With Guided by Voices long gone, the Black Owls are filling a real void in our lives, creating pompous, over-the-top-rock without making pains to show how tongue-in-cheek they are.
If you’ve never spent any time with Guided by Voices, or the Who for that matter, the album will be just as enjoyable—the Black Owls have a knack for well-crafted, substantial rock songs that are catchy as hell. But it won’t make as much sense. If, on the other hand, you have spent time with those two groups, Lightning is for you.
Rick Allen, the other paper - Columbus, Ohio
Strange, beautiful things take place after the sun goes down, and the Black Owls revel in an all-nighter guitar sound that burns brightly in the dark. Lightning Made Us Who We Are, their 2008 debut album, is a masterful slice of booze-fueled super rock.
In Lightning Made Us Who We Are, you'll find traces of everything from the Rolling Stones to Roxy Music to Husker Du. It all adds up to their own infectious brand of rust-belt glam-rock, with "cautionary tales of excess" sardonically disguised as soaring guitar anthems.
The exuberant "Julius Morningstar" sets the tone for the rest of the record: pulsating drum stomps, righteous guitar riffs, and Butler's slicing tenor. The title track takes on lean, efficient tones reminiscent of the Cars and early Cheap Trick, and showcases the band's ironic proclivity to meld the majestic with the pitifully ordinary.
Kinetic energy courses through Lightning's world of lost mid-western souls and cosmic guitars. The band's unabashed desire to dish catchy, corn-fed power cords while giving songs titles like "We Travel on the Backs of Whales" and "My Guitar Might Kill You" reveals the Owls' sarcastic charm, but there's no denying Lightning's appeal as an exceptionally well-made rock record. - ADAM SCOPPA, 614 MAGAZINE
Insert disc, grab a MILLER HIGH LIFE and press play. Ohio natives THE BLACK OWLS have put together some of the best well crafted songs influenced by some of this country (and others) best known musicians that still make their mark today. This disc is loaded with hints of The Rolling Stones, The WHO, The Ramones and Georgia Satellites—to say the least—with a vibe of your favorite local BAR band playing their hearts out till all hours of the night. Plenty of danceable tracks, a few absolute anthems and creative music abilities that make this band stand apart from the past (and make the future seem more pleasant). Sometimes you have to go back a step and appreciate what was before ever understanding what will be. History has made it's mark, and it is time for the present to do the same — THE BLACK OWLS have a firm foothold in creating a new history for Rock n' Roll. This CD is a complete celebration of music at it's finest and should not be ignored.
- Dave Fishwick the Neus Subject
Judging from the neo-psychedelic sounds found on its debut LP, "Lightning Made Us Who We Are," Granville, Ohio-based Black Owls is an anomaly in Amish country. Rather than dabbling in something rootsy, Ed Shuttleworth (guitars, vocals), Mike Brewer (guitars, vocals), David Butler (vocals, drums) and Dan Cochran (bass, vocals) push a garage-rock agenda that also draws from the British Invasion, new wave, glam and '70's post-punk.
And despite the varied influences, this crew has fashioned its favorite styles into a focused and infectious sound.
The new album, released on the group's own Moholy Pop Records, is sure to get listeners moving. Black Owls recorded at Central City Recording in Columbus with Jon Chinn, who gave "Mr. Tornado," "Julias Morningstar" and other killer cuts a muscular, timeless qualilty that serves the material well. Clever arrangements, outstanding twin guitar play and a keen sense of dynamics heighten the listening experience.
-Don Thrasher - Active Dayton, Dayton Daily News
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