“We never had a certain idea of what it should be more than a place with high ceilings for expression and room for development in any direction. So in it's core Thus Owls is a creature that will always keep morphing.” – Erika Angell
Thus Owls are a Montreal-based band built around the core of Swedish-Canadian couple Erika and Simon Angell. The two met in Amsterdam in 2007. At the time, Simon was touring internationally as a member of Patrick Watson’s band, and Erika was playing with Loney Dear, although both were also deeply immersed in the experimental pop and improvisational scenes in their respective hometowns. The two met, and their immediate musical attraction grew into something more personal. Before long, they were married and the collaboration that is Thus Owls was born.
Simon’s harshly charismatic guitar sound blends with the urgency of Erika’s vocals to create a sound that bends and stretches their unusual compositions into ever newer and surprising shapes. Their soulful adventurousness almost overshadows their musical fluency; pop and folk song forms are refracted through lenses of free noise, punk-rock skronk, and jazz precision. Thus Owls borrows from every corner of popular music, while pushing boundaries beyond any hackneyed genre classification. Humbly, Erika explains it away: “Our personal reason for creating music, to write and record our own music, is always to try to make something that is as genuine, original and personal as possible. It's not an easy task with so much amazing music already made and so many directions to choose between.” Her mild words and tone stand in contrast to the striking emotional soundscapes they produce.
In the earliest phase of the group, Thus Owls made use of the gaps in Simon’s near constant touring schedule and Erika’s multitude of projects to create two mesmerizing albums in Sweden (Cardiac Malformations in 2009 and Harbours in 2011). The band was always a labour of love and as such a natural priority, so when Erika relocated to Montreal in 2012, and Simon left Patrick Watson’s band, they began to focus full-time on Thus Owls. The duo secured a line-up that included some of their strongest collaborators from each of their communities (Montreal’s Stefan Schneider and Parker Shper, and Stockholm bassist Martin Höper, among others). Out of that swell of change, 2013’s Turning Rocks was made – and album that really reflects the focus and commitment of that moment.
It is in this constantly shifting scenery that Thus Owls finds their sound. The band is a vessel to hold the ever-changing inspirations it contains. In keeping with this spirit, the band has offered up a new EP called Black Matter, which goes back to the core in order to shake things up again.
The latest marker in the constant evolution of Thus Owls is Black Matter – an EP that steps off the path to examine their core from a new vantage point by engaging new sounds, new collaborations and new artistic relationships. Recorded at home and in friends’ spaces, and ultimately tied together with one such new collaborator, Pierre Girard at Planet Studios, the EP format allowed them to start fresh and go deep: “…to focus on something smaller with any kind of detail and perfection you like...” says Erika.
Near the beginning of Friday evening's concert at DC9, a small venue here, it seemed like the quintet Thus Owls would outnumber the audience. In time, about a dozen fans who weren't put off by a 7:30 start time gathered near the stage. Led by husband and wife Simon and Erika Angell, the band played with vigor and intensity, as if thousands were on hand.
Tiny Mix Tapes premiered the video today, click here to read the full article.
"I’m a enthralled with Thus Owls’ performance of “How In My Bones” live at La Tulipe in Montreal. Thus Owls really lays down a retro-psychedelic blues-rock vibe here that harnesses that before-its-time nostalgia. And they’re totally not afraid to feel it too. Also, I’m convinced that all good groups have vocals from everyone involved. I love it when tambourines are used in today’s musical world. Yes!!!"
A great band is a versatile band. Thus Owls seem like they can come mystical and enchanting; or thoughtful and instructive; or rustic, raw, and real.
My pick for show of the night, Swedish-Canadian indie outfit Thus Owls played an impressive, dreamy set in front of a fairly enraptured crowd.
Thus Owls. Montreal-Stockholm combo has a solid pedigree for fans of clever and tuneful Swedish and Canadian indies, with Erika Angell a veteran of Gothenburg’s bubbling scene and her husband Simon a former founding member of Patrick Watson’s band. Rounded out by three bandmates their recent Turning Rocks LP is a compelling listen and they’re one of the best live actsin the country, says the Star’s resident pop savant Ben Rayner — a highly recommended opening act (with an 11 p.m. slot scheduled here) to NXNE’s long weekend. (Garrison, 8 p.m.)
Today's song of the day is Thus Owls' song "How in My Bones" from their new album Turning Rocks.
Turning Rocks is out since early this week and it already garnered rave reviews, see below.
The album itself is available in digital, CD and LP formats (the LP comes with a download coupon). Lots of ways you can get your hands on it, depending on your preference. It’s available on iTunes, on Amazon in both CD and LP format, and directly from us as well. And of course it’s available in stores across North America, the UK & Europe.
- The Line Of Best Fit
“It's at once familiar and foreign (...) and immediately work its way inside the listener's head and heart.”
- Andrea Warner CBC Music
“brings together organic and high-concept elements in a way that coheres intricately … striking a heady balance between warm instrumentation and a stylish veneer.”
- Pop Matters
“one of the most fascinating, challenging and wildly diverse albums in recent memory. 5 stars”
- Jeff Monk, Winnipeg Free Press
- Aidan Morgan, Prairie Dog
"one of the most fascinating, challenging and wildly diverse albums in recent memory."
Andre Guerette (OPAK)
Ryan Farlow (Windish)
Olivier Sirois (OPAK)
Magali Ould (Secret City Records)
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