Wow, Owls! – Pick Your Patterns

Wow, Owls!
Pick Your Patterns

This review of Wow,Owls! debut CD Pick Your Patterns could read like the final installment in a history lesson of Virginia/DC hardcore from the mid-90s through the present. In the past weeks I’ve reviewed records from similar sounding but now defunct bands Stop It!! and Helen of Troy. All of these bands borrow heavily from the groundwork laid by east coast hardcore bands such as Shotmaker, Sleepytime Trio, and to a certain extent even Fugazi or Rites of Spring. Wow, Owls! takes all of this history and wraps it up into a tight little bundle with only a few minor flaws.

Pick Your Patterns has the DC guitar sound down to an art. Chunky distortion that sounds like speakers peeling open accentuates the stop/start rhythms and extremely pissed-off screaming that most of the aforementioned bands have employed to great effect. Wow, Owls! changes things up by adding in some yelled vocal trade-offs as well, bringing the Fugazi influence to the forefront of its sound. The record starts off well enough with some tight guitar work and stellar drumming backed by rumbling bass. Some screams are thrown into the mix and viola…instant success!

My first problem with Pick Your Patterns comes about half way through the first track, when most of the instruments drop out and the singer is yelling fairly intelligibly. The lyrics in this part seem to have been ripped almost word for word from a To Dream of Autumn song from the split 7″ with Racebannon. Even if this is a nod to that To Dream of Autumn song, it still sounds somehow cheesy the way it is employed here. I’m not trying to punish you guys in Wow, Owls! if you are out there listening to this, in fact the record is pretty flawless despite my complaining. There is another part that comes at the end of one of the songs in the middle of the record where the song ends with gang vocals repeating the same line over and over again after all of the music has dropped out. These kinds of tactics have been used by many hardcore bands and it just sounds bad for the most part.

Alright…enough of my stupid opinions. If you dig the DC sound and are into City of Caterpillar, Shotmaker, Sleepytime Trio, or even Majority Rule then you will love the debut full-length from Wow, Owls! It is chock full of enough powerful music to keep you busy for a while. Hopefully by the time the next record comes out I will have absolutely nothing to complain about. In the meantime, I will be continually listening to all of the other songs on this record and basking in the glory that is Wow, Owls! A spectacular first try from this up-and-coming band. By the way, kudos for having not only an excellent band name but also great cover art.