by Tim Den
Featuring the original cast of Cap’n Jazz, Owls sound like what you would expect: Wildly-innovative young ‘uns-turned-veteran conceptualists, light years ahead of the most technical prog band in terms of musicianship, bringing together their individual identities post-Cap’n Jazz (Joan Of Arc, American Football, Ghost And Vodka) to create a melting pot of Chicago brainy rock. They’ve combined the best elements of their works up until this point (American Football’s unbelievably touching arpeggios, Joan Of Arc’s abstract structures and odd-tempos, etc.), and the result puts their original collaborations to shame. They are no longer sloppy at their instruments, weird-for-weird’s sake, or inexperienced at composing. The years spent apart from each other have made the four members of Owls seasoned masters at their craft, and the elaborate ideas they’ve made cooperate within this debut proves that old school’s back to show the next generation that it’s still on, baby.
Steve Albini captured every intricate drum fill, staccato vocal melody, and explosion of crazy guitar riffs like he was taking b&w photographs: Natural, roomy, grainy, and sparse when called for. With Albini’s studio magic amplifying their ridiculously difficult/mathy/quirky/but still fun and enjoyable-as-hell characteristics, Owls have set new standards for post-rock and indie rock alike. Magnificent.
(2310 Kennwynn Rd. Wilmington, DE 19810)