» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Jade Tree

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Formally known as Civil War, and shrouded in pseudo-mystery for the better part of two years, the Owls have finally shown up to the indie-rock playing field with an Albini produced record that takes surprising stabs at somewhat straight forward "pop" (well, as straight forward as you get from the fellow that gave the world the utterly unlistenable The Gap), but still cannot do much to shake the patented sounds of the members former bands (including Cap N' Jazz, Joan of Arc, Ghosts and Vodka, and American Football).

The record, like most Kinsella related projects, has just enough tourettes-on-queludes vocal spasms and the prepubescent drunken rants of an E.E. Cummings devotee type lyrical couplets (I'm sure the lines, "The sex in everything… the short term of the long. We wake and walk and talk and take and wake and walk and talk and take" makes sense to everybody, right?) to piss off half the indie rock community, and make the other half smirk and chuckle right along with the guy. And, for whatever reason, that's why people pay attention to the "music" Kinsella creates. It can be compared to that of somebody like Lou Reed, who can make something like "Metal Machine Music" and still turnaround and make fairly commercial albums, keeping people interested in what he will do next. Kinsella could possible be admired for that fact alone.

It would be unfair and virtually impossible, however, to put Kinsella (the singing one) in the spotlight when talking about the Owls' new record. The manic guitar style of Victor Villareal takes the Owls down familiar paths (think the last Don Caballero album on pop-pills, or just throw on any Ghost and Vodka record), most notably on the very mathy "Life in the Hair Salon- Themed Bar on the Island" and on the album's standout track, "Everyone is My Friend." Of course, the other Kinsella, that of the Mike persuasion, plays drums so seamlessly and precise, that when combined with the understated bass lines of Sam Zurick, form a strong and centered anchor to some of the Tim's vocal jerk-off sessions. The playing of these three together will make even the most loyal Cap N' Jazz affiliate exclaim "Davy who?"

Although the record seems slightly uninspired at times (some of it sounds like they woke Tim up 2 seconds before they were to record and said "Hey Tim! Wake up! We need you to write some really abstract cut and paste lyrics and sing that vocal melody you always sing over these somewhat interesting bass, drums, and guitar music we put together while you were sleeping!"), there is enough going on to keep things interesting. Whether it be some nicely placed bongos and tambourine, like in the first track "What Whorse You Wrote Id On," and "Anyone Can Have a Good Time," or clever tempo shifts, evident in the second half of the final track, hilariously titled "Holy Fucking Ghost," the Owls at least arrive at one of those types of records where you hear it and say to yourself, "Yeah… it's ok."

On "Anyone Can Have a Good Time," however, the band almost admits to their short comings, announcing "We fall into patterns to quickly." The main problem is that when looked at as a whole, the feel of the record seems to float around the same set of elements, which seems surprising for a band that has a tight grasp on rhythm and dynamics. As familiar vocal melodies and guitar lines dance around the trees that the Owls inhabit, the band "hoot hoots" their way through the album's 8 songs, but as many fans of the members past works, there is not much envelope pushing going on to really make much of an impact.

Reviewed by Ryan Allen
A former staff writer with fabulous hair, Ryan Allen once fronted Red Shirt Brigade with his brother, Scott. He currently fronts the art/fashion punk band Thunderbirds Are Now!, with is brother, Scott.

See other reviews by Ryan Allen



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