The Dawn Chorus | The Carnival Leaves Town

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The Carnival Leaves Town

by The Dawn Chorus

12 tracks of intelligent, rousing Indie Country Pop. One man's obsession with a tightrope walker never sounded so good!
Genre: Folk: Anti-Folk
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Enter: The Carnival
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2:24 album only
2. The Guilt
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3:38 album only
3. Pacifists
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3:41 album only
4. Heartbeat In 5/4
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4:31 album only
5. Relatively Young And Quite In Love
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4:18 album only
6. Carnivalesque
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3:50 album only
7. Schumann
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5:32 album only
8. Green, Unpleasant Land
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4:22 album only
9. Carnival Sound
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3:44 album only
10. The Happiest Home In These Hills
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5:00 album only
11. Raised On High Wires
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3:45 album only
12. The Carnival Leaves Town
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5:11 album only


Album Notes says:
This is nice. They recently won Steve Lamacq’s Rebel Playlist on 6music. That’s one of our favourite radio programmes. That is all.


The Mag says:
Let’s face it. Nobody does music like The Dawn Chorus do music. They have forged a sound unlike any other band in Britain and it’s a damn fine sound without any doubt.

To recap, this band is the creator and owner of an endearing indie-folk sound that has matured with them over the past few years – and The Carnival Leaves Town is a continuation of the band at their peak.

I could talk about genius song-writing, as offered up by such instant favourites as ‘Pacifists’, ‘Relatively Young And Quite In Love’ or even ‘Schuman’ or about the depth in their musical style, demonstrated in ‘The Guilt’, ‘Carnivalesque’ and ‘Green Unpleasant Land’ – but at the end of the day, there are twelve awesome songs on this record that all contribute towards the Sgt. Pepper proportions of this record.

I just can’t get enough of this brave little folk band.


Breaking More Waves says:

Portsmouth is not particularly known as the UK’s musical hotbed of talent, innovation or creativity. The fact that the city and its surrounding environs most recent high profile output was the dreaded Same Difference says it all.

So step forward The Dawn Chorus, who with an almost single handed conviction could change the perception of Portsmouth from a musical wasteland, to somewhere with ideas, passion and a willingness to look outside of its near island insularity. The city football team may be going down the pan, but with The Carnival Leaves Town, The Dawn Chorus give Portsmouth something to be proud of again.

Having already gained the endorsement of modern folk-punk hero Frank Turner, who provides guest vocals on the bands recent zestful and uplifting single Carnivalesque, The Dawn Chorus deliver a recording that provides joyous, melancholy and heartfelt twists and turns through song writing that veers between folkish acoustic subtlety and fervently big indie rock moments. The whole thing is then liberally coated with soaring trumpets, soft accordion and even fleeting ferocious stabs of electric guitar. There’s enough here to drag you in on first listen, but also enough complexity to make successive visits even more rewarding.

The album opens with the evocative accordion based fairground sounds of Enter: The Carnival. It’s a monumental piece of gypsy stomp. Images of the freakshow, the weightlifters, the acrobats and the high-wire walkers marching through dirty south streets appear in the musical mind as seething guitars clash with Arcade Fire styled masculine chants. Then before you’ve had time to catch your breath you’re bounding headlong into the decadent ska-rock-romp of The Guilt (video below). It’s an eager start and it’s just as well that things are slowed down a little with the more gentle Pacifists for a moments reflection, otherwise we’d probably be collapsing in a heap with musical exhaustion.

Besides being a collection of charismatic indie-folk-rock songs, the album is also loosely thematic. A number of the tunes concern a storytellers love of a girl called Antoinette, a trapeze artist who performs with the carnival. The accordion makes a further appearance to provide sustenance to the intimate nightcap strum of Carnival Sound, a song that could easily have drunk grown men putting their arms around each other and crying into their pints. “I can’t stand the thought of that carnival sound, the way that old Antoinette still pulls a crowd, while I’m breaking my back to stay in the black,” lead singer Kyle mourns sadly in his not nearly as nasal but slightly flat Conor Oberst styled vocal. “How I long to get back to the way things were, before the fame came and got the best of her,” he wistfully dreams later on the closing title track. Out of these heavyhearted tales there are songs that are surprisingly likeable; it seems that from the sadness comes pleasure.

So when the carnival has gone and the album is over, the lasting impression is of a body of work that may not be particularly fashionable in its sound, but succeeds by virtue of being a genuinely impressive collection of songs. Quite a show. Three cheers.


Call Upon The Author says:

The Dawn Chorus are an act we’ve had our eye on for some time, ever since we got our grubby little paws on their debut album (reviewed here) we’ve been excited by their ability to weave the mundane and everyday into something rather lovely.

With this, their second album the band – aided and abetted by guitar toting cult punk-troubadour Frank Turner – have expanded their sound and also taken it to some intriguing, dark places. If the first disc introduced The Dawn Chorus, then this is their Empire Strikes Back, a much more complex and interesting piece.

The carnival theme runs throughout, as do topics and characters touched up on in earlier songs, and the album flows much better as a whole than as a set of songs. The exception to this rule would be first single Carnivalesque. I won’t go into too much detail on this track as I’ve already reviewed it here, but suffice it to say that it’s a great introduction to the themes of this set of songs. Other tracks well worth a look include Heartbeats in 5/4 and Green, Unpleasant Land but, as previously stated, it is as a cohesive whole that this album is strongest.

Once again The Dawn Chorus prove to be exciting and interesting in equal measure and I, for one, can’t wait for the third installment!


Subba-Cultcha says:

The UK folk rock conglomeration bring sunshine and happy tears with new album…

Imagine, if you will, Gogol Bordello – But instead of Romany and Carny chic, they are from estuary England, Full of tea, Cucumber sandwiches and Beatles record appreciation.

Imagine – Instead of punk rock chaos, they instead spin a folky, smoky, very English quality of sound – but can escape into full on sonic creationism with unexpected and brilliant results.

Can you imagine that?

You can?
Then You are listening to the Dawn Chorus.

They sound nothing like Gogol Bordello, other than the fact they both make music screaming at the past and full of community spirit (and, yes, they both have accordionists) But they do share a common thread of music from the group mentality…
Big line-ups all working seamlessly and creating music that is layered, full of nuance and life and completely and utterly alive with the souls and hearts of each member who make the band.

Throw Frank Turner into the mix with guest vocals that add layers to the layers already on show – and providing vocals here COMPLETELY different from his solo work or that on Million Dead, and you damn well near have the perfect UK alternative/folk/rock band.

At times there is a flash of Beatles genius songcrafting, then a blast of Bluresque poprock, then a sudden burst of Oasis guitar work – but never, ever, EVER does this ever sound like something tipping its hat to influence, always carving it’s own niche and making its own trail.

How many albums this year or any year have you heard a mandolin solo?

Unique. Lovingly made. Perfect English music.

Like a sonic equivalent of having a picnic on a perfect English summer day with Keira Knightley – by the banks of the Avon or Thames, wearing Boater hats and watching the boats go by… It drips, oozes and screams Quaint English charm, and this is the ingredient that makes it so amazing and loveable.

The Dawn Chorus should be played at assembly every morning in every school across the land. Children would be happier, better behaved and appreciate the nation of Tea and Honey – Asbo’s would be a thing of the past and we would once again have an Empire.

The Dawn Chorus are here to save your life, your country and your Queen.
Thank them…

For they are English heroes.


17Seconds says:

Jelly Maid Music, based in Portsmouth, England, have been responsible for putting out a couple of gems. Last year it was The B Of The Bang’s Beginning. Middle. End and The Autons’ Who Do You Think You Are Kidding?- and this year it is the sophomore album from the Dawn Chorus.

Much as I loved ‘The Hope Will Kill Us’ from from the band’s début album The Big Adventure, I wasn’t blown away by the parent album. But since this album arrived in my in-tray, it has enjoyed several listens and a definite thumbs up from yours truly. Comparisons have been made with Gogol Bordello – not because they actually sound anything like them, but because of the spirit of the album. It truly is the spirit of a Carnival; arrival, show and departure all.

There’s thankfully no press release sporting a lot of crap about a thread running throughout the album, so it works both as an album in its’ own right and with some standout tracks. These would have to include ‘Carnivalesque’ (featuring Frank Turner which they’re chuffed to bits about) and ‘The Guilt.’ Is it a ‘concept’ album? Who knows? It’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Musically, comparisons could be made with the likes of The Coral’s first album – the fact that some of these songs could be sea shantys, and rather like that first album, they’re throwing everything in there and making something wonderful. Broken Records, for the way the seem to be inocorporating bits of other ‘folk’ music (for want of a better label) and making something that is distinctively theirs. And like labelmates The B of the Bang, the feeling that they understand that a rimeless pop song does not mean it has to sound like another 1960s rip-off.

The band have grown considerably over the last couple of years, and hopefully this album will win the plaudits it so richly deserves.


The Carnival Leaves Town is out now on Jelly Maid Music.

------------------------------------------------------------------------- says:

The Dawn Chorus are an intriguing prospect on paper, a rag-tag collective of musicians playing thematically complex arrangements who count ex Million Dead front-man Frank Turner amongst their rotating cast of characters. Of course Turner has more recently carved out a niche for himself as almost a modern day Bob Dylan and it’s that sound (not his post-hardcore past) which informs The Dawn Chorus’s often glorious sophomore album. Using the conceit of a carnival as a metaphor for life is an interesting prospect and there are obvious connotations which allow the music to ‘go off on one’ without sounding forced or overly considered. So to start the album with histrionic carnival fanfare seems perfectly natural, it sets the stage perfectly with a twisted, distorted take on Rain Dogs era Tom Waits.

It’s a bit of a red herring as nothing else here really captures the same level of madness, it leads well into the first Frank Turner collaboration though. ‘The Guilt’ is the first of many songs which sound like they could have quite easily have been written by Nebraskan prodigy Conor Oberst (‘The Happiest Home In These Hills’ even steals the melody and rhythm from Oberst’s own ‘Calender Which Hung Itself’). Of course this is hardly a negative comparison and despite the bands roots in Americana there is still a defiant British streak to many of the songs here. ‘Relatively Young And Quite In Love’ for example displays the lyrical whimsey and easy melodic instincts of Ray Davies or Syd Barrett.

Musically it’s a very consistent affair with the swirling atmospherics and eclectic instrumentation often proving a thrilling foil to the direct lyrics. It’s a dynamic record too which manages to explore subtle, quiet pastures on tracks such as the dainty ‘Pacifists’ and the sparse ‘Carnival Sound’, as well as the more anthemic fare. Star of the show however is the albums centrepiece, the lovelorn beauty of ‘Schumann’. The song is named for Robert Schumann, a 19th century composer who’s well documented romance with pianist Clara Wieck drove him to madness. The only tangible link to the ‘carnival’ I can see is that Schumann happened to compose a song called ‘Carnaval’ which was one of his most famous works, that’s of no consequence though. It’s just a stunning song which outshines everything else here and could quite easily have found a place on Arcade Fire’s classic ‘Funeral’ album.

Elsewhere there are let downs with ‘Carnivalesque’ making up for it’s lack of a definable melody with a Morricone horn section which sounds frankly out of place and the closing title track coming across as something of an anti-climax. Overall though the record is a success which highlights the talents of an exciting young band who deserve exposure.

------------------------------------------------------------------------- says:

Editor’s note: This review is long overdue. We were sent this album weeks before its February release date, but regrettably it was put on a pile in a Very Safe Place and overlooked until now. But who cares about critical punctuality? Here’s our tuppence worth…

Put on your best headphones, boys and girls, because this deserves some special attention. The Carnival Leaves Town is the new LP from the critically-acclaimed The Dawn Chorus (not to be confused with this Dawn Chorus or this other The Dawn Chorus, but perhaps meriting a favorable comparison with this dawn chorus). Unsurprisingly, Carnival takes on the conceit of a wandering fair, with almost all of the melancholy and dilapidated burlesque one could hope for.

Each song is penned with the consistently superlative lyrics for which The Dawn Chorus are becoming known. Kyle Evans has a good wail on him, for an indie boy, and makes strong use of it. Occasionally, however, it does sound like he’s trying to sing through his sinuses when he reaches for higher notes; this is especially apparent on ‘Pacifists’. This (admittedly minor) fault in fact contributes to the atmosphere; the seedy air of a rundown attraction on the straw-hat circuit. But it is the wonderful accordion and trumpet pieces that really bolster this image, shouldering most of the burden of sustaining the carnival sound. Carnival…’s great strength is in its compositions; for each song, the instrumentals are skillful, haunting, and at times wonderfully despondent.

It’s a little hard to take the lyrics seriously at times, coming from such a young vocalist. Evans’ vocals lack the kind of substance and heft that give credence to lyrics like “As our children watch us gracefully become dirt in the ground“. And while the opening number, “Enter: The Carnival”, sets up the mad and the histrionic, the conceit falls through rather quickly. None of the other songs in the album showcase that same madcap dilapidation. The inclusion, for instance, of ‘Schumann’ was a confusing choice. It might very well be the best song on an album filled with excellent pieces showcasing an extremely talented group of musicians, but its connection to carnival is ephemeral at best (Schumann wrote, as Romantic fans may know, a piece called ‘Carnaval’, naming sections after two girls he was seeing at the time).

Strongly melodic and lyrically gifted, The Carnival Leaves Town is weak as a concept album, but this should by no means be taken as a detraction on anything but the packaging. Sophomore albums often fall sub-par, but with these beautifully-crafted songs The Dawn Chorus easily meet the bar set by their debut.


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