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Howlin’ Rain, The Russian Wilds
Birdman Records/Sony, Feb. 14

03/29/12
By Eric Saeger news@hippopress.com



In the days of my very first garage band, the guitar player had this 420-friendly uncle, and general consensus among us boneheads was that he was just too cool for school, not just because of his working knowledge of the head-shop business model but his insistence that rock would live forever, just as long as every generation accepted the fact that Leslie West was God. He loved Traffic and the Dead, too, but honestly the only thing that resonated with me was the Mountain stuff, even while “Flowers of Evil” sounded to me like it had been recorded in like 1920 or something. Thus it always weirds me out when bands like Howlin’ Rain, with their Mountain-vs.-Santana angle, make a splash – why bother, right? But then I figure some people really gravitate to old stuff — I’m on a pretty heavy Glenn Miller kick myself, which, after all the horrible music I’ve been subjected to over the past several years in this sideline, is probably as natural a therapy as a salt lick is for a deer. Perhaps this San Fran power-quintet, who’ve been around for five records now, will rub you the right way, who knows. Their deal involves Marshall bliss, Hammond organ and a singer who krazy-glues Rod Stewart to Chris Whatsisface from Black Crowes. They’re really good at this stuff — lengthy guitar solos, acid-flashback riffing, skronk — matter of fact it’s the best attempt I’ve heard from any new-jack band trying their hand at this kind of thing, not that your average newbie ’60s-metal-freak wouldn’t have 400-odd albums worth of catching up to do before recognizing it. A —Eric W. Saeger






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