Monday, December 14, 2009

Music Decade List #13: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl (2005)

Howl sounds like nothing else in Black Rebel Motorcylce Club's catalog and that's a good thing. Eschewing the heavy guitar driven sound of their first few albums, Howl finds the band going in a more roots rock oriented sound. Working with help from T-Bone Burnett, the album finds the band sounding nothing like they had before and perhaps better than they ever had before. Gone are noisy guitars, replaced by acoustic guitars, harmonica, and multi-track vocals. Even with the band going with a somewhat stripped-down sound, the album still has a vast, filled in sound, done with more nuance than just noise as the title track demonstrates. 'Ain't No Easy Way' sounds most like the old BMRC but with resonator guitar in place of overdriven guitars. Songs like 'Devil's Waiting' and 'Complicated Situation' show off this new acoustic, rootsy sound to a positive effect. In fact, it's somewhat surprising the band never adopted these elements earlier as Peter Hayes and Robert Levon Been's vocals work perfectly in the more bluesy, gospel tinged numbers. It really is a remarkable album when you think about where Black Rebel Motorcylce Club had been coming from with their earlier albums. Alas, Howl now is a one-off type of record as the band's follow up found them (regrettably for this listener) back to their "traditional" sound. Howl speaks to the power of the band to switch gears so seamlessly and show the band's embrace of traditional American musical stylings.

No comments: