Fireworks

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Howlin Rain - 'The Russian Wilds' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/30/59/66/3043_howlinrainrussianwilds_1355169399.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 10, 2012    
 
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One for the more discerning record collections.

These hairy rockers from San Francisco have created somewhat of a stir in recent years, not only in specialist rock magazines but in the mainstream music press, too. They’re often lumped together with retro rockers which seems a tad unfair as while they undoubtedly have, like a magpie, feathered their nest with musical trinkets from other sources, they have put their influences together so inventively that in the process they’ve forged their own modern identity that throws off the shackles of the retro label.

Lead by the big voiced Ethan Miller, the band include all the elements of every band you’ve ever liked from the 70s. They’re discerning in their tastes, emulating only the best. Miller’s vocals have grown in stature over their three full length albums and now he’s a striking mix of rocker, art school and soul singer as he wrenches the emotion for each song from the souls of his, no doubt worn, shoes. If you’re partial to Humble Pie, listen to ‘Self Made Man’ which then morphs into an Allman Bros like jam. Santana is a strong influence on ‘Phantom In The Valley’ before Mexican horns see the track out. ‘Collage’ is like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young harmonising with The Fleet Foxes. There’s a Chris Robinson woosy feel to ballad ‘Walking through Stone’. ‘Can’t Satisfy Me Now’ is Sam Cooke flavoured soul, and ‘Still Walking, Still Stone’ even tries its hand at some Bossa Nova. The songs attack you from one angle and genre before changing midway into another genre and jams big time. Where they trump the bands they imitate is that they are hungrier and possess more fire in their belly than those bands do these days.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Its ambition is both its strength and Achilles heel. It’s a record fizzing with ideas which have all been thrown onto the disc and as a result there are parts that are glorious and other sections that could have benefited from some pruning (The falsetto on ‘Strange Thunder’ outstays its welcome, for instance.) With so much going on in their music including classic rock, soul and Americana, they cast the net wide enough to attract a wide, if open minded, audience.

One for the more discerning record collections. The size of the record’s ambition inevitably means it doesn’t all triumph but it works brilliantly at times and shows the storm Howlin Rain are brewing continues to build thunderous momentum.

Duncan Jamieson

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