Night Riots has always been an intriguing group, with the juxtaposition of their feel-good rock vibes and the hidden meanings behind each song. Case in point is the first released track from the Howl EP, "Break" that possesses a euphoric chorus but is actually about being slipped a hallucinogen at a party. So in many ways this band already have their guard up while creating that zone-out new wavey genre that So-Cal is known for. This EP is longer than average and so well thought out that it might as well be an official full-length album. Howl features in your face drum grooves, ripping guitar and bass lines and vocals that make you want to tear up and keep living simultaneously.
The quintet, comprised of Travis Hawley on vocals, Mikel Van Kranenburg on bass, Matt DePauw and Nick Fotinakes on guitar and Rico Rodriguez on drums is an early 2000's throwback in an industry of more condensed rock units. There's a distinct urgency to each track on the EP, but it falls far short of seeming rushed and comes off more like a fast-paced life discoveries. Safe to say, there are many more obscure references to their music than would initially meet the ear. Howl is currently available for pre-purchase on iTunes and will be streaming everywhere tomorrow. Having already secured a position with single "Contagious" in the Top 10 on Sirius XM Alt Nation's Alt 18 Countdown and in the Top 50 Alt Radio charts we're excited to see how it does overall.
Howl opener "Oh My Heart" is an upbeat tour de force that again brings to mind those lovelorn in your face anthems of the early 2000s. The vocals on the song are artfully anxiety ridden, but manage not to overpower the rest of the track and are aided by a powerful rock pulse that carries the questions throughout.
Second track "Contagious" continues the fast pace of the EP, which runs it's entirety at a lightning pace but still get the message across. Despite the happy listening pace of this one, the lyrics are still dark enough to keep that intrigue of the unknown.
Standout song "Holsters" features that intense urgency that defines the entire record, fused with more mellow vibes that give the impression that the questions the track was searching for have already been answered. After all, the EP was produced by Eric Palmquist of Mars Volta fame and the music reflects this.
Already infamous track "Break" -the aforementioned one about a hallucinogen spiked drink- showcases the elements of search that envelop the entire EP. The dark subject matter and questioning of one's environment is in opposition to the immediate transition into powerhouse rock anthem "Shine," where Night Riots give their triumphant cry of "Forever!"
The EP rounds out with "Follow You," and the result is anything but shameful, although it is a prominent lyric on the track. The synthy, dark 80's bass and drum lines bring the listener inside of someone who believes in the love that they hold for someone. It's understandable why the EP was named "Howl," because it is one, a hopeful cry in the dark all set to music that makes us lose control.