Monday, May 14, 2018

Shanda and the Howlers - Hurt For Me

In their relatively short stint (so far) as a band, The Howlers have earned quite a reputation as one of the premier 50's-styled R'n'B bands around. With the talented Shanda belting out the vocals ala Big Maybelle and the Howlers, well, howlin' behind her, there's few that would dare try to compete with this combo when it comes to authentic R'n'B, blues and soul. On this, their second outing (their debut, Trouble, received rave reviews from around the globe), the group continues with their cool, groovin' soul sounds.

Opening with Luke's swingin', Motown-ish bass line, "Hold On" sounds like it should be blastin' from the radio in the early 60's. Call'n'answer chorus, swingin' beats (the drum stool is filled by Josh Miller here as regular Howler Keith recovers from his illness), subtle guitar (on this one) and perfect horns make it sound like a summer hit! They bop through "Baby, You're the One" and they swing into high gear for "Good Morning Heartache" (with Trevor giving an almost country-ish guitar solo) before the somewhat slower, soulful sing-along "Crying Over Nothing". Micah gives us a wailin' sax solo in the more rockabilly-like "Wait and See" (that also has hints of the Dave Clark Five's "Over and Over") while everyone gives their all and Shanda sings her heart out in the emotional torch song, "Hand in Hand" (dig Trevor's superlative blues guitar licks!).

They go for pure swamp-blues in "The Girl's No Good" - terrific guitar/sax harmonic interplay here - and jivin' jump blues for "Scurry Like a Rat" before the Slim Harpo-like title track where they swap instruments so Luke can play guitar, Trevor takes up the harp and guest Victor Mendez sits in on stand-up bass. The gang stomps through the slide-blues of "Blue-Eyed Trouble" before closing with the sweet, Stax-styled ballad "Close Your Eyes".

I love the Howlers' blend of blues, soul and R'n'B that sounds like it could have come out of the Stax hit factory of the 60's, but also is fresh'n'exciting. Everyone here is high class - they are terrific players but no one tries to do more than what the song needs. Dig this and definitely see them live where they can stretch out a bit more, let go and really wail. In the meantime, this is another great representation of their sound.