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Howler clears New York Times hurdle handsomely

Categories: Local Music
Howler_Peter_Van_Hattem.jpg
Photo by Peter Van Hattem
It's time to stop claiming Howler as our own, Minneapolis. Once you have the erudite vocabulary and muscular verbiage of New York Times' Jon Caramanica exploring the niceties of a band's slice of indie rock, there's a strict no returns policy. Get ready for trend pieces, fashion magazine spreads, SXSW barraging, and "something definitive" written by Sasha Frere-Jones. Not to say that any of this is a bad thing, but your friends from other parts of the country are gonna be name-checking the hell out of Howler in 2012.

Let's get to Caramanica's nuggets, shall we? The piece is a double-purposed exposition of two key facts: Howler's America Give Up is out on Rough Trade now, and the guys are in the throes of a four-night New York itinerary to let people know about fact number one.

Aside from the generosity of the writer to call Minneapolis' indie-rock scene "bustling" considering his fertile home pastures, this is effusive praise heaped on top of shimmering approval for the quintet. Regarding the album, it's "an affectionate revision of bands that preceded it, from the ragged optimism of [our storied hometown band] the Replacements to the ragged pessimism of [Caramanica's storied hometown band] the Strokes." This is a nice way of saying that America Give Up is not overly derivative, and it isn't.

As for the band's performance at Pianos, a cozy, influential establishment in Manhattan's Lower East Side where you can spit in any direction and likely hit a wall and/or a music journalist, we find that the set "blazed by" and "its churn was reliable, its manner casual, its mood slightly cutting." And for many, that's a great night.

Just as a lesson for others attempting the concert review craft, it's dangerous to pose unanswerable questions -- especially as your lead. "Just how long will it take for Howler to become very, very handsome?" is the one that Caramanica opts for. The Twin Cities didn't really have to worry about this, as the heft of the songcraft and performing acumen has already stared a good crowd of locals in the mug for months already. But at the end, we find this was a rhetorical play by our writer.

Regarding singer Jordan Gatesmith, "His hair was a bit shaggy, but appealingly so." Furthermore, "And Mr. Nygaard already had his hair slicked back, his jeans tight and cuffed. He's ready." You can almost hear the racks of selvage denim shuffling as fashion directors plot a March spreads on our gents. Handsome words, indeed.

Read Caramanica's entire review here.


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