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Uncommon Days
Artist: Circleslide 
Label: Centricity Records
Length: 11 tracks/ 35:14
You know a new band has high standards for themselves when they choose to name their act after one of the finest releases in Christian music’s history.  It’s clear Circleslide wants to make an artistic statement and capture the hearts of those listeners aware of the underground Christian music scene, yet, much like the legendary band Circleslide draws influence and monikers from, their songs wouldn’t be particularly out of place on Christian radio. 

A classic U2 sound underlined by the atmospherics of The Choir and later Starflyer 59 releases, _Uncommon Days_ is a heavily produced, somewhat repetitive affair.  Songs almost all use a similar template—high-soaring Britpop, back-to-back, almost for the record’s entirety.  Things only slow down in the final song, the gentle, acoustic, mercifully bare “Sun of My Soul”.  The effort seems to have been to capture the same sense of magic and wonder that bands such as The Choir have mastered in many releases, but despite even being produced by members of said band, the songs in _Uncommon Days_ sink like a rock into overbearing production values; it affects for the worse all aspects of the record.  Flow between songs are interrupted by craggy production, wonderful melodies in the record’s early half are slathered with and nearly lost amidst the swirling, too-numerous atmospheric sounds, and problem spots, unfortunately, weigh down the record even more than they would have otherwise. 

Uncommon Days’ problems are made especially saddening considering how strong much of the song writing is otherwise.  Though some breaks from the familiar structuring of songs would have greatly helped, many songs feature very beautiful lyrics and melodies.  Uncommon Days has no lack of heart or vision, but its missteps keep it from being as good as it could have been. 

There’s a good record somewhere within Uncommon Days, but unfortunately Circleslide’s newest release falls short for a couple of reasons.  If the band can fill in the cracks with more variability in song writing and with more complimentary production, Circleslide could become the great band they aspire to be. 

Jonathan Avants

Circleslide the band you first read about here on Phantom Tollbooth back in the spring of 2005 released their long awaited debut CD Uncommon Days in June. The raspy vocals of lead singer and guitar man Gabe Martinez will be with us for many years to come. Listeners will quickly become fans as the liquid riffs of the melodic rock title track inspire you to sing along.
I asked my good friend Jan O. who books the talent for the Cup O' Joy in Green Bay Wisconsin for some feedback concerning Circleslide's recent appearance at the legendary venue. This is what she had to say, "The band Circleslide is made up of the most outgoing, accommodating and downright nice folks that you could ever hope to meet. They appeal to a broad age of rockers from 15-50."
The arrangements for this album are splendid. A trio of producers Tommy Collier and the duo of Marc Byrd and Derri Daugherty from the Choir have their fingerprints all over this record. Seldom has a debut album been so well produced, arranged and engineered. 
The music is crisp and the lyrics are honest and succinct. Integrity is the word that Martinez used to describe his songwriting when I spoke to him last. Long before there was a Circleslide a friend introduced him to The Choir's album Chase The Kangaroo so it is only fitting that the duo of Byrd and Daugherty became involved in "Uncommon Days".  In fact fans of the Choir may recognize Circleslide as the name of one of the Choir's earlier albums. Martinez's music also bears the influence of the late Rich Mullins and the group The Seventy Sevens.
The amazing thing about Uncommon Days is you keep waiting for a ho hum tune and it simply doesn't happen. There is not one weak track among the thirteen that appear on this disk. Get Up the fourth track talks about the struggle of wills, ours and God's. Martinez sings, "What if I told you this isn't what I had in mind / What if I told you this mountain is just too high" 

Centricity Records Vice-President and A&R man John Mays (Downhere, Nichole Nordeman) spotted Circleslide in 2003 at GMA in the Rockies and signed them to the label.  Mays says, “I just fell in love with their history, their work ethic and who they were personally.” 
The riveting apocalyptic "Weather Boy" matches somber brazen lyrics with cutting guitar riffs that will make even the most skeptical listener ask the question 'What if I am wrong and there is a judgment day?'
"Up To The Sky" is a gentle ballad of hope. In the number seven groove it is well positioned on the CD. Just as "Weather Boy" provides the warning while "Up To The Sky" leaves us with a promise. 
Martinez is backed by a very good band with brother Tim on bass, Mark Alvis on drums and guitarist Aaron Gillies. "Possession" a jagged tune filled with metaphors demonstrates the excellent musicianship and versatility of Circleslide. "Possession" is song of redemption that paints a vivid picture of the sacrifice Christ made and the tremendous cost to God in offering up his one and only son to become the atonement for our sins.
Circleslide's Uncommon Days is one album that you won't want to go on-line and cherry pick the best tunes because they are all great. Don't cheap out on this one go on-line or to your local store and buy the entire CD. You will be glad you did.
 By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved

Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague. 


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