Review: BREATHE OWL BREATHE // Magic Central
February 23, 2011
We’ve got two new discoveries this week that are blowing our mind. Both albums have been out for a bit. But you need to hear them. Now.
First up comes Michigan’s Breathe Owl Breathe and their first album for Portland’s Home Tapes label. (We’re not the only one playing catchup with this band now.) I’ve been to Michigan – it has surprisingly dense and rich forests, the perfect places for a band like this to hide out until the time is just right. And the time is right.
Intimate vocals married to plaintive acoustic picking dominate the landscape, and this record would not sound out of place next to Mojave 3/Neil Halstead or Sun Kil Moon. What really sets this band apart is lead singer Micah Middaugh’s lyrics and delivery. Earthly, yet obsessed with the otherworldly. Immediate, and yet looking beyond.
“Look down – there’s a welcome mat over a trap door. Whats on the other side? The spirit world.”
For our next piece of evidence, we present from House Of Gold: “Paralyzed by beauty. Don’t leap from the balcony… oh yes, there are handclaps.” And then handclaps kick in. Its this irreverence that helps set this band apart. The playfulness, the lack of pretension, the happy-go-lucky vibe… we’re smitten.
Dragon pretty much seals the deal on our new love affair. The fairy-tale introduction to the song is the most endearing and whimsical thing we’ve heard in ages. And a playful introduction to the little worlds that Breathe Owl Breathe create.
Andrea Morena-Beals’ voice is the perfect contrast to Micah’s plaintive whisper, sounding like some combination of Feist and Julie Doiron. Effortless arrangements and a refreshing lack of clutter help make Magic Central an outstanding and accomplished debut.
Catch Breathe Owl Breathe opening for Yann Tiersen at The WECC on Feb. 27.
(Skip the first 15 seconds of the video. The rest of the song is gold.)