(Over Under Records)
I recently watched a video for “Zombie Girl” (coupla
fun-lookin’ gals trying to keep straight faces while acting like they’re eating
from the back of two Howlies heads, bringing to mind an early-‘60s, grade-B, absurdist
masterpiece, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die).
After seeing that, it’s hard not to feel
some instant Howlies affection: It’s just so silly, and fun, and retro-feeling
in all the right ways. Remember when rock ‘n’ roll was fun? Remember when rock
‘n’ rollers made you laugh?
More ingratiating characteristics: The Atlanta band is selling
downloads of this five-song EP for $4 (as Ralph Kramden would chortle, “A mere bag o’ shells.”) – the 10″ vinyl
edition goes for $8. And only one of the tracks on Stunned is longer than two and a half minutes (the shortest, and
title song, zips by in a minute and 13 seconds). In this book, that brevity
alone is worth a rock ‘n’ roll/Zen concision award. Finally, the word on the
street is that Howlies live are just
as engaging as one might expect.
So how’s the EP on its own, without related live-witness
experiences, without the crazee-good “Zombie Girl” video, and without taking
into consideration the “K-Tel Presents” price tags? Lead-off and standout
“Zombie Girl” is four-to-the-floor Garage with just a sprinkling of Flamin’
Groovies/Monks spice (I’d LOVE to hear these guys cover “I Ain’t Gettin’ Any”)
– which leads, again, to the word F-U-N. The other four tracks continue in a
similarly straightforward, classic ‘60s vein, without a trace of that
“psychedelic,” reverb blur favored by a number of contemporaries spieling ‘60s-inspired
retro sounds. Nor are the ‘50s/doo-wop tones and forms that colored some of the
Howlies’ previous work present. This is more along the lines of The Seeds and Paul
Revere and the Raiders. As was the case with the latter examplars, Howlies
include vocal harmonies, making for some mighty pleasant howlin’.
DOWNLOAD: All or nothin’ – it’s five rockin’ tunes for $4,
for chrissake. MARY LEARY