Spotlight \

Howlies

These Atlanta jokesters bring a rejuvenated punk playfulness to their excellent debut, Trippin' with Howlies.

Joseph Coscarelli // December 4, 2008

What? Drawing influence from rock’n’roll’s greats — from the Velvet Underground’s loose jangle and the Stooges’ brashpunk to Chuck Berry’s ’50s teen boogie and Sam Cooke’s candy-coated doo-wop — Atlanta, GA, quartet Howlies’ upcoming debut, Trippin’ with Howlies, is like a rock history textbook written by the classroom’s smart alecs. “Sea Level” bounces on ascending group chants and double-time California surf rock; “Chimera” is full of twinkling pop-rock guitars and catchy vocal harmonies (listen below); and the ’60s rock/doo-wop of “Aluminum Baseball Bat” would recall Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons if not for the deliciously cheeky lyrics about beating an ex-lover’s new squeeze with a baseball bat. In their sonic hop-scotching, one things remains constant — light-hearted fun.

Who? Howlies — longtime pals Justin Brooke and Brandon Morrison (vocals/guitars), Aaron Wood (vocals/drums), and Matt Forsee (vocals/bass) — get their name (Hawaiian slang for “tourists”) from a line in the 1987 surf B-movie classic North Shore: “Stay loose, howlie!” The group’s first release, the “Sea Level” EP, dropped August 12 and is just a teaser for the band’s full-length, which the boys — who all share a two-bedroom house in Atlanta — recorded in the California desert last spring with producer Kim Fowley (Modern Lovers, the Germs, the Runaways). Trippin’ with Howlies drops in January via Over/Under Records.

Fun Fact: During the recording of Trippin’ with Howlies, Fowley required that everyone involved eat nothing but junk food, insisting that “if you start eating sushi it won’t be rock’n’roll.”Listen: Howlies, “Chimera”(DOWNLOAD MP3)