Breathe Owl Breathe: The Listeners/These Train Tracks (Rad)

I don't normally go gaga for precious, family-friendly concepts like a 7-inch vinyl record accompanied by a homemade, hand-printed-from-woodblocks children's book. But Michigan indie-folk trio Breathe Owl Breathe, led by part-time author Micah Middaugh, has crafted an exceptional release that deserves attention.

The book in question tells the tale of a blind burrower (mole) and a flightless bird (ostrich), and the unique camaraderie they share as they form a rock band called The Listeners and play an underground show (as in, below the Earth's surface) for their animal buds. As expected, the 7-inch's title track is a fanciful slice of organic yet baroque twee-pop that involves children's voices and cute lyrics. "Spade-like shovel hands / I make my way through the lands," sings Middaugh, from the mole's persona. His voice is a cross between Jonathan Richman and Lou Reed, while the music possesses loop-lavish edges that should appeal to fans of tUnE-yArDs.

The second track, "These Train Tracks," with its synthetic harpsichord flourishes, is an interesting saga of poetic transformations, in which caterpillars turn into airplanes, and airplanes turn into night skies.

A musical bestiary gone mildly psychedelic, Breathe Owl Breathe's latest is perfect bedtime reading for aging hipster dads (like me) or anyone seeking to recall the ready-for-bedtime magic of his or her youth.

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