Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Homespun: The Ottomen 

Horses Don't Have Lungs

It's been a few years since singer and guitarist David Stevenson released a record with his bizarro rock outfit, the Ottomen. However, the band hasn't matured at all in that time: The trio is still obsessed with scary monsters, weirdo nightmares and the occasional heartbreak. Most of these fourteen songs lope along with a spry, punky twang that owes no small debt to the off-the-cuff charm of the Dead Milkmen. Stevenson's droll baritone voice is the center of the Ottomen Universe, like Calvin Johnson on Adderall or Stephin Merritt without the affectations. His voice can be magnetic and engaging, like on the changeling horror-story "Altered Beast," though too often his drawn-out atonality on songs such as "Blackheart the Girl" can burrow like an earwig.

Opener "Procrastination Nation" spins off a litany of barbs against our country's burger-eating, beer-swilling, TV-watching lifestyle. It's a catchy, fun tune even if the complaints aren't especially original or pointed. And that's the secret to Horses Don't Have Lungs: Many of these songs sound like three-chord punk 45s slowed down to 33 1/3, and almost all of them are focused on sci-fi, natural disasters and pop-culture ephemera. The lyrics are always silly and sometimes funny, if not necessarily witty, but the Ottomen are intentionally far removed from thinking-man's rock & roll. To wit: the crunchy "Above the Law," in which Stevenson imagines himself as a city-smashing 100-foot creature and, naturally, references Steven Seagal (who starred in the famed Above the Law action-adventure). That these lyrics could have been pulled from a seventh-grader's Trapper Keeper is not beside the point — it's precisely the point of the Ottomen's reason for being.

Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130. E-mail for more information.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Related Locations

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 22, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation