Howe: Bolt From the Blue (2012)

Bio (from wearehowe.com):
HOWE is a 4 piece band consisting of brothers Ralph Brunjes (lead), Eric Brunjes (guitar), school-friend Niall Lavelle (drums) and Ben Hayes (bass). Ralph, Eric and Niall went to school together in Brighton. Ben however is from Rugby and met the guys in London. Bolt From the Blue is their debut EP, showcasing three songs from an ever expanding and formidable repertoire.  Their musical influences are extremely varied. Eric’s background is as a composer / producer, Niall has drummed with various groups previous to HOWE and Ralph, as the principal songwriter, performed as a bass player for many bands, whist building up a catalogue of his own songs in his own time. Ben is an accomplished multi instrumentalist, whose touch and finesse suggests a player double his age.

Musicians:
Ralph Brunjes (Vocals), Eric Brunjes (Guitar), Niall Lavelle (Drums), Ben Hayes (Bass)

Right from ten seconds into the first track on BOLT FROM THE BLUE, as the first guitar riff rings out, I had a good feeling that I was going to like Howe.  What struck me was the fact that this is a modern rock band (a modern band playing rock music, not a “modern rock” band which I associate to crappy late 90’s radio friendly “rock” music) that didn’t bust out with power chords.  Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing wrong with power chords.  Nirvana is still one of my favorite bands of all time, and Kurt played a ton of power chords.  My issue is that too many bands just play songs built around power chords and don’t really have much variety or musicianship to their guitar parts.  As soon as the guitar started off in “Lost Generation” I knew this would not be a complaint I would have about BFtB, and that made me a happy reviewer indeed.

Howe is a four-piece rock band from England, and I can hear the English roots shining through in their songs, and as this is just a three song EP, I’m going to take a little time on each track.  “Lost Generation” made me immediately think back to early songs by The Who – and no, not just ‘cause they’re English and stuttered the word “generation” – but without being totally derivative of The Who.  Truthfully, I’ve never been a big fan of The Who… they were always in that “it’s alright” part of the musical spectrum for me.  I really connect with “Lost Generation” in a way that The Who never really spoke to me.

Howe, and also: Howe!

The second track, “Bolt From the Blue,” has a little bit of a few different bands peeking through to me.  The opening two minutes really reminds me of late Roger Water’s era Pink Floyd, almost like a track that could have been on THE WALL or THE FINAL CUT, and as Floyd is one of my favorite bands of all time, please don’t take this comparison lightly.  After the first two minutes it picks up and then sounds still a little late-Floydish, but also has an Oasis or Manic Street Preachers feeling mixed in.  I really enjoyed this track.  A lot.

Finally, BFtB ends out with “It’s Not Such a Surprise” which I had a little tougher time putting my finger on.  There is certainly some influences from the past here, but it’s a little hard to say exactly what this track reminds me of.  I hear a little David Bowie, a little more late Floyd, some Rolling Stones, and some more modern influences peppered in there as well.  This was another solid track to round out the EP.

Howe on stage, in B&W, as they should be

Overall, I really enjoyed BFtB.  While my review may make it seem that Howe is just a cover band that has adapted a bit, that is not the case.  They are an original and talented band that obviously has their musical tastes aiming at the late 60’s through the early 80’s, but at the same time bring a fresh perspective to the music they make.  I enjoyed the level of musicianship they brought to BFtB, as well as the easy to listen to vibe that the EP has.  My biggest complaint with BFtB is the fact that it is only three songs long!  I am looking forward to seeing where Howe goes from here, and am really hoping I’ll get to hear a full-length release from them soon.

Overall 7 / 10

BFtB for sale: http://wearehowe.bandcamp.com/album/bolt-from-the-blue

BFtB site: http://wearehowe.com/

 

Howe: Bolt From the Blue
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