In the case of "This One's Different," the debut EP from Minneapolis-based upstarts Howler, you learn about their influences. It's a mix of pop hooks, classic garage-surf rock, a touch of Hüsker Dü and a heavy dose of modern alternapunk smarts and attitude.
The brevity of the record also conveys the urgency of Howler's music. It's like they had enough ideas for an album but couldn't wait to get something on tape (or whatever they use these days). Sometimes the immediacy of the music is lost in a dozen-song set.
Instead, we get these five gems, kicking off with lead single "I Told You Once" followed by the title track. The two songs give a great taste of what a strong live band this must be.
Indy concertgoers will have a chance to experience that live zeal when the band plays Radio Radio on Oct. 15, opening for Tapes 'n Tapes. It will be the last U.S. show of the fall before the band heads Great Britain the following month.
Track 3, "You Like White Women, I Like Cigarettes," is not only the best song title on the EP, it's also the most interesting song, with its dense, polyphonic sound. If Phil Spector had spent 2003 producing a Strokes record rather than killing an actress, it would have sounded like this.
"For All Concern" and "14 Days" close the album with a similar sound, but with the attitude and energy turned up to 11, hearkening to fellow Minnesotans The Replacements and the aforementioned Hüsker Dü.
Geographic comparisons only go so far, though -- this band sounds nothing like Prince.
My spin: B
Howler's "This One Is Different" is an exciting debut. I want to hear more before passing final judgment on this band, but if the sense of urgency remains with this band, their full-length debut, set for release next year, will be worth marking on the calendar.