Celebrating 10 Years of Circa Survive’s ‘Juturna’

juturna

People sometimes ask me what my musical evolution was, and my general answer is that, before anything else, Circa Survive got me into independent music. Before hearing their debut Juturna, which turned ten years old on Sunday, I’m pretty sure I only listened to Linkin Park and that one Three Days Grace song. At some point in elementary school, I started spending after-school hours at my neighbor Julian’s house. His brother Jeffrey was always holed up in his room blaring music, and more often than not, he’d be listening to Juturna. I didn’t know it immediately back then, but when I finally found out that name — Circa Survive — I was hooked.

That day, I went to YouTube and clicked on the first result with a song title, “circa survive act appalled.” This is where it starts. A year or two later, my brother would cover this song at an acoustic show and dedicate it to me. Half a year after that, he’d tell me he’s never been one to focus much on lyrics, but those of Anthony Green were an exception. I had to agree: Circa Survive was the first band I’d ever heard who was so mystic, imaginative and multifaceted, both lyrically and instrumentally. I was so enthralled by lyrics and meaning in those days that I’d spend hours at a time reading SongMeanings comments, trying to demystify Green’s just off-base, particularly indistinct lyricism. Of the many lines I can single out from the safest and most conventional song on Juturna, “Act Appalled,” the ending lyrics before the final chorus seem the most appropriate, relevant even, now: “Both we and our words are overproduced by influence.”

And so began an intimate love for one of independent music’s most influential and standout bands. Looking back to Juturna after ten years proves its lasting power and influence. So many bands that came after attempted to emulate Circa’s effects-laden, atmospheric and psychedelic brand of progressive, almost theatrical indie rock ten years after their debut record, yet none can even come close to the standard that it laid.

Juturna was released on April 19, 2005 on Equal Vision Records to average scores that made sure to praise Green’s vocals, like everyone expected, and lament the fact that Circa did not pick up where Saosin left off, like everyone expected. AbsolutePunk’s Scott Weber gave the record an 80%, remarking “…they have a ton of talent, but this album is just a lackluster effort from a band that is capable of much more.” He later made an edit to his review that rescinded a fair amount of his criticism: where he previously lamented certain, more free-flowing and expansive tracks to be “lazy” and “loosely defined,” he revokes his certainty with, “I later fell in love with this record and found the spacey music to be beautiful.”

The growing pains of a band too ahead of its time?

Perhaps so. Each song on Juturna effectively turns Circa in a new direction. Generally more comprised of ambience as the 53-minute record progresses, the band throws you for a whirl as the almost gloomy, melodic framework of “We’re All Thieves” transitions into the pummeling opening riff of “Oh, Hello” before Green lets out a shriek: “Didn’t I know you, mystery man?”

Are there any lyrics that sum up the essence of Juturna than those of “Oh, Hello?” The straightforward sociological-panic shown in the opening line and others such as “A stranger’s just someone that you’ve forgotten. How will we know if we’ve met before or done this dance, mystery man?” shows Green’s thought process following a philosophical yet logical progression: in On Letting Go, the 2007 follow-up to Juturna, shows Green no longer in a sort of existential crisis, but in an outright denial of his former God. A narrative reveals itself beneath the band’s rather unorthodox nature.

I’ll say it: Circa Survive changed my life. I would not be where I am without having heard bits and pieces of Juturna through a bedroom door or memorizing that goddamn chorus from “Act Appalled.” I’ve grown a lot since first hearing Juturna, but if there’s anything that Juturna left in me, as a music listener way before I ever delved into the hectic world of music journalism, it is that music should challenge the listener, and leave it to Circa Survive to be the band that keeps on challenging, unrelentingly, and in that same vein, always impressing.

Editorial written by Mark Garza

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