Press

Bread and Circus is included on a compilation released by German label Le Pop Musik entitled: Tucson Songs

Here comes a quartet that is as much typical as it is rare. Typical for the Arizona-scene because is brings together alternative and country. Rare because of the way Bread and Circus does it, cool, raw and energetically, done only before by the likes of Green on Red. For those who are not in the loop, Green on Red was a figurehead in the US College Rock scene alongside R.E.M., Camper Van Beethoven and The Feelies. Good to know that this tradition has been passed on so successfully. link

Review of Born Again Again in Terrascope U.K.

A blistering rock record that does not let up much for its duration, the brain child of engineer/guitarist John Axtell, here we have Bread And Circus with “Born Again Again” on Slowburn records out of Arizona. This starts about 9 and goes to 11, to use a spinal tap measure.
Straight out of the gates we get guitars that swagger and bluster, great waves of crunching guitar riffs , pounding drums, molten lead guitar, passionate vocals and that’s just the first track, followed swiftly by the great slab of heartland rifferama that’s “The Wishing Tree”, things settle down a little for track three “The La La Song” with hints of classic era Clash on the vocals. The Twin lead guitars of Eric Johnson and Jeff Kluesner often dominate the songs but it’s fine as that’s what they need. Instruments include piano, guitar,bass and drums with the occasional keyboard.

Standout tracks are the aforementioned “The Wishing Tree”, plus “Carol Of Bells”, “Scarecrow” and “Loretta”. “You Were In Love” offers a bit of a respite with its lilting organ but still shot through with some superb lead guitar filling in the spaces, if you like guitars then you would do well to invest in this record , think classic Stones, Replacements etc…. phew I need a lie down. Link

Review of Spare Me Over in Tucson Weekly

Although it’s been available since at least April, the members of Bread and Circus are just now getting around to celebrating the release of their debut album, Spare Me Over (SlowBurn). The album began as the work of singer/songwriter/guitarist John Axtell, an audio engineer who owns Signalhouse Recording studio, and ex-Dharma Bums drummer Sam Donaldson, but was eventually rounded out by the addition of guitarist/singer Eric Johnson (Black Sun Ensemble, Sun Zoom Spark) and bassist Joe Yearego (Los Federales), as well as a number of guest contributors.

Spare Me Over is one of those albums that sounds timeless: It infuses traditional countrified desert rock with elements of folk, rockabilly, blues and psychedelia, with the shadows of Bob Dylan and Neil Young hovering over it in equal measure. Plus, Axtell is a fine songwriter and literary lyricist. “Miss Me” is a jaunty, galloping, “you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone” ditty (“I guess time is a river that rolls to the sea / And the sea is a sky for the stars in the trees”), while “My Devil” is a Stonesy take on Faust that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Beggars Banquet.

Of the handful of down-tempo tunes found here, “Salt” stands out as a moody slow-burner; the gorgeous “Radar” benefits from some fine piano work; and “Juanita” is an epic, gospel-tinged retelling of the immaculate conception. Elsewhere, “Astor Place” is a drunkenly giddy, absurd sing-along (“She got kicked in the Astor Place, she fell down with the powder on her face / Woke up in flames on Avenue A, took up a collection and cleaned the whole plate off”) complete with handclaps and horns. The bonus track “Buy Something” is a tossed-off critique about consumerism.

Spare Me Over doesn’t cover any new ground, but it doesn’t need to; it treads the ground it covers splendidly.

Bread and Circus perform a rare live show in celebration of the release of Spare Me Over at Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., on Saturday, July 21. Ghost Cow and Twang Tango will also perform, with music starting somewhere around 9 p.m. link

Spare Me Over is available at:
Borders, Zia, CD Baby, I-Tunes, CD City: buy now

Review of Spare Me Over in All Music Guide

“Bread and Circus plays rough-hewn country-rock on their debut CD, which has shades of Neil Young when he’s in his most down’n’dirty mood, or a bit of cowpunk on some of the brisker tunes, and perhaps a bit of the early-‘70s Rolling Stones . . . on the whole, however, it’s country-Americana-tinged roots rock with a slightly weary and cynical feel, though it’s not laid back, with some grunge and flame to the electric guitars.” -Richie Unterberger

Bread and Circus guitarist Eric Johnson answers Nine Questions from the Tucson Weekly

What CDs are in your changer right now?

Been listening to Amon Düül II, Yeti; Peter Green, The End of the Game; Songs of the Humpback Whale; Robert Calvert, Freq; Robert Wyatt, The End of an Ear; John Frusciante, To Record Only Water for Ten Days. link

Review of Spare Me Over in Terrascope U.K.

Singing guitarist, John Axtell formed Bread and Circus with ex-Dharma Bum drummer, Sam Donaldson. Soon, Black Sun Ensemble guitarist, Eric Johnson and ex-Los Federales bassist, Joe Yearego were enlisted to add some flesh to Axtell’s musical skeleton and B&C were off to Axtell’s Signalhouse Recording Studio to complete their debut release. Right from the hee-hawing, toe-tapping, countrified Stonesy swagger of opener, ‘Miss Me,’ this is a loose, laidback collection of fun, sloppy rockers in the well-worn tradition of other super groups like Golden Smog and Danny & Dusty. In fact, fans of Wilco, Dream Syndicate, and fellow Arizona desert dwellers, Green On Red should certainly jump right in to this cool oasis of goodtime groovers. ‘My Devil’ honey drips out of your speakers like a caramel sundae melting in the blazing Arizona sun, with Johnson’s dirtyass, fuzzy solo adding a snarling, garagey vibe to the proceedings. ‘Letters’ adds a stroke of ‘Cortez The Killer’-styled minor key blues to the quartet’s bag of trips, with the extra added bonus of delicious backing vocals from the delectable hot babe trio of Monika Damron, Sara Gascho, and Kristan Islas. Toss in Johnson’s warbling wah-wah’s and a pull-the-rug-out-from-under-you ending, and you’ve got a night on the town you won’t soon forget!

‘Love Come Around’ is a moody, tears-in-your-beers weeper, and Donaldson’s crisp drum patterns propels the fried-eyed ‘Salt’ into the wounds of broken-hearted lovers. Thankfully, the band aren’t averse to tossing in an acoustic ballad to mix up the heady brew, and the sleepy, whiskey-soaked ‘Radar’ fits the bill just fine, thank you. The band also lighten things up considerably with the hootin’-and-a-hollerin’, ‘Astor Place,’ an epic cowboy roundup with the Infernal Racket horns and Aldy Montufar’s trumpet stutter-stepping through the drunken carolers, whilst Dylan’s kid, Jakob and his flowers on the wall smile bleary-eyed from the sidelines. This is definitely a major entry in the always fun ‘Saloon Rock’ style of good time rock and roll. (Jeff Penczak) link

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