The Owls are a duo from Illinois that recently released their self-titled album The Owls. There are some decent ideas and songs which you can hear elements of bands like Guided by Voices and Pavement. At their best the band has a very broad, alternative indie feel but not much of a defined sound.
The two things holding back this release are the recording quality and the singing. There are too many issues with the recording quality for me to mention but occasionally the songs shine through. Hopefully we can hear better versions of these songs sometime in the future. I didn’t mind the inflection, tone or delivery of the vocals but the vocalist needs to start figuring how to stay in key. He just can’t do it throughout the album and there is no disputing that fact.
The album starts off with “Anodyne” which is a highlight and also a lot louder than a number of the other songs due to the songs not being mastered. It’s a relatively catchy song that relies on basic chord progressions. Another solid song is “In Waves” which definitely has a Pavement vibe. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying but nonetheless liked the structure of the song.
I noticed a pattern by the third song. Each song got softer in volume. “Deep Sea” has some solid guitar riffs. I couldn’t hear the bass drums at all and the snare was barely there either. There were some cool feedback effects. “Movie Reel” is even softer in volume and I was wondering if there was a purpose to this madness. I’ve never heard anything like this. “No Hope” finally got louder. The next track “Muddy Beach” is a decent track while “Indian Steps” blends in with the rest of the songs.
For better or for worse even after numerous listens there wasn't much distinction between the songs besides the volume. They rely on basic guitar progressions, 4/4 timing and vocals melodies that are interchangeable. Truth be told if the band hopes to compete with other popular alternative indie rock bands like Grizzly Bear, Local Natives or Deerhunter they have some work ahead of them. At this point they fall into a category of wait and see but who knows what the future holds.
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