steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

The Sewing Circle

Self-titled CD


Genre: pop/rock, country rock, alternative

Midwest USA

May 16, 2009

I suppose, as a critic, I'm not supposed to like music as "pedestrian" as this (har dee har), but there are moments on The Sewing Circle's debut album that just revel in joyful melody. With a Counting Crows inspired immediacy, these folks craft Americana-tinged good-times rock/pop, the sort of stuff that dotted the airwaves in the nineties but has since moved out of the spotlight.

Like most self-released, self-titled debuts, the major knock on The Sewing Circle's effort is inconsistency. There are some serious anthems here, as well as some equally serious filler. Let's tackle the bad news first. Opener "The Only Good Hippie is a Dead One" (yuk yuk) doesn't cut it. Beyond its vague eighties rock vibe is an utterly malnourished melody -- not the type of song you want to kick off your debut with. Other flat songs include zippy but unmemorable "Blood for Oil," Cracker-esque ballad "Great Cosmic Divine" (sans Lowery's melodic assets), and shoddy "All the King's Men."

I could go on, but let's spare ourselves the muddiness and move on to the positive findings. Crafty sing-along "Local Motel" sees the band in a completely different form, expertly weaving seamless build-ups capped off by joyful releases. The Counting Crows influence here is particularly obvious. Equally arresting are toasty party bouncer "Alpha/Bravo" (reminds me of "Hanginaround"), and expert country rocker "Great Big World."

There are other aspects to this release, certainly (song title "Blood for Oil" encapsulates much of the lyrical content here), although the focus ultimately appears to be on fun, cheerful country-rock. Several of these songs will keep you coming back, but I'll keep my fingers crossed that the band pares down the filler for their next installation.

the sewing circle's myspace


youuuuuuutube: "alpha bravo" in studio, "great big world" in studio

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 12 tracks, distributed by the band, released 2009]