Brooklyn's Weird Owl self-released a well-intentioned but ill-executed debut album in 2007 entitled Nuclear Psychology. The elements of the sound they drench themselves in on this date are on the margins there, and they even occasionally approach its center, but their ambitions -- musically and in the recording studio -- swamp the actual intent. On Ever the Silver Cord Be Loosed, the band's Tee Pee debut, this quintet scale back the pretentious height-gazing of their freshman effort and, in the process, get it right. These cats love stoner rock: from the 13th Floor Elevators' psychedelic version of it to Crazy Horse's slow-moving, heavy yet melodic aural visions, to Southern rock's most bombastic intentions. They love its modern incarnations as well, from Black Mountain to Dead Meadow. But unlike their peers or the legends they worship, these guys simply go their own way. If there is one word to describe the sound on this set it's "plodding." And no, that's not a bad thing. These cats play in 4/4, 2/4, or 3/4 -- the latter is particularly fun to listen to -- check "Skeletelepathic." Weird Owl's music unfolds slowly from monotonous riffs that gaze at the skies periodically but look immediately at the scorched earth in front of them, where they see nothing but gray sludge instead of blue -- to almost straight-ahead monolithic chugging. There is a solid heaviness factor here, such as on the album opener "Mind Mountain" and "Do What the Owl Wilt," as guitars, bass, bleached synth lines, and big drums push and rumble along careening yet straight lines with ridiculous cosmic lyrics -- that are still better than OM's or the Grails -- and atmosphere winds its way into the static mix, but never gets the best of it. This isn't Hawkwind, folks, but you can bet they've heard Warrior on the Edge of Time. Other tracks are a bit more cosmic and spacy, such as "Tobin's Spirit Guide," with some nice psych-drone elements built in, and they're even country-esque such as on "In the Secrecy of Oceans." So this is all stoner rock, but it's melodic, pleasant, head numbing, and sticks with the listener in terms of its relaxed approach and its utterly well-executed weightiness. This is excellent for fans of the genre looking for something familiar with a different -- as in slightly bent -- slant.
|Label:||Tee Pee Records|