The Howling Lights, the self-titled EP from The Howling Lights is the debut offering from the young quartet from British Columbia. They employ the basic rock template of guitars, bass, drums and vocals towards the goal of making something attention grabbing, yet detailed and thoughtful, in which they succeed admirably!
The members of The Howling Lights are only 17 years old, and have been playing together for two years. They've been friends since childhood, which creates a bond of comfortability and intimacy that comes across in their music. They claim influences like The Smashing Pumpkins and The Arctic Monkeys, and I also hear traces of bands like At The Drive In and even a little The Mars Volta, in their polished and precise playing. Clean, chiming lead guitars are stacked on top of roaring, pyroclastic rhythm, with tumbling percussion and growling bass that is still solid and grounding, as well as funky. The tumult is interspersed with acoustic rockers that are mellow and lulling, like the one-two-punch of album opener "Fold" and "By My Side.”
One must be careful in listening too much to a band's PR, as they always focus on the selling points of a band, and will skew any kind of objectivity. However, when a band sings about struggling to find a bass player, wanting to communicate their thoughts and "growing up, adolescence, getting through, loneliness, and not giving in," you take notice. This is not hyperbole - this is musicians, doing what they do, the only thing that truly matters - "the last good fight I'll ever know," to quote the movie The Grey.
It's kind of mind-boggling that this is the first music The Howling Lights have released. They haven't even played a show yet! The playing is so clean and precise, with every element given room to express itself, making for a powerful and emotive whole. They worked with their own soundman, Ryan Merchant, at Bear Studios and Merchant's familiarity with their sound made for a more detailed production. It allows the material to growl and rage, while still being easy on the ear. In short, The Howling Lights has been mastered masterfully, another indicator of care and craft beyond their years.
The quartet got 120 likes on the first day of their existence on Facebook, and you'd be advised to do the same. This is real music, by really good musicians, no matter their age or geographical location.
Personally, I like the electric material more, but that's personal preference, and I see what they're going for, to cover a wide variety of mood and material, to appeal to as wide array of listeners as possible. The guitar playing and drumming are the most notable aspects of The Howling Lights - Jordan Corbet's a shredder, and Jo Oguni's a one-man drum circle, going way, way, way beyond the typical 4/4 Ringo Starr backbeat.
Progressive while still being personal. Heartfelt, while still being ambitious and holding mass appeal, The Howling Lights are off to an auspicious start!
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