Howling At The Sun – 3 Headed Dog (Closer Records)
Forget the clichés about French rock and roll bands being full of pale and inspid breadstick-chewers who can barely rock and are lamentably unable to roll. This Paris trio can do both as well as almost anyone you can name, and might just be the best band you’ve never heard.
3 Headed Dog are Brenko (guitar), Vinz (bass) and Manga (drums.) All have been members of anarchic noisemeisters, Dimi Dero Inc, and the late Holy Curse, who for mine were the best rock and roll outfit in 20 years to have crawled from under the lid the establishment keeps firmly on France’s underground music scene.
Cutting to the chase here and 3 Headed Dog sounds like neither of those bands. Their songs are built on simple rhythms that are well played by an engine room par excellence, but they don't have the powerdrill-tipped angst of Dimi Dero or the Detroit-derived melodic power of Holy Curse. As last year's EP "The Gospel Of The Iron Groove" showed, they stand on their own two legs. Or four, as their name infers.
The engine room is, naturally enough, vital to how this old dog runs but what hits you right up front is the way Brenko’s full-throated guitar roar is laid right over the top with a trowel. His tone is right on the money and the lead breaks are dished out sparingly but to great effect, turning up in all the right places. The vocals are shared between the band members and double-tracked on many songs.
There are nine numbers and they range from moody rockers like “Obsessed” which would do the New Christs proud (fittingly, that band’s Brent Williams adds ice-cool keys to this one) to the steel-edged pop of “Red Ear.” Squalls of fiery guitar blow through the tub-thumping “Hanger Zone” like clouds through a punk rock landscape.
Guests Stacey and Tammy From Brisbane’s HITS add some backing vocal glam to “Interpersonal Xmas Truce”, a celebration of good times and rocking (and subjects that are close to both girls' hearts.) You could light a cigar off the sparks that fly from the flinty anti-depression kiss-off “Black Hole”.
"Howling At The Sun" is available as an LP with download. There's not much else to tell you except to buy it.