Sunday, February 5, 2012

Howlin' Rain get ready to burn down Cafe Nine

While some might say that musical revivals come every 20 years or so, as is happening now with grunge, others say that certain musical influences are always there in the background waiting for the right band to put them in a more modern context. Right now there seems to be psychedelic revival happening, where modern bands are taking the best parts of late 60’s and 70’s rock and giving them a fresh new outlook. In a way, this new outcropping of bands is neo-traditionalist in their intentions. Whatever you want to call it, there are some exciting sounds happening right now.

This revival has been going on for a while now, and a lot of this new psyche has been centered on California.

“There are a lot of cool things going on right now in that a lot of the bands playing this music are all linked by the West Coast,” said Howlin’ Rain guitarist/vocalist Ethan Miller.

Miller should know what he is talking about because he has been involved with this sort of music for a while, whether it was the incendiary power of his previous band, Comets On Fire, or his current project he has been at ground zero for this psychedelic rebirth. Over the course of four albums, COF blazed a red hot trail over the underground rock landscape. In fact, Howlin’ Rain was started as a side project (in a band where many members had side projects) in 2004 in order to feed Miller’s need to make more melodic music. COF broke up in 2006 after the release of their excellent, “Avatar” record for Sub Pop and now Miller was ready to pursue Howlin’ Rain to its full potential.

“It was like we were all standing in the center of a room with Comets On Fire and decided to walk away from the center of the room, but not close any of the doors on the way out,” said Miller.

Howlin’ Rain released their debut record in 2006 on independent label, Birdman, went on tour with the Queens Of The Stone Age and eventually caught the eye of uber-producer Rick Rubin, who eventually signed the band to his American Label and acted as a quality control consultant for the band. The highly lauded “Magnificient Fiend” followed in 2008, with Birdman handling the vinyl. The band experienced some line up changes and issued the “The Good Life” EP in 2011. It has been a while since there last full length and that’s all about to change when they drop their new record “The Russian Wilds” on Valentine’s Day.

Once again Rubin served as the quality control officer, while the hands-on production work was handled by Tim Green. This is the first record that is going to showcase the band’s new stable and quite kick ass line-up of Isaiah Mitchell (guitar, vocals), Raj Ojha (drums), Cyrus Comiskey (bass), Joel Robinow (keys, vocals), who join Miller (guitar, vocals) in this journey to the center of the mind.

In fact, one could say, Miller is “psyched” about this new line-up.

“There is something to be said about rehearsing three times a week, and in the process you become finely honed weaponry, where you can just fire it up and burn down a stage,” said Miller.

They were also aiming for a very classic feel to this album. In the press materials, there are mentions of such albums as Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland”, Steely Dan’s “Gaucho” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” as influences. But before you think this record is some psychedelic/jazz/bar band hybrid, you have to understand that the influences aren’t necessarily musical in a literal sense.

“We were going for the spirit of those records and not getting too hung up on specifics. After a day in the studio, I might go home and put on “Electric Ladyland” to get into a certain frame of mind. We’re doing this in a creative way. We’re connecting with those records spiritually,” said Miller.

They have succeeded spectacularly because not only does “The Russian Wilds” sound wonderful and contain some the band’s best songs, as well as ripping guitar work from both Mitchell and Miller, it also captures a certain vibe, one that hasn’t reared its head in a long time. It’s a big rock record and is not afraid of that tag.

So here is a chance to see a band in its prime, with a killer line up and a great new album, up close and personal. Come on down, and you can say you saw the band back when they played smaller bars and clubs. You don’t want to kick yourself for missing this one.

Manic Productions Presents:
Howlin’ Rain
D. Charles Speer & The Helix
The Voodoo Fix

Saturday, February 11
Café Nine
250 State Street
New Haven, CT

9:00 pm – 21+ - $8

Tickets can also be purchased at Redscroll Records in Wallingford

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