In the entertainment industry, every musician’s dream is to be signed to a major record label, whether they’re still playing in their mom’s garage, opening for bands on tour, or playing moderate sized shows themselves. Atlantic Records, Island Records or even Warner or Universal Music Group having your back is supposed to open doors, making bands larger than life, with success comparable to The Beatles—or so they hope. That’s the generic, TMZ-run entertainment industry though.
Every indie musician’s dream is to be signed to one of those labels, realize that it hinders their creative spirit, and self-release their next album themselves. People were skeptical when Radiohead released “In Rainbows” on their own, rather than with EMI like their previous releases, but it ended up selling over 3 million copies in the first year. And with that, the self-released album became the preferable way of doing things in the indie world.
Experimental rock band Circa Survive is the latest to try this out with their fourth studio album “Violent Waves,” released on Aug. 28. The band wanted to capture their live sound without releasing a live album, so it was recorded in one week with minimal tweaking and editing, and produced and released by the band. This was ambitious, since their third album, “Blue Sky Noise,” was released on Atlantic Records and was their most successful release, both critically and commercially.
“Violent Waves” doesn’t stray too far from the sound that Circa Survive has created over the years. They have a sound all their own, which has never been successfully recreated by any other band. It’s dark and psychedelic like their previous releases, only more raw. Quite a bit more raw.
Between Circa Survive albums, front man Anthony Green released his own solo material and a few years worth of stuff with his other band The Sound of Animals Fighting. But none of those releases have come close to the passion that he exudes while performing with
“Violent Waves” takes listeners on a long journey through the tortured mind of Green, literally and figuratively, with the opening track, “Birth of the Economic Hit Man,” clocking at over seven minutes, and only two tracks on the album being under four minutes.
And if the music itself doesn’t do the trick, listen to the lyrics. This is not an album to listen to if you want to lift your spirits. He lets loose when appropriate, and holds back even more. It gives tracks like “Think of Me When They Sound,” a song about an ex-lover getting married, a more haunting sound.
Give this album a couple of listens before you form an opinion. Circa Survive in general is an acquired taste, like coffee or beer. There’s nothing else like them, so they take some getting used to. This album is spacier and bolder than their previous releases, which had to be fun for the band to create. “Violent Waves” is something new for old Circa Survive fans, and may also have the power to draw in some new ones.