Owen Pye
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Owen Pye

Highland, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Highland, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Folk

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"Owen Pye - The Truth About Man"

Reviewed by Lins Honeyman

Having built up a substantial following on MySpace, Illinois singer/songwriter Owen Pye has recently signed to Blackroom Records to release his accomplished third album. The punchy riff-laden opener "Keep On Sinning" showcases Pye's ability to turn in a performance that demands to be listened to whilst lyrics like "God, I want to tell you everything/Can you hear me over this guitar?" set the scene for an album of frank sentiment. Whilst he chooses to cover a range of thorny issues in his songs - troublesome relationships ("Barriers"), man's sin ("Pharisee Of The State") and despondency ("This Morning") - Pye is careful to reference the hope found in Jesus in the likes of the optimistic "Aches And Pains". Elsewhere, a wonderful cover of the legendary Billy Joe Shaver's "If I Give My Soul" is the icing on the cake of an album that just gets better with every listen. With an earthy sound and some delightful musical moments courtesy of Pye, his band and producer Chris Bonney, this is a top notch release that will hopefully see this talented artist connect with an international audience. - Cross Rhythms


"Interview & Album Review: Owen Pye – The Truth About Man"

Illinois seem to have their very own John Mayer in the midst, as indie folk singer, Owen Pye, prepares for the release of his upcoming album – ‘The Truth About Man’. Consisting of easy listening, predominantly acoustic numbers, the opening track, ‘Keep On Sinning’, stands slightly out of place with its rock-esque vibe and auto-tuned, spoken addition (‘can you hear me over this guitar?’). Not representing the album the way an opening song should do, Pye’s talent is suffocated by this sub-genre influence.

Hope is regained by ‘Barriers’ and ‘I Must Exist’, two calmer but still upbeat tracks which are followed by ‘The Part’, slowing the pace with just an acoustic guitar to accompany Pye’s gloomy vocals, until an instrumental solo nearing the end of the song – The perfect hook to complete the track, boasting the albums substance.

The nine track album offers up a few more gems before reaching ‘Aches and Pains’, closing the album perfectly, this diamond of a song is worth the wait. The romantic lyrics (‘To see your face is all I ask/My soul is yours forever’) and an array of instrumental inputs such as violins and pianos gives a beautiful ending, to a beautiful album. - MusicDune


"Owen Pye - The Truth About Man"

February is normally the month when the music industry awakes from its holiday hibernation, in January there was very little to look forward to never mind get excited about, however this month hope has returned in releases by Zoey Van Goey, Lykke Li, The Boxer Rebellion, The Answering Machine, PJ Harvey and this week Owen Pye, a singer/songwriter from Illinois who on February 22nd released his second solo (and third) album ‘The Truth About Man’.
His discography so far lists debut ‘If That’s Cool With You’ through which he was fortunate enough to extensively tour the United States. This was followed in 2009 by a self-titled record with some friends under the name Owen Pye & The Sunday School Band. The digital age has been kind in gaining some considerable exposure for the music of Owen Pye as he has acquired an impressive 20,000+ fans on myspace, on listening to ‘The Truth About Man’ it’s easy to understand why.

It is a very American influenced album of melancholic love songs. Comparisons can by drawn with Ben Kweller and Brendan Benson particularly on opener ‘Keep on Sinning’ a song with an infectious, melodic chorus that feels like it should be the last not the first on ‘The Truth About Man’ as the line ‘take me back to the start of everything, let’s do it all over again’ only enforces, perhaps this will be the case when the songs are performed live.
Current single ‘Barriers’ deals with the problems in defining relationship boundaries, it is a modern day valentines lament and after a few listens the chorus embeds itself in your sub-conscience so much that this morning it was my first thought when I awoke. The influence of Death Cab For Cutie can be heard on trio ‘I Must Exist’, ‘The Part’ and ‘This Morning’ were the mid tempo pace of the album is set.
A sense of heartache is evident in Owen’s voice throughout the album especially in the ‘The Part’ which includes the line ‘pick up the bottle and drink myself to sleep’ fortunately it never veers to desolate. Other highlights include ‘Pharisee Of The State’ which deals with religion and the Johnny Cash cover ‘If I Give My Soul’.
‘The Truth About Man’ is an impressive album, most songs follow a similar formula and build to an exiting crescendo, none however over-power or shy away and each are defined by Owen Pye’s engaging voice. - UglyBaby


"Owen Pye"

The tale of Owen Pye & The Sunday School Band is a coming of age story. A journey that began as one guitar,harmonica, tambourine and single Owen Pye blossomed to include love…friendships…limitless possibilities…and a robust wall of sound. The mission hasn't changed: To play songs for willing listeners and to share something genuine. The backdrop, however, has come full-circle. One became four and thus Owen Pye & The Sunday School Band was born. The atmosphere of an OPSSB show will at times draw you in as if poised for a warm embrace, then at the next moment wildly turn you about…proving that initial impressions may be deceiving. Whether the performance is a solo set in a coffee shop, or a full-band performance in a loud amphitheater, the idea is create a picture of something unique, yet always enjoyable. The group found a reliable friend and producer in Andy Osenga (Caedmon's Call, The Normals) and after months of hard work and dedication Owen Pye & The Sunday School Band (OPSSB) were able to independently release their self-titled album in December of 2009. The album, recorded at Sputnik in Nashville, TN, spans several genres but does not lack in solid songwriting and instrumentation. And as this story continues to unfold, Owen & The Sunday School Band only request that you make yourself available….and they'll do the rest…to make you a friend, and fan, for life. - Mid-South Musicians for Le Bonheur


"Owen Pye"

Upsizing from acoustic to full band is a little backwards, especially in 2010. Everybody seems to be going green by dropping all those pesky, carbon monoxide-breathing band members and the big nasty vans needed to cart them around. But it snowed in Atlanta yesterday so obviously Global Warming is a Global Farce. It also takes a certain amount of self-worth to realize that your tunes may be better in fuller forms, which must be a lot to swallow if you were a once lone wolf like Owen Pye. He landed on my radar with one 3-song offering and a silky smooth voice, but now he is back and bigger than ever with Owen Pye and the Sunday School Band, a victorious re-imagining of his previously sparse alt-country sounds. Clearly there can never be too many smelly road warriors in the kitchen.

Thankfully the sound and feel of Pye’s usually slow tunes haven’t changed much. “Persistency” is a statement about how hard this damn music thing is (the album's main theme). Featuring a complimentary piano section that seems to bolster Pye at his darkest lyrical moment, this song is not lacking in heavy-hearted sincerity. “I Will Sing” and “The Sunday School Band” are mostly instrumental numbers, which serve to break up the record’s sometimes downer verbal fare. Pye is a man with ambitions, which implies that he is a man scorned. Another start stratagem, these instrumental numbers allow us to look out the window for a second and ease our minds while Joel Sprenger’s electric guitar takes us to the back of a dirty blues club. Nice move, Mr. Pye.

“Success” closes the album by detailing the tough road Pye’s driven down. He says in an ironically nonchalant way, “They spent all their money on the band that plays right after me / They spent all their money on the indie hipster scene / Cuz money can’t buy the things that matter the most / You have to learn for yourself that bank accounts and resumes won’t hold your life into place.” It’s bitter and clearly personal, but Pye realizes that he’s still able to create music. And while he might have those days when it all seems stupid (I call those Thursdays), he’s still enjoying himself throughout this always-surprising existence. When the song goes semi-grunge, Pye becomes his most forceful, saying, “You don’t have to live up to each other’s preset standards / You don’t have to keep the burden that you picked up when you grew up.” While not worded in hazy metaphor or fancy verbiage, Pye succeeds with his simple message: be whatever it is you want to be that day. Maybe soon he will have people eating out of his able hands, or maybe he won’t. Regardless, I think it’s clear at this point that Owen Pye and The Sunday School Band has freed Mr. Pye from the mental shackles of disappointment. He is finally on a path for triumph, whatever that means. - AbsolutePunk


"Owen Pye and The Sunday School Band"

Previously armed with just a guitar, harmonica, and tambourine, acoustic artist Owen Pye now has a full-fledged army of friends behind him, adding electric guitar, bass, keys and drums to his arsenal. But don’t worry, they’re not out to pillage and plunder your village, they’re just Owen Pye and the Sunday School Band.
The Highland, IL native has made great strides since his 2005 debut, having played over 200 shows across the nation, releasing full length If That’s Cool With You, EP Looking Up and his most recent release: the full length album Owen Pye and the Sunday School Band.
The now five-piece band released the album in December of 2009 and is described by Pye as having a concept that is open for interpretation by the listener, and said “To me, I’m sharing stories of my story thus far through music, relationships, struggles, faith and doubt.” Produced by Andrew Osenga (The Normals, Caedmon’s Call) at Sputnik Sound in Nashville, TN, the album is Pye’s first “legit” studio experience.
We found the 8-track album to be an impressive progression, not merely just a change or replacement to the solo Owen Pye we know and love. With an overall vibe of coming into one’s own that is entirely relatable, Pye spins together lyrics that are honest and revealing, but vague enough to be applied to almost anyone’s personal life. One of his great strengths as a writer comes in his ability to make lyrics come full circle, using repetition without being repetitive, a mirroring technique that shows definite maturity as a musician.
Songs like Re-Creation, and Just a Spark are sure to be crowd pleasers with their very swayable, hum-along-worthy, melodies, and choruses. Wake up has a little more of a country vibe to it, in the vein of Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, which is fitting because Pye’s vocals fall somewhere between Ace Enders and Oberst’s, if Conor had a little less wine …we mean whine.
Our favorites were the simple “I want you back” track Never Wanted This, for its call & answer chorus “I want you and no one else- I can’t be by myself/I want you and no one else- I can’t do this alone” and track 6, I Will Sing. Lyrically simple and vocally minimalist, this song only has one line “I will sing for joy a new song”, but has an awesome instrumental back up behind it. A solid minute of acoustic feeding into shuddery electric, throbbing drums, and ambient sound, it’s definitely a stand out on the record.
Though all but one of the songs seem to follow the formula of‘moderate pace, instrumental/acoustic break, build up, and end with belting vocals’, we didn’t mind the repetition because honestly, if it’s ain’t broke, don’t fix it. One thing we would fix is the song Persistency opening the record, because while it’s a great song in it’s own right, it doesn’t seem quite right as the opener. We probably would have moved The Sunday School Band into the first slot, because the instrumental track seems to say a lot about what this new incarnation is.

Ending track Success was a big hit with us, because this anthem for the local musician hits home and speaks truth in a way that is salty without being angst-y. “Guitar playing my songs on a stage with 25 or 30 new friends who won’t know my name at the end of the night/They spent all their money on the band that played right after me/ they spent all their money on the indie hipster scene”
With a chorus of “For me this is success” it’s a song of maturity and understanding that being the scene and banking off your street cred aren’t what makes you a musician, or happy, and it’s definitely in the same tongue in cheek style of Kevin Devine and Owen. Ending in a great a cappella chorus with the lines “You don’t have to live up to each other’s pre-set standards/You don’t have to keep the burden that you picked up when you grew up” we’d like to applaud Owen Pye for this one.

Visit Owen Pye at:

Owenpye.com

Youtube.com/iamowenpye

iTunes
Owen took the time to speak with Telegram Sam about music, his plans, and some of his favorite shows, and you can read all about it right here on Reviewisc.com.

Telegram Sam: Who are your top three musical influences?

Owen Pye: I’d have to say Sufjan Stevens, Ben Gibbard and the band Bleach.

T.S: What is the most memorable show you’ve ever played?

O.P: As a solo artist, one my favorite shows I ever played would have to be at Thrio’s in Arkadelphia, AR. This was one of my favorite venues in the whole country. My friend Nick ran the booking there which made it a frequent tour stop through the years. The venue is no more. I miss it very much. It was a 3 story coffee shop/venue that always had a good audience and supporting acts. And they’d always give me a free meal from their menu. I’d almost always order their soup in a bread bowl. Delicious.

T.S: Attended?

O.P: Sufjan Stevens at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis. This was right after his release of Illinois which turned out to be my favorite album. The venue was knocked down to build a casino. Lame.

T.S: What are your musical plans for 2010?

O.P: My goal is to start touring again full-time. I’ve been on somewhat of a hiatus during the writing and recording of this CD. I’d like to play more shows but not for the sake of performing. That’s great and all. But I’d really like to see some friends that I’ve been missing and meet new faces. There’s nothing greater than meeting new people that care about what you’re doing.

T.S: Last 3 albums you listened to?
O.P:
Deas Vail’s “Birds and Cages.”

Mute Math’s “Armistice”

Dr. Manhattan’s “Jam Dreams.”

I’ve listened to other tunes but those are the last 3 albums I’ve listened to all the way through. Each one was fantastic.

T.S: What made you start writing and performing music?

O.P: Honestly, I can’t put my finger on the day I wanted to play guitar. But when I was a senior in high school I knew this was more than a hobby, but a passion that God had put in my life for a reason. Music is so good, because it provides a way to share with people on and off the stage. On the stage: songs and lyrics. Off the stage: stories and conversations that wouldn’t be had if it had not been for the opportunity we had to meet at a show. I’m truly blessed to get to do what I do. - Reviewsic


Discography

"If That's Cool With You" (2006)
"Owen Pye & The Sunday School Band" (2009)
"The Truth About Man" (2011)

Photos

Bio

Owen Pye began with just a guitar and a plan: To share music with willing listeners. As cliché as that may seem, it's exactly what he's doing. Hailing from Highland, Illinois, Pye's music style is to be described as indie and folk pop. Writing for AbsolutePunk.net, Blake Solomon described Pye as "an amazing hybrid of Drew Danburry and Jon Foreman."

Pye began playing in 2005 and received a lot of exposure on MySpace, with a boastful 20,000+ fans. He independently booked a tour in 2006 supporting his debut album "If That's Cool With You."

In 2008 he teamed up with some friends to form a consistent full-band line-up known as "Owen Pye & The Sunday School Band." With the help of producer and engineer Andrew Osenga (Caedmon's Call, The Normals), they released their self-titled record to the masses in December 2009.

Spring of 2010, Pye was selected as the newest artist to be added to the roster of Blackroom Records, located on the campus of Greenville College. He is the second artist to be signed to the label since it was restructured in 2009.

During the summer of 2010, Pye began his solo project with Blackroom Records. When asked about the upcoming project, Pye responded, "This is very, very exciting and I am SO pumped to work with these folks for the next year in support of the record." Writing his own lyrics, many of his songs involve relationships, struggles, faith, and doubt. His fans connect to his music because Pye writes his own stories in a way that can be applied to anyone. An album review on Reviewsic praises Pye's songwriting saying, "One of his great strengths as a writer comes in his ability to make lyrics come full circle, using repetition without being repetitive, a mirroring technique that shows definite maturity as a musician."

In February 2011, Owen released his first album on Blackroom Records, titled "The Truth About Man." Writing for UglyBaby, Iain Ferry calls it a "very American influenced album of melancholic love songs," comparing it to artists Ben Kweller and Brendan Benson. On March 10th, Owen traveled on a 23-day tour to support the album, which included a showcase at South by South West in Austin, TX.

To date, Pye has played over 300 shows while sharing the stage with some of the best up and coming artists including Deas Vail (Mono VS. Stereo), Dr. Manhattan (Vagrant), Park (Lobster Records), and Sixteen Cities. Recently in the months August and September of 2010, Pye gave away the album "Owen Pye & The Sunday School Band" to over 1,100 fans on noisetrade.com.