08 January, 2009

Electric Owl Land

Hailing from Asheville, North Carolina - a vegetarian-friendly mecca in the midst of, well, North Carolina - Andy Herod is Electric Owls, a band that has yet to release more than five songs, but had me hooked from the first chord. Continuing the tradition of Bright Eyes before him, Andy is a one-man band with occasional backup from various musically talented friends. His extended play, Magic Show, was released by Vagrant records in early November of last year.

The cover art itself is enough to make you wish those hard copies were available in stores near you. The music beneath that art is tantalizing and stronger than most EP music. "Magic Show" sounds to me like some wonderful combination of ELO and Wolfmother. There is a definite psychedelic underpinning for a sound that swirls into a windy guitar riff and drums like hoof-beats. It makes me feel like I should be on a wild snowy mountain, in the midst of a storm (this is good). "Darken Me" has an extremely different feeling. In fact, as I listen to "Darken Me" I cannot help but think of Sufjan Stevens' Christmas carols. The lyric "I have tried to be your friend, but self-respect has worn so thin" is strong and soft in the song. It is a funny kind of sad song that doesn't bring you down until you really start to think about the words. "Cannibal Superstar" is similarly melancholy with a wild streak. Whereas most melancholy music is somewhat heavy and dense, this song is all about the wind and string instruments, and all about this feeling of levity that comes with certain kinds of sadness. "Throw the Switch" is the final song on the album, and it has an energy reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen, and a musical intensity similar again to ELO. It is very difficult to believe that these songs were created by one man with the help of a few friends, because the sound often feels cavernous and practically orchestral. I cannot wait for the full-length album, and I believe, if you listen along, you'll feel the same way.

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