Kyuss: the little band that could (and almost did). After maintaining an underground fanbase and just beginning to break into the mainstream, the band finally began to recieve the recognition they rightly deserved. Their signature sound, call it 'desert rock' or 'stoner rock' or whatever you will, was attributed to their low sounding guitars, chaffing vocals and grossly underproduced albums. However, internal problems within the band lead to their split during the mid-nineties, leading to the creation of smaller spinoff groups and, ultimately, the very succesful Queens Of The Stone Age.
Vocals- John Garcia
Guitar- Joshua Homme
Bass- Scott Reeder
Drums- Alfredo Hernandez
...And the circus... was the fourth and final album released from the Kyuss catalogue. This album seems thought of by some as weak and uninventive. However, after repeated listens it is possibly my favourite album by them.
There are two noticeable changes with this album. The first is that the tracks are more straightforward; there are no minute long instrumental fillers (Blues for the Red Sun) or grouping of all songs into three tracks (Welcome To Sky Valley). This is an improvement in my books, as the better tracks are more easily accessible. The second change is the addition of Alfredo Hernandez on drums, who would later join Josh when recording QOTSA's first album. This means a change from the more tom-heavy beats of Brant Bjork and a lighter, jazzier style of percussion. All in all, the album has a softer feel without as much harshness from the guitar or rhythm section. But it still packs a fair punch at moments.
An example of this is HURRICANE, which starts with a fun and furious drumbeat that is joined by guitar and Garcia's signature scratched vocals. Following this is the album's only memorable single, ONE INCH MAN. With its bouncing guitar line and cathcy chorus, this one will stay in your head for days to follow. Although the album maintians Kyuss's rough-edged live song, many of the songs find a fine balance between hardness and softness that keeps the album flowing smoothly. Their mellower side is showcased in tracks such as PHOTOTROPIC and CATAMARAN, the latter of which has Garcia singing at his most melodious before switching back into his usual strained voice.
Many of the tracks sound a little too 'samey', and the lack of variety is what brings the album down in score. However, it is not without its interesting moments. GLORIA LEWIS has a gloomy floor-tom driven sound always puts me a little on edge. EL RODEO begins with simple guitar playing and gradually builds into a driving (though repetitive)force of music. And a personal favourite is the more bluesy-styled SIZE QUEEN, which sails by at a more cruise-like tempo.
And just when things may seem a tad predictable, we have SPACESHIP LANDING. At just over 11 minutes of music, it is Kyuss's longest single song. There isn't really enough varience to call it a progressive masterpiece, but it keeps itself interesting enough not to be completely unlistenable. After about 20 minutes of silence there is a bonus track, which is much slower and more somber than anything else on the album, almost like the band saying goodbye.
All in all, a good album that is a defenite good investment of money, especially if you are familiar with their older stuff or are a QOTSA fan looking for something a little more raw.
One Inch Man