Charles Howl

Sir Vices

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The duo of Charles Howl and Danny Voltaire are lovers of hazy, misty psychedelic sounds as heard since the 1960s. As the rhythm section of the Proper Ornaments, they get a chance to play a Velvet Underground style, but on their own as the driving force behind the band Charles Howl, they cast a wide net that gathers in all sorts of trippy sounds on their debut album Sir Vices. Taking all they can from the best practitioners of psychedelic sounds, whether it's the rambling feel of the 13th Floor Elevators, the tinny jangle of the Paisley Underground bands, the repetitive waves of sound of My Bloody Valentine, or the reverb-heavy crunch of modern groups like Crystal Stilts. A long list of styles and bands like that might lead one to think that Charles Howl are overly derivative, but that's not the case at all. Thanks to a light-fingered touch, they manage to beg, borrow, and steal just enough here and there to help build a sound that is mostly theirs alone. Plus, the songs are good enough that it wouldn't really matter if they heisted every fuzz box, Farfisa organ, and chord progression that was left lying around unguarded. Tracks like the gently undulating "Peace & Quiet" or the rollicking "Give Me Solar" are the work of well-schooled craftsmen, "Sighed at Me" and "Going Down with a High" show a crack hand at arrangements, and "I Love You" proves the lads can rock out pretty hard when the occasion calls for it. Merely digging up the past and reanimating it is nice, and the guys do a fine job of it on Sir Vices. What makes the album something more is the care and skill they put into the effort.

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