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Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Sewing Circle - I Saw Stars [EP]

The Sewing Circle - I Saw Stars
2011, The Sewing Circle

Somewhere between stardom and tragedy lay the trajectory for most musicians.  Folk/rock power trio The Sewing Circle surf the mutable waves that roll between these markers on their second EP, I Saw Stars, out May 10, 2011.  Featuring the stark vocal mix of Andrew Rohde (guitar) and Meg Blake (keys/bass/guitar), and the propulsive drumming of Cajun Keeton, The Sewing Circle impress with stylized story songs woven into arrangements that dance on the line between rock and folk.

I Saw Stars opens with "Lead Role", branded with distorted guitars and a feel and sound reminiscent of The Breeders.  Blake is the real deal on vocals, but the dynamic between her and Rodhe on harmony is uncomfortable.  This fits with the rough-hewn production on the track, but perhaps isn't the best introduction.  "So As In Salem" tells the tale of three teenagers convicted of murder without evidence (The West Memphis Three) in a solid story song with mild Celtic influences.  Rodhe takes the mic this time around.  "Love Games" is a bluesy rocker with a lot of energy.  "Buzz Light Year" has more of a talk/sing feel to it, and invokes some punk energy but struggles to get off the ground.  "Five Cigarettes" takes on the pursuit of stardom at the expense of all else, gently mocking those who put public favor before their own self-interests.  The song is a bit rough from the songwriting perspective, but shows a creative talent still working out the kinks.  Meg Blake shines on vocals.  The Sewing Circle closes with "Until Now", a melancholy song of separation and loneliness.  Blake is convincing, but does struggle with pitch at times on the lowest notes.

The Sewing Circle is a band with real talent that's still figuring out where they want to be sonically and what they are capable of.  There are flashes of what the trio can be on I Saw Stars, but there are also still rough spots in writing and song selection that will likely work themselves out in time.  Meg Blake is a plus lead vocalist, and Andrew Rohde is a solid secondary voice, but the pair don't necessarily blend their sounds together well when singing harmony.  This can be a distraction at times.  There's no clear leader or direction here, with creative friction evident in the music.  Whether The Sewing Circle can work these issues out will impact future releases greatly.  For now, I Saw Stars certainly has its merits, both for what it is musically, and for the potential it bespeaks.

Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about The Sewing Circle at or  I Saw Stars is available from as a CD or Download.

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