Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It is with great evidence - a history's abundance of it -- that men are affected by the fairer sex in only a few ways that they do understand and in millions of ways that they couldn't be more confounded by. Often, the weakest and least intelligent of these men just shuffle away from the ruination that they've gotten themselves involved in or they're sent feebly and forcefully from those familiar arms, shaking their heads and using foul language to state their displeasure, out of earshot and under their wasted breaths. Most just assume a stunned look of silence and chalk another up to bad luck and the wrong one, resolved with near immediacy to get back out there and try again after a few days of bachelorhood. Others who can't solve women and their ways - or believe that they've solved them for short stints of time and are thusly hopeful that they have slight tingles of that magic touch to draw upon - provide their research in useful essays and snaps of prose, sort of the same way the top scientists and physicians, trying to beat cancer or Parkinson's, publish their findings in journals and reviews to help all of the others out there hoping to do the same thing - all for the greater good. These men, wishing for an easier way sometime in the future - even if they're no longer here to enjoy any of those benefits, are musicians and they are lyricists. They are people like Anthony Green, the lead singer of the Philadelphia band Circa Survive, and they are completely engaged in discovering what it could one day mean to have any kind of a read on womankind and, even more importantly, what that sect tends to carry with it, that intangible, basic human need: love or the future promise of it. These are fortified subjects and, to make matters even worse, they are slippery and ever-changing shapeshifters known for fantastical turns and Green seems to thrive artistically on these clamoring frustrations. They dig their claws in and he responds to them throughout the group's latest full-length album, "Blue Sky Noise," a record that takes us into the bellies of numerous hard times, all revolving around the sudden or prolonged endings of relationships. On this session, the group gives the songs a mellower treatment, allowing them more exposure, letting them exist nakedly, all the more raw and emotional. You'll hear Green shred his throat with a semi-shriek just one and a half times on "I Felt Free," recalling some of the words that an ex told him at some point in the past. He sings earlier on that one, "You can be the end of me/Too many shades of gray/It's just another pointless game that we play/I couldn't tell the truth/I'll never make you stay/Because tomorrow always happens yesterday," giving us some of the most definite knowledge about the possibilities and the odds that a man and a woman are faced with. Much of everything that's going to occur will carry with it two sides of the story and enough grayness to dye herds and herds of elephants. Too many have lived through the ashes and firestorms of too many failed relationships to tell the tale of them, one would think, to make the casualties lesser, but it's not the case and it's what keeps that small shriek here, that big shriek elsewhere in Green's throat. It's as if the journals, the novels and the songs written to understand the different degrees of heartbreak and the precautions that could be taken to avoid such things have been written in milk, not ink and so, we fall. We keep falling. Splat.