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America Give Up
Howler America Give Up
Released 13 January 2012
Producer Chris Heidman
Label Rough Trade
Length 31:56
Genre Alternative, indie rock
Website www.howlerband.com

Hyped to the hilt, and hailed as the latest in a long line of post-Libertines guitar idols, Howler have a lot to live up to. After the boiled-over buzz surrounding British guitar outfits The Vaccines and Tribes, Howler are literally the hope of the States. Well seasoned after playing second fiddle at the former’s recent tour, their take on fuzzy guitars is a lot more likeable than the rather stale and disappointing tunage the current crop of Brits have to offer. Hail hail American rock’n’roll!

Comparisons have loftily been made to Jonathan Richman, but teenage vocalist Jordan Gatesmith is much more Julian Casablancas, all shuffling Converse and nasal disdain, with jangley guitars thrown in for good measure. The Strokesian strumming has been rather pleasurably blended with Mary Chain fuzz ('Free Drunk'), Iggy-style garage ('Pythagorean Fearem'), My Bloody Beach Boys ('Too Much Blood') and Ramones goofyness ('America'). It’s rock’n’roll in the grandest of traditions.

Gatesmith readily admitted that he wanted to make a classic Chuck Berry-style number when he wrote 'Back of Your Neck', and the boy done good with this sun soaked anthem. It’s Route 66 in a Cadillac convertible, and is destined to be a festival favourite for 2012.

Disappointingly, 'You Like White Women, I like Cigarettes', a highlight of debut EP This One’s Different, has been sanitised into 'Wailing' on the album version, and the lyrics similarly morphed into more radio friendly fodder. Thankfully the 'Modern Age' meets 'April Skies' style riff has not been compromised, and going by the sudden word substitution, it’s a likely single.

The lead vocalist, as per usual, is the ladies’ man of the band, and comments have been made regarding his likeness to a certain Johnny Borrell (a fate no one would wish on their worst enemy I hasten to add). To add insult to unfortunate injury, it has to be admitted that 'Told You Once' bears some resemblance to Razorlight’s “Burrrraaakes”. Suffice to say, not one of the most promising tracks on this album, and mercifully, similarities with the spray-on-jeaned-one end there.

The Modern Lovers analogy however, may not be wrong insofar as the disaffected Americana lyrics go, particularly in 'Back of Your Neck' and 'America'. (Not a cover of the Razorlight “classic”…!) Gatesmith’s Minnesota is Richman’s Boston, brimming with rose-tinted nostalgia of misspent youth.

Grab your wayfarers and worn-out converse, and believe the hype this time round. Howler are a no gimmicks guitar band, they wear skinny jeans and coin catchy rock’n’roll riffs. End of.

- Deirdre Flannery