January 1, 1996
OWLS [I]OWLS[/I] REVIEW
Imagine for a moment that you are Tim Kinsella.
Before you were 20 years old, you were in a band whose record is considered one of the best emo-core albums ever. What's next? You form a new band and make an album half-filled with killer tunes, and half with strange instrumentals. While not as highly praised as your first record, it still is considered pretty darn good. The same goes for your next record. But after your third album with your new band, something has happened. Most musical critics are calling you a genius, but the others want your head on a silver platter. Then with your next release, it gets even worse. Critics call the record "painful" and "trash" and say that forcing them to listen to your record should be illegal.
What is your next logical move? No matter what you do, chances are the critics aren't going to give you a fair chance. And most of your fans have given up on you as well. Well, the best thing for you is to get back with your original band and try to get along and put out a new album.
So you've re-formed Cap'n Jazz. Only Davey VonBohlen isn't present, and it's called Owls. Cross your fingers and hope the critics don't rip it apart like rapid dogs.
Well let me put your fears to rest. I really enjoy the new record. I didn't like it at first but after three listens, the songs started to grow on me. And now I can't get the songs out of my head, or the CD out of my player. Owls may not be as inventive as Joan of Arc or as energetic as Cap'n Jazz, but the songs are almost all amazing. The album almost seems like the product of an energized American Football, with little bells and whistles added for good measure. Surprisingly, there are really no keyboards, or strange white noises, which was very common on your records with Joan of Arc. And I also I have to commend you on the fact that you rarely try to hit notes you can't. That may have been cute when you were seventeen, but now that you are older, it is nice to know that you realize it is more often annoying.
Likewise, your lyrics have taken a drastic turn. They no longer seem as if you are deliberately trying to be obscure. I now get the feeling you are trying to honestly express yourself, which allows me to relate to them more. When I heard the song, "I Want The Blindingly Cute To Confide In Me," I thought the line, "And each morning, I know I'll be no good come night. And each night, I know I'll be no good come morning" was surprisingly direct, and touching. And most great bands have touching lyrics, so you're headed in the right direction.
But I do have a few complaints. First off, this thing with the long titles is just getting ridiculous. Let's look at the longest title on the album, "For Nate's Brother Whose Name I Never Knew Or Can't Remember." It comes off pretty pretentious. And the worst part of it is that the song goes nowhere. The music doesn't really change throughout the song at all, and the lyrics are mostly spoken, making the song dull the whole way through. You could have left this off the album, allowing folks to listen to the CD the whole way through without skipping a single track. But that's all I have to complain about.
You have done yourself a favor, Tim, by re-joining forces with your former bandmates. The music you've created is very beautiful, and Victor's guitar work is phenomenal. He doesn't use too much distortion, the guitars instead sounding very much like those of his other band Ghosts and Vodka. Likewise, Mike's drumming is extremely inventive, and some of the most exciting have heard since Jeremiah Green. And Sam's bass playing keeps the songs together, which is always important.
Your new project isn't quite up to the level of the debut Cap'n Jazz album, but it is an extremely strong release that is better than most rock albums this year. Hopefully this is only the beginning of the great things to come from the Owls.
Nude as the News
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