The Howling Bells are an Australian indie rock band comprising of Juanita Stein (singer/guitarist), Joel Stein (lead guitarist and brother of Juanita), Glenn Moule (drummer) and Brendan Picchio (bassist).
The four piece (who are now based in London) release their third studio album ‘The Loudest Engine’ on 12 September 2011 through Cooking Vinyl. The album was produced by The Killers’ bassist Mark Stoermer in Las Vegas and is Stoermer’s first attempt at producing.
‘The Loudest Engine’ has been described as ‘a modern psychedelic record’ and one that is more ‘folk rock’ than their previous two releases (although it is more a continuation of their self-named first record Howling Bells than Radio Wars) where the band had experimented with a more electro-pop sound only using synths and drums machine. They have however ‘refrained’ from ‘relying on use of technology’ on ‘The Loudest Engine’ and instead have decided to give it a ‘singular sound’ taking influences from folk and rock.
Stein confirmed: “The album shows that we’re 21st century kids making a modern psychedelic record. [It] is our grown up record. The first was about that great initial leap, the second was us exploring different waters. This one is us, all having met at one place, at one time. I think this record will change people’s perspectives of the band.”
The Howling Bells are known for their country-goth-rock and they do not disappoint with this album, giving the listener a sense of ‘doom-and-gloom’ and melancholy psychedelic seventies folk. Add to this Joel Stein skilful guitar playing and Juanita’s beautiful lead vocals (complimented with haunting backing vocals) and, with many tracks incorporating string and brass, creates an intelligent independent sound and overall leaves an impression of vastness and wilderness.
Stand out tracks include ‘Charlatan’, ‘Into the Sky’, ‘The Faith’ and ‘The Loudest Engine’. My only criticism would be that some of the songs can blend into each other and are a bit samey but this is an album beautifully written and produced and definitely one to add to your record collection.
Reviewer: Julie Elford
The Howling Bells will also be following up their album with an autumn tour, dates of which are listed below:
Weds 14th – Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth
Thurs 15th – Electric Ballroom, London
Fri 16th – Plug, Sheffield
Sun 18th – Cockpit, Leeds
Mon 19th – Oran Mor, Glasgow
Tues 20th – Academy 3 Manchester