Friday, January 20, 2012

Howler - America Give Up Album Review

Howler may be one of the most aptly-named bands of recent memory. Based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the quintet is American Rock-n-Roll in its purest form. Their debut full-length album, America Give Up, is the first solid album, front-to-back, that I've heard this year and is incredibly impressive; the band meshes together incredibly well, making it difficult to believe they formed a mere two years ago in 2010.

The album features a distinct range of sounds, usually finding a balance between upbeat, garage rock and laid-back, dreamy pop music, with a lot of the songs striking a perfect balance of both. The opening track (entitled "Beach Sluts") provides the listener a perfect introduction to both of the sounds, starting with a melody that sounds like a 1950's-school-dance-guitar-riff, then bum rushes you with a fast-paced, guitar-driven, brash, punk rock medley, and the next thing you know, you're back at the Rydell High School gym for the Spring Dance (think: Dinosaur Jr.'s "Feel The Pain"). The track is a perfect gateway for the album, keeping you on your toes, anxiously awaiting what's around the corner.

"America", the album's pseudo-title track, also stands out as a noteworthy song, mainly because of lead singer Jordan Goldsmith's vocal styling. One part Iggy Pop, one part Julian Casablancas, and a dash of 1950s pop-idol Scott Walker, Goldsmith's voice stands out and helps set Howler apart from many of their indie rock counterparts.

Another highlight track is the (almost) personal-motto track, "Wailing (Making Out)", an impeccable angst-driven song initially driven by one-liners like "I want a girl and a new car/ I need a drink and a guitar/ I wanna die young as a star" and then repetitively followed by the chorus "I'm so tired/ Of making out!"

As a whole, America Give Up offers a great duality of sound somewhere between the dreamy, beach-pop (found in tracks "Back to the Grave", "Too Much Blood", "Told You Once" and "Free Drunk") and gritty, brash, garage rock. Other songs are a sensational breath of fresh air to the indie rock sound: "Black Lagoon" begs to be seen performed live and "Back of Your Neck" is the epitome of a perfect rock song, equally as timeless as it is catchy. With this being Howler's debut full length album, America Give Up proves that it is difficult not to label the group with an enormous amount of potential to become a cornerstone of the indie rock scene.

Album Rating: 4.3/5

You can stream America Give Up in full over at the band's website or at NME, or purchase it from iTunes, Amazon, or Rough Trade Records.

Official Video for "Back Of Your Neck":


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I love the video! "Back Of Your Neck" is one of my favorite songs and the music video did justice to the song.

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