Who’s been cooking up some new tunes this quarantine? Cousin Oven. But what’s a Cousin Oven? An alias for Owen Bologna’s solo musical venture, of course; combining a high-school nickname, “oven,” and “cousin” a way to memorialize Bologna’s younger cousin who tragically passed away to cancer. Marrying the two names together captures who Owen Bologna is as a songwriter- grave yet goofy.
Bologna of New Brunswick NJ, is the epitome of the modern musician. A DIY man to his very core, writing, recording and mixing all in his own bedroom. And to top it all off? His lyricism is intriguing. Owen has explained that he, “finds inspiration in vivid imagery of both the mundane and the absurd.” Which explains his latest album released in July of 2020, Royale for the Dogs, “depicting the curious and deranged imagery of dreams.”
The first track off Royale for the Dogs, "Short One," sets up the scene for the album featuring a raw and edgy aesthetic. While there are many moving parts from the distorted guitar to the trumpet to the raspy vocals, this track still delivers a spacey and hypnotic atmosphere. Next up is "Yellow Lab," lending meaning to the title of the album with an upbeat ambiance. This track follows a story of the narrator taking in a stray yellow lab. But from a broader view, it explains dreams and the difficulty of making sense of and piecing them together, complete with raw vocals and a fuzzy guitar. Similarly in "Molasses," the listener follows a story about the narrator getting stuck in the woods during a snowstorm, afraid he would be caught in the clutch of a bear. And at the macroscopic view, it’s a story about the vulnerability you can feel while being entranced in a dream. To pair, the descending and grungy riff mirrors that emotion. Then we have the tranquilizing "Dress Patty," beginning as an acoustic folksy little number, with a trumpet phasing in and out, honing in big Wilco vibes.
LONG STORY SHORT: This concept album is a window into the mind of Owen Bologna. It is abstract and at times nonsensical, but that’s precisely what dreams are. Have you heard of a one man band seamlessly blending his background in classical trumpet and jazz guitar in an alternative rock group? Now you have. It’s Cousin Oven.