Weird Owl - Ever the Silver Chord Be Loosed (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Weird Owl

Ever the Silver Chord Be Loosed (2009)

Tee Pee

After the Great Heavy Metal Bust of 2006, the revival trend has seemed to have had the volume knob turned down. But that hasn't stopped everybody. Sure, you'll be hard pressed to find another Sabbath-aping riff gunning for top dog in the past two years, but bands are now going back further. Last year, Dead Meadow jettisoned their excess guitar, dusted off their CCR and Pink Floyd albums and made a run of it. The result was a return to bluesy rock and roll riffs played with a harder edge and a psychedelic flair. It seemed brilliant.

And then, like Roddy Piper in They Live, my eyes were opened. A Norwegian band, Graveyard, has been doing the same thing. The White Stripes stopped their tomfoolery and got back to their hard rock blues-stompin' roots. Arboretum is a dead ringer for Crazy Horse playing Spirit songs. And now, Weird Owl.

The band exists in the gap between the bluesy psychedelic hard rock of bands like the Yardbirds and 13th Floor Elevators, the spacey slow riffs of Pink Floyd and the straightforward roots rock 'n' roll of Creedence Clearwater Revivial and Neil Young's backing band Crazy Horse. Where all three genres were perversely different in their day and age, Weird Owl and the other groups involved in the Psychedelic Americana Blues Stomp Revival have seamlessly connected the dots; what was once a strange constellation on the page has been revealed to be a polygonal hard-edged unicorn -- the artwork might be crude, slightly derivative (hey, connect the dots isn't really the most original art form), but goddamn if their mom isn't proud to display it on the fridge door.

Okay, forget that metaphor.

What Weird Owl offers on Ever the Silver Chord Be Loosed is a collection of jangly, warbly hard rock songs with a slow roll tempo and just enough fuzz to keep your mind hazy. The band refuses to betray their influences, apparent on the opening track "Mind Moutain," which sees a head-noddin' groove punctuated by a faint flute riffing behind sustained guitars and double-layered off-tune vocals. And before the formula becomes generic, "13 Arrows, 13 Stars" kicks out with a hard guitar riff playing over a heavy bass drum stomp for over a minute before the rest of the group comes in, subtlely filling the gaps. "Flying Low Through the Air After Thunder" sees the group touching base with southern rock, tipping the hat to Skynyrd and the Allman Bros.

Ever the Silver Chord Be Loosed is one of those rare albums where a band has come out fully formed and functional without any growing pains apparent. Let's just hope that if the Psychedelic Americana Blues Stomp Revival trend kicks off, this is one of the albums that serves as its blueprint.