Blunt Objects – Call It Sex

 Blunt Objects – Call It Sex

Blunt Objects – Call It Sex – Album Review

Call It Sex – because why not?  You could certainly call an album many things, and as far as I can tell, sex would qualify just like anything else would, would it not?  Like I always tell ya here on these pages of ours, we’ve all gotta write about something.  Once you’re done writing, those somethings need a title.

Welcome back to the Blunt Objects show…the Bill Owens led-project, one of the two currently pumping out music all over the internet, with the other being Did Not! – they relatively seem to show up around the same time.  *hint hint…stay tuned.  Much like the last record from Blunt Objects called Pointy Rounds, which I went on to really enjoy…it felt like the opening track really required an adjustment on my end to really tap into what I was listening.  There’s some undeniably fantastic musicianship that shows up on this title-track, particularly towards its finale, and I dig that.  I don’t know that I’m as in love with the rest of it to be honest…”Call It Sex” somewhat roams through terrain we’ve explored in music’s history in many different ways.  I suppose, like all things, it’s just as valid to write about the experience of sex as opposed to the standard love song, and I like how Owens is making sure we understand the difference between the two.  I guess “Call It Sex” gives me that feeling I get when there’s a whole lot going on, but still seems to be missing that one main element that’s going to bring us back to it.  That being said, to be completely fair to Blunt Objects, “Call It Sex” has thousands more spins than the rest of the set does, so it’s clear that listeners out there are responding to it.  The masses have spoken folks – I’m just one man with an opinion that is no more valid than yours would be; I just put mine in print is all.  Bill likes to start his records off on stranger notes than most artists or bands would ever choose to, but in the end, it does inform the ears of listeners that they’re not exactly in for a typical experience.  I figure if you choose to keep listening, Owens has made it clear you’re in-store for something different from track one…there’s risk in the methods of his madness, but those that stick it out will be loyal listeners.

Personally, I really like Bill’s voice.  I’m more than willing to admit he’s likely a somewhat acquired taste as he’s not really a typical singer when compared to the majority of what’s out there…but there’s no doubt he qualifies as a highly interesting lead.  When you’re talking about character in a singers’ voice, he’s pretty much the definition y’all – and there’s tremendous value in that, in addition to being what really establishes the identity in a project like Blunt Objects, which I could pick out of a lineup blindfolded just by listening.  “I Just Wanna” basically goes for the opposite effect of “Call It Sex” – the sweetness is much more tangible here, and it’s very much a love song.  Sentiment reigns supreme here if you ask me…and I’d also tell ya that Bill’s written a verse that has more memorable melody to it than the chorus ends up having.  Which is fine…that happens sometimes and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.  I really liked the humbleness of this tune…a quality I tend to really like about what Owens creates in his music in general…”I Just Wanna” smartly gives you a narrative where the main character is trying to hang onto their marbles, but still has an incredibly strong grip on what’s most important.  Spoiler alert – that’s love – but what a beautiful thing, ain’t it?  Look…I’ll be honest with ya…”I Just Wanna” actually explores a lot of how I feel daily as I’m getting older…the index of my brain doesn’t move as quickly as I want it to anymore, things I want to remember are harder to recall, etc. etc. – I’m not complaining, just observing…it’s tragic & sad yes, but it’s what life is like to experience and so be it.  That being said, what strikes me as somewhat inevitable, is that we get to this bizarre fork in the road eventually…where it’s like we revert back to some strange factory setting, and it seems like it could go one of two ways from what I’ve seen.  You could end up being kind as your default…loving and sweet – or you could turn out to be one of those people that just end up mean and spiteful.  “I Just Wanna” might make observations about how it’s tough to go some things we go through in getting old, but you can tell that Bill has found his way to that space where sweetness follows.  He just wants to love you, and to remember it, always.

I’ll tell ya this…I love that this dude is working with music most artists wouldn’t dare to touch.  The uniqueness in what Bill creates in both his projects is practically staggering, and has tons of artistic merit.  While we were supposed to Call It Sex at the start of the record, “These Warm Thoughts” have sure proven that Bill’s much more on the love side of the equation than the lustful one.  I would imagine this track is fairly close to what people would expect in terms of its theme…it’s sweet, it’s got great intentions, it’s inoffensive and pleasant.  I think for myself personally, I’m coming back to the tangible difference that the music itself is making for me…it’s just so brilliantly clever and unlike so much of what is out there right now.  From what I understand, Bill’s longtime cohort Jim Waters is partially responsible for the results we hear in Blunt Objects as the Wizard Of Oz over there at Waterworks West studio in Tuscon…so shout out to him as well.  Ultimately, I think an artist like Owens possesses such rare qualities that you don’t wanna taint…you wanna let creativity like his flourish and do what it does.  From what I understand, that’s where Waters comes in the most handy…to be that guiding voice, but not the guy that says burn it all down and start over – he’s there to help enhance what Bill has been workin’ on.  It’s an inviting and welcoming tune…I’m not too sure “These Warm Thoughts” aims to be anything else.

I like songs like “Poster Boy” where Bill seems to step up to the mic with 10% more confidence, and embrace the strangeness that makes his voice so wonderful and charming to listen to.  In many ways, “Poster Boy” is designed as much more of a single than you’d expect in comparison to how “Call It Sex” became the lead cut from this album…and I’d probably be looking into that.  Again, I’m the fish swimming upstream here, telling Bill to go with a song that’s got thousands less hits & clicks on it than his title-track currently does at the time I wrote this – but yeah man…I gotta call it like I hear it, and “Poster Boy” is a perfect example of accessible sound that people are sure to dig on.  Great hooks in all parts of this song, great lyricism and theme overall…Owens is a smart songwriter and I’ve really enjoyed digging into his whole realm of creativity.  Think of it like this…when you think of the term “Poster Boy” to begin with, you generally think of something positive, right?  The “Poster Boy” for mathematics because of outstanding grades, or the “Poster Boy” for sales because of a great smile or natural gift of gab…the list of things can go on & on really – but that’s the point, it denotes a perfect representation of something.  Bill flips that script around, and becomes the “poster boy for poor decisions” – and contrast like that, combined with the sweetness of the melody he’s rockin’ with on this song, works brilliantly.  I’m a big fan of this song from the concept to its execution – “Poster Boy” is an exceptional track, 100%.  There’s a very good chance that the chorus contains this record’s most accessible and memorable hook.

“It’s So Hard” is one of those tracks where you sit back, listen, and marvel at it.  This got MADE y’all.  So many artists would have put this one down on paper, looked at it, and probably run the other way.  Or it might have made its way to the cutting room floor, never to have its craft or artistic vibes acknowledged – and what a shame that could have potentially been!  Bill’s here to fearlessly follow through on some of his strangest ideas, and “It’s So Hard” is definitely one of’em.  He reminds me a bit of what it was like to listen to the music of Mr. Kito back in 2014 on a record called Where Are The Lizards?  I know that’s an obscure reference at best, but it’s a fitting one I assure you.  Bill embraces the idea of doing things differently than the rest do, and I feel like the whole world is in a much better position to embrace him back for it.  We like different, we like weird, we like strange…these are assets in music, because we don’t just want to hear the same things we’ve heard over and over.  So he fits in with these wonderfully zany characters that reside on the fringe like a Mr. Kito, or something you’d hear in a project like Metro Expo – these are the kind of artists & bands that make you appreciate how music can be so much more of an experience than it is often given credit for.  While I recognize that anything deemed artistic is going to have much more of an uphill trek in reaching the masses…I don’t really think Owens is making music with those kind of lofty expectations either…in fact, it can be much more rewarding to have a niche audience that gets what you create, and applauds you for doing things differently than the mainstream.

Having some fun when there was fun to be had” on “Special Friends” – you can tell Bill is one of those people that really likes to look back on his life and remember the good times…and I’m here for it – I love that about this dude.  “Special Friends” is a deep dive into what actually makes a relationship warrant that ‘special’ status…what defines true friendship…what makes memories significant…it’s a beautiful tune overall.  Every time I listen to the music he’s working with, I’m pretty much blown away y’all – and that’s the gospel truth…it’s just so anti-typical in so many ways, that it really makes you appreciate how Bill is ultimately a poet.  Music happens to exist around him, and that’s great – it’s a welcome addition to his words.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s got a great sense of timing and when to deliver his words & all, but the music almost seems like it could practically be ANYTHING…and for a wordsmith just looking to communicate his thoughts, feelings, and emotions to the world, that’s tremendously advantageous.  Basically, Bill could create something to anything – make sense?  You give this guy some music of any kind, and I’m 100% confident that he’ll come up with some kind of song in return.  That ain’t easy to do dear readers, dear friends!  That’s talent that doesn’t just come along every day and he should certainly be recognized for that.  Much the case that I was making at the end of talking about “It’s So Hard” just prior to this tune, you don’t need the world to love ya, you just need some “Special Friends” to make this whole experience on Earth worthwhile…I figure if you accomplish that, you’ve got a life well lived.

While there’s definitely an argument to be made that Call It Sex doesn’t quite reach the heights of a record like Pointy Rounds did in terms of its content and the uniqueness you’ll find – I think people will also appreciate the overall sweetness that a record like this contains.  That being said, it’s somewhat dependent on making sure that it’s delivered in a way they can handle too…and I feel like my gut is telling me that “Not My Girl” might take things a step too far in that respect.  The main melody line, while clearly distorted purposely with its 8-bit-esque type of vibe at the core of it all…is still exactly that – clearly distorted.  Objectively, it’s a tougher sound for the masses to love, sweetness or no sweetness.  The thing about using creativity in this regard, is that it can be extremely tricky to pull off successfully.  I’m sitting here listening, and I understand what’s going on and why as a result of having shifted a million knobs on a studio board and tried a million different settings on keyboards and electronic instruments…I love texture, I love tone, I love distortion, and I love it when music reveals something that’s different – these are all good things in my books.  When it comes to the average everyday listener, they’re not thinking about any of that.  They’re looking for clean sounds that have no real barriers or obstacles between them and an easy listening experience.  A track like “Not My Girl” essentially challenges convention and ears in all types of ways…and I’d imagine that people will probably feel a certain type of way about it.  Not indifferent, which is great, but yeah…Blunt Objects is working with a set of polarizing sounds on this particular cut.  Where I think there’s potentially some room for Bill to hone his craft even further, is to find that balance between what a song like this is calling for and what it ends up sounding like.  To me, in my opinion, there’s an undeniable sweetness in the vocals and melody that would really pair perfectly with something much smoother…the Occam’s razor of conclusions really.  Owens is somewhat a king of creating contrast – which I both respect and enjoy – but in terms of what might have his music traveling the furthest distance, a track like “Not My Girl” probably would have had every opportunity to maybe even become a single, but with the current direction it has, will likely make most people listening wonder whether or not it’s been mixed right or not recorded like the rest have been.  And I get it…I understand why they’d feel that way…it’s all done with purpose and intent folks, I assure you – but like I was tellin’ ya earlier on, in the ears of the average listener, the result is the same.

“Bad Decisions” is interesting in the sense that it’s like the fact that it’s got the same title as a song by The Strokes, Bill went with a similar method of recording in bringing down the vocals relative to the music so that he’s much more shrouded by it.  It’s definitely a method that always makes the music seem larger overall, but I’ve always found it to be a strange choice for a wordsmith to make.  Ultimately, it’s one of those things…I don’t really think we always need to hear every single word being sung, and of the ones most people hear, I think there’s an infinitely smaller percentage that are actually understood anyway…so really, most of the time, going with a recording method where the music is up and the vocals are sunken in more, usually pays off.  In the case of “Bad Decisions,” I’d have to assume the theory is fairly correct given that I feel like this song is the undeniable crown jewel of this record – I freakin’ LOVE this song.  While it might be harder to catch a pure glimpse of each and every word as you listen, there’s a reason that they consider music to be the universal language y’all, and it runs much deeper than whatever language you speak…it has everything to do with the way melody works.  I listen to a song like “Bad Decisions” and I wanna stand up and cheer for it…that’s how much I love what’s being created here, and how much the melody of this song resonates in the mind, body, and soul.  “Bad Decisions make good stories” is both one of the best lines I’ve heard this year, and the most accurate as well.  Take it from good ol’ Bill here folks…you might have to dig for the wisdom of his words a bit more on “Bad Decisions” than you do in some of the others, but, “hey – hold my beer” – it’s worth the effort.  From the classic melody of his chorus, to the insightful & empowering words he’s written into this final cut, Blunt Objects goes out on one of the very best tracks I’ve heard from this band to-date without a doubt, and instantly has me wanting a whole lot more of what I hear at the end of Call It Sex.  Bill might make some strange choices in how to go about starting a record, but he sure knows how to finish one.

Listen to more music from Bill Owens in Blunt Objects and Did Not! at his official page Soundcloud:

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