Friday, October 12, 2012
RSO - Awl EP - self released single
Ryan Owens is the one man project, RSO raised in Jersey, currently residing in Maine he sent me his self released handscreened single "Awl". Sounds like he put this one together live, hitting record except, according to the insert here, he tracked a couple of the vocals but the guitar and stompbox contraption he's captured here is basically done in one messy punk blues rough haze.
A-Side's "Bad Luck Pine" hit me as Mark Lannegan crossed Kurt's Incesticide scream/howl of a vocal style. A one man operation of raw, stripped down messy guitar and box drums, which makes me think of something utilitarian and gutter punk like the legends, Doo Rag. This record is the melodic catharsis of a guy in a room with a guitar, a talented guy, who's really letting loose with a messy jangle of distortion. All about beating this thing and not treating it like some instrument that needs to be respected, it's taking a banging in that new blues way. All distortion, alone in a room, he's got a raspy throat yell that impressively stays plateau'd at a 9 of despair. Still, somehow sort of sensitive at the same time but it's a song about bad luck after all and that inherently going to be a bummer. Belting this out finding this blues loose rhythm in the metal strings and riding a freight rhythm the whole time. Imperfections and all, it's got to be messy or I'd suspect that the intentions of this might be slightly less than honest. He means it... hitting the box and it goes silent, he may have even walked away for a second, the rhythm changes, but still that empty concrete room sound which adds to the loner aesthetic. He doesn't look like he could possibly get this upset in the insert pic, but it's always the quiet ones....it's at least the fourth set of strings he's gone through to get this session just right. A case for substance over style if you're looking for pretty and shiny, you go pull that pop collar indie rock off the shelf, if you want to get to the dirty center of something, listen to Ryan's search in the dark on his hands and knees.
B-Side's "Wry" could be the drunken demo's of Kurt's later stuff, that hollow howl with the same kind of self torture... just feeling out blindly the big power chords combined with this brut blues, a minimal approach to the whole thing, deliberately keeping it uncomplicated. Always falling back on that riff that feels right. He might be losing it a bit more than the A-Side. Could be uncomfortable live to see someone so completely getting this emotional under a sparse distortion like this, only because I am a robot with no emotions.
Then he gets a capella without the high end, this is a low end jailhouse out of tune folksong. Not even rhyming, it's been a long night, this is all he's got left. He can't even pick up the guitar. That's it, spent, alone in the gutter on the side of the street. It isn't even about melody. Do you think the guys out there, cold in the middle of a downpour, care about sounding good? It's about this emotion and release. That's where awl is taking you. Get ready.
Love the cardboard sleeve that's been hand printed that matches this minimal set up for the audio silence inside. As raw and unforgiven with this naked design. A weird choice in the lavender color vinyl, but it matches the arrows pointing the opposite way on that sleeve. Download card, and xerox insert with a great brown paper inner sleeve. I love those.