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Review: The Howlin’ Souls run wild & free at Pianos NYC

The Howlin’ Souls, a psychedelic four-piece out of New York City, were beamed up from another dimension, it seems. They are far more reminiscent of rollicking and dirty ’70s rock⎯think Steppenwolf seasoned with a little Foghat and Tom Petty vibes⎯than anything that has been produced in the past 20 years. During their recent stint at Pianos NYC on Saturday night (July 8), the group swallowed down a capful of bygone spirit, with a chaser of enough guitar to choke even the most prolific of performers. Defined by their slow-burning swagger, Pete Smith (guitar and lead vocals), Scott Sepe (lead guitar), Robbie Sokolowsky (bass) and Nate Lang (drums) were strangely quiet, even between songs. They exchanged knowing glances, as they zagged through cuts from their debut EP, released earlier this year.

Even when they veered into sunny so-cal country-rock for two numbers, the music never lost its luster or identity. Smith’s gritty lead vocal dripped as profusely as Steven Tyler in his prime, dressed down with a more gravelly, stuck-in-your-throat kind of rock ‘n roll phrasing. The stage was small. And Pianos is not your average venue, funneling the crowd down a hallway like space⎯but Smith exuded command, as if he were winning over a troupe of gaggling concertgoers at Madison Square Garden. His band of musicians were chill, hiding away into their own grooves, finding a release in the music, separately but always as one.

The set was remarkably too short for the scope of their talents. But then again, they have only one EP to their credit. They have more than proved their worth, and the world is now at their feet, trembling in their shadows but somehow wide-eyed and hungry. Now, they have their work cut out for them, as their debut full-length will truly exercise their chops as musicians and storytellers. They’ve already conquered New York City; the world awaits.

Spin the band’s self-titled EP below:

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Jason Scott

Editor-in-Chief of the Badlands, spinning those B-Sides. Love Parks & Rec. Addicted to high-priced coffee drinks, alt-country and synth-pop, and never know when to quit. Got a cat named Jake--and she doesn't like you very much.