WEIRD OWL GETS shit
on a lot. Spin ranked its record, Ever the Silver Cord be
Loosed, as having the 17th worst album title of 2009. The Village
Voice said it has the worst band name from a borough with a band
called Cheeseburger. The positive reviews usually include the phrases
“from Brooklyn, but…” or “I can’t believe these guys are from New
someone asks you what you are listening to and you respond, “This
killer song by Weird Owl,” they think you said Weird Al and you have a
slight speech impediment. By the time they’ve stopped laughing and you
admit that yes, you do have a slight speech impediment, especially when
drinking, they laugh harder and the point is dead.
“No, no, really. It’s a
good band.” “Yeah, OK.” They leave and watch the videos for “Fat” or
“Amish Paradise” and relive their shitty days in middle school.
I’m not here to defend
this sort of rabble, which is mostly nitpicking or cutesy attempts at
cleverness. I’m also not here to tell you that Weird Owl is a great band
or the five guys are good hardworking fellas or any other pat-on
the-back bullshit. I’m not even here to describe the music using the
tired music journalist thesaurus. I’m here to tell you there is a use
for music that does not belong. There is a use for Weird Owl.
It sounds sterile, I know.
But it’s the goddamn truth. I think people sometimes forget why they
listen to music in the first place. Is it dancing music? Relaxing music?
Fucking music? When you boil it down, every song has its use, but you
have to know how to use it. Some think it’s good to listen to relaxing
music to calm you down. This is wrong. You get there faster going over
the top; try free jazz or noise punk. Some think you should deal with
the warm weather in New York City—everyone on top of each other sweating
and looking for space—by listening to angry/riffy/electro/garage/ dance
music. This is wrong, too. Try slow spacey jams about disconnecting
your body and your soul, man.
“Our vibrational frequencies are long and need open
space. Everything that usually comes out of New York is really fast,
angular, fast and edgy, has attitude and all,” says Trevor Tyrell, Weird
Owl’s lead singer and guitarist.
“Think about this. The entire city is a grid, when you
walk around you’re walking in a grid. You gotta turn corners, but out
west there’s open spots. You’ve got open canyons and things and organic
areas. New York is not like that, but our music comes out of New York.
It’s more familiar and more expansive.”
The song “Skeletelepathic” nails this
philosophy. Tyrell sings slowly, like a Richard Hell 45 played at 33 1/3
RPM, “Take my hands I don’t need them/ Take my eyes I can’t see anyway/
And take my flesh I can’t feel it/ But my bones are my bones.”
There is an obvious
Byrds/Neil Young style going on with the guitar, but it never seems to
be trying too hard. Still, the apparent strength is the lyrics.
“When I was just a friend
of theirs watching their band play I’d say, ‘Wow! Really far out lyrics.
I have no idea what’s goin’ on,’“ says bassist Ken Cook.
“That’s the overall goal of
psychedelic music. To trick your mind into that state where it’s not a
linear consciousness of everyday waking reality. You’re processing
things on a different level,” adds Tyrell.
Weird Owl started in 2004, but through many
transformations finally came together a couple years ago and last year
released a debut LP on Tee Pee Records. Jon Rudd plays guitar, Sean
Reynolds drums, John Cassidy plays keys, Cook plays bass and sings
backup and Tyrell is the chief lyricist, singer and guitarist.
The band has no plans to
leave the city. This isn’t some Midwest via Brooklyn band. This is a New
York band and it makes spacey music.
“I don’t want to live in San Francisco or Portland or
L.A. The people out there have a little more space to live in, in
general, but we’re New Yorkers. We all live in New York. That’s how it
is,” says Cook.
Weird Owl to float above the grid, above the packed park or sweaty bus.
Sway your way through the summer heat. Substances help, but are not
WEIRD OWL May 29, Glasslands, 289 Kent Ave. (at S. 2nd St.), Brooklyn,
718-599-1450; 7, $12.