As anyone who has paid even the remotest bit of attention to popular music in the last ten or so years can attest to, there is an obvious difference in east coast vs. west coast music. And although I’m alluding to the rap scene it is not only for humorous reasons that I make this distinction. For there is obvious evidence to prove that music of any kind sounds different when the person or persons who are making it have never had to suffer through the long months of cold and snowy winters. The reason I bring this up is because the first thing I noticed upon my first listen to Them Howling Bones’ new self-titled album Them Howling Bones, it was apparent to me, if only for how laid back the guitars sounded, and softer gruffness of the lead singers voice, that Them Howling Bones definitely had a southwestern sound firmly ground in southwestern roots. And I was right as the L.A. based band not only has California roots, but they also have that brash ‘70s desert sound that both the Doors and Deep Purple amongst others were so fond of imbibing in.
The EP opens with “Let a Cold Man Die,” which contains a bit of that alt country blues sensibility that lends itself to hand claps and dancing from the crowd. Which is quite the contrary the more upbeat borderline psychobilly styling’s of “Luci,” which is the most straight forward rocker on the album and also the most danceable and fun.
The Chris Isaak meets George Thorogood “Follow You Home” is another good example of that smooth and laid back California style rock and blues attitude. With a close listen, one that hears past Pedro’s loud and lurid lyrics, one can hear the shimmering guitar licks, steady heart beat pumping bass line and the drums that keep it all together. At a few different points during the song the instruments are allowed to break out and rock out for a bit, before returning to form.
In the same slow blues rock mode that the previous track was molded in, “Howling Man” is even slower and lets the band show off their chops even more, though especially the lead guitarist who is able to show off his smooth solo skills on the rocking slow jam “Howling Man.”
The final track “Down the Well” slows it down in a different way, by instituting a more Latin infused flavor with slow picked Spanish guitar licks. This paired up with front man Pedro’s lovelorn laments help to give the album a bit of musical dynamic. However as “Down the Well” moves one will notice the familiar qualities of slow metal guitar solos creeping back in. At its core Them Howling Bones are a really good genre band. Working in favor of Them Howling Bones is that they have no lack of talent or skill in their band.
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