CD Review of Slingshot Echoes by Mezzanine Owls

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See their MySpace profile. Mezzanine Owls:
Slingshot Echoes
starstarstarstarno star Label: No Label
Released: 2006

Is shoegazer pop – the mopey, drawn-out “scene that celebrates itself” – making a comeback? Influences from the downcast, effects-laden genre can be seen in bands such as the Editors and Interpol, and up-and-comers like Aberdeen City and A Shoreline Dream are definitely drawing inspiration from My Bloody Valentine and Lush (albeit with different levels of success). Now L.A.’s Mezzanine Owls are getting in on the dreamy action with their debut album Slingshot Echoes, an abstract title that still, somehow, neatly defines the music.

The band has already achieved some level of recognition, thanks to various blogs’ heavy promotion of the album’s first single, “Lightbulb” – and with its catchy hook and obvious (but not too obvious) Jesus and Mary Chain-inspired guitar riff, it’s easy to see why. Similar-sounding songs, such as “Wake Up” and the opener “Moving Ground,” will most likely appeal to fans of the Cure and early U2, as well as those who find their own shoelaces immensely interesting.

Mezzanine Owls thankfully take influence from other bands, creating a more diverse and unique sound than what you may find on other bands who wear their influences on their sleeves. (She Wants Revenge, I’m talking to you!) “Wake Up,” and its repeated quiet-loud-quiet formula, sounds like a song by the Pixies re-imagined by Lush, and influences by bands like R.E.M. also turn up on occasion – which is appropriate, considering the album was recorded in Athens, Georgia.

Slingshot Echoes draws from the best that shoegaze has to offer, but takes some of the worst as well. Even the best of the genre’s albums can get boring, and Slingshot Echoes shares the same problem. Listening to monotonous ballads like the appropriately titled “A Draft” while operating heavy machinery, or attempting to engage in a conversation with your significant other, is not advised; you may end up suffering a severe injury.

Thankfully, even at their most downtrodden and mellow, Mezzanine Owls avoid the sterile, mid-tempo ballads that entrap so many bands of their ilk, landing them on adult contemporary radio and VH1 as artists “You Oughta Know.” Even the most conventional songs on Slingshot Echoes manage to stand out somehow, either through Jack Burnside’s vocals, or beautifully constructed layers of guitars that evoke early Coldplay or U2.

This is a solid debut effort from an obviously talented band, and it will be interesting to see where Mezzanine Owls can go from here. 

~James B. Eldred