The Neins Circa
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The Neins Circa

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"The Neins Circa press" - The Daily Copper

"Sleeves and Wigs -The Peak review"

CD Review: A sound Education

Paul Hiebert, The Peak

The Neins Circa’s Sleeves and Wiggs brings light to dour subjects

I’ll admit it: for the past couple years I have been absent from the realm of television, music, and film. Whenever someone starts talking about people being stranded on a magical island, or the great sound of architecture in Helsinki, I get uncomfortable and become very quiet because I know not of what they speak.

For the past while, it seems like all my time has been devoured by vastly complicated philosophical texts that deal with dreadful thoughts that I cannot fully comprehend without bearing a heavy burden on my shoulders. So, when I finally decided to reach out into the local music scene for some inspiration, I got a copy of the Neins Circa’s new release, and let me tell you, I am glad I did.

Before I begin to explain why this album has been a blessing in my life, I need to mention that only recently have I begun paying close attention to song lyrics — that is, whenever I happen to stumble across the sound of music while taking a break from reading the dying thoughts of dead men. The old me would just nod my head to the beat or listen to the melody, but with the integration of words has come a whole new layer of goodness, like whipped cream to my mother’s sensational trifle.

With this new holistic approach to pop-rock appreciation, I listened with glee to the words of lead singer Cameron Dilworth and the sounds of the Neins Circa. In contrast to the catchy melodies and uplifting beats, the lyrics speak of a man struggling to please himself and those around him before being faced with the universal fate that awaits all mortals. The album evokes an image of a marching band proceeding jovially through the city streets, fending off the doubts and fears that life brings by encouraging solidarity amongst the crowd — kind of similar to My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade, only with a less dismal colour, like baby blue perhaps.

With a diverse assortment of tracks that never border on duplication, and lines like, “we’re only dancing here a short while and then we die,” and “every fall down makes your balls round,” the Neins remind us that life is serious, but doesn’t necessarily need to be lived with a sense of heaviness. Though the music may be light and fun, the lyrics are tender and have undoubtedly been lived by someone.

Plus, in a time where it seems that only fame and fortune can validate one’s existence, the song “Bently Hills” stands as a triumphant protest to the mounting pressure of having to be a celebrity in order to be celebrated. Or in the words of Dilworth, “if you can’t see where you are then don’t take every word to heart.”

Their latest studio-recorded album, entitled Sleeves and Wiggs, is available on Copperspine Records. If, like me, you feel a bit overwhelmed by an instructive institute that can tend to drag you down, I suggest you let the Neins Circa give you an educational boost. - The Peak -SFU

"Sleeves and Wigs -Discorder review"

This is a slightly reworked and re-released version of The Neins Circa's 2005 independent sophomore album Please Feel Free To Enter The Tipi, marking an opportunity to give this album the appreciation it deserved the first time around.

With washes of Dan Bejar-inspired lead vocals and angular-meets-melodic arrangements topped off with loping 90s alt-rock guitar lines, Sleeves and Wigs is the album that should finally bump the band's faithful following up to the sizes it has always beckoned for. With playful Beatles-inspired boy-girl harmonies, trumpet and violin chorals, and a Paul Westerberg-style drunken piano line throughout most of its dozen tracks, much of this album gives the listener the idea of what it is like to catch a Neins live encore stubbornly chugging along past last call – gleefully rocking and reciting epic ballads long into the wee hours.

Closing dramatics have always been a Neins strong suit, both live and on record. Most of Sleeves and Wigs's simple strokes of brilliance come in the last few tracks, as there are nods to country and blues rock on "Welcome Home Eugene Choo", the Motown doo-wop ballads of "Goodbye You’re Alone", and the wistful Westerberg balladry rock of "This is the Way I Used To Be" (think The Replacements "Androgynous" on quaaludes).
To shrug this album's diverse nature off as 'quirky' is to understimate The Neins Circa's ability to reinterpret classic rock, alt-rock, blues, country and pop music into a lexicon that is timeless, yet most surely their own.

Mike Chilton - Discorder

"Sleeves and Wigs -Exclaim review"

Neins Circa
Sleeves And Wigs
By Sofi Papamarko

Listening to Sleeves And Wigs, one gets the impression that the Neins Circa don’t quite know where they stand musically. The Vancouver quartet oscillate between boisterous pop songs, earnest school gym slow dance-worthy ballads and offbeat experimentation. Variety is great and all but sometimes the Neins Circa come across as two completely different bands. Even Cameron Dilworth’s vocals divide between the earnestness of Ben Folds and the quirkiness of Dan Bejar (an unsurprising comparison, considering New Pornographer Carl Newman essentially discovered the band). The Neins Circa like to give credit where credit is due, slyly slipping allusions to heroes into their lyrics. Opening track “Faster Than Them” mentions an “airplane over the sea” and “The Bentley Hills” includes a line about “summer teeth,” references to Neutral Milk Hotel and Wilco, respectively. The vast majority of the song structures on Sleeves And Wigs refreshingly defy formula. It’s interesting, however, that the very best track is the most formulaic of the bunch. “Green Pants,” a ditty about a crafty DIY girlfriend and her homemade pants, is strictly verse, chorus, verse but damn if it isn’t pure magic. They’re still a young band but their potential is apparent. Once the Neins Circa sort themselves out, they’re going to have even more magic up their collective sleeves.(Copperspine) - Exclaim

"Sleeves and Wigs -Edmonton Journal"

Rating: 4

Review: From the moment Cameron Dilworth sings "I want to save your love in a little jar above the shelf where I keep my records" on Faster Than Them, it's hard not to smile. Sleeves and Wigs, the Neins Circa's second full-length release, is an exuberant demonstration of grandiose pop painted with huge rock 'n' roll smatterings. Dilworth's voice, with its roller-coaster-like inflection, sounds eerily similar to Jonathan Richman at times.The Neins Circa's sound incorporates '60s beach rock and '80s British new wave, but never takes itself too seriously to stay in one era too long. One of the album's best songs, Percy Francis, sees Dilworth and company utilizing orchestral strings over softly strummed guitar to great effect to tell the tale of a young boy named Percy Francis (of course) stumbling over the body of a suicide victim during a late-night walk. "We're only dancing here / for a short while dear / then we part," Dilworth sings in the final refrain. In the case of the Neins Circa, Canadian music fans should hope this isn't the case.

Tyler Morency - The Edmonton Journal

"Sunday Anthems -The Peak review"

The Neins Circa is a jaunty band, with a jaunty singer, and jaunty songs. And I like it, this jauntiness. I like it a lot. If you're familiar with the bands that make up the Elephant 6 Collective (Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal, et al.), then you are in many ways familiar with the elements that make up the jaunty molecule that is The Neins Circa. So maybe you like them already.

Sunday Anthems is the first full-length release from this Vancouver two- to five-piece band, and it's a fanciful gem. Singer Cameron Dilworth spins yarns about yarns, about escaping the city, about the much-overlooked importance of friendship, and about the power of music (the power to help you access the previous three yarn-topics). Which seems to be increasingly common fare for indie-rock storytellers - in direct contrast to their plotline-resisting, angle-lusting, indie-shrughugging brethren, those Killers and Bloc Parties and Deaths From Above: '80s-zeitgeist hunters, second-cousins to the actual pulse-fingerers (their own hands firmly gripping defibrillators, their legs stamping and quivering and hoisting . . .). I digress. Nothing against those particular bands, but their sound has evidently infiltrated the very atmosphere of our fair cities. No wonder Cameron Dilworth sings of escape.

Every song on this album is really good, especially the tin-canny, muted-trumpet oldie "Bloody Stars," which, although seemingly a short album interlude, strikes me as the climax. (It makes me clench my fists in inexpressible glee.) "Jonathon Livingston Seagull" is also remarkable, mainly because Dilworth's voice in the first half evokes Stuart McLean's Vinyl Caf� monologues, and then shoots up in pitch to quavering Jeff Magnum (Neutral Milk Hotel) heights. Which, for the unfamiliar, is high. High and quavering. As for the rest of the album, it swims the border between jaunty and gentle. Not gentilis, mind. Mark Little - The Peak/SFU

"Sunday Anthems -Chart Attack review"

Sounding a bit like Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band fresh out of retirement, The Neins Circa have produced an energetic and enthusiastic pop carnival with Sunday Anthems. The latest release on A.C. Newman's fledgling Blue Curtain label, McCartney-esque vocals and a zany retro sound draw you immediately to Beatles comparisons. For a more recent point of reference, this album would feel right at home alongside Olivia Tremor Control and Of Montreal. The band produce joyful music for some wide-ranging lyrical trips — fun little ditties about prostitution, old age and reading Jonathon Livingston Seagull. David McDougall - Chart Attack

"Sunday Anthems -Straight Magazine"

By coughing up this droll and brainy debut, the Neins Circa could soon be sharing in the spoils of Vancouver’s ongoing colonization of the planet with smart-ass pop. Local indie kingpin Carl Newman has already taken the band under his wing, and it’s easy to hear why: Cameron Dilworth’s songs are literate and ambitious, with the baroque melodiousness of Love or the Left Banke. “Bull Days” even seems to nod in the direction of Love’s “The Red Telephone”, down to a slightly creepy subtext that’s hard to pin down. Most of the album’s subject matter is difficult to get a handle on, but there’s a force to many of Dilworth’s poetic abstractions, and an undercurrent of the kind of anger you might associate with quiet, bookish types.

Of course, Sunday Anthems is also too clever for its own good in places. “Nora Nora” is a little slight for its five-minute build, and “Father”, which seems to have something substantial to say, is a Jacques Brel–like tango that is undermined by such arch design. Sunday Anthems really succeeds in its unguarded moments, like the dreamy “Overwild”, with its passionate and beautiful trumpet outro. Even better is “The Astoria Hotel”, which combines “Lady Madonna” with the Hollies for a sincere portrait of some rough trade. “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, the album’s centrepiece and a classic of sorts, is both monumentally silly and surprisingly moving. If Dilworth can fill a second album with songs as good as this one, Newman will have to start breaking fingers. Or pencils, anyway. By adrian mack - The Straight Magazine online

"Sleeves and Wigs All Music Review"

Produced by Caleb Stull of the Parlour Steps, and originally released with the title 'Please Feel Free to Enter the Tipi', the Nein's Circa's 'Sleeves and Wiggs' presents the most focussed and satisfying release in the group's short history. Hailing from the small town of Lacombe, Alberta, singer/guitarist Cameron Dilworth likes to weave angular songs about real people and places, made fantastical by his unique vocal styling - at times reminiscent of Tom Verlaine, or Sparks' Russel Mael - and quirky arrangements featuring horn, piano, cello, lap steel, atop traditional alt-rock instrumentation. Each song is a unique pastiche of styles, such as the twisted cabaret-pop of 'Eddie the Eagle' ("He bought glass eyes on the web, his hobby went right to his head"), or 'Percy Francis', adding soft strumming guitar and orchestral strings to a story of a boy stumbling upon the body of a suicide. Dilworth diverts occasionally from the anecdotal: - 'Here Comes Vancouver' playfully addresses the 'beard cladded' critics of Vancouver - "And we could try pleasing everyone, but we would never get it done before we die, And if you die, don't worry about your clothes, Cause everybody knows, what's best in life is free and your clothes look best on me"; and the earnest doo-wop inflected 'Goodbye You're Alone", a lovely rumination about death. The overall affect can be a bit bewildering, at first, but upon repeated listenings the CD presents itself as a small indie-rock gem and Cameron Dilworth as a unique talent with perhaps his best work ahead of him. Recommended. - All Music review


Full length:
Sleeves and Wigs
released May 18, 2007
on Copperspine Records

Sunday Anthems
released May 2005
on Blue Curtain

Both records streamable at CBC Radio 3-New Music Canada ->

songs from Sleeves & Wigs also streamable at ->



In describing the music of The Neins Circa, people have tossed around terms like "cabaret-pop", "earnest school gym slow dance-worthy ballads", "monumentally silly", "baroque melodiousness", and "offbeat experimentation". One reviewer referred to The Neins Circa as "a jaunty band, with a jaunty singer and jaunty songs", while another described the group's music as that of a "marching band proceeding jovially through the city streets".

These may very well be the same rain-drenched streets that criss-cross Vancouver, British Columbia, the westerly home of The Neins Circa. Centered around the songwriting talents of singer/guitarist Cameron Dilworth, The Neins Circa have spent the past several years developing a studio and stage presence steeped in the fantastical. The band first came together in 2002 as The Neins, a group of friends just looking to have some fun. A self-produced EP was released, shows were played, band members were both lost and gained, a debut album titled Sunday Anthems was produced, and it wasn't long before New Pornographer Carl Newman took notice and invited the band to join him on a 26-date North American tour in the summer of 2004.

During this tour, The Neins rubbed elbows and shared stages with the likes of Calexico, Rogue Wave, and Chad Van Gaalen, and enjoyed playing many legendary venues across the continent. Upon their return to Vancouver, the band was forced to change its name due to a titular conflict with a band from Oregon. The newly re-christened Neins Circa recorded a live in-studio session for CBC Radio 3 and shortly thereafter returned to the studio to work on their 2007 release, Sleeves and Wigs. The sophomore album found The Neins Circa tackling a bewildering assortment of styles and sounds, resulting in a multi-layered pop album that has caused many a "beard-cladded critic" to blush upon first listen.

The attention garnered by Sleeves and Wigs has resulted in a string of shows that prove as highly-anticipated as they are unpredictable; the musical equivalent of filling a warm blanket full of tambourines, trumpets, animal costumes and balloons, mixing in equal parts Modern Lovers and The Beatles, and lovingly tossing it out into a crowd. The Neins Circa live experience proves to be a stage-bound display of enthusiasm rarely seen in an average show.

The band's ever-evolving lineup has appeared to have hit its stride with its current 5-member incarnation of Cameron Dilworth (guitar/vocals), Sean Gilhooly (drums/percussion/vocals), Elaine Fung (bass/vocals/keyboards), Erin Jane (keyboards/vocals/trumpet/percussion), and Kevin Cromie (trumpet/guitar/vocals/percussion). Currently putting the finishing touches on an upcoming concept EP, The Neins Circa remain a musically ambitious and enthusiastic cornerstone of Vancouver's flourishing music scene.