Note: Ain’t Too Bright is the debut album from a band formed in the wake of The Comas’ (who had my #39 album of 2007 with Spells) indefinite hiatus. Comas co-founder Andy Herod is the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer behind Electric Owls, and he’s joined by Jason Caperton (The Comas) on guitar, Matt Gentling (Band of Horses, Archers of Loaf) on bass and Cully Symington (The Gutter Twins) on drums.
Sound: Folky strumming frequently collides with cosmic synthesizers as the vocals slice and soar melodically and effortlessly through the atmosphere. The ambitious mix of sounds is part country hoedown, part dreamy psychedelia and part glammy, arena-sized rock. You can hear little bits of MGMT, Pink Floyd, Band of Horses, Arcade Fire, George Harrison and latter day Superchunk.
Heavy Rotation tracks**: “Kamiakin”; “Put, the Candle, Back!”
Medium Rotation tracks**: The rest, except for “Haint in the Holler”
Recommended: Nearly every track is an exciting blend of disparate musical ideas with clean and catchy melodies. And though the sounds are innovative and invigorating, the songs all feel a bit unrealized (the album clocks in at a lean 36 minutes and feels like it should be longer). After a couple of minutes, they get to a point where they could evolve one more step and blow you away, but instead hold back, fall into repetition or meander. Regardless, Ain’t Too Bright is a strong debut. Here’s hoping they make another album and push themselves even further next time.
Grade: A- (Top 20 Albums of 2009 Candidate)
** As of this posting, the track listing on Amazon, iTunes and emusic is inaccurate. So if you download this album, there’s a good chance your songs will be mislabeled. See allmusic.com for the correct track listing.