Friday, October 13, 2017

Shanda and the Howlers - Trouble

The Las Vegas music scene is, overall, pretty small and incestuous. I met Shanda when she was fronting the Shandaleers and gigged with the Swamp Gospel. I met bassist Luke the same way, while he was in the Lucky Cheats. Guitarist Trevor has played with numerous bands and I saw him several times previous to the Howlers. Have to admit that I had not (knowingly) run into sax player Micah or drummer Keith, but regardless, I've known these people and their talent for quite a while. When they came together as the Howlers, they created a new kind of R'n'B magic that equals anything they've done in the past. This smokin' slab has been receivin' high praise from everyone who hears it, they are getting some regular radio air play and their shows are drunken dance fests!

Shanda has an old school, blues beltin' kinda voice in the style of Big Mama Thorton or Big Maybelle and the band grooves with an late 50's/early 60's R'n'B/Soul/R'n'R style that is reminiscent of all of your old faves but still have a modern tinge to it. You get your dance-on right from the start with the upbeat "Keep Telling Me" - Shanda belts with the best, Luke'n'Keith lock in a tight groove, Trevor plays tasty fills and Micah wails on the sax on the bouncin piece of R'n'B. They keep the jumpin' jive hoppin' in "She Don't Want a Man", the semi-title cut, "Trouble's Out To Play", is a soulful party number, I don't know if they'd agree with me, but there's a bit of a Cab Calloway feel to the sing-along "Don't Need Your Love", then a tear-jerkin' blues ballad in the vein of Otis Redding in "Born With a Broken Heart" before Trevor's guitar comes out front'n'center for a boppin' blues in "Don't Wait Up", with hot shot lead licks mixing with cool harmonica fills and Shanda growlin' vocals.

More soulful sweetness in "Stay Awhile" (kinda similar feel to "Trouble's Out to Play"), with some keys from Joe Lawless supplementing the sound, Trevor turns up the grit and pulls out his slide for the old school jump blues of "Mind Made Up", ya gotta dig the mid-tempo grooves, cool stops'n'starts and hep counterpoint backing vocals (courtesy of Francesca Camus and Jessica Moinichen) in "Li'l Operator", there's another sad soul ballad in "You're Gonna Cry" (nice, subtle slide work here) before closing out with the insistently funky "Bad Love".

These cats'n'kitten are raisin' eyebrows and fillin' dance floors wherever they go - be sure to catch 'em when'n'while ya can and dig this fine slab o' sound, as well!