Album Review: Howl - 'Howl'

24 April 2010 | 1:02 pm | Staff Writer

Howl by name. Howl by nature.

More Howl More Howl

If you’re a triple j listener then there’s a fair chance that you’ve probably heard of Ballarat’s Howl. They’re the winners of last year’s triple j Unearthed High competition who had their winning song “Blackout” plastered all over the station for a decent couple of months.

As a reckless rock tune complete with raspy shouts and vigorous keyboards, it was a song that made their fellow competitors sound relatively bland and was later re-recorded by triple j as part of their prize for winning the competition. With this more refined version of “Blackout” in their hands, the boys in Howl have penned a couple more songs and thrown them all together on this self-titled EP.

Admittedly, these guys have obviously grown up on a healthy diet of bands like The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Death From Above 1979. They wear their influences on their sleeves and play a lively brand of garage rock mixed with indie punk that has a rawness and energy to it that reflects their youthful character. EP opener “Liars (I + II)” and “Anyone But Us” charge from the speakers and refuse to cease in their barrage of choppy guitars, pumping bass and vocals that alternate between raspy shrieking and melodic singing.

However, one defining element that gives this band’s sound an idiosyncratic twist is their incorporation of some truly hyperactive and innovative keyboard sections. Perhaps carried on from their high school music classes, the keyboard playing on tracks like “Blackout” and “I Hear It’s Love” fuse really well with the band’s fundamental core sound and add a somewhat crazy party vibe to their tunes.

If there was any real fault of the EP it could perhaps be directed at the vocals. While I personally like the partially off-key vocal style featured on this EP, I can understand why some people would find it a real deal breaker- especially the frequently high pitched, teenage sheik of vocalist Lachlan Morrish.

Like downing a shot of some brightly coloured liquor at an ungodly hour of the morning, this is a potent little EP that will go straight to your head. At only around 9 minutes in length, there is no filler here, just chaotic indie punk that’s delivered with the sort of unbridled energy you would come to expect from a bunch of talented but rowdy adolescents.

1. Liars (I+II)

2. Anyone But Us

3. Blackout

4. I Hear It's Love