I was half a step from walking out the door at a San Francisco bar the other night, having already heard the artist I came to see, when a friend stopped me and said, “You gotta hear the next band, they’ll make you cry.” One of the better decisions I’ve made lately was to stay at that bar.
The Michigan-based three piece band Breathe Owl Breathe has managed to capture what I always imagined Sufjan Stevens hoped to, but could not quite create; music that is all at once beautiful, funny, at times child-like, sincere, and humble.
It’s not hard to imagine the three musicians wandering through the woods of northern Michigan equipped with a guitar, cello, and drum set, composing dreamy and ghostly melodies next to a meadow or frozen lake. But I’m not talking about sit-in-your-log-cabin-and-drink-with-Bon-Iver kind of folk music. There is always something bright and joyous about their music on the aptly titled Magic Central, even when it’s slow and subtle.
Lead singer Micah Middaugh has a love for telling whimsical stories which could just as easily be written for children (actually, they have a kids book project in the works). One such song, “Dragon,” tells of a dragon and a princess who are pen pals, though the princess doesn’t yet know the dragon is a dragon because his handwriting is so good.
Breathe Owl Breathe’s songs are clever, sentimental, and completely earnest. So while a song about a dragon pen pal may sound unappealing in print, you can’t help but become captivated by the skillful harmonizing of instruments, handclaps, and voices.
So what exactly was so amazing about seeing them in person? I actually can’t tell you, because it would spoil the surprise. You might be thinking, “Hey asshole, this is a music blog, do your job and tell me about their live show.” Well I’m sorry, I just can’t do that. All I can say is that if you like their music, even ever so slightly, then just go and witness yourself. I promise they’ll steal your heart.