With tonight's performance at the Music Hall, it's easy to see that Howling Bells are ready to be noticed by a wider audience. The irony is that they've been playing to their widest audience yet in America. It's just that not many are playing attention. When you're an opening act on a Coldplay arena tour, more than likely people haven't made their way to their seat.
Well, people of America, you are missing Australia's best undiscovered act and with my home girl Juanita Stein at the helm, one of the best voices in rock. The opening set for the Helio Sequence tonight was what I hoped it would be, a fine display of their dynamic new music off their second and most ambitious album, Radio Wars.
- Blessed Night
- Into the Chaos
- Broken Bones
- Ms. Bell's Song
- Setting Sun
- Treasure Hunt
- Radio Wars Theme
- Wishing Well
- Cities Burning Down
The first bit of good news -- they finally scored that elusive U.S. record deal. Nettwerk will release Radio Wars on July 28th. The second bit, they'll return for a proper non-arena U.S. tour in October and November. That should give you plenty of time to soak in their splendor.
So what's the big deal? Here's the deal, their music will make you feel like a cooler person. They tap into that open desert feeling when bad ass people wear leather jackets and dusty jeans and walk along the highway looking for ride to the next one horse town. You can sense the sun beating down when you listen to their music. The new album was partly recorded in Los Angeles, where a relaxed coolness prevails, but also a seedy undertone which you can sense in the Howling Bells sound.
The new album has some of their best tracks including "Cities Burning Down" and "Into The Chaos". It's a good extension of the their self-title debut. The new work has more electronic elements, but it maintains a rock sense.
It's their live show where you can truly sense the mood that their portray in their songs. Since they've been playing arenas, they've added more grandeur to their set. Their guitarist will loop some effects to create a swirling sound. At the end when the leave the stage, they leave those effects on. It's damn freaky and if they were a headliner, I would scream for the pre-planned encore.
What makes the band unique is Juanita's voice. It can soar, but remain edgy. She reminds me of Hope Sandoval via PJ Harvey. On stage, she slinks around on stage to get in the groove with her bass player. For a new song called "Wishing Well", she grabbed some sticks to thrash away on a bass drum. I have a feeling when I see them again by year's end, she'll be a force to be reckoned with.
So now they go off and reconnect with Chris Martin and those other Coldplay guys that nobody seems to remember their names. I don't blame these bands for hooking up with mainstream artists. The Tings will tour with Pink, Peter Bjorn & John are with Depeche Mode, Eli "Paperboy" Reed goes with Dave Matthews Band, the Duke Spirit are with Incubus, etc. It's a good deal -- they get their gear carted around, a sound guy to set-up, free meals, a lot of downtime and some big bucks.
- Their NYC debut at Mercury Lounge in April 2007