James Gordon is no newcomer to music. He has played shows all over the UK and Europe and also has been able to teach many students. After parting ways with his last band Gordon went at it alone and recorded Circus.
Gordon did all the recording and production and the results are quite impressive. The vocals sound polished and the distorted guitars while are meaty and girth-y mid-range. A little bit more definition in the low-end may have helped even further but even that's arguable.
It seemed obvious to me that roots of Circus could be traced back to ‘80s rock. Gordon not only has a vocal delivery that is similar to a fair amount of vocalists from that era but the hooks and general structure certainly can bare comparisons as well. The album opens with “I'm Your Monster.” Do you hear the ‘80s rock opera style chorus? Take a dash of Meatloaf, Ozzy Osbourne and Scorpions and you aren’t too far from what this sounds like. I happened to enjoy what I heard. Gordon certainly doesn’t sound like contemporary mainstream rock and is very far away from Pitchfork-approved rock bands.
“I Know it Hurts” is the ballad on the album. It is a piano led song that feels inspiration and hopeful. The orchestral strings are a nice touch, which are used sparingly. Lyrically, Gordon paints a very clear picture about experiencing pain and recovering. The lyrics aren’t particularly poetic but instead slice through any ambiguity with vivid imagery. Gordon shows off his skill on lead guitar on this song and he certainly has some talent in that area.
“Old Lover's Ghost” is straightforward rocker that doesn’t need much explanation while “Smile Before You Die” is even faster and more intense. Both songs continue to showcase Gordon's soloing skills and both also have a catchy chorus that are memorable. Gordon changes things up for “For the Love of the Game” which felt like classic, huge arena rock. I say that as a compliment. The chorus will certainly be appreciated by Journey fans.
Circus was an enjoyable EP that displayed consistently solid songwriting. I encourage everyone to give it a spin but I have a feeling it will resonate most with people over the age of thirty.
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