The Slambovian Circus of Dreams – A Box of Everything (Red River Entertainment) review
Every once in awhile, you stumble across a great band that’s released a string of albums that you’ve never heard before. The Slambovian Circus of Dreams may be one such band. But, instead of chastising yourself for not discovering them sooner, get caught up with their new compilation, A Box of Everything.
The disc grabs tracks from four of their studio albums over the last 15 years, beginning with A Good Thief Tips His Hat in 1999 to The Grand Slambovians in 2011. Surprisingly, the music is consistently good throughout.
Despite their exotic moniker, the band’s gift is writing melodic tunes that evoke styles of the past, while never directly copying anything. Take “Tink (I Know It’s You),” with its chugging guitar and harmonica, it’s reminiscent of Nineties’ Tom Petty. Yet, when the chorus comes in, the slide guitar (played by Sharkey McEwen) sounds like a cross between David Gilmour and Duane Allman – it’s a spine-tingling moment.
Even if you own everything the band ever recorded, there’s still a couple of previously unreleased tracks – “Box of Everything,” which starts out delicate, before giving way to a big chorus featuring great harmonies and cello, is one of the disc’s finer moments.
It’s not often in a band that you notice each member’s unique contribution this closely. Lead singer Joziah Longo has the ability to embody different characters, depending on the song. He’s the twisted ring leader of a mad circus in “A Very Unusual Head,” and the guy that hasn’t slept in 48 hours on “Sunday in the Rain.” Longo’s multi-instrumentalist wife, Tink Lloyd, helps add deep textures to the songs – the accordion on “Rocket,” and the haunting cello on “Good Thief.” McEwen is the band’s secret weapon, adding passionate leads that soar to dizzying heights.
A welcome surprise is just how good everything sounds – it’s obvious these guys know their way around a studio. This is one of those albums that should really be enjoyed either on CD or vinyl. The earthy instruments don’t fully hit you on a compressed mp3.
While The Slambovian Circus of Dreams have been described as “Hillbilly Pink Floyd,” I think that sells the group short. True, there are a few songs that clock in at over nine minutes, but there are textures here that Floyd would never dare to explore. However, the one thing both bands have in common is the ability to write memorable songs (something that is certainly lost on many Floyd copy bands).
Box of Everything is an excellent introduction to a gifted band that deserves more publicity. —Tony Peters