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Good NightOwl - Liars CD (album) cover


Good NightOwl

Eclectic Prog

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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Good NightOwl is an Eclectic Prog project from Daniel Lewis Cupps , and he has been releasing albums under that name since 2011. At this point, he has 15 albums released under that moniker, including "Liars", released on the first day of a new year and a new decade; 2020.

"Liars" is a concept album telling a story about a pathological liar who uses a false theory that liars are only proof that there are alternate timelines. That's definitely an interesting concept, and the story is expressed in an amazing beautiful vocal harmony created from layers of voices that sound very much like the harmonies in "Fleet Foxes" music, and since I am a fan of that innovative indie-folk band, I am also fond of the vocals here. But that is where the comparison ends and the interesting instrumentation and rhythmic structures make this quite an entrancing progressive work.

There are some scattered style usage here, including the nice symphonic sound on the title track "Liars" that also mixes an intriguing art-pop style that puts this album way above the musical norm. It's airy and light with fluttering instrumentation and orchestral effects at times, the sound going through some unexpected textural manipulations that help to paint the picture of the overall storyline. Later, the guitar lines and the orchestral effects contradict each other creating some nice dissonant harmonies, yet it all stays surprisingly lush and wonderful.

The fact that Cupps plays and sings everything on this album is almost unbelievable, because it is done so well that you would swear this was done with a full band. The addition of piano and brass in "Younger" make a very catchy sound, but Cupps makes sure that the music never stays in a single groove for too long, though he does return to main themes within songs, but keeps it all dynamic so that any one motif never wears itself out. Right from the beginning, the track "Pressure" sticks out as a definite standout track as it grabs your attention with a tuba sounding bass and the rapid fire vocal delivery (yes complete with harmonics) proves that there is a heavy layer of humor in the music, but the complexity of the sounds, beats and meter changes in this track shows that Cupps is serious about what he is doing. Then he chooses to end it all with a funky and jazzy feel with the track "Believe".

Seeing that, among other things, Cupps is a comedian and actor, this album shows the perfect combination of his talents added to his compositional mastery. It's all here on this album. But then he takes his brilliant ideas and mixes them all together to make some of one of the most concise and perfect sounding one-man-band prog-pop albums I have heard, then waits until New Years Day of a new decade to release it. How brilliant is that? It's hard to believe that one of the best albums of 2020 would be on day one, but I believe Good NightOwl has achieved that here. I love this sound. Bright, airy, fun, experimental and smart. Beautiful harmonics, excellent levels of interplay between the instruments, nice doses of progressive sounds, whirling keys and guitars and changing melodies that create both light and thick textures, this is one needs to be heard. Yes I am a bit prejudice because I am taken immediately by the vocal harmonics, but that is all backed up by a very smart use of instrumentation, both traditional and electronic. It's love at first listen!

Report this review (#2303226)
Posted Thursday, January 2, 2020 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
5 stars Ah, if this album is any indication of the new year and the roaring 20s to come then i'm TOTALLY in for the full show. GOOD NIGHTOWL doesn't refer to a well-behaved nocturnal avian with excellent vision but is actually the pseudonym of Philadelphia, PA based Dan Cupps who creates his musical visions alone on his laptop in his house near his cats, at least that's what he states on his Bandcamp page. This guy is prolific and obviously a freekin' genius as he's not only a multi-instrumentalist musician but also a comedy writer, producer and actor and who knows what else. His apparent goal is to prove how much a homo sapiens can achieve on a low budget. Hmmm? i resemble those remarks! (but pale in comparison to this music magic)

Suffice it to say?. there is so very, very, very much music to experience these days. I mean you can really expand your consciousness to include the entire history of recorded music on your computer so it's becoming ever more difficult to find a niche in the glut of talent that exists. Once in a while someone hits me in the right spot that i really fall into their spell. Such is the case of the acts of yore but now? Well? yeah!!!! It still exists and surprises me when it does. Can something from one dude really sound organic, inspired, melodic, proggy as hell and off-kilter enough to keep me from labeling the music as a wannabe tribute to who-knows-who from the past? Yep. Originality persists and Cupps AKA the talent ted GOOD NIGHTOWL is a primo example of just that.

As GOOD NIGHTOWL, Cupps has been quite prolific since his introduction to the world in 2011 and has released a whopping 15 albums, none of which i've heard until my first album of 2020. LIARS is an instantly addictive slice of melodic prog that tackles a very bizarre concept which i can only copy from the Bandcamp page because i couldn't possibly provide a better description "LIARS is a concept album by Good NightOwl containing a story about a pathological liar who almost turns the world to chaos when he pays scientists to create a fake research consensus that would aim to prove to the public that pathological lying isn't merely lying, but rather remembering an alternate timeline with a completely different set of events."

The album LIARS consists of 10 single-word titled tracks and only consumes a whopping 46 minutes of your life but surprisingly after i listened to this a few times, i actually still want more! The perfect recipe for my attention span is presented here however you must be warned that this is a very melodic and catchy pop-hook prog type of album. You must love crossover aspects with unorthodox behaviors. Really, what comes to mind when i listen to LIARS is that it is the perfect prog meets new romantic 80s new wave album that never was. Maybe a bad thing to some but not to me. If you're into the highly melodic antics of Big Big Train or Porcupine Tree then this is right up your alley. If you only treasure avant-freakery such as Henry Cow or Univers Zero, go on with yer bad self. This ain't for you.

Wow. Where to start? This is first and foremost very melodic pop oriented music that simply expands the possibilities into prog turf. Melodies and brilliant vocalizations are at the forefront and then the variations kick in but you cannot help but be mesmerized by the addictive hooks that instantly take you to heaven. All hooks are based in 80s new wave. Bands like ABC, Orchestral Maneouvres In The Dark, Depeche Mode and even the Eurythmics may come to mind while listening to LIARS. This is clearly somebody influenced by the 80s but who has the love of prog in the heart and the alchemy of the two is clearly magic in its delivery! While the melodic constructs are clearly rooted in the most catchy picks of the 80s, the instrumental and thematic material is clearly of a more complex ilk.

In addition to nice melodic tugs we get Emerson inspired keyboard antics, Steve Howe=esque guitar wankery and prog chops that make proggers have to decide in which dimension they reside. The vocals are sublime and there are even off-kilter tracks like "Pressure" that add a little oom-pah-pah to the mix. There are times when the vocals even sound a bit like George Michael but despite all the obvious references to 80s classic pop shop, GOOD NIGHTOWL manages to keep it all tastefully delivered. When all is said and done, i think of this one-man b and as sounding more like Muse for all the progressive pop sensibilities are on full fire and the changes evoke a highly evolved sense of musical understanding. Wow. This totally makes me want to explore this dude's work beyond this one album. This is a truly a brilliant self-composed masterpiece. Wow. Wow. Wow. Released on New Year's Day, so far my fave album of the year! I predict this will still be on the my personal charts even after 360+ days :)

Report this review (#2303646)
Posted Thursday, January 2, 2020 | Review Permalink

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