SPEAK EASY CIRCUS - LIONS SHOULD HUNT (single Jan 2021)
No excuses for being a mysoginist...
Six o'clock on a miserable Monday morning and I find myself desperately seeking salvation atop a mountain of new music submissions. It's not really happening today though, and I'm thinking I should probably head back down to base camp before breakfast.
To be frank, most submissions are a massive waste of time. They'll fanny about along the lines of - I am your biggest follower. I sense the connection between us. I am addicted to your spectacular playlist. I go crazy over it. I play it always to my friends - before invariably concluding with some bat-shit faux-pas such as... Here is my brand new loud and angry Hawaiian rap song that I have only just released (*seven years ago as it turns out). It will blow your listener’s mind and I feel it will be a most majestic addition to your 'calm and peaceful acoustic bagpipes' playlist.
However, from time to time, certain emails will pop up that can be stubbornly difficult to ignore. Emails admonishing one for being some sort of rampant misogynist, by way of an example, are always destined to catch my attention! And so it was that today that I found myself assailed by this singularly pointed, piercing, and frankly quite perplexing 'inbox' disapprobation.
"If you expect to live in a modern-day society then there are no excuses for being a misogynist piece of sh*t." - Jack Avison, Speak Easy Circus
Well, not to put too fine a point on it, this definitely placed a bull amongst my badgers, quickly flinging me into a spasm of moral delirium. Damn it if I didn't there and then resolve to make myself a better, nobler, deeper, broader sort of person than I may hitherto have been. Scarcely able to imagine what unwitting misdemeanour I may have perpetrated in order to become the recipient of such spurious contention, I found myself opening the offending correspondence in a high state of nervous trepidation.
But, joy of joys, I discover that I have done no wrong. This is simply another case of one of these modern popular musical groups advocating for their newest and shiniest euphonic offering. Speak Easy Circus would appear to be their assigned appellation, and that fine city of Glasgow seems to be their lair.
SpeakEasy - an illicit liquor shop or drinking club - I googled it! It sounds exciting... and so with that in mind, let's plunge into the joyful prismatic life of Speak Easy Circus.
If Glasgow has a jazz fusion scene, and I'm sure that it does, then these boys are probably somewhere near the pointy end of it. There's a jazzy and animated experimental indie/funk underpinning the earnest lyrical intelligence on display in 'Lions Should Hunt'. A splendidly unique musical amalgam and a candid take on the political zeitgeist might well set them apart from many of their peers. This is clearly a band imbued with missionary infection; a band that clearly wants to tell you something!
Quietly seething; having watched yet another advert involving scantily clad women selling goods on TV, and feeling affronted that so many people still seem able to buy into such a distorted view - of men as animals, only interested in sex, unable to control their basic primitive urges - Jack Avison, the band's singer and guitarist, determined to write a song expressing, in the strongest terms, his views in regard to this state of affairs. And believe me 'in the strongest terms' is no misnomer. This is a scathing polemic on a certain way of thinking, yet it's delivered with brio, vigour, and vivacity over an upbeat Panglossian rhythm of six-string, sax, and trombone.
And whilst this song is surely feelgood fodder to the footloose, there may well be those dancers among us who aren't entirely the kind of sassy soul that appreciates hoofing along to lyrics like 'blonde with big tits / fuck Everest' - so I hope that all the passion and anger (one of its greatest strengths) will not also come to embody its greatest weakness. One can only hope that foresight was engaged and that a radio-friendly edit of the song exists somewhere; otherwise, I fear that the radio police might well prevent it from getting the airplay it deserves.
Anyway quickly moving on, let's explore another of this song's great strengths - as delivered by that wonderful horn section - it's actually just Jon Wallace, the band's resident Sax magician, aided on this particular outing by trombone wizard Fenwick Lawson. Fen's a bit like a jackrabbit of the prairie, he's constantly popping up in this band or that band and surely must be one of Scotland's most esteemed trombonists by now. I met him a few years back plying his trade with Carlisle band Hardwicke Circus.
The last third of this song takes an unusual turn; there's a nice shift in the musical geometry, and it's left totally in the hands of our two jolly jazzmen. No vocal, no verse, no chorus; it's just one big brassfest as the boys head for the flag at the finish line. In those final few furlongs, I even fancied myself to be listening to old Dick Parry playing on some newly discovered Pink Floyd number.
Just as many guitarists are often lauded for playing to the song and not being too showy, then the rhythm section here might also be commended for their stalwart showing along those very lines. Frazer Laurie on drums and Chatonda Ridley on bass provide the song's brilliantly understated rhythmic foundation; getting those feet tapping yet being more than capable of starting and stopping on the proverbial sixpence.
Whilst many bands have successfully fused pop, rock and jazz... Steely Dan, Simply Red etc, I'm struggling to offer comparisons with any up and coming bands that I'm familiar with at the moment. Time to put my faith in technology then! Listening to another of the band's songs 'Beer Bottle Love' via Amazon music... "Alexa, play me a similar song to this one." "Ok, here's 'Tsunami' by The Manic Street Preachers."
"Good old Alexa - You're as daft as I am."
p.s. during lockdown the band have been busy popping out amusing little videos on social media. This one's a good watch if you're into stop motion video stuff.
Vol. 6: The adventures of Pedro and the Rabbits
Find SPEAK EASY CIRCUS by following these links