Review of Halo Circus' New Album "Bunny"

Review of Halo Circus' New Album "Bunny"

A genre-defying debut endeavor succeeded by a record-breaking tour
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For those of you who were devout American Idol fans in your youth (like myself), you may remember the name Allison Iraheta. On Season 8, she made it to fourth place with her rock star sensibilities and edgy vocal and musical choices, but since her time on TV, she has formed a new band: Halo Circus.

Allison Iraheta + Halo Circus was co-founded by Iraheta and multi-platinum producer, producer and bassist Matthew Hager. They are joined on drums by accomplished Cantonese and orchestral drummer Veronica Bellino, who’s previously worked with Jeff Beck and DMC of Run DMC; and on guitar by Brian Stead. Late this past June, the band released their first album, Bunny, which features a wide array of tracks that cover a variety of genres, tempos, and languages.

In fact, if there is one point I would drive home about this album from the start, it is that Bunny is most impressive and successful due to the skill and passion required to deftly traverse these varying styles. This is possibly a result of an extra year spent re-recording the album after a first attempt in 2015 and lots of sound changes resulting from their live shows. There are glimmers of soft-spoken ballads; moments of late '90s and early '00s style pop; hard-hitting rock riffs and vocals reminiscent of other contemporary progressive rock bands; Latin-inspired tracks accompanied by bilingual lyrics; even other cuts with a big band sound and booming vocals; and a couple of uncanny interlude-like tracks even sneak their way in. The way Iraheta's voice transcends these disparate sounds is especially notable, with the roughness that made her stand out on Idol returning with the feel of a throwback, of sorts, to raspy lounge singers.

When tracking the shifts between these songs, the album--which I might point out the band suggests to be listened to in its entirety, in order--starts out with a nearly seamless transition from the first song, "He Promises the Moon"--which is slow, retro, and a little eerie--to the second, "Nothing At All"--a bombastic and fast-paced rock song which showcases Iraheta's sassy vocals, and gives me fond Idol flashbacks. This track and the third, "All I Have," feel, to me, like the most fully realized examples of their unique brand of rock that is simultaneously broody and aggressive, similar to the band Muse.

The album shifts at this point, away from its "rock-y" start, to Iraheta's "Salvadorian background and her youth growing up in South Central Los Angeles." Three songs (tracks four, six, and seven, with five as an interlude to tie them together) in total take on a Latin-inspired musicality and bilingual lyrics that add a distinct extra edge as the album tones down its punky vibe. The fourth song, "Desire (Lo Que Vale La Pena)," the standout single from the album, uses this edge especially well as a more pop-inclined track with a bilingual chorus and title. Sixth, "Yo Me Voy" is a crescendoing all-Spanish ballad that slows down the tracklist after the transition provided by "Far From Eden," but maintains the vocal and emotional power behind the music thus far. Finally, there is "Verdad," another Spanish song with a great beat driving strong tunes and vocals, with occasional delicate instrumental pauses.

At this point, the album shifts again, turning more towards the inclinations of pop. "Guns In Our Hands" is the first example of this, infusing the new school of pop with some old school sounds lounge sounds, this song is impactful, sounding as if could be on the soundtrack for a big movie. Next, "Band-Aid" keeps the momentum, starting out slightly more grungy, and building into a loud pop-rock anthem that takes on slightly political overtones. And then, "Out Of Love" continues the trend, as a pop-rock single that could and should currently be on the radio...end of story.

For track eleven, "You Can't Take You Away From Me," again a change occurs, returning to the vessel of the ballad but with a new gospel and orchestral feel. It's loud and intense, and about love, as all good songs like that are. But after a beat-heavy transition provided by "Dawn," the pop is back in full swing with the album closer "Something Special." I love this song because while it starts slowly when it gets going it reminds me of radio singles from the aughts (especially Hillary Duff for some reason I have yet to be able to pin down). It's a great way to cap off the whole record, especially with its sweet sound and lyrics.

The variety of styles that Halo Circus plays with serves them well on this album because each genre stands out on its own, with a few very strong tracks from each category that showcase their unique and versatile skill. If interested, the album is available on an eco-friendly CD that includes an eight-page lyric booklet with artwork by Patty Palazzo of Punk Masters and photography by famed artist and video director Nick Egan. Reviewers got a furry version of the advance CD--the cover art was reversed and a huge swatch of pink fake fur covers the front.

Halo Circus also offers their album as a "stylish and convenient" "Faux Curio" keychain. Vaguely, but not entirely reminiscent of a rabbit's foot, that version offers enhanced quality audio and includes an exclusive bonus song, the music video "Desire," and digital lyric and artwork booklet. But unlike any other record album, "Faux Curio" buyers will get exclusive future free content that's theirs alone. The band also produced an amazing micro-short film/commercial “Take Back Your Music Collection” to promote it here:

All physical album formats come with a free MP3 download of the record. Halo Circus’ site also offers fans other goodies including signed CD’s, handwritten lyric sheets, t-shirts, and, for superfans, dinner with frontwoman Allison Iraheta herself.

Fresh on the heels of their debut full-length album, Allison Iraheta + Halo Circus have hit the road for their highly anticipated US tour underway now and running through Fall 2016. The tour made history when announced with a successful crowdfunding campaign: the band declared that any town in America that raised $600 would get to host a Halo Circus show. Within weeks, the campaign reached 100% fan backing, setting a record for the largest US crowdfunded tour to date, with 30+ US cities on the schedule.

Iraheta concludes, “Our aim was high: play as much as possible and try to develop a reputation as a great live band before releasing an album. Somehow along the way, we learned how to play these songs to an audience and the band actually started to take on a life of its own.” Now, with the album release and tour, Halo Circus will bring their fans a trove of new material to satisfy their musical cravings.

Want to catch Halo Circus in your town? Check out the dates and locations below or search the tour schedule here.

September 23rd

Lion's Lair Lounge— Denver, CO

September 27th

Curtain Club—Dallas, TX

September 29th

Texas Mist— Austin, TX

October 1st

McGonigel’s Mucky Duck—Houston, TX

October 3rd

The Basement— Nashville, TN

October 5th

Will's Pub— Orlando, FL

October 14th

Joe Squared— Baltimore, MD

October 15th

Tree House Lounge— Washington, D.C.

October 17th

Bourbon & Branch— Philadelphia, PA

October 20th

Rockwood Music Hall— New York, NY

October 21st

The Red Room at Café 939— Boston, MA

October 26th

Double Happiness— Columbus, OH

October 27th

PJ's Lager House— Detroit, MI

October 29th

uncommonground — Chicago, IL

Cover Image Credit: New Transcendence

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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15 Thing Only Early 2000's Kids Will Understand

"Get connected for free, with education connection"

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This is it early 2000's babies, a compilation finally made for you. This list is loaded with things that will make you swoon with nostalgia.

1. Not being accepted by the late 90's kids.

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Contrary to what one may think, late 90's and early 00's kids had the same childhood, but whenever a 00's kid says they remember something on an "only 90's kids will understand" post they are ridiculed.

2. Fortune tellers.

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Every day in elementary school you would whip one of these bad boys out of your desk, and proceed to tell all of your classmates what lifestyle they were going to live and who they were going to marry.

3.Bunnicula

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You could never read this book past 8 o'clock at night out of fear that your beloved pet rabbit would come after you.

4. Silly bands.

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You vividly remember begging your parents to buy you $10 worth of cheap rubber bands that vaguely resembles the shape of an everyday object.

5. Parachutes.

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The joy and excitement that washed over you whenever you saw the gym teacher pull out the huge rainbow parachute. The adrenaline that pumped through your veins whenever your gym teacher tells you the pull the chute under you and sit to make a huge "fort".

6. Putty Erasers

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You always bought one whenever there was a school store.

7. iPod shuffle.

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The smallest, least technological iPpd apple has made, made you the coolest kid at the bus stop.

8. "Education Connection"

You knew EVERY wood to the "Education Connection" commercials. Every. Single.Word.

9. " The Naked Brothers Band"

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The "Naked Brothers Band" had a short run on Nickelodeon and wrote some absolute bangers including, "Crazy Car' and "I Don't Wanna Go To School"

10. Dance Dance Revolution

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This one video game caused so many sibling, friend, and parent rivalries. This is also where you learned all of your super sick dance moves.

11. Tamagotchi

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Going to school with fear of your Tamagotchi dying while you were away was your biggest worry.

12. Gym Scooters

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You, or somebody you know most likely broke or jammed their finger on one of these bad boys, but it was worth it.

13. Scholastic book fairs

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Begging your parents for money to buy a new book, and then actually spending it on pens, pencils, erasers, and posters.

14.Go-Gurt

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Who knew that putting yogurt in a plastic tube made it taste so much better?

15. Slap Bracelets

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Your school probably banned these for being "too dangerous".

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