Line and Circle - Vicious Folly EP

by Bill Golembeski Rating:6 Release Date:2017-12-01
Line and Circle - Vicious Folly EP
Line and Circle - Vicious Folly EP

Quite simply, fans of R.E.M.’s early records like Reckoning will love this five-song EP. Eric Neujahr’s guitar chimes all over the grooves; the music is urgent poppy rock, and Brian J. Cohen’s vocals do recall the memory of that almost-lost in the mix Michael Stipe enigmatic singing.

There’s little secret of the band’s admiration for tunes like “Harborcoat,” “Camera,” or “Pretty Persuasion.” But then, R.E.M. never made any bones about their love for Big Star. As Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. once said, “So it goes.”

And, just for the record, I am still a lifetime member in the Mott the Hoople fan club.

But in all fairness to Line and Circle, there is quite a bit of clever deception in this music. The cover is a Peter Flotner (I think I missed an umlaut there) series of playing cards from the 15th century depicting the more vulgar actions of humanity.

But then the music is upbeat, just like the jangly sound of R.E.M., Tom Petty, The Feelies, Biff Bang Pow!, The Go-Betweens, or the grandfathers of the “jingle-jangle morning ,” The Byrds.

The first song, “Man Uncouth,” declares the band’s revisionary intent. And really, it starts with an ode to space before the guitars enter. But there is an uncanny presence that underpins the song. There is a bit of important drama.  And, yes, the vocals sound at times like Stipe. But how many guys sing like Dylan? Badfinger sounded like The Beatles. The Who sounded like The Kinks. Marillion sounded like Genesis.

There are weird bands, from time to time, who surprise with an original sound. XTC and Wire come to mind.

But this one is sort of like buying new gloves that were exactly the same as the last pair. I don’t know. Sometimes a certain pair of gloves just fit with a nice comfort.

The second tune, “Vicious Folly,” is the title track and its title, once again, is in juxtaposition with the music. Except…once again, there is a depth that belies all the cheerful pulse of the tune.

“Who Runs Wild” is wide-open Americana that simply unfolds like the frontier.

Yeah, REM did the same thing.

But so did Dylan.

And yeah, so it goes.

The brief “Progress and Pain” uses tape loops to introduce “Mid Bloom” with even more jangly guitars and more Michael Stipean-vocals.

Look, we can all take the Christmas-specially priced gift of a DNA test. And we all come from somewhere. It’s in our genes.

So, lovers of the 80’s indie sound will love this. It’s an enjoyable time ride to that time. I suppose, with its human foibles cover and lyrics, it still speaks the truth of today, just like Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” did way back then when he started all this folky rock stuff.

Truthfully, this is simply a glimpse into the group’s future. Like any band, as Peter Gabriel once sang, “You are what you eat, so eat well.” And Line and Circle have dined well; but now they need to burn a few bridges, and build a few of their own within the realm of a lovely rock ‘n’ roll tradition.

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