Having impressed immensely with previous EP Keep the Dust Down, Atlanta rockers The Howling Tongues return with their debut album to confirm all the promise previously tantalising the ear. The ten track album is a further evolution in the bands rise of sound, the previously ravenously raucous and scuzzy tinted approach given a polish and clarity which allows the emotive breath of songs to make an even bolder declaration. Equally the throaty bass almost grizzled bass persuasion has moved on though debatably not to greater strength, its presence again whilst pulsating less intensive and enthralling. Overall though it is a fiery release which continues to mark the quintet as one of the most flavoursome emerging southern blues rock ‘n’ roll bands.
Formed by guitarist Nick Magliochetti, vocalist Taylor Harlow, and drummer Tylor James in 2011 with the trio soon joined by bassist Zach Smith and keyboardist Thomas Wainwright, The Howling Tongues took little time in making a marked impression locally. An early EP and live performances bred a hungry response to their self-termed “no regret rock-n-roll”, whilst Keep The Dust Down thrust the band to an even greater and wider recognition.
Recorded with producers Stan Lynch (former Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers drummer) and Billy Chapin, their debut album is a rich and fire breathing encounter. Recorded mostly live and mixed to analog tape in 15 days at Sound Emporium Studios in Nashville, the album starts off with a feisty enticement in Gotta Be A Man, the big rhythmically boned track with scorching guitar enterprise and strolling gait an open continuation of the previous EP. Ridiculously addictive and strikingly rapacious in its seizure of the senses and passion, the track has control of feet and hunger within a few sizzling seconds and never relinquishes its grip, even with a groove and hook combination which is straight out of the Ballroom Blitz songbook.
From the thrilling start things take a down shift in attack, the album as a whole turning to a more smouldering and slowly burning persuasive premise. Let Me Be shows it is not a bad move at all but for personal tastes more almost brawling energetic explosions like the opener and like those found on Keep the Dust Down would have lifted the album to even greater heights. The second song though has a sultry atmosphere which is easy to consume and an evocative touch which leaves a lingering satisfaction, keys and harmonies as compelling as the now almost expected striking guitar invention from the band.
Both Chainsaw and Strange Way To Say Goodbye continue the inviting offerings if without the same potency of the first two tracks. The first is a heavy yet respectful melodic rock beckoning with a certain swagger to its walk across the imagination whilst its successor comes rife with evocative and dramatic keys to stand as a broody ballad with the vocals of Harlow as expressively tempting as those powerfully calling keys of Wainwirght. The following Let It Fade also has a reserved approach to the ear which works so well but ultimately does lack that spark to explode within the passions. Again the keys and vocals are outstanding; their presence continuing the variety at play upon the album, but the tempered sound of the bass alongside suggests the band missed an opportunity to really score the senses, a darker more predacious lilt from Smith maybe unleashing a more virulent success to what is still a pleasing confrontation.
The gentle yet tall standing song The Sound makes a more than decent mark before the excellent I’m In Love wraps it in shade through its fizzing incendiary invention and melodically flaming sonic imagination. With an anthemic call and sinew clad body wrapped in the sixties tease of keys, the adventurous and continually moving track is a major highlight to rival the starter and set fresh fires burning in the emotions.
The closing trio of songs, the bluesy crooning Another Heart To Bleed, the emotionally simmering What’s It Gonna Take, and the acoustic southern country rock ‘hymn’ Too Many Times keep attention and appetite strongly engaged as they complete a fine and rewarding suasion of passion and imagination. As mentioned a lack of a storming blaze of contagion like a Makes You Tick or a Nagasaki arguably leaves the album short of really setting the heart ablaze but nevertheless The Howling Tongues has created an album which brings real pleasure to the day.
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