None of this is world-changing stuff, even if it does sound like it was fun to make.
Adam Webb 2008-04-25
Keeping it in the family way, the core of The Heavy Circles is Edie Brickell – best remembered for 1988 hit, What I Am, later covered by Baby Space - and Harper Simon, son of her husband Paul Simon. Joined by such luminaries as Sean Lennon, Martha Wainwright, Joan As Policewoman, Money Mark and Inara George, the resulting supergroup sounds akin to a Laurel Canyon vision of early-'70s So Cal bonhomie. A bunch of well-heeled, but musically adept pals, kicking back for a lazy Sunday afternoon session.
Certainly, the opening triumvirate are something of a history lesson. Built on an Eastern-type rhythm, Henri is all about the relentless groove of Blue Oyster Cult; Better stomps a Beatles boot to a McCartney piano riff circa 1968; while Ready To Play manoeuvres from the Rolling Stones and eventually settles down into Sheryl Crow territory. Clamped to a killer chorus, it has 'radio hit' written all over – and if it were 1998 again, The Heavy Circles would probably be massive.
However, fantastic as these first three songs are, it's more likely they'll be picked up by Bob Harris, or some other late night DJ of wealth and taste. And despite losing focus around midway – the likes of Confused, Easier and Maximo are atmospheric, but sketchy – the album concludes on a high, straddling the decades once again to encompass reggae, new wave and psychedelia. The best of these, the 1m 45 Dynamite Child, has Brickell giving out her best Patti Smith impersonation while the band whip up an impression of REM's latest return to form.
None of this is world-changing stuff, even if it does sound like it was fun to make. But for those who believe there's no one making 'em like they used to, The Heavy Circles are recommended listening. Bring on Vol II…