Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Will Owls replace other birds in rock?

Once indie bands run through the Encyclopedia of Animals plumbing for monikers, I'm guessing that they'll be perusing copies of Gray's Anatomy and the Physician's Desk Reference before long. For now though, we're in what seems to be a heavy animal phase - so many bears, wolves, fish and fowl...

But as long as these zoological specimens continue to craft music worth listening to, who am I to determine what they name their band?

Enter Michigan band Breathe Owl Breathe with their fourth album - and first for Hometapes - Magic Central. My hackles may go up at their name, but it's a reflex like my beagle C.J. when she meets another dog on our walks. As soon as she gets a sniff, they go down - likewise, listening to opener "Own Stunts" my trepidation is instantly abated; I'm hard-pressed to think of a better opener on an album this year. Seriously, check out the video for it right now. I'll wait...

Friggin' awesome, right? From solo guitar to thundering toms and chorus of 'whu huh huh whoas' and then to Micah Middaugh's rough-hewn voice all by itself, there's such a wonderful push/pull/push dynamic going on in this song. And how great is the line "moustache covers my lower lip / no one can tell that I'm trembling"? How about the 'ooo-wah's' and cello(!) climax at the four-minute mark? I know I'm getting all rhetorical here, but I just can't imagine fans of folks like Evening Hymns or Ohbijou not taking immense pleasure in Breathe Owl Breathe's music.
"Dogwalkers Of The New Age" brings Andréa Moreno-Beals' cello even more to the fore, and further reinforces my theory that there needs to be more cello in indie-rock in general. It's such a resonant and haunting instrument, while still capable of nimble moments - it's a five-tool four-string.

The band is involved in a pretty interesting project, the result of which will be a hardbound book and 7-inch record. It's "listener supported" like an indie-PBS.

Here's a beautiful live recording (made more beautiful by the lovely setting in which it was recorded):

Be sure to check out Breathe Owl Breathe's website and Myspace page.

Thanks for reading, now start listening...

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