Mezzanine Owls | Slingshot Echoes (s/r)

mezzanineowlsTheir undeniable talent gives them accessibility to a plethora of musical opportunities.

 

 

 

From its French and Italian origin, "mezzanine" literally translates to, "middle." A bit modest, I think. It also references the first rows of a balcony, which I find to be a bit more of a suitable definition, because that is exactly where I would find myself enjoying Mezzanine Owls' music. When I think of alternative, this is exactly what I want to hear. Soft, somber. The kind of music that could cure a hangover. Yes, that's exactly what Mezzanine Owls project. Forget the typical remedies: Take two aspirin and some Mezzanine Owls, and call me in the morning.

The unsigned band's debut record, Slingshot Echoes, was recorded in the spring of 2006 by Andy LeMaster and released in the fall. Thus far, it has received predominantly positive feedback. The Mezzanine Owls are well on their way in the biz, making an appearance at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin this year, in addition to receiving radio play in their hometown Los Angeles. Not surprisingly, they have also received mentions in the L.A. Times and San Francisco Bay Guardian, and are generating quite a buzz across the country.

Influences from the likes of Yo La Tengo, the Beach Boys, and Interpol are apparent throughout Slingshot Echoes. While the group's sound has been categorized in multiple genres (noise pop, rock, alternative, indie rock), I would venture to say Slingshot Echoes has an arguably alternative sound to it. However, these musicians bring some serious talent to the table, and making a more prominent transition into another genre is not at all out of the question. With a slight alteration in tempo, the group could easily identify themselves in the pop category. Some adjustments to the guitar and keyboard, and we'd have a great rock band on our hands. It's no surprise that the Mezzanine Owls have been classified in so many different ways; their musical flexibility is apparent despite the generally melancholy tone of the album. Their undeniable talent gives them accessibility to a plethora of musical opportunities.

My only criticism with Slingshot Echoes is that the lyrics are largely indiscernible, and as a lover of lyrics, that's a relatively unforgivable crime in my book. However, there is something distinctly harmonic about the blend of guitarist/vocalist Jack Burnside's agonizingly sweet voice, guitarist/keyboardist Jonathan Zeitlin's magical fingers, bassist Dan Horne's flattering contributions to the mix, and talented drummer Pauline Mu's expertise with her sticks. Everything works cohesively together despite the lack of clarity in the vocals. In fact, I find that the lyrics are ancillary to the beautiful sound of the album – they are the ink that flows from the pen, but not the words on the paper.

The Mezzanine Owls are melodically gratifying and agreeably versatile. Their musical endeavors are certain to earn them a respectable place alongside their peers. B+ | Amanda Pelle

RIYL: Radiohead, Howie Day, Coldplay, Beck

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