Howling Bells ‘The Loudest Engine’ Special – Album,Gig and Interview.

HOWLING BELLS

‘The Loudest Engine ‘Special.


Juanita Stein-Howling Bells - The Von Pip Musical Express.

“Baby Blue” By Howling Bells.

The Album –“The Loudest Engine.”

The problem with producing a flawless debut album widely regarded by many as a genuine classic, is that there will always be those who demand that subsequent albums endlessly repeat variations on the same theme.  To adopt such a narrow-minded viewpoint means refusing to accept that for artists, exploring different musical directions is all part of the creative process.  This appears to be the reaction Australia’s finest musical exports, Howling Bells have garnered from certain areas of  an increasingly capricious musical press and as such may be forgiven for believing that producing such an immaculate debut has become something of a double-edged sword.  Their sophomore album ‘Radio Wars received a decidedly unenthusiastic critical reception with many reviewers appearing disappointed that the band hadn’t rigidly adhered to the musical template set down on album number one.

However it’s highly unlikely that a selection of ill conceived, luke-warm reviews would have changed ‘the Bells’ approach when it came to writing and recording their third album.  If you exist only to seek the approval of others than invariably you will lose your way as an artist.  Singer Juanita Stein describes the band’s latest album ‘The Loudest Engine’  as “a modern psychedelic record more folk and rock than our last two albums” which “will change people’s perspectives of the band.”   The album is a seductive, edgy and at times downright explosive affair, and sees the band come out with all guns blazing assisted by  Mark Stoermer (of The Killers) on production duties. ‘The Loudest Engine’ defiantly has a trippier vibe in comparison to  the post apocalyptic sound of “Radio Wars” or the sinister, claustrophobic goth-country of their debut, but rest assured the band haven’t been ingesting huge quantities of acid and communing with animal spirit guides whilst recording the album in the Nevada desert.  Whilst it’s an album that rocks it’s not what you’d call an out-and-out rock album, and despite some mightily impressive guitar jams it still retains that magical, ethereal quality that make Howling Bells such an intriguing and beguiling proposition. They inhabit a world were innocence and wonder are seemingly stalked by an unseen, intangible darkness.   Songs such as  “Into The Sky,”Don’t Run,” “Sioux,” “The Faith” and “Baby Blue” all serve notice that you write Howling Bells off at your peril on an album that delivers from start to finish and plays to the bands many strengths.  Juanita’s vocals veer between coquettish seduction and strident imperiousness whilst the band demonstrate just what a formidable musical unit they have become, deftly mixing light and shade with subtlety and raw power.  A great album from a wonderful band who I hope continue to make the music THEY want to make for many years to come.

8.5/10

***********************

The Gig.

Juanita And Joel Stein - Howling Bells - The Von Pip Musical Express

Manchester’s Academy 3 plays host to the last gig of Howling Bells mini tour to promote ‘The Loudest Engine’ and finds the band on spectacular form.  Juanita is almost impish as she somewhat coyly charms the audience and the natural camaraderie that is apparent between the band members combined with the obvious love displayed for their craft immediately translates to an enthusiastic audience. Tonight’s set list, somewhat surprisingly, contains only one song from the ‘Radio Wars’ album, the epic Orwellian ‘Cities Burning Down’ as the band instead decide to weave some choice cuts from their debut album with new material.  Live, the slow burning folk rock, torch song “Sioux” takes on mystical quality with Juanita transforming herself into some sort of ethereal high priestess, whilst the album’s title track sees Joel wigging out with some incredible guitar licks. In many ways ‘The Loudest Engine’ makes perfect sense live, giving the band plenty of scope to ‘rock out.’  The evenings entertainment is drawn to a fitting conclusion  with an encore that  includes a thunderous version of  the classic ‘Low Happening,’ and new song ‘Live On’  as once again Howling Bells  demonstrate just why they are still one of the best live acts around. Long may they continue to chime!

 Howling Bells - The Von Pip Musical Express

Post-Gig-Howling-Bells-The-Von-Pip-Musical-Express

Howling Bells Set-list Manchester 20/09/2011

A quick word about opening act Cold Specks, the conduit through which Canadian singer songwriter Al  Spx performs. With a voice imbued with more soul than New Orleans , Al mesmerised the audience and by the end of the set had them shouting for more, which is quite a rare thing for a support band.  Ones to watch for sure 😉

 The Von Pip Musical Express

“Holland “ by Cold Specks.

Photo slide show

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Or check out the gallery HERE.

The Interview.

Howling Bells Brendan-Picchio--Answers-The-Big-Questions--The-Von-Pip-Musical-Express

Brendan Picchio wrestles with 'the big questions'

Prior to The Manchester gig, we went backstage and had a chat with Brendan Picchio, the Howling Bells bassist about the album, stadium gigs, the kindness of Chris Martin, Juanita’s impromptu Alice Cooper impression and life on the road.

VP:  Would you say the intention behind the new album was to do something very different from Radio Wars, to take another musical leap so to speak?  

BRENDAN: I guess you’d hope every album is a progression of sorts.   It was a long writing process  for ‘The Loudest Engine’ a lot of it done on the road, but rather than progress or move forward I think the predominant feeling was to make a  record that was true and honest and from the heart. After all there are only 12 notes on the music spectrum,  there have been thousands of bands from The Beatles through to the present day, and maybe there’s a feeling that everything’s been kind of done before.  I think we accomplished what we set out to achieve, at the time we were all in a very good head space, very happy, positive and emotionally connected as a band.

VP:  As a band you seem to straddle genres and I think the critics find it hard to pigeonhole you, but you’ve always managed to produce music that has a slight darkness imbued within… Juanita said this record sounds 70’s tinged and psychedelic which happened almost accidentally?

BRENDAN:  Yeah I think some of tension, musically speaking comes from Joel’s guitar playing which has certain intensity to it.  With regard to the album Juanita’s right to a degree, in terms of this album technically speaking we went for a kaleidoscope kind of sound, but it also has a raw airy feel to it. We were very inspired by The Doors documentary we’d watched just before going into the studio. I remember before recording Joel sent an email saying ‘No way am I doing this album unless we record it to tape’ and everyone’s like ‘get the fuck out of here, everything’s on digital these days’. Then the next day Mark [Stoermer–producer] said ‘Hey guys I’ve found a tape machine!’ And that was it!  We went old school and recorded to tape, we did like maybe four takes, listened, picked one, overdubs, done!  It was basically the band in the room playing takes which was really a lot of fun.

VP:  Your debut album was quite rightly universally praised, did this lead to any kind of pressure when making subsequent albums, a weight of expectation perhaps?

BRENDAN:  I didn’t feel any pressure personally as I tend not to think that way but I think maybe some of the guys in the band may have done.  Mind you when we get in the studio it’s just four people trying to make a record to the best of our ability. We generally don’t read reviews as it’s just an opinion, I mean hell, I don’t even trust my own opinion sometimes [laughs]. All I can say is we put our hearts and soul into what we do, and if someone doesn’t like out heart and soul – well…. fuck ‘em !  [laughs]. If you try to concoct some sort of idea of what people are expecting of you it’s never gonna be true and honest. It’s like being with your wife or girlfriend and trying to figure out what she wants you to say rather than what you genuinely feel.

VP: So how did Mark Stoermer from the Killers get involved in producing the album?

BRENDAN:  He’s a genuinely lovely guy; he’s here tonight, I’ll introduce you, we’ve toured with them a few times already and they are very quiet guys. Mark actually seemed initially to be the most serious. In fact the first impression you get is maybe he doesn’t want to talk to anyone, he wants to be left alone or he’s upset about something and you best stay away.  It’s strange how things happen but it turned out that Mark was the guy we got on with the best. It was funny because when we flew over to Vegas to meet Mark our flight was seriously delayed and we didn’t get in till midnight. Mark had been waiting for us at the airport arranging stuff for us, since like 10 AM !  I mean this guy could get anyone to do this for him, but there he was getting his hands dirty and doing it himself. When we arrived he was all smiles, hugging us, cracking jokes and we were like ‘Who the fuck is this guy!”  [laughs]  It was there where we really forged our relationship. He’s a fantastic human being and I loved his style of working, it was very free and natural, lots of jams happened, it was a real pleasure.

VP:  On the title track, ‘The Loudest Engine’ it took me a while  to extract the meaning from the lyrics but apparently it’s a kind of homage or love-hate song about your relationship with your tour bus! ?

BRENDAN:  We all do that too! Try and work out what the lyrics are all about [laughs] But yes it was written by Juanita about a particular bus we were on. She’s trying to describe what it means to a band on the road, kind of like the mother ship, you respect it but also resent the time you have to spend on it.

VP: So do  you find yourself going ‘stir crazy’ at times on the tour bus ?

BRENDAN: Well we haven’t toured for two years so we have crammed in all that energy and horseplay into the last five days!  It’s been nauseating 😉  You can’t move without somebody grabbing your nether regions!  But there’s a limit and we kinda know how far we can push each other!

VP : Just before the tour you did a great session for Marc Riley on the BBC, which really wet my appetite for seeing you live again.

BRENDAN: Yeah, we’ve done a few before, but he’s a really great guy, so funny, and he certainly knows his stuff. It was a lot of fun!

VP: Fun!? . . . FUN !?  But I thought the press had pinned you guys down as ‘Alt-Goth-country- doom merchants!

BRENDAN: Ha! There’s nothing gothic about us, except maybe the debut album cover, people just love labels!

VP: Ok so prior to the album’s release you went down the “Pledge” music route and released a digital EP, what was the thinking behind that?

BRENDAN: Really we felt that as we had been away so long we wanted to reconnect with our audience, I don’t really like to use the term ‘fans.’ I mean when we played London there were about fifteen people down at the front who were at our very first gig and have stuck by us. We thought this would be a nice way to involve people without going down the traditional route of through a label and would give us a chance to have some fun.

VP: So the internet/digital age is in many ways a bitter sweet pill for bands? Great to communicate with your fans but not great for sales?

BRENDAN: It can be hard for bands, yeah, because nobody is really making that much money, so you always have to think ways of doing things. With the Pledge campaign the fans were very generous and it all went back into the band fund and enabled us to fund this tour. I mean it’s not like we pocketed it and went down the pub!  So yeah it is getting harder definitely but at the end of the day we do this for the pure love of it. Love it, or get the fuck out, that’s the choice!  Every album and tour we somehow manage to do it and I certainly hope we continue pulling cards out of our sleeves to carry on doing this because we just want to make music.

VP: You’ve seen the other side of music too, the huge tours alongside The Killers and Coldplay. How does that compare to the more intimate shows. Is it nerve wracking playing to stadium sized crowds?

BRENDAN: Luckily I don’t really get nervous; walking out in front of 15 people or 50,000 people is all the same to me. Obviously you feel more distant from the crowd due to the scale; mind you I’m always interested in other bands fans reaction to us because I believe we are a good enough band to merit people’s attention. Y’know with Juanita’s voice and the way we craft the music around it, I think it’s interesting.  But really the big tours you have to take them with a pinch of salt, and personally you reach a point when the money runs out!  Let me take you through a day on a big tour:

A limo picks us up from the apartment then drives us to an air force base; you walk through security feeling like you own the joint. These flights are amazing you can do what you like really, then you land 45 minutes later where a motorcade with police outriders picks you up takes you through security to the stadium. You then eat some good food and play a show in front of 50,000 people. You fly back ……and then realise. . . . you can’t afford a cab and have to walk back to your girlfriends place! [laughs] That certainly gives you perspective, but you get to have these incredible experiences. I wouldn’t trade my band’s history and experiences for a billion dollars.

VP: Isn’t it tempting to do a bit of mad partying on tour?

BRENDAN: We used to at first, but jeez we’re getting on, we’re in our thirties now ! These days we’re pretty clean living and probably bigger foodies than drinkers. Maybe if you were on the same level as your Coldplays you might take advantage ( not that they do) , but at our level you have to be on your toes and you don’t want to let people down. I mean every time you suck live might lose you some fans and then other people in your team have to take up the slack, I think we have too much respect for what we do to let each other down. Buy hey we still get to meet crazy people and have amazing experiences!

VP: Talking of Coldplay what was that tour like, I know other Howling Bells fans that aren’t really keen on them, but it must have been a great opportunity to get your music out to an even bigger audience?

BRENDAN: Well from our point of view we were really happy and fortunate to get the chance to be involved in such a huge production, and y’know what? They are genuinely, honestly really nice guys, seriously! Like when Juanita broke her guitar on tour and the next day a brand new one arrived wrapped with a big bow, we were like ‘Fuck! A new guitar!”  But this is how they roll. They are lovely to all their crew, seriously great guys, and they work fucking hard. So y’know you really have to respect them for that!

VP: Finally Brendan, off the top of your head, what would you say is your most memorable band moment?

BRENDAN: Jeez man, this is a tough one, so many…arrrgh…. OK I think maybe when we sold out our first headline London show at ICA and we were like ‘holy crap, we sold it out ! And I remember there was no air conditioning and my shirt was stuck to me after the gig and had to be literally peeled off my back! Juanita came off stage looking like Alice Cooper as her makeup had run down her face and her hair was plastered to her forehead!

Everybody looked disgusting, but we were on such a high, which may have been in some part due to a lack of salts and dehydration induced euphoria! We nearly died that night it was so hot but it was a great gig !

Buy The new Album here


Berndan and Juanita -Howling Bells Live - The Von Pip Musical Express

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Sarabeth Tucek And Bird – Live St Brides Church Liverpool.

Sarabeth Tucek And Luther Russell in Liverpool Septmber 2011.

Luther Russell & Sarabeth Tucek in Liverpool September 2011.

We’ve swooned, been moved and waxed lyrical with regard to Sarabeth Tucek and her beautiful album ‘Get Well Soon’ a number of times on this here blog. In fact such has been our admiration for her work that we may soon have to invent new superlatives in order to attempt to aptly convey the high esteem in which we hold her in.   Given the aforementioned two sentences you can doubtless appreciate the giddy rush of excitement we experienced when news reached us of her intention to perform in our home town of Liverpool.  As ever she produced a spellbinding show in a celestial setting which complimented her beautiful, warm, emotive voice. As a live performer  Sarabeth may be economical with her between song banter, and let’s face it given her albums subject matter she’s hardly likely to be cracking quips left right and centre but what she does give the audience is a performance of honest, unreserved emotion. One that is both moving and uplifting and a million miles removed from the asinine caterwauling of those bafflingly popular female artists that major record labels seem to churn out with depressing regularity. This was  indeed a  performance without artifice or pretension, this was for real, this is what being broken and reborn sounds like and it’s a thing of rare and precious beauty.

The gig took place in the wonderfully atmospheric setting of the neo classical gem that is  St Brides  Church, snugly nestled  between Liverpool’s  Catholic and Anglican Cathedrals and was organised by local promoters Harvest Sun, who are  fast establishing a reputation for curating fabulous gigs in unusual locations . Sarabeth aided by her engaging and wonderfully hirsute album producer and guitarist Luther Russell, played the majority of the ‘Get Well Soon’ album with the minimum of fuss.   As an album it is essentially an anatomy of bereavement and despite the subject matter and darkness that inspired its creation it takes the listener on a genuinely inspirational and life affirming journey. Hearing it in such an intimate setting made the depth of emotion involved in writing the album veberate around the venue and make a direct connection with the audience as Sarabeth conveyed despair, hope and redemption with a subtle elegance and dignity that very few songwriters can manage without resorting to clichés and histrionics. She really is a genuine artist and true talent and we love her. And so should you.  So there.

“Wooden” By Sarabeth Tucek.

Bird, Liverpool

Keith, Adéle and Mick from Bird.

Also on the bill were one of Liverpool’s most exciting new bands, Bird. Fronted by songwriter Adéle Emmas her ethereal, haunting vocals conjure up the missing link between the Cocteau Twins and Laura Marling, with an added dash of Hope Sandoval and Juanita Stein.  When we first discovered Bird we described them as “an eerie folktronic Portishead wandering through laughing Lenny Cohen’s nightmares as depicted by René Magritte.”  Which is of course fabulous but live and playing a stripped down acoustic set, you get to  appreciate just how good  Bird really are.  Adéle’s voice is bewitching and mesmeric and casts a spell on an attentive and appreciative audience drawing them into a  magical, slightly outré world of darkness and light.  On this evidence Bird have got the talent and presence to make a huge impact in the coming year, with their beguiling  mix of dark haunting melodies, otherworldly vocals and a singer with real star quality.

“Phantoms” By Bird.

Sarabeth Tucek and VP

Sarabeth meets a familiar face in Liverpool.

Howling Bells Live Liverpool 16.03.2009

“Cities Burning Down” ( Disco Bloodbath Effect Remix) By Howling Bells

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There are some bands I seemed almost preordained never to see, on two previous occasions I have held in my grubby little hands, tickets to see Howling Bells, and on both instances I have been cruelly thwarted by the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, oh and the missus.  Finally a gig at Liverpool’s 02 Academy would, I hoped, prove to be third time lucky in my quest to finally catch this fabulous band live.

My sense of anticipation began to reach feverish new heights when I received a text from a friend who was in the throes of a condition known as ” post Howling Bells gig euphoria” following their performance in Sheffield .  “Nights like this make me think I could probably survive if the only band in the world was Howling Bells …Mind you The Joy Formidable was pretty …well…formidable…Monday should rock your world” it read.  And do you know what? He was right, it did!

The Joy Formidable

Unbelievably  I had finally made it to a Howling Bells gig and it kicked off in fine style with an awesome display of sonic beauty from The Joy Formidable who produced an incredible live set, full of passion, power and raw energy, that may have had some wondering how it could be possibly topped.  The response was universally positive amongst the audience, which included an eclectic mix of students, Goths, and stately gentleman like my good self,  as many beat a hasty path to the merchandise stall to snap up copies of The Joy Formidable’s marvelous mini album, “A Balloon Called Moaning” .  The fact that I had already downloaded the album as a freebie, didn’t really come into play, as when something sounds this good you just have to own it!

After four years waiting and spending the preceding days avoiding walking under ladders, ensuring I didn’t tread on the  cracks in between paving stones  and surviving Friday the 13th  unscathed, the moment was nigh and Howling Bells took to the stage. Simply put, they gave a quite magnificent, spellbinding, performance which exceeded my already high expectations and will live long in the memory.  Juanita was the perfect front person, prowling the stage, exuding a cool charisma whilst prompting and cajoling  the typically reticent Liverpool audience to participate; at one point she climbed over the barrier to join the crowd herself.  She proved that she truly is one of the great female performers amongst her peers , and should anybody tell you differently they are obviously an oaf, a buffoon or possibly descended from this fine fellow here… The band effortlessly switched between the synth driven, futuristic soundscapes of their recent epic album “Radio Wars” to the windswept goth-country of their much loved debut with consummate ease and provided a solid  innovative and exciting backdrop for Juanita’s voice to weave its subtle magic. And what a voice! At times recalling the bruised vulnerability of Harriet Wheeler from The Sundays, or the languid nonchalance of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, whilst at other points fueled by PJ Harvey-esque bursts of passion, it never fails to be anything other than mesmerising. It really is like swimming in a lake of black honey. The evenings highlights included “Treasure Hunt“, “Broken Bones”, “Digital Hearts”, a spanking version of “Low Happening” plus an impromptu guitar solo in the middle of “Into the Chaos”.

Alas all good things come to an end and all too quickly the evening was drawn to a close with a suitably breathtaking version of  “Cities Burning Down”.  It’s nights like these that just reinforce how great live music can be and I have now discovered that post Howling Bells gig euphoria is a feeling that is rarely bettered! I hope I don’t have to wait another four years to see them again!  They are one band I’d certainly  now travel any distance to catch live!

Verdict: A Triumph!!!

“Golden Web” And “Cities Burning Down” By Howling Bells-Live Liverpool 16/03/2009

“Low Happening” And “Digital Hearts “ By Howling Bells-Live Liverpool16/03/2009

Thanks to hotdogboy23

“The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade” By The Joy Formidable- Live Liverpool 16-03-09

Vp and The Joy Formidable's Ritzy Bryan

Links

Howling Bells Buy “Radio Warshere or download here
The Joy Formidable Buy “A Balloon Called Moaning” her

Interview with Juanita here

Album review here

Wallpapers

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Through The Static.. – Howling Bells Interview

“Into The Chaos” By Howling Bells

One of our very favourite bands Howling Bells are back to kick off 2009 in fine style. Their appeal seems to be universal, and their haunting, beautiful music really does have a profound effect on people, for example one female friend said “the visceral guitars and sultry vocals  make you wanna just dress up in red silk and rub up against the nearest body.…” (phew!)  Their eponymous debut album is quite rightly regarded by many as a genuine classic, and the band look set to have further praise heaped upon them with the release of their second album “Radio Wars”.  Again the band seem to have hit the creative jackpot as they expand their rich musical palette whilst still retain that remarkable flair for producing dramatically, dark, atmospheric soundscapes. Juanita’s incredible voice remains the focal point, seductively coiling itself around each song, teasing, taunting and mesmerising the listener.

In comparison to its predecessor it could be said that “Radio Wars” has a more rounded, futuristic edge in which synths and guitars swirl around each other to dazzling effect (full review here). Produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat, who has engineered records by Radiohead, Air and Sir Paul McCartney alongside Nigel Godrich (Joel: “He worked, like, 16 hours a day, and challenged us a lot”), the band have also adopted a different approach to songwriting this time around.  Drummer Glenn explains “Most of this was written on laptops separately between the four of us,”It’s a really democratic process, ” says Junaita “as opposed to the first record, this one was a purely collaborative effort, I mean everybody’s written this record.” Joel agrees that varying their approach as a band is important   “We try new things every time really. In my mind that’s what it comes down to. Every album we just wanna try something new I guess, it sounds so f*cking clichéd, but it’s true…”

And where did the title “Radio Wars” come from?  “We demoed a lot of the album down at this place in Melbourne, and the radio kept on freaking out and changing stations all the time” reveals Juanita  “You’d put it on one radio station and it’ll start flicking to another one – we’d just get in the car and be like, “Let’s play radio wars.” It started like that, but then we started writing a track –called ‘Radio Wars Theme’ – and that concept of changing stations formed the lyrics. But it came to mean more than that. The radio takes on a technological perspective.”It turned into a digital revolution thing,” Glenn continues, “That unveiled itself over time to us.”

“Radio Wars
” should ensure the band gain a new army of fans, so would the band be happy if they did indeed  became a big, big band?  Juanita: “F*ck yeah! On the first record we might have made songs that are sort of subtle and dusty but that didn’t mean that we weren’t bursting at the seams with intent and desire and ambition.”
Joel: “People in bands who don’t want that are stupid. That’s like saying, ‘Oh Obama, you wanna be president of the United States ?’ and him going, ‘Yeah, but I only wanna talk to three people.’ If you wanna be president, you wanna get through to as many people as you can. I feel like that’s what we wanna do as a band.”

2009 looks like being a massive year for Howling Bells and we spoke in a little more detail to Juanita about the pressures of following up  a big critical success and their plans for the forthcoming year.

VP:  So your  second album album “Radio Wars” is about to be released.  Is it difficult for a band to follow up such a critically acclaimed debut, or do you have to put thoughts like that out of your head, and just write songs as you have always done? Have you done anything differently this time around?

JUANITA: There’s a definite awareness I suppose in following up any significant piece of work for an artist. You’ve created a platform so to speak and whether we could have easily continued in the same vein, but it was really important for us to move and progress beyond that. We experimented with different styles of writing/recording/lyrical content/production etc….

VP:Your songs have a sweeping cinematic feel, what sort of influences do you draw upon when writing songs, and as a band how does the songwriting process work?

JUANITA: For this record the song writing process was incredibly united, we all came together from a very similar place and so it was a very inspiring time for us all to collaborate musically. Influences come from far and wide, high and low, soft and sharp. There’s no way to pin point where your inspiration comes from!

VP: I assume 2008 has been taken up with recording the new album, has it been an enjoyable year? What have been your highlights?

JUANITA: It’s been equally intense and joyous an experience. Highlights for me were taking the new songs to the stage for the few live shows we did this year. Watching them come to life in front of an audience was intensely satisfying!

VP:  2009 will see you tour the album, and as mentioned, it must be very gratifying to get an instant reaction to new songs ?

JUANITA: It’s one of my favourite parts of being in a band, performing the tracks in front of an excited audience. This will def be a year of intense touring I imagine, we hope to explore some new stage set-up’s production/sound wise…….should be fun!

VP: Have you had a chance to listen to much music during 08? Any favourite albums or new bands that have caught your ears?

JUANITA: I like The Joy Formidable and  Stricken   City , both young bands outta the  UK . Tame Impala from  Australia  are really great, kinda psychedelic inspired 70’s rock. Caribous new album, Lykke Li and Tinariwen.

VP: Obviously the musical landscape has changed significantly during the “noughties”, how important is the internet now for bands. Do you think social networking/ Myspace hits etc  will one day replace the importance of say, radio airplay in terms of helping bands “break”?

JUANITA:I think it already has, I don’t have many friends that buy cd’s at the store, or even listen to the radio as opposed to say,  their own i-pod mixes in the car…….Its a brave new technological world for sure. The only way to move forward is to embrace it whole heartedly.

VP: What’s the  logistical situation, are you still primarily based in the  UK  ?

JUANITA: We’re all based in London, where we’ve been involved in a steady love affair with the city……it’s been a passionate relationship thus far, full of ups and downs….but thankfully, more so ups!

VP:  In your time together as a band , what would you say have been your most memorable experiences ?

JUANITA: Starting in a 6 seater van touring around Britain through the depths of winter, stealing sandwiches from truck stops, selling out our first few shows, getting a wonderful response from media and audiences alike…recording, writing on/off the rd, seeing some our favourite bands together, meeting some fabulous folk and so on and so forth!

VP:  And your oddest experience

JUANITA: All of the previous (apart from the meeting cool people bit)

VP:  Give us five words which will give your fans an idea of what to expect from  “Radio Wars”

JUANITA: Strength/colour/unity/progression and optimism:)

VP: Thanks Juanita , and make sure you play Liverpool on the upcoming tour!

JUANITA:” Will do! ”

Original Photo By Crazybobbles

Links

Myspace

Official Site (FREE Download if you sign up to mailing list)

Buy “Radio Wars”

Buy the new single (click pic)

Upcoming Tour 2009 (Yay Liverpool!!)

Wallpapers (Click Pics For Larger Version)

Original Live Photos (above) By Crazybobbles

Videos

Broken Bones” By Howling Bells

“Low Happening” By Howling Bells

“Blessed Night” By Howling Bells

“Into The Chaos” By Howling Bells (Live Leeds 2008  )

Live Review Here

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Album Of The Month- January09 -Howling Bells “Radio Wars”

“Into The Chaos” By Howling Bells

All hail the first great album of 2009 ! Howling Bells are back with a follow up to their stunning 2006 debut. Their latest album “Radio Wars sees the band expanding their sound and moving forwards, yet still managing to retain the key elements that made their first album so hypnotic and exciting.

Listening to a Howling Bells album often feels like you’re being bewitched and slowly, subtly seduced, as they draw you into a world where beauty and nightmares are never far from the surface. Their songs are invariably haunting, menacing and unique, unique in the sense that you really couldn’t imagine anybody other than Juanita Stein singing them. She breaths life into each song, giving them depth, meaning and beauty, whilst the band provide the perfect stage upon which Juanita’s vocals can weave their subtle magic.

The bands next single “Cities Burning Down”  has a mesmerizing, futuristic, post apocalyptic vibe; one imagines if The Sunday’s Harriet Wheeler had fronted Joy Division, it would sound something like this. “Radio Wars” is without doubt the sound of a band on top form, fully focused, who know exactly where they want to go. Yes, maybe the production has been ratcheted up a notch ; it is not however, a band radically changing direction, as some feared. The album is a natural progression from the  eponymous debut, and as such should delight old fans, whilst reaching out to a new audience, which will hopefully lead to them adding to their already dedicated fan base.

Of the many highlights notable tracks are “ It Ain’t You” ( a future single surely) “Nightingale” which is thing of shimmering gorgeousness, a beautiful sultry Gothic lullaby, that is both moody and beguiling, whilst lead single “Into The Chaos” is an insistent, driving slice of cinematic pop. Not every track hits its mark, “Mrs. Bells Song (Theme from Radio Wars) ” has a rather unconventional outro, as the band inform us “Radio Wars are coming/ they’re here” but it fits perfectly with the sweeping, futuristic feel of the album. Then again, Howling Bells songs can often take a number of listens before you “get them”. “Golden Web” is a great song, but  was  having Juanita’s sentences being finished by one of the chaps in the chorus, strictly necessary?  However these are but minor quibbles, and the albums penultimate track “Digital Hearts” provides a glorious final flurry of moody magnificence ahead of the sensational closer,the  country infused “How Long.” Juanita’s sublime voice invokes memories of the velvety siren tones of Hope Sandoval at her sultry, seductive best as she laments “How long before I let you go/ how long before I let it show.” It’s quite magnificent and a  fitting climax to a fabulous album.This is an  album that takes the listener on a journey through  a myriad of differing emotions, and leaves them exhausted, but ultimately satisfied. Howling Bells truly have the ability to illuminate the darkness and paint the sky with stars.

Rating : 8/10

Now don’t just sit there, go on line and pre- order it …Here. ( “Radio Wars” is released in the UK by Independiente Records– 9/02/2009)

Track List

1. Treasure Hunt 2:44
2. Cities Burning Down 4:12
3. It Ain’t You 3:17
4. Nightingale 4:07
5. Let’s Be Kids 3:54
6. Ms. Bell’s Song (Radio Wars Theme) 5:27
7. Golden Web 3:22
8. Into The Chaos 3:14
9. Digital Hearts 3:35
10. How Long 3:25

“Cities Burning Down” By Howling Bells

Interview With Juanita here

Live review here

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