WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2012 |
Posted by: Joe Puglisi
Howler's sophomore LP America Give Up is a half homage to the great coastal surf rock of America, and half New York City garage punk, an odd combination given the band's origins in Minnesota. They didn't even have to move across the Atlantic (or at least to Brooklyn) to get a deal with the London based Rough Trade-- the label came to them, and for good reason. The songs all have a gallant momentum, following lead-singer Jordan Gatesmith's surly tenor with springy riffs and impressive songwriting polish for a band without the production resources of well-established sloppy pros like the Black Lips. The Lips had Pundt and Ronson to give them their band-out-of-time sound, but Howler has accomplished this feat both via classic songwriting, a bit of fuzz, and a smattering of unhinged "kids at play" licks.
Puns like "Pythagorean Fearem" hint at the band's youthfulness, but the songs have an overarching maturity (this is their second LP as Howler). The falsetto refrains, mixed with the slightly off-kilter baritone, makes for a pretty standard "cool song, bro" sound, but the band somehow manages to make even the most pedestrian progressions sound amazingly fresh. Chalk it up to some sort of intrinsic soul-- an immeasurable quality, but one that resonates in the gut like a successful keg stand. My only complaint is that repeated listens accidentally lead me into my collection of music by Hulk Hogan.