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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl Review
by David E. Demarest

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You may have heard the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club before, but you've never heard them like this. Seriously.

After releasing two albums to decidedly lackluster acclaim, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was "released" from their Virgin Records contract, and subsequently BRMC has undergone a serious retooling of their musical style.

And it's a good thing too, because as alt-rockers, the BRMC really wasn't bringing anything new or interesting to the dinner table. And although former fans may be somewhat shocked by the decidedly Americana feel of their new release, Howl, I don't think anyone will be disappointed.

In fact, after getting halfway into "Shuffle Your Feet", the album's opening track, I knew that I was in for a pleasant surprise. Because "Shuffle Your Feet" will indeed have listeners shuffling their feet, warming up great expectations for the album to follow. Employing a kind of open mike loose and fast recording style for that first track and others to follow, Howl manages to bring the album listener the same raw feel of a packed shack on a Saturday night. It's a nice way to be, in a dressed down kind of way.

There is a fair amount of experimenting on Howl, not just as an album itself, but also from track to track. On track 3's "Devil's Waitin'" lead singer Robert Levon Been (same singer, new name) is showcasing a slower, bluesy sound, a sound more rooted in Mississippi delta than the band's California birthplace. By the time you get to track 7's "Promise", BRMC has somehow transitioned the listener away from that smoky delta bar and into a smoky English piano bar. Which is more a variation in longitude than attitude, I suppose, but still it makes one wonder where the band's true home lies? In any bar, perhaps.

There will be much for critics to say about this album concerning things like musical posturing, or contrasting styles, but the thing that remains is the quality of the music. Howlis a record worth having in your collection, and in your cd player, right now! I play it for friends, and I recommend it to friends, because it's good music, and in the end, nothing else matters.


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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl

Label:Red Ink
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