On the radar: Barn Owl

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Play: Light Through Spaces >>>

This week is T in the Park week on Under the Radar. OK, so Scotland's biggest music festival isn't exactly under our radar, your radar, or any radar for that matter, but if you can drag yourself away from the main stage (or the tacky t-shirt stall) you'll find an eclectic swathe of our nation's brightest up and coming talent on the T Break and BBC Introducing stages.

We'll be covering the event over the weekend with live updates, reviews and pictures, but before that we'll profile a band each day this week that we think you should see at T. First up is Barn Owl ...


"We never took it seriously. (It was] more a means to amuse ourselves and replicate the music we appreciated," says Greig Jackson of cushion soft Glasgow rockers Barn Owl.

Such a humble, if slightly bewildering, attitude epitomises a band that's encountered myriad line-up and name alterations since its founding members converged at college under the tongue-knotting moniker 'On This Day We Met Gambas Pil Pil'.

But for a group who aren't taking things seriously, Barn Owl's music begs to differ. Resplendent with instrumentation and a deep-seated sense of purity, it's a sound that makes the world around stop and realise that: Yes, this is good. Very good.

Flowing between languid instrumentals and more conventional indie tunes, the quartet clearly put in more thought than they realise. Yet, pondering the potential reasons as to why the band do what they are doing, Jackson remains as humble as ever:

"We play together more or less just to be together: It's a past-time we all share and enjoy," he says reticently. "There are no overarching goals beyond the realms of realistic probabilities and I would say we've achieved more than we ever set out to do."

Such modesty is always a flattering trait, particularly as it's one more well-known acts increasingly seem to forget about. Not taking their situation for granted is something that Barn Owl do well, and if any band was ever in it for simply the music, they are it.

"Every step we take forward is neither planned nor expected and therefore nothing is forced or fabricated," say Jackson. "This is something we've noticed in the other Glasgow bands we play with on a regular basis. There is a genuine sense of contentment in just playing with and knowing other musicians."

Speaking of "what ifs', Jackson's innately aware of how lucky he is to be spending time doing something from which so much pleasure is derived: "We are at the mercy of gig frequenters and MySpace perusers, so we try not to get ahead of ourselves."

It isn't hard to see why the MySpace droves choose Barn Owl - one listen to (UtR's featured cut] Light Through Spaces would have anybody hooked. The track encapsulates the band in all its eclectic glory; spinning from eerie organ to the rise and fall of atmospheric crescendos, before exploding as a cacophony of crashing guitar. It's one to be played at 3am, the high upon which a night is ended.

Their biggest influence, Yo La Tengo, is unmistakable, although Jackson is, as ever, modest about the comparison: "This is mostly incidental or a conscious effort to steal their musical identity that failed miserably - it could go either way."

Yet when describing Yo La Tengo as having the "breeze of open vulnerability that pulls you in" Jackson could very well be speaking about his own band. There's an air of sweetness complimented by chiming glockenspiel and hazy organ that's non-threatening and beguiling. Even when this changes into a sudden and determined rock-out, their sense of musicianship ensures the result is balanced evenly.

As well as making excellent music, there's a thread of humour running through the band. Good with words and amusingly deadpan, Jackson wasn't joking when he maintained time and again that they do not take themselves seriously: "The bands we listen to would read like a very refined and eternal dream festival line up and we could give you a list that proclaims how hip and cool we think we are," he says. "However this is very contrived. We assure you though, that we are very hip and cool."

He's not wrong.

Like what you hear? Catch Barn Owl at the following shows:

9 Jul @ Captain's Rest, Glasgow

12 Jul @ T Break Stage, T in the Park, Balado