There are several reasons why I am extremely impressed by solo musicians who can create a whole album of material entirely on their own. Not only do they have the talent to play an extreme array of instruments, but they also have to judge by their own standards with no input from other band members. The Vorstand Circus is headed by Jason Allen exclusively. They are from Melbourne, Australia, and Allen created their debut album, Sworn In On A Stack Of Dictionaries, by himself, mixed on a computer in a small apartment in Bern, Switzerland. The thing that amazes me about The Vorstand Circus is the complexity and diversity of the album. Usually, solo artists don’t stray too far off one sound but Allen has such a keen sense of music that he utilizes several influences.
The catchy and enigmatic ‘Bad Dog’ recalls shades of Matthew Good and early REM. My favorite off of the album is probably ‘Graveyard Shift’ though. It retains a chilling atmosphere through Allen’s flawless vocals that bands such as The Arcade Fire do so well. The song eventually recedes into an upbeat chorus, yet again showing Allen’s good sense of musical transition. Songs such as ‘Your Good Soul’ and ‘Where I’ve Been’ recall a more electric Neutral Milk Hotel or The Decemberists with less of a silly pirate feel. Head over to their site to listen to the rest of the album and to buy it. The Vorstand Circus is currently gaining new members for touring, with a drummer already slotted in and a bassist and harmonica player (yes, interesting) on the way shortly.