Thursday, October 29, 2015

Check out Bryan Howell and The Standalones!

Out of the great state of New York, Bryan Howell and The Standalones ride the boundary between power pop and good old rock n' roll. That combination, when it's done well, is something I find hard to resist. Welcome To The World, Howell's second EP, first appeared last year and recently became available on Bandcamp. Whether you're a power pop fanatic or more of a classic rock/oldies person, these four tracks offer plenty to like. With songs running in the neighborhood of 4-5 minutes each, you might assume that these tunes are full of pompous guitar wanking and other unnecessary indulgences. But truthfully, that's not the case at all. It takes a really good songwriter to keep a song enjoyable past 4 minutes, and Howell is clearly up to the task. "Blindside" and "Oh Please, Valerie" boast choruses so catchy that you'll be singing them to yourself all day. "Nothing To Give You (But Everything)" is that rare power ballad that's genuinely good. And "Baby, Don't Look Back" is a quality rocker that brings to mind Bruce Springsteen's early days.

In a scene full of sound-alike singers, Howell is a refreshingly unique artist. He reminds me a little of a young Van Morrison, and I also hear hints of guys like Mick Jagger and Peter Wolf. But he's not trying to be anyone but himself, and there's something very cool about how quickly his voice grew on me. If you like everyman rock n' roll with gritty vocals, red-hot guitar, and a bedrock foundation of hooks & melody, Welcome To The World is well worth checking out. And with a live single just out and a proper studio LP in the works, I should have plenty more to say about Bryan Howell and The Standalones in the near future!


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