Archive for The Venetia Fair

Review: Venetia Fair

Posted in Reviews with tags on January 19, 2010 by jeffathearingaid

Band: The Venetia Fair

Album: The Circus

Insert crazed scream here.

So I saw this band a year ago, last summer and I was taken aback by their style and their stage presence.  The whole band gets into the performance and throws everything they have into putting on a good show. And that’s precisely what it is. The lead singer was absolutely crazed on stage, twirling the mic and wrapping the cord around himself. The facial expressions were priceless. Not enough to make you want to leave but just enough to make you want to stay.

Speaking of a good show, their new album, The Circus, came out recently and a few days ago they put it up for free on their PureVolume page, so I jumped on the opportunity.You should too (apparently it’s only free until Wednesday).

Here goes. The album opens up with some crazy wailing guitar and organ riffs, cut by the talented vocalist, Benny Santoro. So about a minute in I’m already going “what the…” And then the chorus starts. A catchy pop chorus out of the chaos that was the (for lack of a better term) “verse”. It seems like someone’s enraged mind in music form, and the singer’s psychotic tremolo only reinforces this imagery. The wave of chaotic chord changes and start and stop is unpredictable. As soon as you’ve lost all bearings the chorus comes back as a safety net and you think that maybe there is some structure to this. This break-neck pace doesn’t cease but for a moment in the beginning of “Let’s Just Forget About This”, and then resumes again.

And this is just the first half of the album. They split up the album in half so the first four songs have the theme of lost love and the final six songs are part of The Circus saga. The sinister riff that opens up “The Ringleader” chimes the starting bell for another musical ride full of synthetic trumpet lines and screaming vocals.

It is definitely an interesting idea to write a narrative, or a whatever they have here, about the circus, and it definitely fits their sound. They’re a circus of their own, talented and willing to put on a show with a freakout factor. I enjoy all of the songs in the Circus, blending math rock, gypsy and power pop into a neat, but chaotic package. “Gullinkambis’ Return” is a good example of this with walking bass lines and screamy vocals and syncopated guitar lines. All of the songs are worth a listen just because of the lead singer. Not that the band is boring but his erratic vocals add character to the songs and a level of feeling to them. And it’s seamless. It’s always believable.

My major complaint with this album is that some of the songs sound empty. Especially the ones where the melody is in the synth. It’s a production issue but some songs sound just plain synthetic and it sort of clashes with the vocal style. Also synths are no replacement for a horn section! It sounds trasparent when they try to imitate a fanfare or a counter-melody. The chorus in “The Sideshow” is a perfect example of this. A real trumpet would make this epic line sound 100 times better.

So all in all this is a solid album. However it’s not for everyone. The erratic changes of pace and the genre mixing may be a turnoff to some. I think think it’s worth it just for the vocals and the ridiculous songwriting. Pick up the album if you’re into gypsy music, but can stand to listen to bands like Fall of Troy (maybe I meant that the other way around). Like I said. Not for everyone.

If I had to rate it I’d give it 3.5 Freaks out of 5. And I don’t give out 5’s so it’s more like a 3.5/4.

~Jeff