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Photo Credit :: Fish Circus
Arts & Entertainment
Fish Circus V2 :: Sun Shining Down
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
April 21, 2009  
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Just like the cool kids in the cafeteria, the arty ones you always wanted to sit with but were a little too scared of, Fish Circus’s second CD, simply titled Volume 2, ensnares you with its trippy combination of punky funky klezmer beats and holds you hostage, playing mind games with your booty (and “your boobies,” as one of their contagious songs has it).

Hailing from southern California, Fish Circus plays live shows notable for uncontrollable energy and adrenaline rushes that bleed profusely into the audience. Their latest CD showcases lead vocalist’s Anais Thomassian’s hypnotizing voice, as well as her accordion, which should be your tip off that this is not your conventional progressive rock band. Using trombone, violin, French horn, and bass, as well as that accordion and assorted percussion (think mooing cow), the six-member band creates psychedelic, playful aural tapestries, laden with labyrinthine wordplay.

With a riveting stage presence combined of a pantherine grace and a firecracker’s dynamism, Thomassian (a member of the Spiegelworld/Spiegeltent/Absinthe troupe) can appear as a cross-generational amalgam of Josephine Baker and Janis Joplin. This is a woman who channels both Betty Boop and Stephen King’s Carrie, thereby riding the razor’s edge between flirtatious and flinty (listen to the incendiary cut “Constitution”). In short: a true Southern Californian.

Together with her five cohorts, Thomassian and Fish Circus make music that makes you want to drive all night. To hear “Red Haze of the Western Sky” or “In The Whale’s Belly” is to feel yourself traveling across the country, heading for Burning Man or Coachella in a school bus called Furthur filled with Merry Pranksters. And as the full moon rises overhead, there’s Thomassian serenading you with a Fish Circus lullaby, “Rest Now.

Careful, though: there’s no sleeping in this van. This is music that moves you, both cerebrally and viscerally. You’ll shake your tailfeathers as your mind wraps around lyrics like “sun shine, shining down, shine on these healthy, bouncy breasts floppin’ around.” Kick it up and kick it back; Fish Circus, Volume 2, is irresistible.

Fish Circus, Vol. 2 available at