathan Clowdus

    Im sorry but you are wrong. This album is great. Its Circa proving that they are professional musicians. You may not like those songs but if you listend to them and listened to every instrument and word you would understand who the band is and what ther sound is. yes all the songs are inconsitant but isnt that who Circa Survive is. Go listen to their other albums thats how they are too. All the songs being different is what makes this album a fun ablum to listen too. i rate the Album 4 out of 5. And what also makes you un suited for writing this article is that you mentioned Linkin Park….serously. Get someone new to write the review on this Album please someone who knows music.

  • Kevin

    I couldn’t disagree more. Frozen creek and I felt free add a dynamic layer to this cd and shines light on anthony’s interesting lyrical choices. They happen to be my favorite songs on the album for their uniqueness.