CD Review: Howler - America Give Up

by Mary Lucia

Before their first full-length was released, Howler had already received high praise from far-flung places. Famed British music weekly NME named Howler the third-best new band of 2011; and the BBC and The Guardian heaped more positive excitement — and expectations — on the young Minneapolis band.

Howler's sound? Hmm... picture this: it's like if there were a 6th Stroke and he made a record with his new side project (and I say this as a huge fan of both The Strokes and their various side projects).

America Give Up, the debut full-length CD from Minneapolis band Howler, they seem to have pulled off the unthinkable. They've made a record rotten with singles. The band writes power pop tunes clocking in at three minutes or less — my favorite kind. The first time I heard this band, I knew they were making music just for me. Maybe you'll feel that way too.

The members of Howler, while young to be sure, write with a certain maturity in the way they compose these hand-clappy, shimmery pop tunes with just enough disaffectedness in Jordan Gatesmith's voice. Well-placed "Woo Hoo's" abound and, as I mentioned, gobs of hook-filled hand-clappy goodness.

Howler are not unlike bands such as The Strokes, Guided By Voices, The Jam, and The Buzzcocks, all of which weren't really interested in grand thematic records but rather a collection of single tracks that stand strong enough on their own. So strong that if you were to play only one track for someone that best sums up the band, you could blindly pick any one of them and nail it.

Though it's almost impossible to feature highlight tracks, I'll go with my OCD tendency to hit repeat on the following songs: "This One's Different," "Back To The Grave," and "Black Lagoon."

Anytime a band this young with this much talent comes along, you can't help but feel the, "I knew them when syndrome." If I had a desk to put my feet up on and a cigar in my mouth, I'd say, "This band is goin' places! These kids have got it. They've got Moxie baby!"