"If you're going to try, go all the way"
Icarus the Owl are living that Charles Bukowski quote on their MySpace to a T. They're an unsigned band taking on sponsorships, releasing their own CDs, paying for a Bigcartel along with package deals, shooting music videos--even taking the time to tab out their guitar leads on a PDF for anyone interested. It looks like they they're really stoked on all the possibilities of being a band and for what they're going for, it seems like they have the perfect attitude for success.
So how does their debut The Spotless Mind sound? They describe themselves somewhere along the lines of Thrice, the Audition and Minus the Bear, which is a pretty fair description. I'd say they are hardly as solid as any of those bands. Not to take away from their talent, because they do possess it, but what is performed is a mediocre attempt at mathy pop/rock. I don't want to single anyone out, but it's the vocals. It may simply be a matter of taste, but the sassiness is just a bit overbearing. There are some cringe-worthy moments like in "Running from Lacuna" where vocalist Joey Ruebenstein struggles to sing the word "clementine." To be fair, that word sounds bad sung in any context.
Things are pretty bearable until "Invertebrate" kicks in. If Thrice and Strung out got intimate, and Strung Out forgot to pull out, that unwanted mistake of a child would be this song. Instead of the intricate fretboard tapping that was keeping me interested, they decide to trade them for harmonized lead guitar lines and a rootless "hardcore" breakdown...with yelling?
But that's really just an anomaly. Otherwise, The Spotless Mind's indie-ish leanings have the potential to turn heads, and maybe if they were bigger Counterfit fans they could find a vocal approach that works. I am not closing the door on Icarus the Owl. I'll be waiting.