First Listen: Howler ‘America Give Up’ Review

Howler received a lot of attention and hype towards the end of last year and it is no surprise in a music industry littered with electronic outfits (this is not necessarily a bad thing), these five lads from Minneapolis daringly step out with fuzzy guitars which draws strong comparisons to The Strokes. Next week on the 16th the young band releases their debut album and here at NorthernRoom we are lucky enough to have heard it before its release. The boys release a strong album full of guitar hooks and noise which is very reminiscent of The Strokes. Each song is strong enough to stand alone, but place in a context of an album and it starts to feel like an 11 track compilation. The album isn’t original as well; it is like Julian Casablancas fronting The Vaccines or scraps from The Strokes debut, this could be down to the young age of the band and with time they might find their own sound (much like The Maccabees). The originality aspect isn’t a major hurdle that can’t be jumped because the songs are very catchy, and perhaps isn’t something the band themselves care about: “I keep hearing a lot of witch house stuff, chillwave, shoegazey keyboards with Casio drums. But not rock, so we wanted to make it dirty rock’n’roll” (Jordan Gatesmith); this is an album that does just that each song is punchy and mostly comes in under the 3 minute mark. This is a fine debut from a young band, but you just can’t help feeling slightly cheated by it.

The album is available for streaming at nme.com

Released: 16/01/2012

Essential Tracks: Told You Once, Beach Sluts & America

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The Vaccines Live At The 02 Academy, Sheffield

The Vaccines are a rare bread in the music industry using and infusing chord progression and musical styles that we have heard before yet managing to place their own identity within the songs to create something very memorable. Another key element to their style and success is that the songs are short and snappy or anthemic. Thus seeing one of the most exciting bands of 2010 was something I could not pass up.

The academy was pretty full by the time the first support act Howler came on stage possibly one of the most suitable support acts for The Vaccines, considering they sound like a mix of The Strokes and The Vaccines. The band had a good stage presence with some good songs to accompany them. Whilst the second support act: Frankie & The Heartstrings were a disappointment, musically they were pretty average, however Hunger is a pretty darn fine song, but it was singer Frankie Francis who let the band down, he was far too much into himself rather than the crowd (who threw drinks at them) whilst attempting to channel Ian Curtis (of Joy Division) badly.

It was after 9.30 by the time The Vaccines had come on the stage with their immense song ‘Blow It Up’ and they were fantastic; but it was their second song ‘Wreckin Bar’ which saw both the crowd and band burst into energy, from then on out it was a monster of a show. The band was able to combine both upbeat garage rock whilst the slower songs (All In White, Wetsuit) resulted in a mass sing along. The band also previewed a new song which sounds like it could quite happily sit within the first album but it was bloody awesome.

The band technically sounded great better than their album in fact. Whilst the light show complimented the set really well. The band was enthusiastic and knew how to work the crowd, particularly on the slower more anthem songs.

With killer hooks, anthems and a bloody great live performances it’s not hard to see why The Vaccines rose so quickly from the underground scene; and there are few bands that deserve this success more.

Set List

  1. Blow It Up
  2. Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra)
  3. Tiger Blood
  4. A Lack of Understanding
  5. Wetsuit
  6. (New Song)
  7. Post Break Up Sex
  8. All In White
  9. Under Your Thumb
  10. Wolf Pack
  11. If You Wanna
  12. Family Friend
  13. We’re Happening (Encore)
  14. Norgaard (Encore)