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September 25, 2009
Vol. 51 No. 3

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MySpace, iTunes phenom offers new sound

Courtesy of
Anyone who has never heard of, but decides to listen to, Owl City may at first be astonished at the refreshing electro-pop sound the group has brought to the music scene.

If you take a second listen, you might be even more astonished to find out that Owl City is not a group, but in fact a single man.

According to the Web site, frontman Adam Young launched Owl City as a simple project to evade his insomnia while living with his parents in Owatonna, Minn.

"These songs are all I have to show for my sleepless nights," he said on the site.

Since his start in early 2007 with the album "Of June," Young has become the Top Unsigned Artist on MySpace, reaching more than 10 million plays and earning a dedicated fan base.

Owl City has since signed with Universal Republic Records. Fans and critics seem to agree that signing has improved the quality of Owl City's music, with a more refined sound to go with the same heart-fluttering lyrics.

If you enjoy beats that give you a pounding headache and songs about sadness and angst, then Owl City is not for you. If you enjoy happy melodies and interesting sounds, then Owl City is just what you need. The newest album, "Ocean Eyes," was released this year, following the sophomore album, "Maybe I'm Dreaming."
"Ocean Eyes" retains much of the familiar sound that past fans would come to expect from Owl City, which becomes evident within the first 30 seconds of the new single "Fireflies."

With the song's slightly strange synthetic beats and catchy lyrics, "Fireflies" is quickly gaining attention from fans and radio stations alike. iTunes decided to recognize the up-and-coming artist by choosing "Fireflies" as the song of the week on July 14.

"Fireflies melds a partly-cloudy-with-a-chance-of-clearing attitude to a trance-pop beat. The result: an invigorating, feel-good, electro-pop experience," iTunes said of the song.

One striking quality that Young brings to Owl City's music is his use of mundane activities as sources for song ideas. Young confessed on his MySpace site that many of his lyrics are straight from the pages of his diary.

For example, "Dental Care" includes details from Young's trip to the dentist. Sound like a song you would hate? My suggestion is don't judge a track by its title. This song, while slightly unconventional, would put anyone waiting to get a cavity filled in a downright jovial mood--or at least make them sway a little to Owl City's irresistible beat.

On the other hand, many critics may find the easiest thing to become frustrated with when listening to Owl City tracks is the seeming randomness of the lyrics. For instance, from the song "Strawberry Avalanche," another recent single, Young sings: "And I stared back breathlessly as mountain of fruit tumbled out / I barely had the chance to shout / A strawberry avalanche crashed over me."

Was Adam Young in fact crushed by a strawberry avalanche? I would say it is highly unlikely. However, if you listen with an open mind and free-flowing heart you may just catch yourself falling into his electro-pop lullaby.

Trust me, it's a lullaby you need to hear.


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