America’s The Cyrkle are often reduced to just one song, the earwormy uber-hit “Red Rubber Ball,” and perhaps “Turn Down Day” if you were really paying attention. Neither of the hits were written by the band, contributing to the view that they were a bit of a record company creation. But they were a real band. They opened live shows for Simon and Garfunkel and the Beatles. They were managed by the Beatles’ Brian Epstein. And they wrote most of their own material, as evident on two stellar albums, Red Rubber Ball and the tragically under-rated Neon, both released in 1966. They also had a sound that was unique. The Cyrkle reflected a distinctly American take on the British invasion influences, particularly with their vocal mix. It’s an influence I think you can hear across a range of great poprock acts today.
I don’t want stretch this comparison too far as the bands covered here are obviously doing their own thing and may or may not have heard much of the Cyrkle. My point is just to highlight the similarities. I mean, listen to exquisite vocal mix that’s all over Cut Worms’ debut album, Hollow Ground. It leapt out at me on the opening track “How Can It Be” and seemed even stronger on “Don’t Want To Say Goodbye” – it was what got me thinking about where I’d heard this kind of addictive, candy-coated vocal treatment before, leading me back to the Cyrkle. Of course, there’s a lot of Everly’s and mid-1960s country rock influence here too, particularly on “It Won’t Be Too Long” and “Think It Might Be Love.” You won’t need to be skint with this record, it’s a full album purchase. Thanks to my pals at Toronto’s greatest record store, Soundscapes, for the tip!
Ok, on to The Maple State. Wait a minute, didn’t I just cover them in a previous blog post? Yes, attentive reader, I did just offer a glowing review of the Manchester band’s new double-A sided single. But then I gave a serious listen to “Something in the Water” from their most recent LP, The Things I Heard at the Party, and it sounded like a new wave reinvention of the Cyrkle’s sound. Magical! So I had to include it in this themed post. The Young Veins also struck me as modern version of The Cyrkle in many ways, perhaps a bit rockier. But the sonic resemblance is definitely there, particularly given the strong melody lines and in-your-face wall of vocals. It’s all there on the title track “Let’s Take a Vacation” and even more so on the 1960s time capsule-esque, should-be single, “Capetown.” The Young Veins – Capetown
Whether influences are direct or not, they remain, bubbling around the edges of our consciousness, only to re-emerge in some new yet slightly familiar form. Get your own déjà vu going by giving more attention to Cut Worms, The Maple State and The Young Veins. Or you could just return to the source, The Cyrkle, if it’s pristine 1960s melodic hooks you’re after.