While shows like Strangers Things have had some of the biggest impact on music in recent months, Youtube’s No Cover has blessed me by introducing me to recent Banger of the Week band Native Howl, and Brooklyn-based garage rockers Night Spins. While impressed by Night Spins‘ initial performance of “Knockin'” on the show, it was a tough decision when going up against Native Howl. Thankfully the judges agreed and brought back Night Spins, who continue to blow the judges (and me) away with their dynamic performances (and gotta love the endearing way their singer gets so happy he cries when moving on to the next round). Of course, those performances wouldn’t mean much if the songs we’re great too.
The group released their first album back in 2018, and found some early momentum with tours opening for Rainbow Kitty Surprise and Low Cut Connie, but like so many indie bands, got sidelined by the pandemic, which probably explains why they haven’t become the bigger act they deserve to be yet. In the band’s bio on Spotify, they name artists like Iggy Pop, Tom Waits and Modest Mouse as influences, and it’s not hard to see why. The group’s lead singer has the ability to take you off guard, subtly twanging along with a lyrics before exploding into a guttural howl that plumbs the depths of his soul in a similar way that Isaac Brock does, knocking you on your ass with its force. The group’s lyrics have a dark realism to them, picking at nuanced details thru a bluesy poeticism that echoes Waits more accessible tracks. There’s certainly some of that on the stomper “Knockin'”, as the frontman shout/sings “I’ve been knockin’ on your front door baby”, building up the momentum of the narrative of a scorned lover going to confront their cheating ex and the ex’s new paramore. The guitars chug along like a drunken jug band out to wait the neighborhood.
“Pass the Salt” intrigues with its acerbic delivery, as the narrator sends warnings and interrogations to an antagonist. The song has no pop structure or choruses; it simply burns heavier and heavier with fury, as the antagonist has “their hands in the drug box”. The vocals get more frenzied and coarse in a Stooges fashion, and yet there is always a strong melodic undercurrent that keeps the track accessible. And the band’s latest song, “Wedding Gown” is potentially one of the group’s saddest, most lovelorn song, as the singer wonders if their former lover is dreaming about them, as he wanders the streets alone, and shouts at his love in disbelief that she threw away her wedding gown. The more you listen and think about it, the more heartbreaking it is. The band comes in with tight harmonies and and intricate instrumentation that is far more precise than a raw punk group but carries the same amount of power.
Other songs like the slam-dancer “Bad Drunk” or the slippery “Dirty Feeling” just continue the magic. While I don’t know if Native Howl or Night Spins will win in the No Cover finals, both bands deserve to be playing festivals and to watch their audience sizes grow exponentially. Get on the bandwagon now and listen to a few of their tracks in our Bad Ass Break-Outs Playlist on Spotify or Apple Music!