Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Noctooa: Adaptation (2013)

Let's Ask Mr. Owl

According to my book on Hieronymus Bosch, owls are traditionally a symbol of evil. But owls are friggin' everywhere now. Aside from the decades-old Tootsie Pop commercial, I hadn't really given them much thought until about 2009, when an owl appeared on the cover of DevilDriver's Pray for Villans. Before long, I started to see owls in relation to Kvelertak. And in products made for infants. Peruse any trendy retailer for baby supplies, and you can't avoid the nocturnal avians. So I guess my twins' matching girl and boy owl-face knitted stocking caps are pretty fucking metal. Right?

Well, finally there's a band who speak for the owls: Noctooa. And I don't mean to diminish the owl theme, but merely point out the fact it has already been diminished. Owls really are a powerful symbol. But, you know, maybe it's not a good time in history for that. Noctooa's music deserves better.

For my first few listens, I thought for sure they were a Finnish band, but it turns out they're from Berkeley, California. They play a dark, heavy kind of neo-folk that always intrigues me. The PR spiel drops all the right names, like Gira and Kelly, which turns out to be both good salesmanship and pretty accurate. It's mostly a nonspecific folk allegiance, especially with the way they use strings, but the twang pushes it somewhat toward American folk.

It's really cool, even occasionally heavy, and at least once it evokes mid-period Tool. Except for one thing . . . .

There's a reason I thought it was Finnish, and that has everything to do with the peculiar style of baritone singing employed. Half the time it's completely inoffensive. But the other half of the time, it sounds a little bit goofy. You remember that Crash Test Dummies song that was a huge hit in the early 90's? If you don't, you're lucky, and you'll be able to enjoy this even more than I did.

The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Pesanta Urfolk

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