Howlin Rain features Ethan Miller, who was still playing with Comets on Fire when he decided to pursue more melodic music with former high school bandmate and bassist Ian Gradek and drummer John Moloney. John Moloney left after the band's self-released 2006 debut album to join Sunburned Hand of the Man, while Garett Goddard (The Cuts) was added, along with Eli Eckert and Joel Robinow, both of Drunk Horse. The group was later joined by local singer-guitarist Daniel Cervantes (Whiskey Circle, Mrs. Henry, Creature and the Woods).
In 2020, they released a one-hour and 19-minute double album of rarities and outtakes called Lost at Sea: Rarities, Outtakes and Other Tales from the Deep on two-LP vinyl, CD, cassette and digital formats via Silver Current Records.
"Lost at Sea spans a decade of never before heard or released material," says Cervantes, "including three epic outtakes from 2012’s The Russian Wilds, two outtakes from 2014’s Live Rain, as well as outtakes from Mansion Songs and The Alligator Bride, a 2011 exploitation film soundtrack theme and multiple tracks from an unreleased lost album recorded in The Russian Wilds summer of 2012 as a power trio with what is now the Once and Future Band rhythm section."
As of 2021, the band's lineup featured songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist Miller backed by Jeff McElroy (bass, backing vocals), Justin Smith (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Dan Cervantes (guitar, backing vocals).
The band's sixth studio album, The Dharma Wheel was preceded in September 2021 by a single for "Don't Let The Tears." "'Don't Let the Tears' is the quintessential example of the joy location on the map of The Dharma Wheel album," says Ethan Miller. "Lyrically, it's a bit of a nod to the poetry of Kenneth Patchen and Richard Brautigan, like a loose twist of tragedy and comedy barreling forth sincerely in a high energy, absurdist yawp. Musically it's intended as a potent, fast-acting pill of spirit rejuvenation for the listener—a bubbling, liquid labyrinth of sonic delights and music as a celebration of music."
The band describes the album as "a six-track, 52-minute dive into a joyous fantasy realm of exaggerated present...the song cycles from Crazy Horse-meets-Traffic jams through colossal, mass-moving funk stomp, eventually cresting and washing into a sing-along gospel lament." Released October 8, 2021 via founding member Ethan Miller's label Silver Current Records, the title track is a 16-minute multi-movement suite.
According to Miller, "I wanted The Dharma Wheel to be a portal from our everyday world, the one from which you stand on hard ground and hold the album in your hands and peer into the artwork, and into another universe. You enter into that universe with your eyes and ears and mind and take a ride through free-form meditation on these ideas—from big, fundamental concepts about our existence right down to the grease that rolls down the arm of a pulp novel killer as he eats a gas station hot dog in an old Dodge in an alleyway."
Miller co-produced the album with Tim Green (Six Organs Of Admittance, Earthless), who worked on previous Howlin Rain records Magnificent Fiend and The Russian Wilds. Guests include Scarlet Rivera (Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue) on violin, Adam MacDougall (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Circles Around the Sun) on keys.