I firmly believe that we have a musical revolution on hand here in the States. One of past influence, mixed nicely with experimentation and style spanning evolution. Bands are taking who inspired them when they were younger and expanding with their own style; as of late, it seems to be growing like a wildfire out of, where else, California.
The Bay-Area’s Howlin Rain have released their third album The Russian Wilds. With the help of production demi-god Rick Rubin they have found and compiled their sound within eleven tracks. Taking to heart an essence of rock epics, the quintet lays down an album where all but three tracks are over five minutes long.
Admitting to launching off an Electric Ladyland meets Gaucho meets Darkness On The Edge of Town platform, leading man Ethan Miller proclaims “We didn’t always do the smartest or safest things.” One listen to The Russian Wilds and you’ll agree.
Like psychedelia, without the drugs, and blues, without the raunchy gravely vocals, the album keeps tight to a consistent experimenting sound. These guys lead off with the eight minute “Self Made Man;” a track which establishes, early on, the all-encompassing epic blues/rock that is Howlin Rain. Driving guitar riffs and ethereal breakdowns become a staple in a sound stretching deep into the past as an ode to the future. By the third track, “Can’t Satisfy Me Now,” we settle into a dusty roadhouse of heartfelt lyrics dancing among true-to-blues instrumentals. Cyrus Comiskey, Raj Ojha, Joel Robinow and Isaiah Mitchell expertly craft their skills with Miller to embody what you look for in modern blues-rock. A few tracks from The Russian Wilds feel very familiar. “Cherokee Werewolf” channels the band’s inner Gary Cherone and Richie Sambora; so much it becomes difficult to not find the association. “Collage” catches a modern folk, Woodstock sensation. Thankfully, by the time we reach “Walking Through Stone” and “Still Walking, Still Stone,” we’re checked back into the notion that we’re not listening to a recreation, but an evolution. The album leaves a satisfied sensation, but questionable replay. Like last call, it is sad to see it come to an end, but it won’t destroy you if you can’t get right back to it.
While in the intimate confines of The Russian Wilds it is hard to not be sucked into the ballads and emotion that has been purposefully placed to engulf you. Howlin Rain knows who they are and where they want to be. That confidence has brought them here and their ability will take them forth. Albums like this add fuel to the musical revolution.