This album has California weaved within it’s bass grooves and emphatic guitar riffs, all the while bleeding 60’s & 70’s rock into this psychedelic, bluesy manner, aided with the production of Rick Rubin. Quite literally, this is a different band who survived a large overhaul of it’s core members. Besides Ethan Miller, Joel Robinow is the only remaining member of the original band. Through all the changes, Howlin’ Rain have set the bar pretty high, but still have a kink or two to work out.
Through the influences, Howlin’ Rain has an overall sound similar to The Black Crowes on Warpaint, providing a very earthy, traditional guitar sound, that is at times haunting, while at others it’s blistering. Miller also has a vocal sound similar to that of Chris Robinson. Miller’s song arrangements have greatly improved; noted especially on the track “Phantom in the Valley,” which pulls a kind of “Layla”-esque instrumentation and sound change, including the addition of a trumpet. “Cherokee Werewolf” sounds like it could have been lifted from a 70’s Foreigner album and given the modern treatment. The vocals similarly match Brad Delp, formerly of Boston.
A downfall of this album is that it almost goes around to all of these influences from the decades mentioned, and plucks little inflections, sounds, and ideas, and just puts them into place here and there. In other words, it’s not blended very well, but doesn’t completely ruin the experience. Take this album as it is; it’s enjoyable, it’s long, and is just a classic for Howlin’ Rain through which they can build further to a fully formed future sound.
Album Rating: Stream It or Digitally Download It
Listening Co-efficient: Active Listen
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