The Owls and Ghosts and Vodka

The Owls, and Precious Blood (Jade Tree)

Record Reviews

Owls

(Jade Tree)

Ghosts and Vodka

Precious Blood (Sixgunlover)

It's been a long time coming for members of the Owls, who helped change the face of punk rock as the seminal Cap'n Jazz, which broke up in 1995. Their jangly, starry-eyed brew carried punk's sloppy charm into a new pop age, while their demeanor influenced many of today's pop-punk hybrids, though only the posthumous Analphabetapolothology collection remains. Now, the original lineup is back as the Owls, with all the cornerstones in place, if slowed down half a step: Victor Villarreal's loose, barely distorted fretwork and Tim Kinsella's effective, stream-of-consciousness lyrical style and multilayered, raw-throated vocals. The Steve Albini-produced Owls is mostly a breath of fresh air, even if it seems a bit unsure at times, the band playing things intentionally loose and allowing chemistry to redevelop after three of the four spent years in the more rigid, emo-prog Joan of Arc. Villarreal and bassist Sam Zurich also do time in the instrumental rock quartet Ghosts and Vodka, whose Precious Blood finds release by Austin's math rock stronghold Sixgunlover, home of Rhythm of Black Lines. Where the Owls play skeletal, GNV fills the speakers with a searing brand of rich, melodic rock from the Don Caballero school of odd time signatures. The band's a bit Don Cab-lite, however, as many tracks are actually structured in verse/chorus/verse style, bringing into question why, exactly, there are no vocals. Precious Blood has its high points to be sure, but of this pair of incestuous emo acts, the Owls are the ones people will give a hoot about. (The Owls open for Explosions in the Sky Thursday, Aug. 30, at Emo's.)

(Owls) ***

(Precious Blood) ** .5

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