Howler is a good-time rock-and-roll quartet from Minneapolis, nothing more, nothing less. Just good ol’ garage-rock cast in the mold of Social D, only nicer, but not as nice as, say, Maroon 5. Not so well known in America yet, Howler is a cult success in England where the Nottingham Post once noted that they have “awkward charm.” I’m not sure I’d agree with that summation, but they do have a miscreant’s sense of humor. Jordan Gatesmith, 22, the founder, told a reporter that this year’s Rough Trade record World of Joy was written and recorded in a bar. He met keyboard player Max Petrek during skydiving lessons where, somehow, they learned they both liked an old ’60s band called the Yardbirds. Reason enough to start a band, right?
Thus far, each of Howler’s albums has sounded as if made by a different band. Road time and personnel changes will do that. If that’s a problem for some listeners, keep in mind that even in their most disorganized moments this band is not only good, but on its way to getting better.
- Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 8 p.m.
3615 El Cajon Boulevard,
The Howler experience is loud and raunchy and the band clearly loves old West Coast rock sounds: the way Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys played drums, for example, or the tremolo guitar noise of the ’60s. In this case, the mix comes out sounding as if it got warped a bit in a time machine. Howler isn’t any kind of a retro group. And, they only borrow ideas from rock’s past as a sort of flavoring. To be brutally honest, some of it comes off sounding as if on a collision course with punk. Howler probably needs more time in the hopper to sort out some of the problems in their songwriting, but then again, that’s rock and roll. The spirit of ragged imperfection is alive and well in this band.