Circus McGurkus The Circus McGurkus

If you think naming your band after a Dr. Seuss book of nursery rhymes and then writing music to accompany poetry by Philip Larkin, Stevie Smith, Wendy Cope, Roger McGough and, er… Cole Porter is a tad silly, well perhaps you are correct. By the "diddle diddle day” chorus of album opener "Blue Genes” you may be tempted to write the whole thing off as a tad annoying as well. But forging ahead yields some reward. Markus Schonholzer on banjo and lead vocals (and composer of music throughout) has a delivery and sense of play that skirts the lighter fare by Brecht and Weill as well as slightly more contemporary works by folks like Randy Newman, Tom Waits and Magnetic Fields. The light jazz/Tin Pan Alley themes he writes are easily likeable and played tightly and masterfully by his Swiss quintet. The music is most engaging when it accompanies Shonholzer’s own lyrics, as on "Quiet,” where being wry is not the only order of business. With a lighter dosage of smugness and a higher density of originality the Circus might delight an audience of all ages. (RecRec)