Mess of Owls-Mess of Owls EP (2014, Red Moth Records)
Sometimes, all a band needs to get their point across is a short 15 minute ep, maybe 3 or 4 songs and when it’s done, the listener is either ambivalent, or is clamoring for more. I am inclined to gamble that Mess of Owls would have a majority of listeners fall into the latter. This self-titled 4 song ep packs a 3 pronged wallop: #1-sludgy blues inflected riffs, #2-good, understandable vocals, with well written lyrics, and #3-the ability to change things up on a dime. Mess of Owls consists of Stephen Barton on Guitar and vocals ( Also Redmoth Records Bossman), Shaun O’Shaughnessy on guitar, Aaron Fisher on Drums and Vincent Elliot on bass – When combined, these four rock major balls.
From the first song, Things These Days, I was bludgeoned by low register sludge that brought to mind Electric Wizard– a short and sweet palate cleanser that prepared me for the balls out rip-ride of Y’all Know. This song showcases the excellent vocals, alternating between a conspiratorial diatribe, and an angst-ridden rage that warns of the inevitable outcome: “This ship is sinking-you better find yourself a friend-get drunk right off your ass-’cause soon it’s all gonna end.”
My favorite track is #3, The Cat’s Pajamas, a glooey romp that kind of reminds me of a cross between a beefier version of Marc Bolan’s T-Rex and Queens of The Stone Age. At this point, I am totally hooked when the last number, Taking Chances slides in with a nervous, free-jazz intro that expands into a deft interplay between bass and guitar, changing things up a bit while displaying some higher-level arrangements. The bass and drums pound out a thick background for the snaking guitar lines, while the vocals mournfully confess ” You know you got me hanging on. to every word. I promise not to break your heart. unless you change your mind.” The vocals are really good from first to last, showing some range and dimension, which is refreshing.
Mess of Owls can certainly be compared to a band like Queens of the Stone Age, on the surface anyways. They don’t try to be clever or fancy, but the small well placed flourishes that they do employ elevate their sound, giving it extra depth. I look forward to listening to a full-length release at some point, because I really like this band. A Lot. I was instantly reminded of old Amphetamine Reptile bands such as Surgery or God Bullies at some points. Mess of Owls is part of a group of Ohio bands that found a home on Red Moth Records, a label that seems to have a nose for Ohio’s best bands, forming a family of sorts with bands like Close the Hatch and Imbroglio among others. Pay attention to Red Moth Records, and the Ohio music scene in general, because there seems to be something big happening there.
I have posted the link to their Band camp page below-it is name your price,which means you can get it free, or you can pay what you feel it’s worth. Hopefully you will be honest with yourself and throw down a dollar or two to download this digital only release. It would be great if a cd or some vinyl will be available in the near future.