I beg to differ with most Kyuss fans on this one, in that this album rivals Sky Valley as a desert island pick. While Sky Valley is amazing, it sticks to one mood and one style, which are admittedly incredible, but only one facet of this band’s great sound. This album is Kyuss at their most diverse and eclectic. Josh Homme introduces an Arabic-style guitar sound here on “El Rodeo” and “One-Inch Man”, while “Catamaran” and “Phototropic” show a softer musical side, with some nice guitar work. Homme has to be the most underrated guitar player around. “Size Queen” shows them expanding within their sound. It’s hard to describe this track. Kinda funky, with a slow, reggae-type tempo, but with a much too choppy riff to describe as reggae. Like I said, indescribable. There’s some classic Kyuss rumbling bass on “Hurricane” and “Gloria Lewis” and the jam called “Spaceship Landing” is a fitting end. The song breaks off into 4 different parts that intertwine well, never deviating from it’s dynamic, but revealing a band that wasn’t afraid of using excess jamming to their utmost advantage. All in all, the band was much tighter on this album, drifting from the loose jammy style of Sky Valley. Both albums rule for different reasons. Most bands don’t even have ONE classic album that you can recommend, Kyuss has TWO. Their breakup is a mixed blessing, producing some great offspring in Unida, Slo-Burn and Queens of the Stone Age. You can see how the Queens sound developed from this album; it was like a guide to where Homme was headed. KYUSS, like The Stooges, will be recognized as a truly great band 20 years from now, when it’s too late. Consider yourself lucky if you knew them while they were around.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
I am a latercomer to Kyuss’s music, I found out about them after getting hooked on Queens of the Stone Age. I discovered that Josh Homme (Queens Singer/Guitarist) was also the man behind Kyuss so I checked them out…….and boy I am glad I did.There is a lot of debate among Kyuss fans as to which of their albums is the best, I personally love them all and find it hard to compare any of them. My favourite Kyuss song is ‘Gardenia’ off Sky Valley due to its incredible heaviness and groove.However, this album ‘And the circus leaves town..’ is a masterpiece. You can really see what direction Josh Homme was planning on taking after Kyuss as he introduced a lot more melody on this album.Their have also been mumblings on some reviews about the singer, John Garcia, I personally think his voice matches the songs perfectly and both music and vocals complement each other nicely.Standout songs on the album are ‘One Inch Man’ , ‘Tangy Zizzle’, ‘Size Queen’, ‘Catamaran’ and the incredible ‘Spaceship Landship’The latter of those is a monster of a track and is arguably one of the best hard rock songs of all time…….it simply rocks like a …!!There are also some really cool instrumentals and this album, in particular ‘Jumbo Blimp Jumbo’ which is shows off Josh’s amazing guitar ability.In fact that is the one thing that stands out in all of Kyuss’s albums, yes the drums are superb and the bass is f**king incredible but the guitar playing is out of this world and Josh really is a guitar god.If you are new to Kyuss I would get this album and ‘Sky Valley’ first and then work back to ‘Blues for the Red Sun’ and ‘Wretch’I have just added their ‘greatest hits’ album to my collection although it is mainly full of live tracks and rough cuts that didn’t make it on to their proper albums…..still worth a purchase though as anything Kyuss did was awesome.Don’t delay……buy today.And if you are into the whole desert/stoner rock thing then check out Karma to Burn and Queens of the Stone Age who are two of my favourite bands.
Before Kyuss splintered and Josh Homme went on to form the equally brilliant Queens Of The Stone Age, the band released the excellent valedictory “And The Circus Leaves Town.” Although this album doesn’t quite live up to the lofty standard established by the utter masterpieces “Blues For The Red Sun” and “Welcome To Sky Valley,” it still showcases the creativity and instrumental virtuosity the band was known for. At the same time, it’s perhaps Kyuss’s quietest album, turning down the raging sandstorm of sound that characterized “Blues” and (to a lesser extent) “Sky Valley.” For the most part, “And The Circus Leaves Town” is the kind of album you could play while kicking back with a beer on your porch and not annoy the neighbors. And since it’s predecessors had more of a “play it in your car at full blast with your window rolled down so everyone in a quarter-mile radius can hear it and know you have better taste than they do” vibe, that’s a pretty big departure. It’s still stoner rock, but stoner rock of a somewhat different and less fearsome stripe.Of course, it wouldn’t be a Kyuss album without a few slabs of headbanging metal, and the opening “Hurricane,” “Tangy Sizzle,” and the concluding epic “Spaceship Landing” all fill the bill quite nicely in that regard. Kyuss could lay down a groove with the best of them, and these songs just provided final, convincing proof of that fact. Featuring Josh’s pounding riffs and John Garcia’s signature wail, these songs all rank right up there with “Green Machine,” “Allen’s Wrench,” and a few sections of “Sky Valley” among Kyuss’s most infectious moments. Likewise, the woozy, sludgy quasi-psychedelia of “Thee Ol’ Boozeroony” and “El Rodeo” fits in snugly with the band’s prior instrumental output. It’s elsewhere than Kyuss stretches out their sonic palette. “Blues” and “Sky Valley” did have their share of quieter moments, but not to the extent found here. Josh’s guitar wattage isn’t as abundantly evident as before, and John’s ratio of singing to wailing actually gets to right around one-to-one. “One Inch Man” and “Gloria Lewis” do contain the sun-baked riffage that Josh has made a very nice career out of, but they’re more notable for two of the most relaxed and easygoing tempos of the band’s career. “Phototropic,” “Size Queen” and “Catamaran” also contain a few heavy moments, but they’re still remarkably mellow for Kyuss songs. In the end, I can’t endorse this album as heartily as “Blues” or “Sky Valley.” However, those albums were such classics that they established an incredibly high target, and I’m not sure “And The Circus Leaves Town” was intended to “match” them anyway. Viewed on its own, this is still a remarkable album with the potential for hours of fruitful listening. So I say kick back and enjoy it.
What that title means, is that this album is worth listening to, many times, and at a very high volume. This album follows down the road that Kyuss started down with “Welcome to Sky Valley”. But they are much further down the road. If you want something that resembles the intensity of “Wretch” or “Blues for the Red Sun” you probably aren’t going to find it. In my humble opinion, this is their least ‘metal’ album. That being said, Josh’s guitar seems to be tuned down even more, and John sounds as gruff as ever (though he does pull off some nice harmonies, showing the softer side of his voice-think demon cleaner). Scott Reeder returns as bassist for this album, as he did Sky Valley, this album’s predecesor. Brant Bjork is gone from the mix, and the new drummer is Alfredo Hernandez. The album seems to strip down the feeling from Sky Valley, which had 6-7 minute epic songs, and turning them into 4-5 minute rock masterpieces. It took me the longest time of all the Kyuss albums to get completely addicted to “…And the Circus Leaves Town” but now it is the Kyuss album I listen to the most.
And as a final note, the band on this album, is pretty much the band Josh used for the first Queens record. subtract John Garcia on vocals, give Josh vocals and guitar, and throw Dave Catching in the mix on guitar/steel guitar and you pretty much have the Queens of the Stone Age that did their self titled album.
When this album was first released it seemed as if it was missing an unknown ingredient that is found in “Blues for the Red Sun” and “Welcome to Sky Valley”. As the years passed I found that I would grab one of the other two albums before I would grab this one (never mind “Wretch” – that album is more of a trophy for Kyuss collectors than anything else, not as good as the others, but still a keepsake). Not that this album isn’t good… it’s amazing… just different than the others. Perhaps there is a sense that the band is on its way out, perhaps the unity that was in the other albums doesn’t come out of the music like it once did. It’s hard to place.
And then a few years ago I popped this CD into my car stereo one morning… and left it there for weeks. I listened to it every time I was in the car, enough that people started to notice. It was just too good to take it out. It was one of those great moments when I “rediscover” a CD from my collection, when I remind myself how cool an album is.
This album takes everything that the members of Kyuss built over the previous albums and puts a 400 grit sandpaper polish on it. It’s not shiny, but for Kyuss, it’s polished, where they are taking on a dull sheen that comes with exposure and experience. Josh Homme has learned a lot by this album, exploring more of the guitar neck than he had in the past. Like other albums, Homme still uses the technique of layering octaves over one another to create depth in the sound, but he has acquired more courage to use the higher notes, the frets above number 7 and the strings lighter than .032 gauge. Homme never attempts wailing solos, probably because he doesn’t like them (he tried on “Wretch”, but he was young and inexperienced then).
The instruments don’t blend together as much as they do on other albums, meaning that the mixing is perhaps cleaner than before. Each track is more distinguishable. “Phototropic” is a reminder of what Kyuss can do, a 5 minute studio jam of octaves layered on one another, blending in and out of melody and heavy rocking, and Garcia’s vocals don’t start until half way through the song. It is a beautiful thing.
“El Rodeo” is definitely one of my favorite songs. I remember my freshmen year of college, listening to this album in my dorm room and picking out the touch of Spanish guitar in the lead riff. When I finally nailed it, it wasn’t hard to pick up the rest, and then I kept rocking to it for probably a week. Its the same Kyuss formula… find a riff, built on it by expanding on the key, bring it to crescendo, and then rock it out. And it always works.
“Size Queen” is a grooving rythm that is more funky than things Kyuss has done in the past. Again, it is based on a single riff created by Josh Homme that is distinctly his own, but they build it well. One gets the feeling that much of Kyuss’ music is built on riffs that Josh discovered while messing around with his guitar, but every song is inevitably a masterpiece.
“Catamaran” is beautiful. It uses much less distortion, much more reverb (and maybe some chorus?), and is much more expansive than any other song on the album. Again, Kyuss shows the odd talent to blend metal with melody, because it isn’t long before “Catamaran” takes on the low dirge of metal riffs, but falls right back into the melody. It is sad that it is only a 2 minutes and 59 seconds long.
“Catamaran” is followed by “Spaceship Landing”, an appropriately long jam that ends the album, fades into silence after 11 minutes until 32:15, when a slow melody arises, a combination of many layers of Garcia’s voice accompanied by only guitar and bass.
The Kyuss triumverate, “Welcome to Sky Valley”, “Blues for the Red Sun”, and “…And the Circus Leaves Town”, are a must-have set for anyone looking for unique and pleasurable music. The first album, “Wretch” will disappoint anyone familiar with Kyuss’ later work, but it is an extra piece to add to the collection, just to say you have it.