It was a few years ago when a friend told me about a band called Comets on Fire. I would hear other descriptions of them later — most labeling them as “heavy psych” — but all my friend would say was that they had an old tape-echo effects box and would constantly tweak it onstage, making crazy sounds. I said I would meet her at the next show.
I got to the club late, and the band was already playing — or at least that’s what I gathered from the swirling, jet-engine-like noise coming from the door. I put my earplugs in before I even stepped inside, and when I did I felt like the sound was physically pushing me back out of the room. So I left, and as the hype continued to grow around Comets on Fire I decided that this was one music phenomenon that I was going to sit out.
I had not heard Howlin Rain until last week, and if I had not first read somewhere that this was a Comets on Fire side project (Howlin Rain is led by Comets on Fire cofounder Ethan Miller), I would have had no idea that the two bands were connected. On Howlin Rain’s second album, Magnificent Fiend, there’s no crazy echo, no jet engine — just a loud rock ’n’ roll band playing hippie soul, occasionally breaking into Allman Brothers–like guitar solos. It’s so ’60s-flavored that you can smell the patchouli. Still, there is a little creepiness around the edges. At one point Miller tweaks a hippie cliché to sing, “This is the dawning of the age of a cannibal world.”
HOWLIN RAIN, The Casbah, Thursday, July 24, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $10.