O.W.L.S. – Fiddlers Elbow, London 16.11.12

A little time has passed since my ears were last beautifully dirtied by the nice people of O.W.L.S. , so this night out was well anticipated. A four-band dose of live music is not to be sniffled at in any event, but when it features this band, the night’s going to be a good one. Even if I had lost myself, my nose ring and my oyster card in the 400 yards between tube station and venue…

First up were Evacuees, just after I got there. Perfectly reasonable band, reminded me a little of  Glasvegas. Can’t say they hit me where it hurts, but that’s not to say they weren’t any good – just maybe I was nattering too much.

Next were Zodiac N Black. Before they came on, I was told they were well worth watching, and Mr Macfarlaine’s words are usually to be heeded on these subjects. Off my bum and into the crowd… Well, of course he was right. They rock like heck, with energy and aplomb, and are REALLY GOOD.  What more do you want me to say? They know perfectly well what they’re doing musically and venues definitely need to be filled with their metalling. A little video… and more details at the bottom.

That’s the better quality of the vids – my camera is broken so filming done on the iPad – but see OI’s channel for the other.

A short break for vodka, guitar lead/cable/wire swaps and it’s time for O.W.L.S. I’ve described their approach to the cleanliness of sound before, and I can’t say that’s changed at all.  Starting with Only Joking, we were straight into hardness. No pussyfooting around here (Toby’s footwear excepted)! Go To Your Happy Place is a singalong of dark proportions, Hurt Janine an oddly delightful, joyous thing, Vitamins and Kibosh as moshy and headbangy as I remember. She Can Open Doors is below. I just watched it without sound, accidentally, and the rocking still shines through.

The sound pouring forth was something with a harder edge than back in February, with a surer performance. This had more punk and more assurance. February was no means lacking anything, but after a longish break, such a great performance was brilliant. O.W.L.S are brilliant, in a darkly shining way.

Get your vinyl copy of double A-side single Hurt Janine/Vitamins as soon as you can, as it’s a strictly limited edition.

Velvet Star were on last. Hmm. Sorry… not my thing.

Let’s get everyone out there to see both O.W.L.S. and Zodian N Black. You can see the former on 9th Dec at Emma Scott Presents, The Flapper, Birmingham.

Contact Info:

Facebook –  O.W.L.S.HQ    Zodiac N Black

Twitter – @OWLSHQ  @Zodiac_N_Black




The Rite of Spring EP – O.W.L.S.

O.W.L.S. have an EP out today. Their first. It’s available almost everywhere, so you need to go and get it.

There’s a wonderfully controlled wildness about O.W.L.S., which is rather apt, don’t you think?  I recall saying that I like a little bit of dirt and scratch left on my soul by music, when I reviewed their first gig, and I stand by that. There’s enough grunge grate in vocals, feedback scrape of strings, to do that job admirably. There are some delicate touches here and there, little bits of bright guitar and beat slipping in and out of the heavy storm. Not any old maelstrom, but one that morphs from relentless assault to full-on attack, the manic of Kibosh to the laid back (relatively) Vitamins. Hurt Janine has a smoothness to the delivery that belies the slight sneer I can hear. Only Joking gives a darn fine idea of what is and what will happen to your ears through the whole Rite. Every now and again a ghost of wholesome american 60’s pop sweeps by, but it’s given a thorough grunging over until it feels as dirty as the rest.

Everything was recorded live, which is how this really needs to be heard to get everything from it, so let’s hope there are gigs near us all soon. Tight band without being anal about it, well crafted and honed songs, rock in spades and grunge in bucketfuls. That’s a bloody good deal, and this is a bloody good debut EP.

Track listing:

Only Joking

Hurt Janine

Leave a Light Over My Grave



One In The Chamber

A Day At The Beach

(Stravinsky’s ballet ‘The Rites of Spring’ caused a riot at its first performance. A good hard mosh is much more sensible, kids.)

O.W.L.S – Prince Albert, Brighton 24.2.12

A night eagerly awaited. A band containing both Toby Macfarlaine and Richie Edwards could only be a very good thing, in my opinion, and I know I’m not alone.  Plenty of Stone Gods fans would agree that they belong in a band together, and Toby agrees – ‘I couldn’t think of anyone else I wanted to be in a band with more’.   They already have years of writing and playing together under their belts, so this new venture should fit them like custom made gloves.

I listened to the demos on Soundcloud when they first came to light and liked what I heard, even in their rough state. A departure from what I know of them, but heavens, would it not be terribly dull if that wasn’t so?  Can’t wait to hear it properly.

One emergency dash to the south coast done, a slight detour the wrong way round the train station, and finally I’m at the Prince Albert with about 10 minutes to spare. So ace to see so many familiar and well loved faces there!  Only time for a quick swig of drink before strings are plucked and it’s time to get down the front and see what I’ve wanted to see for over 3 years now – Toby and Richie on a stage again, playing plugged in and turned up loud. There’s no way I was going to miss this. True to form, Richie is looking effortlessly Rock, whilst Toby manages to look both beautifully turned out and grungekid at the same time.

They don’t disappoint. They never have! From the first note, there was a nice dark dirty edge to the sound. I like that. I like feeling like I’ve had music pumped through me and that it’s left a little graze to be admired later. I really like watching good musicians who know how to do that, and who look like it’s happening to them, too. Have a bit of grunge rubbed on me? Oh yes. See that edge? It’s quite sharp, actually. Don’t miss it.

Mosh to Kibosh and Vitamins, dance to Hurt Janine, and do a bit of both to the rest of the setlist:

Hurt Janine
Leave A Light Over My Grave
Only Joking
One In The Chamber

In the end, I stopped trying to take photos and just enjoyed myself, listening to rock and grunge and indie elements swirling round each other, getting grubby and sweaty on the way before they crank up to full on soundload. No one who loves live music wants to hear disinfected, scrubbed notes on stage. What they want is the passion that makes a night memorable, a sound that’s great, and a little sting on their musical souls. Seems like  O.W.L.S have just the talons to do just that.

Next gig:  Love Buzz, London

I have added photos from the night from O.W.L.S Facebook to the Gallery, with permission.

Here’s a bit of video:



Toby Macfarlaine and Richie Edwards, formerly of Stone Gods, are about to launch their new band onto an unwitting stage and audience:

Ladies and Gentlefolk,
24th February 2012, The Albert in Brighton
O.W.L.S make our debut…
entry is £4
onstage 8.50-9.20pm
other bands:
Come along and t’wit and t’woo

Have a listen to some demos , find out the  and seriously think about attending that gig. We already know that these two are great musicians, blokes and facial hair growers and the demos have a lot going for them!

Lineup is as follows:

Toby Macfarlaine- guitars/ voice
Richie Edwards- guitars
Oliver Wickham- bass
Stephen Gilchrist- drums

O.W.L.S Facebook page