Review: Howlies – Stunned EP

As an indicator of where Howlies are headed, the 5 song Stunned EP is cause for optimism. It shows growth from their already good debut and finds the band moving away from some of their jokier tendencies without totally shedding the winking sense of humor that has always been a part of their sound.

That might not be immediately apparent, though. Opener “Zombie Girl” wrings a few clever lines out of its nightmare-ex-as-zombie metaphor, but it comes dangerously close to novelty song territory. It’s a trap the other four songs here manage to avoid. There’s definitely still humor there, but it comes through in a witty, Elvis Costello kind of way. It’s not the focal point like it was in something like “Aluminum Baseball Bat.” They get away with some fairly obvious wordplay in the chorus of “Yer Hell,” but it’s mostly because the surrounding lyrics are so much less direct and vocalist Aaron Wood doesn’t try to oversell the bravado.

There are some slight shifts musically, too. They’re still primarily in the old school garage rock zone, but I hear a deeper groove in some of these tracks than I did on the debut. The bass lines sound more vital. The punk influence is more pronounced, too. “Stunned” and “Secret Charmer” in particular wouldn’t sound that out of place on a Dead Boys or Richard Hell album. And the frantic acoustic guitar on “Tie Me Up, Throw Me Down” is a nice addition to the arsenal.

Pick up a copy and support one of Atlanta’s best bands. It’s available on 10” vinyl or as a digital download for just $4 (get it here).

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