The owls are not what they seem.
Like any fringe act worth following, Stray Owls shouldn't work. Matthew French and Scott Griffiths plug their acoustic/electrics into the type of pedalboards that usually fuel post-rock or doom-worthy riffs but instead create agitated, perpetually damaged fuzz-folk. Drummer and engineer Jerry Kee, who joined as a full member after 2017's A Series of Circles, knows which spaces to fill and which to leave. Indeed, Stray Owls strikes an almost paradoxical balance: warmth in the organic chop of acoustic guitars and consoling drive of Kee's drumming; anxiety in the gulf where a bass instrument would go, indicating the hollow heart each of us feels as we contemplate the cold truths of life — and the terror of its impermanence.
Appropriate to its title, second LP Stray Owls vs. Time and Space finds this Mebane trio with its toes in the North Carolina Piedmont clay, but its head way, way above the clouds. Intro "Miles" is as patient, immersive, and spacious as Spiritualized, but is immediately followed by the unassuming pop-craft of "Words." Griffiths' digitally mangled voice reads the Latin names of trees on half-delirious instrumental "Lower Case of the Mondays," while Cory Griffiths (she and Scott are married) plays clarinet on "Cory's Interlude" and sings harmony on "Dislocation." Kee is on the mic for the unassuming slacker shuffle of "Something Like Hope," while the unapologetically crunchy "Bipolaroid" finds Stray Owls kneeling at the crossroads/altar of math rock and Sabbath with French on vocal duties. The album sounds and feels like three people thriving in the same head space and is a natural progression and solid evolutionary leap for the band. Indeed, having fully welcomed and incorporated Kee as a full-time member for the past few years — Stray Owls takes an active role in its own evolution on Stray Owls vs. Time and Space.
Again — the owls are not what they seem.
STRAY OWLS VS TIME AND SPACE
A SERIES OF CIRCLES