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Howlin’ Rain: Live Rain

Howlin' Rain releases album Live RainHowlin’ Rain — Live Rain

Release date(s): April 29
Our Rating: 3/5
Spec Recs: “Phantom in the Valley,” “Self Made Man”
In one word: Funky

If you’ve been craving a soulful mixture of bluesy rock and Foreigner, then Howlin’ Rain’s latest album is exactly what you need.

When Live Rain opens with power chords and roaring harmonies, it’s obvious that you’re in for a good time. “Phantom In The Valley” is the first track of the album, peppered with funky guitar solos and vocals à la Mick Jones.

Live Rain is exciting because it wasn’t recorded in one place at one time. Rather, it is a compilation of nine of the best performances of the songs from The Russian Wilds international tour in 2012. Capturing the spirit of live music is an essential focus of the album. After all, how can you resist artists who sounds that good live?

The San Francisco-based band makes sadness sound like a roaring good time. If you listen past the general groovy vibes of the music, you’ll be treated to an array of dark, psychedelic lyrics. Frontman Ethan Miller is the band’s songwriter, and you may be surprised by his poetic skill. His lyrics include cosmological musings, contemplations of the end of time and nostalgic reflections, to name a few. If that sounds enticing, take a listen to the creepy “Lord Have Mercy” and the prideful anthem “Roll On The Rusted Days.”

My personal favorite is “Self Made Man.” The song revels in the grit of the working grind; it’s about breaking trust to get ahead, and the struggle to love at the end of the day. The track’s an all-American treat, perhaps something you could hear on the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack. Worried that you’ll miss out on the fun? Don’t be. The track is over 11 minutes of roaring guitars, harmonized vocals, thumping bass and wild drums.

However, at times the album feels a little long, and that isn’t because three of the songs have a run time over eight minutes. Rather than taking musical risks, Live Rain is a comfortable collection of ‘70s-influenced tracks. It’s fun to listen to, but beyond that it isn’t quite groundbreaking.

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