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Review: Howling Owl and Cube Cinema

Cube cinema Howling Owl Bristol - Cone Magazine

Local eclectic record label Howling Owl showcased some of the most intriguing talent both in Bristol and beyond last night, all in the space of the intimate Cube cinema.

Although just perhaps a rumour, the impetus for this evening came from Howling Owl’s desire to bring low-fi bedroom rocker Alex G from Pennsylvania to Bristol. His recent success with official debut album DSU left everybody in awe (including Pitchfork), and it’s no surprise that Bristol’s local label tried to reel him in. His U.K. counterpart it seems, is Oliver Wilde, although tonight’s performance stripped almost everything back, revealing the layers underneath the musicians who you usually see from 20 meters away – and placing them naked, right in front of you.

The night began with King of Cats, an off the wall three-piece, whose singer possesses the most strangely sweet and out of tune voice you have ever encountered. It lay somewhere between the imperfect truths spoken by the late Daniel Johnson and the youthful, high-pitched mutterings of Youth Lagoon. The songs were led by mandolin and electric guitar, each punching out numbers of youthful endeavor with sense that the underdog was finally rising up.

Standing alone and naked, Oliver Wilde delivered a magical and intimate solo set. The songs, often forming vignettes and changing mid way from one song to another, were delivered with musical precision and lightness – the mark of a tradesman who knows his craft, with or without his team. The often over-elaborated full band was stripped down, leaving Wilde to break down each track piece by piece, revealing honesty and intimacy within his words.

Alex G performed with his band for the remainder of the evening, jamming out youthful American punk rock and shoegaze, reminiscent of some 20 years prior. Hints of Ween and early Smashing Pumpkins instrumental work shone through the set, with a kind of edgy precision that was admirable in a band so young. Alex was indeed still stuck in the terrible two’s of performing, but his musical prowess was captivating and powerful.

 

 

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