Circuit 1:8 (2000)
"It was like, here's some guys that we don't know. They're in a van. They've never seen our breasts. Let's show them to 'em."- Wheat, on enthusiastic fans
Stars: Hooverphonic, Jurassic 5, J. Mascis, Mojave 3
Other Stars: Neil Hamburger, Tahiti 80, Ryan Adams, Wheat
Director: Mara Schwartz
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some language)
Run Time: 01h:22m:23s
Release Date: 2001-01-02
DVD ReviewAs a volunteer at a well-respected college radio station that focuses on independent music, I must give props to the team behind Circuit. They put out a very well-rounded package that generally features the best music from every genre in the indie scene.
As usual, the content on the disc is broken down into four sections, which can be played individually or all at once. I will discuss each separately.
J Mascis: Mascis, better known as a former member of Dinosaur Jr., presents some of his solo stuff with acoustic performances of Sameday and Wastin. His stuff sounds very similar to Dinosaur, mellow and melodic with obvious emo influences. These two tracks are quite nice. An interview with Mascis is also available.
Jurassic 5: This up-and-coming rap group has gotten some very positive critical press in the last year or so. Sadly, none of their music is presented, but there is a nice interview in which they explain, among other things, the meaning of the band's name. Also included is a photo gallery and a one-on-one interview with DJ Nu-Mark.
Hooverphonic: I can't say I was familiar with this band before watching their segment on the disc, but I have to say I enjoyed them quite a bit. They come across as very personable in this interview, and the acoustic performance of Mad About You is quite nice as well. The lead singer is adorable and has a very pleasant voice to boot. Sounds mellow, sort of like Sarah Dougher or a polished Portishead.
Mojave 3: This band gets a bit of play on the radio station I work for, so I knew a bit about them beforehand. Lead singer Neil Halsted is classified as a British country singer, but that is pigeonholing him. He writes beautiful, poetic lyrics and has a great voice for slow, introspective ballads. The 2000 release from the band was one of the year's best, and the acoustic performance of In Love With a View present here is quite indicative of the group's talent. There is also an interview with Halsted.
Titan: I didn't know anything about this group, and the segment here won't shed any light. It is just a bunch of semi-amusing footage of the band taping themselves as they travel around New York.
Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams is another up-and-comer. He has a country sound that really reminds me of Johnny Cash (for some reason). There is a short interview and an acoustic performance of Damn, Sam (I Love a Woman That Rains). Amazon.com called Adams' CD one of the best of 2000, so listen up!
Tahiti 80: This band is very popular overseas, and it is easy to see why. They have a polished, unconventional pop sound that really kicks it Pet Sounds style. Includes an interview and the songs Heartbeat and Hey Joe.
Looper: This band began as a side project to Belle and Sebastian, but the sound is very different. Electronic loops and grooves create musical soundscapes that aren't really fit to dance to, but they are entertaining to some. However, I am not the biggest fan of electronic music. Included are the songs Mondo '77 and Bug Rain, both with alternate video and audio tracks.
Wheat: I love Wheat. Their CD Hope and Adams is one of my favorites from last year. They sound a lot like Wilco or The Sea and Cake. Nice melodies. Emo, but not emo-core. Includes a very funny interview and a performance of And Someone With Strengths.
Neil Hamburger: Closing out this disc is a bizarre interview with a supposed stand-up comedian, "America's Funnyman" Neil Hamburger. From what I can tell, his shtick is acting like a bad comedian. He tells some really dumb jokes, although one of his lines made me laugh - "Me and Jesus have a lot in common." The punchline - not so funny.
Overall, a nice eclectic mix of genres and some very good bands are represented on this disc. If you are familiar with these bands, the acoustic and lives performances will be a draw. If not, tear yourself away from Top 40 radio and check out the indie scene and some great music.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Since most of the footage for Circuit comes from video, the picture quality isn't all that impressive. Still, quality here is generally better than on the last issue I reviewed. Colors look nice and solid and there is very little artifacting or edge enhancement. Video footage has a tendency to look a bit digital on DVD, however, and this disc is no exception. Overall, the transfer looks as good as it can considering the source material.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: Most of the content on the disc is in DD 2.0 and it sounds generally very clean. The entire front soundstage is utilized equally to really fill out the musical performances (but really, the same thing is coming through each channel). The menus and trailers are in 5.1, and they sound ok, with nice separation between channels and some surround action, especially in the action sections of the previews. Overall, not a bad mix, but certainly not showy.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 21 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 10 cues
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bait, Get Carter
2 Multiple Angles with remote access
- Hidden short film Deleirouspink
- Trivia Game
- Alt. Video and audio for Looper, Mondo '77 and Bug Rain
Playing through the short trivia game will grant you access to the short film Deleriouspink, which was not my bag, but whatever. Plus, trailers are included for the WB films Bait and Get Carter.
And then there are the trademarked "funny once, but dang annoying after a while" Circuit menu screens.
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsThe Circuit series is a great way to - um - expose yourself to new music, and I found the ratio of good to bad on Circuit 8 a bit better than usual. Except for one or two boring/annoying segments, this issue makes for a pretty good watch. Definitely recommended for fans of indie music.
Joel Cunningham 2001-01-10