From Michigan, by way of Daytrotter, comes yet another triumph. Breathe Owl Breathe is a three-piece folk/indie band comprised of Trevor Hobbs (Percussion, Piano, Toys), Micah Middaugh (Singing, Guitar, Banjo), and Andréa Moreno Beals (Singing, Cello). Their songs instantly take me back to Michigan: to evenings where dusk drags on forever in a big sky, where the shores of lakes may as well be oceans, and where settlements pop up like afterthoughts in an otherwise “open” landscape. The songs are playful and mystical, earthy and ethereal, and they seem to simultaneously speak of dreams and waking. On the subject of dreams, Micah writes this about the band’s name:
The name Breathe Owl Breathe came from a dream I had. There was an owl that was cutting its way through the cold, still night. (Whoever was in charge of the cinematography of the dream—my hatʼs off to them.) It was from the perspective of just above a field mouse scurrying through blades of grass. The mouse then found a little divot in the ground, laid down on its back, and gave its last breath. The breath rose up into the sky, passing by the owlʼs beak. The owl gave a breath, turned its head, and decided to fly away. Suspended in the air, I watched the owl weave its way out of sight, flapping three flaps on one wing before switching to the other wing to do the same. I had never seen a bird fly that way. I woke up and wrote “Breathe Owl Breathe” on the windowsill with a ballpoint pen, then fell back to sleep. The pen was out of ink, so the writing (I discovered the next morning) was more of an indentation of the words into wood. I called Andréa up, she wrote down Breathe Owl Breathe, the dream came back, and we had ourselves a name.
I think Derek Barber of The Michigan Daily describes their sound best: “Breathe Owl Breathe makes music of honest curiosity: Music that confounds a listener with its relentless humility, while somehow entrancing an audience with its loveliness at the same time.” My personal favorite of the Daytrotter tracks is “Dog Walkers,” which kind of makes me think of a marriage between Great Lake Swimmers and Evan Dando. For me, it all comes down to this lyric: “If the light bends, friend, bend with it. You are a fallen star. Pick yourself up…” There’s something that glows in this track, even as it reminds me of the rain and fog. But maybe that’s just the Midwest? If straight-up sunshine’s your thing, then look no further than “Birdz.” It’s lively, warm, and just dripping with onomatopoeia. What more could you want, right?
And here’s “Dog Walkers:”
[audio:https://www.shh-listen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/004-Dog-Walkers.mp3|titles=Dog Walkers] Download
Here’s a video of “Boat”
And here’s the trailer for the forthcoming release of their Magic Central album!