With a distinctive mix of classic and retro influences merged with a modern and topical approach, Bryan Howell's music straddles the line between rock and roll, indie and alternative rock, and what he calls "heavy Americana", to form one uniquely fresh and coherent style. Pulling freely from a rich knowledge of American music, Howell finds his craft and music evolving further with his newest digital single, "Against The Storm".
A resident of Nashville for several years after moving from upstate New York, Howell's musical journey began with varied stints in local bands before he followed his muse in the studio with a full-length album that he calls his first "real" recording, Take The Risk. The rollercoaster set that was spawned—a seamless, Spectorian wall of sound that touched on equal parts of of classic rock guitar crunch, Stax soul, alternative rock, gospelized girl group backing vocals, the blue collar stylings of such forebears as Van Morrison, Springsteen and Petty—got him his first real notice. Its release garnered attention from listeners and reviewers along with college radio airplay, and served to define the building blocks of his musical template.
Off of those building blocks comes Howell's newest single, "Against The Storm". The first by-product he has put out from sessions recorded at two Nashville studios, it opens with machine-gun style guitars before shifting into a menacing, Bo Diddley-inspired groove, which detours into a dreamy yet eerie middle section, and ties up with a raucous outtro jam to boot. Lyrically, Howell pours out angry lines that touch on political logjams, prescription drug abuse, and facing down one's own demons. "I wanted to focus on issues the country as a whole is facing, and lyrically end knowing people are going to face down their own personal issues every day in the shapes of something faceless," he states. "I felt compelled to just say, 'Here is a spotlight on a lot of tension built up in America right now.' It feels like a lot of people are on edge without an outlet but hoping to push through things, and the vibe of the whole track is designed to reflect that."
That same intensity is also on display live, where his backing band of sonic co-conspirators, The Standalones, tear into full-on rock numbers and slower material with equal focus and agility. No slouches at kicking it out at the best kind of sweaty, all-out club gigs, their sets mix a welcome dose of un-ironic passion with joyous energy and showmanship. "I feel that there's a real pent-up demand for loud, honest rock and roll that can be meaningful while still being fun," Howell says. "So the best thing I feel to do is to just put all my cards on the table and do it."