Blunt Objects – Pointy Rounds – Album Review
Well that…is definitely a rubbery beginning. I ain’t saying that’s as a bad thing, just an observation is all. “Downtown” sounds like it’s the recorded version of what a bungee cord experiences. It works well enough…it’s another Bill Owens project, but more of a noticeable bend towards the Experimental-Pop realm I suppose, at least in comparison to the more Rock-based band DID NOT! that I had posted about on these pages of ours yesterday. Anyhow…the art of making music means a whole lot of different things to different people…and believe me when I tell ya…Bill is definitely a different person. If he’s out to test the waters and see what he can do, regardless of the results, I’m all for it…making music is one of the very best things that anyone out there can do with their time. If that’s the goal – to make songs, and put’em out on a record, and enjoy himself & the craft in the process, then right on, he’s on a great path. If the goal is to sell a million albums with the likes of “Downtown,” then he’s probably in for a bit of a reality check…but for the record, I don’t think that’s what he’s got his sights set on. Personally, I think Bill is that dude you’ve met somewhere along the line that simply loves to make music…to jump on the mic whenever he can…to entertain people however he can, whether it’s singing for them or cracking a joke of some kind…Owens is quite probably the life of the party type-dude…and probably always has been. Personally I like “Downtown” – because it IS different. I have no illusions about this being way over the heads of the average everyday listener…I’m more than certain it is…but anything unique is always worth having a listen to in my opinion. “Downtown” is a slice of neon fun, oddly poetic, and yes, definitely on the stranger side of songs you’ll probably hear this year. But you know what you won’t be after you have a listen to it? Indifferent. Love it or hate it, honestly, it really doesn’t matter…music and art is supposed to make you feel SOMETHING…and last I checked, something is better than NOTHING. So what if something is different from what you normally listen to? There’s always value in expanding your horizons and checking out anything outside of your comfort zone. “Downtown” really ain’t bad, but what you’ll find later on in this set-list, will amaze you.
“Unsaid Things” examines all the stuff we probably shouldn’t say…all the e-mails we throw away or never send, the messages that end up never being communicated. “Some things are better left unsaid,” as Bill will tell ya…and as far as I know, that’s true…or at least, that’s what I’ve been told. I’m definitely THAT dude that will say pretty much anything, regardless of the consequences, so I can really only go by what others have told me. My experience has taught me that being real with people and saying “the quiet part out loud” leads directly to one extremely lonely life. I had a wealth of friends and people I hung out with when I started my journey into music-journalism and being a critic twenty years ago…I had less when I started sleepingbagstudios about a decade ago…and now I have a dog. So you can see the progression ain’t exactly all that great. Like I said, as far as I know, Bill’s correct. “Some things are better left unsaid” – in fact, almost ALL things are better left unsaid. The more real you’re willing to be, the more of an inconvenience you tend to become and/or a liability…you become unpredictable for the people that would love to be able to count on you to not say something provocative or controversial, but know that you probably will. Thanks for bringing all this trauma back up to the surface for me Bill! “Unsaid Things” is a thought-provoking track, at least in my opinion…I would again bank on this to be the kind of cut that ain’t really gonna catch on with the folks out there listening, but it’s amusing to me. And let’s be real here…that main hook that I’ve quoted twice in talking about this tune, is fully addictive.
We’ve got some stuff in common, Bill and I. I hate “Bugs” too…and he’s written a tributary toast to just how nasty those damn little things are on this third track from the Pointy Rounds record. While he’s drifting further away from universal accessibility and the album’s becoming more niche as it plays on, at the very least, he’s working within a concept that I’d like to think the majority of us can get behind. I mean…who the heck IS a bug-lover anyhow, am I right? Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s a few of you out there in the strangest corners of this planet, but for the most part, we all agree that finding a bug on the inside where we live, or in our food, or in our bed…all those things SUCK, yes? I had both wasps and stinkbugs do an outright invasion in the place I’m renting after returning to my home province after six years away, and it certainly makes me appreciate that the place I was in before is not the one that I’m in now. For real…I found one wasp in my office (and I’m terrified of all bee-related things), killed that sucker dead, then realized they were EVERYWHERE one night at home post-summer. Thing was, they only wanted to fight me one at a time, which was weird. So for like, hours, somewhere between like 1am and 5am, I spent my time with my newspaper in-hand, heart beating like a maniac, killing wasps until I was sure they were finally all gone. As for the stinkbugs…meh…super annoying, but harmless, and YES – freakin’ GROSS to look at. The point is, I’m not looking to LIVE with “Bugs” as roommates; that wasn’t part of the deal and they don’t pay rent on time. So do I appreciate Bill’s point of view on “Bugs” being awful, terrible, no good things that need to be eradicated from this planet? You BET I DO. “I hate bugs to smithereens,” sings Bill…and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a weird song y’all…you get it, you’re picking that up I’m sure…but even with that being the case, he’s making many good points.
Beyond “Bugs,” Bill seems to have a very grounded and down-to-earth view on what the state of the world really is. “Attack Of The Stupid People” is probably one of the best tracks I’ve heard this year, or at the very least, one of the most indisputably & sadly accurate. I mean…it’s actually pretty damn terrifying if I’m being honest with ya. It’s not like these lyrics aren’t the thoughts that roam through the halls of my head all day long…but hearing them come back to my ears as directly as they do on this song is pretty freakin’ scary. It’s nice to not be alone…that much I can tell ya. You know what one of the WORST parts about this whole era of disinformation that we’re currently living through is? It’s that the very same stupid people you have known for years that suffer from the affliction of ignorance, actually think they’re the smartest people among us right now. And so…like…what are we supposed to DO with that when it’s continuously being reinforced by a mob of OTHER stupid-ass people and intentional gas-lighters? It’s not like they were smart yesterday – but now they’re convinced that they really ARE. And I don’t know that we can put that toothpaste back in the tube now that it’s out. Confronting the stupid people is EXHAUSTING to begin with, but now it’s actually become POINTLESS…there is no getting through to people, no changing minds, no healthy debate…just my opinion, and whatever yours is. So do I think “Attack Of The Stupid People” is a great song? Actually, yes. I think the lyricism is genius and completely on-point…and I love the way it’s sung & the hooks it contains…this is a genuine winner without question. I still think it absolutely sucks that the actual stupid people are going to hear this song and think it’s about people like me or the librarians we’re lynching, as Bill points out in the words of this tune…we just don’t have the mental capacity to collectively battle misinformation, and we’ve already lost. We’re stuck in this idiocracy and like…I suppose that’s just reality now? I don’t see any way around it & hearing Bill’s words on “Attack Of The Stupid People” leads me to believe we’re definitely doomed. It’s oddly comforting too, I ain’t gonna lie to ya…but…also devastatingly depressing for the right reasons.
Bill’s gettin’ all kinds of GRIM as the record continues on. “Asses To Asses” is one of the best takes on the ol’ phrase you know normally as “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” – you’ll love what Owens has come up with to replace it, but more-so the points he’s making once again. Yes, there’s undeniably a comical thread to what he’s singing about, but also an intensely real point of view that’s underlying that as well – “Asses To Asses” actually examines the fragility of our mortality and what not. Right off the drop, he starts making a point about how there’s some of us in all our vacuums…and I mean…damn…he ain’t wrong! What a unique perspective though, you know what I mean? Bill’s got a highly functional and quirky mind…I can fully vouch for the fact that, if those stupid people are gonna end up attacking us all, you won’t find Owens amongst the crowd. This dude’s got a real brain in his head, and it’s been truly refreshing to hear his thoughts spilled out into these songs. I’ll readily admit that I saw the title of “Asses To Asses” and knew he’d be playing around with the familiar graveside adage, but I wasn’t really expecting to enjoy this song half as much as I ended up doing. “I didn’t know our characters might be written out so soon” is such a brilliant line that I can’t even begin to describe it any better than to simply quote his own insightful words right back to him. It’s powerfully thought-provoking to the nth degree, and so freakishly FINAL that the weight of that line just hits you. We’re all characters, and we’re all gonna die probably earlier than we want to…we all exit the play of life a heck of a lot faster than we think we will. I’m just gonna say it out loud…”Asses To Asses” is 100% accurate, and as clever as can be.
Alright…so…the real truth of the matter…of this album…of LIFE…is detailed within the lyrics and words of “Carpe Vitam.” While I definitely think it’s important to have our moments and consider everything from all kinds of perspectives, and that being critical is always key even in the best of situations, the reality is, to be cynical is probably the easiest thing to be in this world. I’ve learned that being happy and positive can often be where the real work needs to be put in, but where every effort is worth it. “You can make a difference today,” as Bill sings…and he’s right – each and every day, we’ve got the ability to make things just a little bit better than they were yesterday. It took me the vast majority of my life to learn to “choose happiness” and even understand that it IS a choice we get to make each day. At this point, I’m just continually thankful that I was somehow able to get there. Chances are, it’s through music that I learned anything/everything I know…so credit to Bill, he’s a part of that continual education now. As far as I’m concerned, “Carpe Vitam” contains many of the keys to life and how to live it…and I truly hope you’re all paying as close attention as you’re capable of. I’m not here to be the guy to tell ya that “Carpe Vitam” is going to be the next big hit out there in the music-scene…but I don’t think that’s the reason it was created in the first place. I think that, as much as it’s become a cliché to say the whole ‘if our songs reach just ONE person, then it’s all worth it’ thing, it can still be true. Blunt Objects stands a chance of reaching several people with a positivity-infused tune like this one…and I can vouch for that firsthand. For what it’s worth there Bill, you’ve reached me with “Carpe Vitam” my brother…I hear ya.
I am loving how many layers there have been to this record y’all. No joke…I thought from the way things started with “Downtown” that we were probably in-store for something much different than this experience ended up becoming…and I truly believe that Pointy Rounds is probably going to surprise a lot of people on that level. Some moments are going to resonate more than others of course…the laws of makin’ music still apply here…but Bill’s made an oddly cohesive and uniquely brilliant record that I know I’m not gonna forget anytime soon. Maybe he’s my “Invisible Friend” right now. I think those of us that are online all the time can end up feeling like a whole lot of the world is fictional…but that doesn’t make the experiences we have any less real, given that perception is often reality. Listening to Bill’s words of wisdom throughout this record, and on songs like “Invisible Friend,” kind of makes it seem like there’s a lot more realness within the fiction…and it’s appreciated. I think a lot of us have an “Invisible Friend” or two behind the screens we stare at all day in the modern-day realm…and that we’re lucky to have’em. There’s something really low-key, moving, and sincere about “Invisible Friend” that really worked for me. It’s a very humble song, sweet melody, and provides a real hopeful spirit and spark in the darkness.
What’s this about you not always liking dogs though Bill? For real? I’ve always wondered who could possibly start out life like that…it just seems…so far-fetched. See what I did there? All kidding aside, I’d get it if you were a kid that was bitten at a young age and it became tough to trust dogs again as an adult I guess…but what a tragedy that would be. There ain’t no companionship out there like what a dog can offer to ya, and that’s the facts. Had it not been for my own hound Opie, I don’t know that I would have even made it through the pandemic era, or adjusting to life halfway across the country when I’d moved to Ottawa from Vancouver for the past six years. It’s right around this point on the record and listening to “I Like Dogs” that I realize just how much the context of an album and knowing the intentions of an artist can make such a difference in what we hear & how we hear it. Like…if you put on “I Like Dogs” as the first track, I’d imagine I might have reacted similarly to it in the way that I did with “Downtown” at the start…but after Owens has had a chance to work his magic on ya, and you get a glimpse into the sincerity of the soul in the man behind the music, a track like this, however odd, makes so much more sense to us. We find acceptance in places where we’d least expect to sometimes…and it can make a track like “I Like Dogs,” which would probably be outright strange to many people listening, or like the canine-version of “Suzanne” by Paul Simon to others, become a song that’s so much sweeter than you’d probably assume at first. Besides that, “I Like Dogs” and always have. Heck, I love’em if I’m being entirely honest with ya…from Benji, to Dolly, to Shakespeare, to Opie…I’ve been fortunate enough to have wonderful dogs be a part of my life for many years & I can only hope that’ll always be the case.
“Hope” is a beautiful way to have concluded this record. This is the degree of real honesty I’m always looking for in songwriting, but so rarely ever find. Blunt Objects reminds us just how much of a freakin’ STRUGGLE it is to stay hopeful…and man, do I ever get that. It’s completely exhausting. “I want to believe in hope” as he sings…and I suppose guys like Bill and I never give up on it…hopefully, there’s a few more of ya out there like us as well that aren’t so willing to go gently into that good night. “The future seems more awful than the past” – again, as far as I can tell, he ain’t wrong. It doesn’t NEED to be that way…and it doesn’t HAVE to be that way…but at a glance, it sure does seem that way. We put in the work to make sure that it’s not. We listen to songs like “Carpe Vitam” and refresh our perspective to get ready to rebel against the darkness with a healthy dose of sunlight. “I’ve never suffered stupid very well” is a line in “Hope” that completely hit home with me…my wife tells me all the time that I “never suffer fools very gladly” and she’s absolutely right about that. I’m trying. I’m learning. I’m hopeful. I want to have that level of patience required to endure, understand, and have empathy for everyone and everything. I’m still a work in progress…and I’m learning that’s okay. I have “Hope,” and perhaps that’s all I need…maybe that’s my true canary in the coalmine, and as long as I still have “Hope” to hang onto, there’s always the chance that the future can be even better than the past has ever been. I have my doubts that we’ll get there…I feel like the “Attack Of The Stupid People” is currently winning the battle for the soul of this planet more than I want to admit…but I’d also be the first to tell you that we haven’t lost control just yet. I have “Hope” – and it’s in crossing paths with artists like Bill and what he’s created in Blunt Objects that top up my tank & fuel it for the journey ahead…and for that Mr. Owens, I thank you. I love the melody in this final track…and the words clearly speak to me with resounding clarity…I’m tellin’ ya, Pointy Rounds is a album not to be underestimated…its songs are filled with insightful wisdom.
Find more music by Blunt Objects at Bill’s Soundcloud page: https://soundcloud.com/user-66925869
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