The Circle Curse’s Low-Flying Aircraft Sends the Band Out on a High Note

by Brian J. Audette

Circle Curse Low Flying Aircraft

Back toward the end of 2013 I was taken somewhat by surprise when I first heard about Austin band The Circle Curse on Vice/Noisey writer Dan Ozzi’s now (mostly) defunct blog Jaded Punk. The surprise was mainly due to shock that a band so obviously in my wheelhouse had escaped my immediate notice. A cross section of post-In On The Kill Taker era Fugazi’s jazz punk and early Unwound-style post hardcore noise, The Circle Curse occupy a somewhat unique strata in Austin music and on the (post) hardcore scene at large. It just so happens that this style pushes many of the right buttons for me and on their latest EP Low-Flying Aircraft, The Circle Curse are at it again.

Opener “Distance” roars to life as a classic hardcore song, with a full-throated lyrical assault, violent rhythm, and scathing guitars. After the song’s vocal denouement “You’re losing (sight of yourself)” it takes one of those slight right turns that continue to endear me to The Circle Curse, maintaining much of the ferocity, but injecting a smoother, bassy jam-like quality as the track culminates. It’s a good start that unfortunately is followed up by the EP’s weakest moment on the track “Be Patient, Patient.” An initially slower song with a spoken vocal style reminiscent of Unwound’s Justin Trosper, “Be Patient, Patient” explodes with a frenetic breakdown just before the halfway mark at which point it feels like the cohesion and timing of the song go out the window. Ultimately it leaves the song feeling like a demo track at best.

Luckily the rest of Low-Flying Aircraft does not follow suit. “Lucre” shows up next with staccato verses leading into a chorus of grunge-adjacent, early 90’s post-hardcore swagger, followed by a hazy tom-rolling mid section and a blazing outtro. “Scopolamine” is one of the album’s longest and most interesting tracks with its bass-driven slow jam rhythm, juxtaposed by vocal scratch, a lyrical quandary of faith and free will, pierced by tightly wound explosions of crunchy riffage. “Funeral Shroud” again visits that Unwound style of pseudo mumblecore spoken vocals (though more successfully this time around) its sludgey meets explosive dichotomy evoking early 90’s post hardcore/grunge once again, while “Stasis (In Color)” closes the EP out with a faster track similar to opener “Distance”, but interspersed with quiet reverby poetry in the middle before growling to a close.

Despite a brief stumble on the EP’s second track, Low-Flying Aircraft manages to take what The Circle Curse provided on their 2013 debut and move it another step along the line. There’s a bit more confidence, energy, and daring to these tracks than what we heard on Glass City and this is overall a better representation of what I’ve heard from The Circle Curse live in the interim. I still count this act as one to watch here in Austin and definitely one to go out and see whenever the opportunity presents. In a sea of similar punk acts, The Circle Curse have their own spin that if not entirely unique, at least doesn’t get out into the sunlight as often as I’d like.

[Note: this review was written before The Circle Curse announced they were breaking up. You can check out photos by Ashley Bradley of their last gig here.]

Brian Audette lives somewhere in Austin within a pillow fort made of broken dreams. He only comes out to see shows and buy beer. He has a surprisingly well maintained lawn and is using it to breed an army of attack mosquitoes with which to take over the world. Brian can be reached at or on Twitter at @bjaudette.