Owl- The Right Thing

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, May 13, 2013

LA’s Owl has been around for a few years now, but unless you came across their self-titled debut in 2009 you may not be familiar with the group just yet. Created by singer/bassist Chris Wyse, a musician who is a current member of The Cult and has worked with a whole slew of other rock bands, Owl recently put out their sophomore album The Right Thing and it pulls from just about every spectrum of rock music you can think of. There’s a lot to take in throughout each of its twelve songs, and while not every direction ends up being fully realized there are still some strong hooks that make this effort worth checking out.

Part of what drew me to The Right Thing was the fact that Owl wasn’t simply playing the same rock song for an entire album. There are so many bands out there that nail down a particular sound within hard rock or alternative rock and then repeat it so much that it becomes repetitive. But the first time that you make your way through this release you might notice that it feels a bit all over the place stylistically. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and Owl does impress with the way that they are able to move from mellower, atmospheric rock songs to much noisier tracks that are a bit heavier and in your face than listeners might initially expect. Both of these directions represent the polar opposites of the band’s sound and there’s just about everything in between, and there are mellow and heavy moments where the instrumentals are able to come together and create the perfect hook. But at the same time, there are some styles that Owl seemed to be merely scratching the surface of and as a result some of the songs came and went without truly pulling me in. Additionally, the Irish rock styling of “Rover” weren’t bad but seemed a bit randomly placed amongst the rest of the tracks. As a whole The Right Thing still has enough standout riffs to be worth returning to, but I still felt as though the band could continue to grow and find a sweet spot between their mellow and noisy tendencies.

Chris Wyse handles lead vocal duties with guitarist Jason Achilles Mezilis providing some back up work. Owl is the first time that Wyse has taken on the lead role, and the fact that this sophomore effort starts off with a cover of The Kinks’ “Destroyer” makes it seem as though he feels quite comfortable with the job. For the majority of The Right Thing the vocals skew towards the mellower end of the spectrum, focusing on soaring clean singing that washes over the instrumentals and makes an immediate impression. During some of the louder hard rock moments the vocals take a turn towards a raw pitch that is almost a scream, but this only happens on occasion and is used to add an extra bit of intensity to those particular moments. There were a few sections where the higher pitches sounded slightly off to me, almost as though the vocals had pushed a little beyond what they were comfortable with, but this only happened a few times and didn’t end up being a major issue.

The Right Thing isn’t quite one of my favorite rock albums to come out this year, but it still had plenty of songs that made me want to come back for more. Owl has certainly come through with a sheer amount of variety, but some of their ideas don’t feel fully explored. I’d like to see a further balance between the mellow atmospheric rock and noisy hard rock while still striving for strong hooks, and if the group can pull that off in the years to come they could truly break through the crowd.


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