ART ROCK CIRCUS
Guitars and backing vocals
Vocals & keys
Ken Wenzel. Sax
Erica Syroid. Violin
Stranger of My Find
b. passage to clear
Shadows Of Style
Goodbye The Lie
Cosmic Cobwebs and Lollipops
Stranger Of My Friend (reprise)
This is the new release from The John Miner's "Art Rock Circus" released this year 2001 on the Tributary Music Label. On first listening to this album the thing that hit me was its quaintness, with the sound coming across as somewhat like the recent releases by Alloy Now and Plastic Overlords (minus the progressive influences). In other words this has a retro sound with, at times, a laid-back feel although once again the sound is a bit thin as was John's previous release "Heaven's Cafe".
Having two vocalists and the added voice of John Miner, who also chips in with the occasional dialogue, gives this album only a slight rock opera sound compared to his previous full blown rock opera "Heaven's Cafe". The vocalists bring in their own individual presence which is where the rock opera influence stems from as each singer seems to live the character they are portraying. Karen Rene'e is the first vocalist to appear, her voice has more of a whine to it and, with its jazzy style of delivery, takes a few plays to get into but once you get familiar with the story line you begin to get into the individual characters and voices.
Karyn Anderson, however, has a more pleasing voice, very '60s/'70s sounding especially on the superb folky "Shadows Of Style". This is one of those floaty kind of songs that the under rated Melanie got her trade mark from back in the '60s/ '70s. This mood continues on the following "Goodbye The Lie" although this has slightly more of a rock approach but still retains the previous track's qualities, albeit with a more vulnerable vocal style. This is a very reflective song with a haunting air about it.
When the rock opera sound really surfaces it has a jazzy feel to it as can be found on "Strange" and especially on track 3, "Underground", more so when the violin enters, this is a very diverse track. The most out and out opera songs are "Cosmic Cobwebs And Lollipops" and "Poetic Injustice" (especially with the presence of the dialogue on the latter).
After the initial first few plays I tended to forget the rock opera influence and basically I began to concentrate on the straight rock approach especially on the opening tracks "Stranger Of My Find" and "The Promise". This album does begin to grow once you get into the mood and spirit of it. America seems to be into this retro sound at the moment and it is a welcome change in small doses. You can't help but appreciate the recreation of rock music of yesteryear. 78%....Terry Tucker
A PASSAGE TO CLEAR