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Solid Brass

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Album Review

The quartet's second and final album, Brass shows the band fully in thrall of the wound-up aggro/artpunk demons that made them create such thrilling music. 'Post-hardcore' was the term most often thrown around at them in print — while an open-ended description, it does accurately imply the combination of sheer energy at play along with a desire to avoid the obvious strictures most hardcore and punk had long fallen into. Casebolt and Lorinczi make for a fine rhythm section, throwing in unexpected but sharp, brusque twists and turns throughout. They keep the beat going, but it's the addition of those quick changes that help make Circus Lupus really fun (inasmuch as said quartet were ever fun — maybe 'gripping' is the better word). Casebolt in particular has some nice fills she tosses in from time to time — not done to show off, but to increase the variety and texture. Meantime, Hamley's guitar runs from spindly, nervy feedback sheets to clench-yer-fists riffing — the brilliantly titled "I Always Thought You Were an A*****e" captures both well. The musicians always sound like they're building up to one fierce climax after another, an approach that's less tiresome or rote than might be thought. Everything sounds it really is about to wind up completely and then explode. Thomson, meanwhile, rants over the top of it all with appropriate, hoarse passion, often sounding barely able to contain his rage. If his lyrics sometimes read like bad poetry in print, his delivery, if not conventionally catchy, still has a strong, certain something. Consider his agonized questions about possible abuse on "Texas Minute" or his work on the fine cover of Theatre of Hate's "Heathen." CD versions of the album include an earlier single as bonus tracks, allowing a listener to compare the album and single takes of the band's best song, the searing, anthemic call-and-response "Pop Man."


Formed: 1990

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Circus Lupus was one of the many intelligent, fierce punk and punk-inspired groups signed to Washington's legendary Dischord label. Ironically, though, the band initially got its start in Madison, WI, where singer Chris Thomson had come to from D.C. to attend college. There he met drummer Arika Casebolt, guitarist Chris Hamley, and bassist Reg Schrader, releasing an initial single and doing various tours. A relocation to Washington was accompanied by a switch in bassists, with Seth Lorinczi taking...
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Solid Brass, Circus Lupus
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