Thursday, August 3, 2006

Review:: Owen - At Home With

Just the other day I was going on about how over production took away from John Darnielle’s work. Now, I’m doing a complete 180 and raving about how Brian Deck has helped create the most accessible Owen (Mike Kinsella) record to date.

Owen is the moniker of music veteran, Mike Kinsella (Maritime, American Football, Cap N’ Jazz, the Owls, Joan of Arc). In a sort of six degrees of Davey Von Bohlen, I’ve been listening to a lot of artists that at one time or another were associated with the man. I’ve been listening to Decibully and New Sense and the last few days I’ve become immersed in the new Owen release, At Home With. The album is due out in September, but I've not heard a lot of news from the label or Mike.

Owen started after the demise of American Football. Wanting a bit more creative control, Mike started working on solo work and hasn’t looked back. Despite how much love other Polyvinyl artists grab (Mates of State, the Headlights, Of Montreal to name a few), for some reason the Owen records go largely unnoticed. It boggles my mind, as every release is full of amazing songs. The formula is simple; emotional songs about lost love that Mike works through on his own, but the songs themselves aren’t. The squeak of his fingers along the fret board, the slow drawn out, tired curses when he can’t find any other word to say; these are the things that help Mike portray the emotion these songs deliver.

Up until this release, Mike has done the recording on his own. It fits the project, but this time he gets the help of Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, the Grates, Fruit Bats, Iron & Wine), and Mike finally delivers the record that I really wanted to hear. His progression really mirrors Sam Beam’s career. Mike recorded stripped down tracks that painted the most intimate pictures and adding some more layers and sounds just completes the experience. The gentle piano and strings Mike ads on One of These Days compliment the simple guitar riff perfectly, without changing the feel of the record.

The real hidden gem on this record is Mike’s cover of the Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale. The arrangement is lush and vocals seem effortless, and despite the VU is one of my all time bands, I like his take on the song. Granted, you can’t replace the smoky fragility of Nico’s vocals, but as you hear Mike sing the track you can’t help but get into the track.

Fans of his older work shouldn’t be leery of this transition. The songs still have the traditional Owen feel, the just have those extra layer that fill out riff. The Sad Waltzes of Pietro Crespi starts out sounding like a left over track from the No Good for No One sessions, but the piano and cello make this track real.

MP3:: The Sad Waltzes Of Pietro Crespi

Posted at 1:24 PM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 2:47 PM, Anonymous rosecitytony did sayeth:

i need a copy of this album...someone hook me up!!!

 

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