Episode 167: Lasers Lasers Birmingham
Air date: 8.24.2016
Lasers Lasers Birmingham is the sort of thing that happens when an experienced musician tests positive for country after years of slogging it out as a sideman in indie bands from the hills of Missouri to the deserts of Arizona. Alex Owen is Lasers Lasers Birmingham, and after recording his first cassette-only demo on his own - including playing all the instruments himself - Owen decided that his new batch of songs that would become the new EP Royal Blue necessitated third-person musical colors. Fortunately, a cadre of seasoned L.A. players was eager to pick up the phone when Owen called. Royal Blue is a quick tour of Lasers Lasers Birmingham’s musical universe, and over the course of its four songs, gently strummed acoustic guitar, Hammond organ, barroom piano, pedal steel guitar, brushed snare drum, and burning Telecaster licks all have ample space to shine. But this isn’t Nashville country, nor is it Austin country, Midwestern punk country, or even neo-traditionalist L.A./Bakersfield country. Lasers Lasers Birmingham’s brand of country music is country for the Internet age; it is fully confident in mixing subgenres, slightly tongue-in-cheek, smart, melodic and self-assured in its delivery. It’s a pleasing mashup of several flavors of country in an age when one can sample widely disparate styles of music with a few swipes on their smart phone. Owen’s lyrical approach is Dylan-esque, but his laid back, almost laconic vocal delivery is less affected and features layered harmonies that owe more to the best moments in the Eagles’ catalog. There is also a hint of blue-eyed soul on Royal Blue that nods toward Van Morrison’s early 70s classics, and it fits right in there. All in all, Alex Owen and Lasers Lasers Birmingham’s specific influences are hard to peg, but easy to listen to.