MP3: Subcircus Revisited
Subcircus were a proggish Britpop band who formed through a Melody Maker ad in 1994 and shortly after moved to the country's (and Britpop's) capital. Made up of Peter Bradley Jr. (singer/lyricist), Nikolaj Bloch (guitar), Tommas Arnby (drums) and George Brown (bass), they released two albums on Echo and split in 2000. The Yorkshire band played their first gig in York in 1995, and became known for wearing odd makeup, having quite bad hair, and equally strange outfits. By the time I saw them in 2000, at a support slot for Feeder, they'd given up on the weird look, perhaps realising a bit too late that it didn't help them very much.
The band played around 160 gigs around the UK by 1996, including club tours and support slots for Echo & The Bunnymen, Suede, Elvis Costello, Grant Lee Buffalo and Ocean Colour Scene. Their debut album, Carousel, came out on Echo in 1996, and was recorded at London's Air Studios and at Peter Gabriel's Real World in Bath. The album got pretty good reviews from what I can remember, although the singles U Love U and 86'd (Jan 1997) didn't chart very highly (86'd came in at 85. ouch.) However after their initial run the band took a long break, and wouldn't tour the UK again until 1999. By that time the initial excitement about the band had dissipated by an awful lot, and hardly anyone noticed when on Valentine's Day 2000 they issued a new single, Sixty Second Love Affair. The accompanying album, released in March, was called Are You Recieving Me, and was generally met with quite insulting reviews, despite probably being the better of their two full-lengths. By this time the Britpop bubble had burst, and the press were obviously looking for new sounds.
It's a shame that Subcircus' recordings never really lived up to the initial hype (Echo head Steve Lewis stated: "When we saw them play, they had everything you'd hope for in a rock band at the end of the 20th Century), as what they did record certainly suggests a lot of potential. I like to think of them as Starsailor (but not shit) mixed with Bowie, and a lump of Mansun on top. Why they didn't connect with the Manics/Suede/Mansun glitterslut fanbase in the same way that also-rans King Adora did a year or two later I don't really know. Hope you like the songs...