(2009, Happy Jack Rock Records)
Cirucus Devils weird noise barrage, and nightmare dreamscapes came to somewhat of an abrupt halt on their 7th full-length LP. Gringo, marketed as a their full-length acoustic LP, is a loose concept LP. Following in the wandering anti-hero footsteps of Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and Sergio Leone's The Man With No Name trilogy, Gringo too follows the mysterious travels of an unnamed man through the desert.
Gringo, infused with a southwestern charge rarely seen in Pollard's work, is also by far the most accessible of the Cirucs Devils LPs; somewhat of a happy-medium for the straight-up GBV fans. Typical, however, to the majority of Circus Devils albums, the B-Side suffers from the weaker load of songs.
Witness Hill- 4 This is one damn solid solo-Pollard style song. Nothing here indicates this is a Circus Devil's song, and thus sets the tone for the rest of the LP. Verses have a prog chord progression feel, but choruses are pretty hooky.
Every Moment Flame On- 5 Clackety percussion and the acoustic lead help give this a slightly Western feel, but this is a truly beautiful and pensive pop ballad. I can see this being too cheesy for the likes of some, but the repetitive hook at the end solidifies this track as pretty much perfect.
Ship From Prion To Prison- 4 Folk balladry with subtly lush orchestral swells. Who would've thought this from camp Circus Devils?
Bad Baby Blue- 3 Pollard's lyrics and vocal stylings are certainly pretty silly on this one, but the chugging choruses are pretty solid. Song hammers away into matter-of-fact delivered vocal hook, and it's a damn good one.
Easy Baby- 5 Shit. This might just be the damned catchiest Circus Devils ever got. All thanks go to the upbeat drums, and infectiously simple, looping guitar-lead sample. So good!
Before It Walks- 3 Mid tempo, moody acoustic strummer. Chugs away at a steady but sleepier pace. Mildly potent. The "alright, alright" building ending is the real reward of the song.
Monkey Head- 4 The longest tune of the LP reaching 4.5 minutes. Slower and waltz like, yet the drums pound away. Solid first half. Song then shifts gears to moody, not quite as solid total downer one the second. It does eventually build into a doomy, southwestern epic storytelling session. Hang with it. Can be rewarding.
The Beast Falls Down- 3 Song puts you in a sad sacks of a mood, and is somewhat reminiscent of early '00s GBV. On a bit of the formless side, and suffers a bit from wobbly, out-of-tune Pollard delivery at times.
Letter From A Witch- 3 Western flavored percussion carries this steady, repeated riff-centric track. A solid 2.5 minutes for sure.
Arizona Blacktop Company- 3 The most suicidal, and Circus Devilish track the LP has offered up to this point. Desperate acoustic line is plucked solemnly as Tobias ups the anti with ear-piercing drone build-ups. Moody, and dark, but effective.
Hot Water Wine- 2 Fairly catchy, if not overly saccharine early section, gives way to wizard, psych swirl of ambiance, and reverb soaked vocals. Seems to be a snippet song that was needlessly stretched out.
In Your Hour of Rescue- 4 4/6 acoustic skeletal track holds it down. Performed and sung wonderfully, as if purposely skipping that beat. The chorus (or is it a bridge?) sung in vintage GBV style! Great outro.
Ants- 2 Modulated vocals tell some tale, as Tobias's background synth plays a decent melancholy tune. However, the song is mucked up by some pretty dumb lyrics and too many noise samples. Pollard's delivery is pretty spot on for this though, but the music is for the dogs.
Stars On All Night- 3 Lonely, evening back porch New Mexico tune. The siesta track of the LP, even if it's near the end.
The Gasoline Drinkers- 4 The first non-acoustic song off the record. Sleazy, angry bar-rocker, but without the hard-rock heaviness. The guitar lines, are almost Primus-like (dare I say). Borders on cheese, but is a much welcomed addition to the LP.
Yellow Cloud- 1 Pulsating, all-instrumental drone leads out the album. This does work fine as a moody outro. As a stand alone song, pass. But it's the end, so hang on for a minute and a half why don't ya? It's all part of the experience.