Monday, June 4, 2012

The Howling Tongues Keep Dust Down

With what used to be alternative starting to include anything that doesn’t neatly fit somewhere else, defining a musical genre is getting harder and harder. And rock and roll? It is anything with prominent guitars and screaming vocals, at least to some people.

But every now and then, there is a band that sounds exactly the way they want to be. For The Howling Tongues (formally The Revels), there is no mistaking the sound. They are definitively rock and roll.

The Atlanta-based quintet releases a “no regret rock-n-roll style” EP.

The Keep The Dust Down EP is perfect for any rock and roll purist, delivered up by a band formed in 2011 by lead vocalist/guitarist Taylor Harlow, lead guitarist Nick Magliochetti, and drummer Tylor James. Shortly after, they added bassist/vocalist Zach Smith and keyboardist/vocalist Thomas Wainwright.

Their logic was simple. They needed a full five-piece rock band before recording, mixing, and releasing four songs on their self-titled mini-EP, The Revels, released in September 2011.

It didn't take long for the new band to gain traction. Their live shows showcased the band's guitar-driven attack on the senses. A fan base quickly grew around that.

After the first four songs, they wanted to produce a new 6-track EP. But like many upstarts, they didn't have the money. So they turned to Kickstarter, asking for just $3,000. The money would be used to book studio time, hire an engineer/producer, and set up their gear along with all the mixing, mastering, and pressing.

The Kickstarter campaign proved how badly the band wanted to make it. 

There is no doubt that the band really wanted to make this EP — some of their Kickstarter incentives included a date with Smith and Wainwright getting a tattoo of the donor’s choice ($400 and $500 respectively). Fortunately, friends, fans, and family came through to help fund the project.

As soon as they were funded, the band walked into the studio with respected producer/engineer Tom Tapley (Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen) to lay down six tracks. In fact, they didn't waste any time. They were recording the EP before the year ended.

Where the EP really works is that the band managed to bring their live show energy into the studio. The video above, Makes You Tick, is one of the EP's standout tracks.

The band released it as a single in March in anticipation of the EP to follow. The song is undoubtedly propelled by the band’s ace rhythm section of James and Smith. Harlow adds plenty of passion too; his voice sounds as pleading as is it aggressive.

There are other standouts too. Party is a fun number that feels a like the Black Crowes without the blues element. One-Eye’d Barber tones it down a notch as a rock lament, which is better than a ballad. And Alibi gives Harlow a chance to belt out the lyrics and reach for those high notes, which he does with ease. All in all, it's a solid rocker punctuated by a woo-ooh chorus that just fits.

Fans might also note that Nagasaki isn’t a new song. It first appeared on the band’s initial 4-track release. This time, they re-recorded it, giving it a more cohesive sound, especially in the guitar work.

Rounding out the album is Jose No Se. It's a strong closer, with the band operating on all cylinders from vocals and drums to some tasteful keyboard work.

Keep The Dust Down is a strong independent effort, with some solid production work by Tapley. There is no question it is a rock EP as rock was meant to be played. Their music is spot on, even if (at times, but not all the time) their lyrics are a tad pedestrian. And that's too bad.

It sometimes makes them sound a bit formulaic. But there is no question they have talent and have rapidly matured as a unit. Now they need to smooth over the rough patches.

Keep The Dust Down Rocks With 5.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Another reason to like the band is that they don't like to sit idle. Immediately after wrapping up in the studio, they found that they couldn't sit around. Instead, they booked some more live shows, seeing it as an opportunity to introduce their new songs.

They will also be playing on their home turf in Atlanta this July 19, followed by a gig in Alabama on July 21. You can check out their website or find them on Facebook for more upcoming shows.

Look no further than iTunes for Keep The Dust Down by The Howling Tongues, self-released in April. The band also put up their EP on Amazon. And if you want to rent to own, check them out on Spotify.
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