Playlist: Owls

Chicago indie legends return - and here are some lovely songs...

Bands happen, and then they don’t. Happens all the time. Sometimes, though, these disappeared acts take on a kind of legendary status. Some will tell you that’s the fate that befell Chicago indie-rockers Owls – active between 2001-02, the foursome recorded and released just a single eponymous LP, for the Jade Tree label, and then dissolved.

But the band – Tim and Mike Kinsella, joined by Victor Villareal and Sam Zurick – reformed in 2012, and now have a second studio set ready for release. It’s called ‘Two’ and comes out through Polyvinyl on March 31st. (More information!)

What with the distance between LPs, Clash asked Tim – a veteran of acts including Cap’n Jazz, Joan Of Arc and Make Believe – to compile a playlist of material that he was bending an ear towards during Owls’ lengthy hiatus. Listen to his selections right after their new track, ‘I’m Surprised…’.

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Link Wray – ‘Fallin’ Rain’

“My general bias is most often savoury. But as I get a little older, maybe I’m developing a bit of a sweet tooth. Everyone loves the rain sometimes, right? ‘So there’ll be stabbings and shootings and young men dying all around.’ He taps into timeless weariness here.”

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Billy Childish – ‘The Man I Am’

“He’s compulsive, earnest, smart and funny. This song especially demonstrates his mastery of balancing that perfect paradox of complexity and simplicity.”

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Vic Chesnutt – ‘Flirted With You All My Life’

“Man, this is maybe the heaviest song I know. Perfectly crafted and he embodies the lyrics with such grace.”

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Geinoh Yamashirogumi – ‘Kaneda’s Theme’

“The whole Akira soundtrack was an epiphany for me a couple years ago. I knew it all so well from when I was a kid, but had never just listened to it. Patterns, but not exactly repetition. Primal and futuristic.”

Related: rapper DELS on his love of Akira

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William Onyeabor – ‘Better Change Your Mind’

“No other song has ever made me strut to such a simple and bold summary of the global political order. God and Politics and Colonialism, and everyone who hears the song is made accountable.”

Related: read Clash’s interview with the team behind Onyeabor documentary Fantastic Man

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Craig Leon – ‘Donkeys Bearing Cups’

“Tribal and futuristic made occult with no more than the small linguistic signifiers of song titles.”

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Dick Gaughan – ‘Craigie Hill’

“The sadness this evokes in my bones transcends any genre biases. And what could that guitar pattern possibly be? His technical mastery is astonishing, but always in service to feeling. And it’s about estrangement from tradition while also mourning its loss and about institutionalised social injustice. That’s basically everything I am interested in, all in one song.”

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Arnold Dreyblatt – ‘Propellers In Love’

“Turns out if I have a genre that I can’t make peace with and walk away from, it’s electroacoustic music. I saw a version of this performed in the mid-‘90s, maybe? And still it’s always new to me. It respects the listener in a way that not a lot of music does.”

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Dead Can Dance – ‘I Am Stretched On Your Grave’

“You know, I don’t even need another specific person – some beloved – to always feel exactly like this.”

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Guy Clark – ‘Desperadoes Waiting For A Train’

“In a lot of ways this must be the corniest song that I’ve ever liked, let alone become fixated on. A good number of its elements are not even neutral to me, but offensive. But what kid hasn’t hung out around a bar and loved being called ‘sidekick’? ‘Our lives were like some old Western movie.’ The thing about the cowboys is that they were never quite so media-savvy to throw around that kind of self-reflection.”

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Owls’ ‘Two’ is released on Polyvinyl on March 31st. Get more information on the release and its makers at the label’s official website

More Playlist features here

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