Vital Music USA, 2014.
A couple of non-music-related notes before I get to the meat of this review. First, my apologies to our musicians, readers, and other writers for the unplanned hiatus for the past few weeks. Secondly, The weather’s getting warmer out and this weekend marks the unofficial start to summer in the US, so I bet many of you will be spending more time outside soon if not already. I cannot stress this enough- be aware of ticks. Check for ticks, know what a deer tick looks like (and dog ticks, if only to reassure yourself), wear long pants and sleeves if you’re going to be in long grasses or high vegetation, and learn how to deal with a tick in case you find one this summer.
With that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons’ business is music (specifically alt-country/rock), and business is good. Perley is an Ohio gal, and I’ll admit a bit of bias there, but she has the chops to rival Joan Jett, while her band the Howlin’ Moons could easily hold their own against the E Street Band and others that my cousins and I used to blare while running around those hot Ohio summers of my youth. Big drums and bigger electric guitar with just enough effects to make you really want to crank the radio and put down the windows and go really fast (but don’t do that- I’m not advocating breaking any speed limits, I swear). All this backs up a voice with just enough twang to be recognizably Ohioan, and lyrics that recall youth, energy, passion, dreams, and a tinge of nostalgia. In other words, you’ve just found the soundtrack for tomorrow’s barbeque if you’re in the Midwestern states.
“Athens” begins the album with a subtle power, kind of like the train that she references, and then picks up the energy and the volume throughout, until the song flirts with power-anthem at some points. The reprise of “Athens” that ends the album is powerful, but in a different way, being pure music that simply stirs your soul and revitalizes your spirits. Following this brings serious energy and channeling eighties rockers, “Hurricane” has everything that you’d expect from a song titled after a powerful storm of the flatlands. This song was actually powerful enough to be featured in last November’s USC v. UCLA football game, and received good reviews there. “George Stone” is gritty and tough enough to remind you of those not-so-great emotions at the end of a relationship, filled with questioning, expectation, hurt, a bit of anger and a touch of contempt. Quickly changing sound while maintaining the theme of break ups and pain, “Ghost” proclaims “I ain’t got time for you” and you can’t help but remember that feeling, if you’ve ever been there before. “Howlin’ at the Moon” has more high notes and a less somber tone, with some playful howling by Perley.
If you liked Shotgun Tori, here’s the locavore alternative to her style. In farmers’ market season, my preference is for as close to home-grown as I can get, and from this Ohio gal, Angela Perley is it.
Personnel: Angela Perley (vocals), Billy Zehnal (bass), Chris Connor (guitar), and Jeff Martin (drums)
Tracks:Athens, Hurricane, George Stone, Ghost, Howlin’ at the Moon, Rock and Roller, Milk in the Fridge, Bad Reputation, Roll on Over, Down and Drunk, Athens (Reprise)