Grab your skinny jeans, plaid shirt, pomade and PBR for Philly alt rockers Howlish’s Open Bones. This is some serious hipster, retro rock from the guitar effects to the unenhanced vocals. The EP is only three tracks but Mark Watter, Jonathan Stewart, Taylor Cullen and Brendan Sweeney have ensured that all of them are packed with good lyrics, instrumentals and dynamic arrangements.
The final song, “Horse” speaks very personally of the band’s roots in Philadelphia. The lyrics are raw as is the production. The cuts and bruises on this track are visible and palpable. In contrast “Lovely” is just that. This band is genuinely artistic. They can take a feeling and translate it into melodies and compositions that create sonic paintings and photographs. It would be really interesting to see what they would do with music videos of these songs.
Continuing to work in reverse through this EP, “Scar, Scar, Scar” opens with a slasher riff and then melts into very slow pulls of a sharp blade. You feel the pain long after the cut is actually made. It’s a beautiful kind of agony.
Yes, Howlish does fit into the hiptster category but they shouldn’t be limited to that world. This music is like really good sipping whiskey. Mellows the mind while warming the body. People can either sit at the bar or get out on the floor and slow dance. There’s enough difference to each song that they’re not boring. In fact hopefully the band will put out some new tunes soon. Open Bones is a nice appetizer.