Album Review: The Howling Tongues

“One, two . . . one, two, three, four!” This muffled count launches into the screaming guitar riff of the first song, “Gotta Be A Man,” on the Howling Tongues’s new self-titled album. The band’s style is reminiscent of Jet or the Black Keys with the power of Zeppelin. Other instruments layer on top of the guitar with rocking rhythms until, suddenly, everything except the drums drop out and Taylor Harlow sings “All in all I got the shortest straw when I was learning how to be a man.” All in all, what better way to kick off a rock record?

The Howling Tongues (Taylor Harlow, Tylor James, Nick Magliochetti, Thomas Wainwright, and Brandon Witcher) are a five-piece rock band from Atlanta, Georgia, and last year they teamed up with producers Stan Lynch and Billy Chapin to record a self-titled album that was released on April 25. A notable aspect of the album is how it was recorded. The Howling Tongues cut the entire album to tape, meaning that they didn’t use MIDI, auto-tune, or any other luxury that comes with a digital studio. In others words, these guys can play!

Musically, the band is incredibly talented in their ability to combine rock guitars and banging drums with funky keyboards and soulful vocals. Lyrically, they express the emotions that everyone feels, but few can articulate. Just listen to the second track on the album, “Let Me Be.”

“Let Me Be” is a soulful rock ballad that seamlessly transitions from roaring guitars to harmonized “Ah’s” and back again. Lyrically, it addresses a girl who “wants to rule my world and my fantasy,” but it ultimately tells her to leave at the end of the chorus with the line “If you’re not gonna be with me or be a part of my fantasy, little girl let me be.” Similarly, the song “Another Heart to Bleed” discusses breaking apart and hopping on the “closest South-bound train” while what sounds like a Fender Rhodes creates a soulful feel for the track.s

Then there is the song “Chainsaw.” The song is unforgettable after hearing Harlow scream “Her daddy’s got a chainsaw, and he’s coming for me!” in the chorus. The song builds from an intro of stripped down, octave guitar riffs to a chorus full of cymbals and background vocals. Then, just when you are completely caught up in the rhythm, everything drops out and the band belts “(Her daddy’s got a) Chainsaw!” in harmony, reinforcing the musicality of the hook-laden track.

All in all, The Howling Tongues’s self-titled album is driven by rocking guitars and soulful vocals, and its unique point of view draws you into each song. It makes you want to clap with the beat, belt out the “Oh’s” and “Ah’s,” and if you’re a father, buy a chainsaw.

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