For those who like: Sigur Ros, Postal Service, Electric President, Antony, Imogen Heap, Sparkadia
New Jersey may not be everyone’s favorite state, but it has given the world a lot to love. It is the place that gave us people like Danny DeVito, Bruce Springsteen (also me) and scattered across this lovely area is where the quintet Owel, resides. From Wall to Woodbridge, these New Jersey natives released the self-titled follow up to their 2012 EP I’ve Seen Colors this past April.
Playing all over the New Jersey/New York area in venues such as Asbury Lanes, The Court Tavern, and the ever so missed Maxwell’s, Owel has a plethora of experience under their belt and you can hear it in their self-titled debut. They were also featured in Spin Magazine’s Must Hear Music CD Sampler May 2013 and after listening to the album we all know why.
Hearing Owel for the first time it is obvious that the band is heavily influence by Sigur Ros with the beautiful falsettos and emotional rollercoaster of moods that reside on the album. The first track “Snowglobe” is a bold 7:34, not a friendly radio edit time, but it is breathtaking. For such a lengthy track, the lyrics are not long at all, but at no time throughout the song does it feel empty without words. The angelic falsetto that is accompanied by Jane Park’s surging violins and strings create a painfully beautiful and nostalgic yearning for the past. As you get about five minutes into the song it becomes minimal and dark which you feel with lead singer Jay Sakong repeating the words “the grave” in a sentence that in its entirety is “sleepwalk to the grave, slow dance in a haze.” The song ends in the same way it led us in with electronic pulsating tones fading out.
When listening to music it is important, when a particular album or song makes you feel, and this is exactly what Owel does with their self-titled LP. The album evokes such a wide array of emotions from melancholia, discomfort to anger and warmth; there is something for everyone.
Two tracks that I especially enjoyed were “Burning House” and “Float.” The former was mysterious with the beginning of the song sounding distant and far when it comes to a pause and for a moment you wonder what the next words will be or if the track will continue in this particular style. Then you hear footsteps. A closer voice comes in and finishes the story for you. The feelings that “Burning House” generates are painful memories, especially when listening to the lyrics. You can feel what Jay is singing and it makes it so melancholy that your heart cannot help but hurt just a little. The cries and screams that emerge mid song are a great way to accentuate the emotion and make this song work so well. The latter song, “Float” is haunting and rollicking at the same time. The lyrics reveal a solemn topic done with Seamus’ swimming guitar and rad percussion by Ryan Vargas. This track is special because you can really listen to a story being told that the music matches to so well. When the climax starts the loud mood changing instrumentation comes in to give it such a wonderful varying effect.
All the members of Owel are well versed and experienced in their instruments and it truly comes off over the totality of this album. It has done exactly what you want an album to do to someone and evoke such a spectrum of feelings that after I am done writing this, I am going to make a cup of tea and sit on my couch to just be. They are playing a handful of shows in the New York/New Jersey area in the near future, and dates can be found on their website.
Release Date: April 2, 2013
Run Time: 55:33
3. Burning house
4. Death in the Snow
5. Nothing’s Meant
7. Once the Ocean
8. The Unforgiving Tide
10. Field Mouse
Jay Sakong (lead vocals/guitar)
Seamus O’Connor (guitar)
Jane Park (violin/keyboards)
Ryan Vargas (drums)
Patrick McGee (bass)
Written By: Chelsea Conte