Owls
Two


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
March 16th, 2014 | 24 replies | 5,145 views


Release Date: 03/25/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bridging the gap between singular identity and collective influence.

When Owls' long awaited Two found its way into my inbox over a month ago I had no idea what to make of it. To be quite honest, I'm not sure if I even know now, but I think I'm getting closer to understanding it. Most of us like to think that the post-Cap'n Jazz exploits of the Kinsella clan and their compatriots exist as singularities. It's easy to think like that – Mike went on to form Owen and American Football, Tim has Joan Of Arc and Make Believe, Victor Villarreal briefly maintained a presence as Ghosts & Vodka before getting lost in the throes of addiction, Davey von Bohlen became as much of a cult icon as Tim and Mike in The Promise Ring, and Sam Zurick bounced around Tim and Victor's projects – but outside of The Promise Ring that's really not the case. The remaining four continued to rotate throughout each others lives and continued to evolve as much together as they did apart.

Owls eponymous debut in 2001 seemed for the longest time as the middle ground in this. Working in collaboration, they accentuated their greatest assets: skewed melodies, powerful rhythmic grooves, and the jangly technicality that has been co-opted wholesale by the current so-called “Emo Revival”. It also saw them harness their less notable eccentricities into a pointed, well oiled machine; mainly Tim's weird sense of wonder that, at times, still leads him to get lost in his own ideas; and their overall love counterbalancing their strongest moments with loose, unstructured experimentations that don't quite add up. After Owls' demise, Tim drifted even farther into left field sonic sojourns and Mike found his comfort zone in the awkwardly tuned strings of his acoustic guitar. This once again made it easier to look at what they brought to the table on their own terms and not what they coaxed out of each other, but that all changed when Victor Villarreal reemerged and found himself teamed back up with Tim Kinsella in Joan of Arc. His angular emo by way of Don Caballero guitar work seemed to reinvigorate Joan of Arc and bring it back into a more centered collaboration that suited its punk-jazz stylings.

This plays directly in to Two. Where the original Owls release bridged the gap between paths at the beginning of their divergence, Two is the coalescing of artists who have already found their comfort zones. It's a strangely put together settling point that doesn't showcase any of its members at their individual bests, but it coaxes out their most focused songwriting in years. Almost as a backlash to Theo Katasounis' avant garde jazz swing on current Joan of Arc releases, Mike Kinsella's drumming has been tempered from spastic bursts to June of 44-eqsue mid-90's post hardcore grooves. Victor Villarreal follows in tow by taking a rarely seen less-is-more approach to his histrionics. It is still very similar to the overall sound that has defined all of their work, but for the first time it gives bassist Sam Zurick a chance to take center stage in defining the overall characteristics of the instrumentation. It can be likened to the quixotic essence of their individual post-Cap'n Jazz careers. It's bare bones but, due to its quirkiness, is still far from austere. Tim Kinsella brings his trademark pitchy vocals to the fold once again, and, for the first time since Owls' debut, he focuses on melding the biggest possible results from his off-kilter hooks while not overpowering the mood of the recording. It's interesting how it all comes together. Owls reunion is marked at a time when their influence has never felt more immediate, but Two has no intent of retreading old ground and also no intent to assert its dominance over the sea of bedroom guitarists who jam along to American Football and Joan of Arc recordings every day after their morning classes. Two, like everything they have done both together and apart, exists solely for itself – and this is the most fitting way to parse what Owls have created. It is an incredibly unique performance that builds upon the collective legacy of its members not by pushing them to their extremes, but by uniting them back to a rooted sonic aesthetic that all too often gets buried when they are apart.



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user ratings (36)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 16th 2014



17200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

13 years later. Still relevant.

wabbit
March 16th 2014



6978 Comments


tldr

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
March 16th 2014



1594 Comments


Am I mistaken, or is that a bloody Noel Gallagher on the cover?

Also, great review.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 16th 2014



17200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yes it is haha

Gyromania
March 16th 2014



15200 Comments


well, i guess technically you're back to 2 paragraphs ;D

solid review. will check out at some point

ProjectFreak
March 16th 2014



1293 Comments


"before getting lost in the throws of addiction"
throes?

ProjectFreak
March 16th 2014



1293 Comments


good review, though I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of emo/emo'revival' bands so the first two paragraphs were a bit lost on me

MotokoKusanagi
March 16th 2014



502 Comments


awesome gonna jam this tonight. their s/t is great

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 16th 2014



4507 Comments


rip noel

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 16th 2014



17200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I tried focusing just on the record at hand, but I found it impossible to not talk about the context which is just as important.

MotokoKusanagi
March 16th 2014



502 Comments


just to bust your balls Adam, "Victor Villareal" should be "Victor Villarreal". doesn't really matter
though

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 16th 2014



17200 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

god dammit. fixing now.

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
March 16th 2014



4507 Comments


this is just me seeing things, but this cover art is pretty interesting considering it features a bleeding noel gallagher and how much it stylistically resembles the cover of blur's greatest hits.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
March 16th 2014



10585 Comments


I fucking need this so badly

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 16th 2014



7144 Comments


AThom in da houseee

dimsim3478
March 17th 2014



4738 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Absolutely fantastic record. Tim's performance floors me especially on "Ancient Stars Seed", and all
the instruments on the album are so well intertwined to the point that I never really find myself
singling anything out. It's always just like the band or Tim singing.

Digging: My Psychoanalyst - Choreomania

Calc
March 17th 2014



12024 Comments


polyvinyl would not leave me alone about pre-ordering this so guess I should listen then

Digging: Kashiwa Daisuke - April. #02

Ire
March 18th 2014



41749 Comments


dang

JamieCTA
March 19th 2014



146 Comments


good review. Definitely plan to check this out.

xCOYS
March 24th 2014



4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

mike kinsella will always be my mancrush



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