Howlin Rain has announced the release of their fifth studio album, 'The Alligator Bride,' due June 8 via founding member Ethan Miller's artist run label, Silver Current Records. A set of swampy, ragged, and unapologetic rock 'n' roll, Miller's merry band of pranksters tracked the record over three days with engineer Eric "King Riff" Bauer at the Mansion in San Francisco, playing live to tape and cutting the material in first and second takes. The album's debut single and title track was premiered by NPR Music's Songs We Love and will be available Friday, April 6 on all digital music providers.
"The guiding principle for 'The Alligator Bride' was to create 'Neal Cassady Rock,'" says Miller. "Which is to say, high energy, good-times adventure music, driving the hippie bus, shirtless and stoned, up for four days straight, and extremely fuzzy around the edges."
Since their debut in 2006, Oakland, California's Howlin Rain has seen as many highs, lows, and wild adventures as any great American rock band. They've performed to worldwide audiences, enlisted a megastar producer and label, moved on from said megastar producer and label, and ultimately embraced a DIY spirit. The ensemble is led by singer/guitarist/lead howler Ethan Miller who at any given moment pivots between several projects, each a different facet of his sun-scorched California vision. From the pastoral psych jams of his celebrated Sub Pop band Heron Oblivion, to the scuzz punk freakouts of Feral Ohms, to the sprawling, analog ambience of The Odyssey Cult, to his various books of poetry, Miller cuts a renaissance figure in madman's garb, howling at the moon and cranking out handmade masterpieces. With his imprint, Silver Current Records, he carefully oversees all curation, recording, graphic design and distribution.
For 'The Alligator Bride,' Miller and company drew inspiration from classic rock formations such as The Grateful Dead's 'Europe '72,' Mountain Bus' 1974 burner 'Sundance,' and Free's masterpiece of atmospheric, minimalist blues, 1969's 'Fire and Water.' However, Miller attributes the magic to the vibe of the Mansion studio, the same space that gave birth to modern garage-psych classics by Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees and Mikal Cronin.
From the first notes of opening track "Rainbow Trout," Miller's guitar choogles out an inescapable riff, a sly reference to the sky spirits of Norman Greenbaum and ZZ Top. The riff unabashedly grounds 'The Alligator Bride' in the classics, but reaches for the stars. Daniel Cervantes' bottleneck slide guitar eases into place along with Miller's tuneful-yet-ravaged lead vocals, followed by Jeff McElroy's bass and Justin Smith's charging drums. Title track "Alligator Bride" soon crashes the gates like Crazy Horse in all their ragged glory, telling a carnivalesque tale of American splendor, a parade of creatures across time and space. And final track "Coming Down" slow-burns its way through eight minutes of indestructible twin guitars, blazing to a heroic, acid-damaged finish.
"We're in a vortex of futuristic events," ruminates Miller. "At this present moment, we can still remember the way the train whistle sounded in the middle of the night, rolling through the dark on the outskirts of town. An old America before we walked on the moon, before TV, cell phones, and the internet. The song, and perhaps the entire album, 'The Alligator Bride' is about standing in the eye of that tornado of time—between the past and the present—in America."
It's a fitting vision for the band: torn between eras, an epic perspective on what's come before and what lies ahead, woven into a cosmic tapestry of riffs, rhymes, and resonant frequencies.
Howlin Rain 'The Alligator Bride'
1. Rainbow Trout
4. The Wild Boys
5. Alligator Bride
6. In The Evening
7. Coming Down
Out June 8 via Silver Current Records
on color and black vinyl editions, CD, cassette and digital