With the release of the popular single ‘I Told You Once’ Minneapolis quartet Howler have had the hipsters tapping their brogues and ruffling their undercuts for a few months now. We caught them at Lancaster Library to see what the youthful sorts had to showcase.
Without referencing The Drums or The Vaccines, it’s quite difficult to accurately describe this lot. They describe themselves as ‘Trash Surf’ whilst others have used painful summaries such as ‘sun kissed garage rock’ or ‘NYC rattle and strum’ but to paint a fair depiction I think it best labelling them ‘indie pop’.
It’s easy to see why they appeal to the youth. Catchy riffs, tongue in cheek lyrics and not to mention good looks that conjure up a vision of Glee doing a special on the Strokes. They were made for the market.
But is it all style over substance?
Well credit to the lads, they are very polished. The gig was immaculately performed with Brent Mayes percussion leading an energetic set. With toe tapping pop packages such as ‘You Like White Women, I Like Cigarettes’ and ‘14 Days’ driving at least the enthusiastic teenagers at the front to a head bop or two.
The problem seems to be the faux narcissism. It’s quite painfully obvious that it’s not, in fact, in any way faux. Jordan Gatesmith (vocals) has been described before as the Justin Beiber of indie and it’s obvious to see why. While confidence is not something to shun in the music industry, the band’s almost delusional sense of self satisfaction is irritating at best and although they have obviously worked hard to achieve a level of skill and presentation, they cannot be congratulated for soul or originality.
Perhaps they are following the likes of Brother (or Viva Brother?) and chucking the rule book at their P.R. and saying no, I won’t pretend, and if they are, good on them.
For now, ‘I Told You Once’ is a bit of an earworm and they will enjoy their success from that.
If they want to shift as many records as The Vaccines or The Drums they are going to have to try and sound a little less like them.
words by Sophie Lea (@gingerspider)
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