Big Circle

Things May Change

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Big Circle are one of the better combos to have emerged out of Charlottesville, Virginia since the turn of the millennium. Things May Change (2004) is a stunning collection of interesting modern jangle pop compositions, brimming with catchy and charismatic hooks that more often than not take the melodies into compelling and unexpected places. The core unit features Charlie Pastorfield (guitar/vocals), Rusty Speidel (guitar/vocals), Tim Anderson (bass/vocals), Jim Ralston (drums/percussion) and former Deal co-founder Mark Roebuck (guitar/vocals) -- whose material is as brilliant as ever. The bright-eyed acoustic opener "Mrs. Freeway" embodies a distinct sense of wanderlust within its crisp chords and optimistic perspective. The full-throttled "Just for a Moment, Imagine" cooks behind Jim Ralston's fervent backbeat and some brisk and clean-toned fretwork. The tune bobs and weaves around superbly crafted lyrics, recalling Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey's finer contributions to the legendary alt pop the dB's, with just enough attitude to suggest Elvis Costello's primal days with the Attractions or early Joe Jackson.The band-penned "Heaven 11" is a slice of neo-Americana pop with precise and heartfelt harmonies à la CSN&Y fronting a similarly resilient jam. That is especially true of the trippy wah-wah infused electric string-work gliding throughout. Another standout has additional connections to Deal as the late great Haines Fullerton's "Sister Redemption" has many of the earmarks of what made that band so appealing -- strong and engaging writing, coupled with equally inspired performances. "You're Just Mad ..." is an up-tempo propellant number, putting Anderson and Ralston's solid rhythm section in the driver's seat and their tongue-in-cheek angst front and center. If there was any question as to the influence of Alex Chilton circa the Box Tops, one listen to the introduction of the hard and edgy "Diamond" will put that to rest. The piercing vocal blend is also a throwback, in the very finest sense of nostalgia. Other recommended tracks include the album's infectiously impelling title song "Things May Change," the conversely noir and intimate brooding of "Judgement Day," as well as the animated syncopation on "I'm the One (Who's Still in Love With You)," which will assuredly set toes to tappin'.

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