The Slambovian Circus of Dreams
A Very Unusual Head
Storm King Records
So it’s been like freakin forever since the last Slambovian Circus of Dreams record brightened our listless existence. Ten long, hard friggin years to be exact since The Grand Slambovians released such spirited new music as “Very Happy Now,” “Lost Highway,” and the epic of epic “The Trans-Slambovian BiPolar Express” to a world in need of such high art.
Well, I’m not the most patient of men (ask my pharmacist) but I’m giddy as God we all got through the last decade and have arrived together, torn, tattered, vaxxed, and standing to A Very Unusual Head. And let’s get it out of the way straight away: The title track is my absolute fave of their whole grand canon. Has been for a while.
Anyone who has fully experienced an evening with the Slambovians in the years since Joziah stopped mowing his lawn (now that’s inspiring!) sings “Beez (I Know Where the Beez Have Gone)” in their sleep. That’s just how it is. That’s the kind of songs Joziah has written all his life: Songs that require community and hope. Songs that insist that the light we all search for is within if we just light the candle, flip the switch, step into the sunshine.
In the case of “Absolutely Beautiful Friggin’ Day” I would have stuck with just an acoustic
Joziah and Sharkey’s guitar ballet instead of the almost-too-mushy arrangement, but artists of all stripes must sometimes disagree. That’s where art comes from. That’s the impetus behind such other necessarily soulful songs as “Brilliantly, Brilliantly Dumb,” with guest vocalist Dar Williams (To love the many and the One/and be brilliantly, brilliantly dumb); “Stand” and its Bowie-esque wash of mood and color; and the fond dreaminess of “Fi” (featuring multi-instrumentalist and Waterboy cofounder Anthony Thistlethwaite ) (Fi were anymore high I’d be true and blue and never lie) Fan favorite and concert highlight, “Solve It All Dālí,” holds its own here as it does onstage.
As good and grand as “Look Around” is, it only gets better as the song goes full “Dear Prudence” with the choral Look around, look around, look around Round round round Round round round . . . it’s truly inspired, mischievous Slambovian fun. That fun of course continues unabated as the Circus, (as they have from their humble Sleepy Hollow beginnings) exercises their inner Who on “Force of Nature (Stephen Hawking’s Lament)” and sets their Jethro Tull wanderlust free on “Step Outta Time.” Come to think of it, the insistent interplay of Tink’s flute and Sharkey’s guitar riding a relentless groove courtesy of drummer Felipe Torres conjures some classic Allman Brothers. “Alligator” prowls the spiritual moment before dramatically shifting into one of those cinematic rock n roll crescendos heralded by a stingingly sharp, joyous Sharkey solo that’ll stand the test of the ages. By the end of the delightfully playful “Halo” you’ll want a halo for your head-bone too. How cool is that?!
Produced by McEwen and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, the main trio vitally (in most places) expand their sonic hijinks by making the album a big, tribal affair, featuring a plethora of familiar names including bassists Bob Torsello and son Chen Longo, drummer Eric Puente, pianist Tristan Tadin, nephew Kolson Pickard on cornet and trumpet, as well as a host of equally gifted, emphatic players and singers who all chip in to make A Very Unusual Head the full hearted celebration we all need right now.
Available this Thanksgiving exclusively at Bandcamp, you can pre-order A Very Unusual Head and download two tracks at: https://slambovia.bandcamp.com/album/a-very-unusual-head
The CD drops officially on the band’s new Storm King Records in January 2022.
Mike Jurkovic is a Lightwood music critic. He writes in all genres and is the president of CAPS, Calling All Poets, a Hudson Valley reading series.