Owl turns 20
Mike Kinsella’s plaintive and fuzzy harmonies and well-groomed guitar harmonies were not imported into Owls, but the fascination with quirky percussive rhythms and jazz improvisation were; and yet Kinsella was up to the task as a drummer, having made incredible strides since being forced into action at the age of 12 when the original Cap’n Jazz drummer left to pursue American football. Villareal and Zurick were involved in Ghosts And Vodka, one of the earliest examples of the unrequited affection between Chicago emo and Chicago post-rock, which tended to treat the former like a little brother. annoying; The debut of Ghosts And Vodka in 2001 Precious Blood could best be described as an emo turtle with crappy jokes; apparently, “I want to salt your poo and wear it on my face like a beard” was written on the CD cover notes, which is probably your best bet to actually hear the thing. It is not available on streaming platforms, and there are several tracks that were not included in the 2020 vinyl repress due to “audio quality issues”. The only thing that’s really missing are the hooks and sung melodies, easy enough to attribute to Von Bohlen, who led the most pop and successful of Cap’n Jazz’s many offshoots.
Everyone’s growth as a musician was evident, though as they went from pure Midwestern emo to mutt-like math rock, Owls sparked the typical genre joke: either they’re virtuosos or they don’t know what. they are. Do. Villareal first came to the practice of jazz band Cap’n Jazz as an acid-dripping teenage metalhead playing Randy Rhoads’ “Dee”. Since then, his style had become much less technical in the Guitar Center sense and more tailor-made. On Owls, her sweeping past has occasionally popped up in the dizzying intro riff of “Everyone Is My Friend” and the blinding tracks of “I Want The Blindingly Cute To Confide In Me”, as has the occasional hint of tuned jangle. alternative; The outlier “Life In The Hair Salon-Themed Bar On The Island” ran Football via a RAT distortion pedal.
Otherwise, it’s very clear why Owls could never be as influential as Football: Tune your guitar on FACGCE and move a chord shape, it’ll probably sound nice, while Villareal’s style is impossible to reproduce, mocking amateur tablatures by working in incomprehensible rhythms and percussive tics. For the most part, it sounds like he’s tickling his guitar or crumbling his foil strings. With Villareal and the vocal melodies going in often opposite directions, Mike Kinsella and Zurick kind of keep things in place. I am not even sure that “math rock” is really qualified, since this term implies a logical and countable rhythm, whereas Owls follows a kind of algebraic equation, its time signatures constantly changing. They could emulate the fluid sway of jazz, the thorny post-punk of Modest Mouse, or the egg-shaped deconstructions of post-rock; there’s also an unstable, elliptical nature to their musicality which suggests it would sound completely different if they recorded a week later.
Owls It certainly wasn’t like anything else going on at the time, certainly nothing that could be called “emo”. Even beyond the major crossover events that occur earlier in the year – The places you fear the most, Stay what you are, bleed american – Owls was an odd outlier in Jade Tree’s 2001 release slate, loaded with several types like Strike Anywhere, Pedro The Lion, and Milemarker. Meanwhile, Appleseed Cast’s stunning double LP Low level owl was more in line with what “post-rock” meant for the populist-leaning indie rock groups of the time, ie Radiohead, Sigur Rós or Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Owls’ oblong takes on post-rock, post-punk, and post-jazz got time-stamped comparisons with Don Caballero, Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, but also Pavement and Sunny Day Real Estate (The pink album, I suppose). What Owls didn’t look much like Cap’n Jazz; with one exception (“Everyone’s my friend”), nothing here carried the innocence or exuberance of “Little League” or “Oh Messy Life” or anything else that could have been shouted out. in damp DIY homes across Big Ten Country.
That’s just as good, seeing as Kinsella never felt aligned with emo, even though Cap’n Jazz has mingled with Braid, Indian Summer and many other bands that have become definitive items in the genre. . In Your war, he objected to the word electronic, describing Cap’n Jazz as a “weird punk,” an attribution that seems truer for Owls. And yet, if there is one contributor whose stylistic tics are linked to Cap’n Jazz, it is Tim Kinsella. Although infused with his typical verbal game sense, Owls is the most readable work in terms of lyrics he has ever created. “I’m having fun!” Kinsella screams on a song called “I Want The Blindingly Cute To Confide In Me,” which… obviously. “Anyone can have a good time” is based on a mantra: “We fall into patterns quickly / We fall into patterns too quickly”; it takes him about five minutes to get there. The first song is titled “What Whorse You Wrote Id On” for reasons known only to Tim Kinsella, although the detective work required to decode “Life In The Hair Salon-Themed Bar On The Island” and “For Nate’s Brother Whose Name I Never Knew Or Can’t Remember ”was doable even with the ability of the 2001 search engine; the first refers to the Beauty Bar nightclub chain, the second to their cousin and future American football utility man Nate Kinsella. .
But otherwise, Owls is based on the same emotional tone as Shmap’n Shmazz, only Kinsella seems to know what to do with it this time around. Sometimes it’s playing the omniscient social oracle: “Have you ever met the new guys? / Let’s play who here would have become a Nazi,” he mutters, referring to a 1941 Harper’s article that was pushed back into the speech for obvious reasons in 2017. “Would you both love each other? Or are you too the same, ”he complains on“ Everybody’s My Friend, ”the title itself a nod to what would otherwise appear to be an entire career based on“ I’m not here to. make friends “. “I’m still sick / In a snowstorm lit by the city streets / All the salt and lime of the night has appeared,” he sings on “Holy Fucking Ghost”, his side concert as that bartender giving a two-angle view to the cyclical nature of being depressed and drinking depression. Clearly, he is not in a position to judge: “Our days are just unjustifiable / And our nights are given only to oblivion / And every morning all I know is that I will not be good on it. evening / And every night all I know is that it won’t be good in the morning.
It’s all there, an advanced version of the impulses that assailed him and puzzled him as a teenager: friendship, the social contract, the Smiths, alcohol, sex and many other things. Don’t be fooled by the titles of “I want the blinding cutie to confide in me” and “I want the quiet moments of a party girl”, as I did as a super sensitive student who reportedly used these goals on my CV. “Anything I can mistake in the dark for what I’m looking for is good enough for me,” is the first line of the record. And in the last “Holy Fucking Ghost,” Kinsella more or less admits masturbating with Jesus – as Tim Kinsella will clearly admit anything.