After four tremendous days full of premieres and buzz, Howlie Week is coming to an end. What a week it’s been as a lot of excitement and love was shared over each of the four tracks we premiered from Howlie’s debut EP, Dead Dog. It’s brought new listeners to Howlie’s music and new audiences to the blog. I believe that is what we call a rallying success! There’s one last premiere to deliver, and that is the DEAD DOG EP IN IT’S ENTIRETY. You’ve been able to listen to each song from it separately, but now from today you get to listen to the whole thing and remain in its downtrodden, reverb-heavy atmosphere forever.
Check out Dead Dog EP below, and have a little read to the interview that Howlie and I had too. In this interview we talk about the new EP, Howlie’s influences, stylistic choices, regrets and the success of Howlie Week. Enjoy. (Note: it’s an extremely long interview, so you get to listen to the EP many times!)
Howlie Week has begun! Each day, Sounds Good will premiere a song from the new Dead Dog EP from Howlie. This is a huge honour as I’ve become a fan of his work since we got in touch last year and we’ve also become pretty good buds too. Today we’re premiering ‘Laying in the Road’, the closing track of Dead Dog, and this is what Howlie had to say on it:
“Tying directly to the subject matter of “Coconut Oil,” “Laying In the Road” is the ribbon that wraps up this dream pop experiment of mine. This was another song I couldn’t get to sound quite right on the acoustic guitar. It was missing something. That something turned out to be a Boss Chorus pedal, the Superego pedal by Electro-Harmonix, and an obscene amount of reverb.
Howlie Week has begun! Each day, Sounds Good will premiere a song from the new Dead Dog EP from Howlie. This is a huge honour as I’ve become a fan of his work since we got in touch last year and we’ve also become pretty good buds too. Today we’re premiering ‘Take Me’, the third of four tracks on Dead Dog, and this is what Howlie had to say on it:
“”Take Me” is directly inspired by, and almost a rip off of, “I Love How You Love Me” by the Paris Sisters. That tune is just soaked in reverb, and it’s so gentle. I heard Jeff Mangum’s cover in the summer of 2015 and couldn’t stop listening to it. In August of that year, I had a two week period where I was blissfully unemployed. That was the most productive period of songwriting in my life, I must have written close to 10 songs in that time! “Take Me” came out of that batch, but I could never get the sound right. My axe of choice for Howlie has been the acoustic guitar since day one, so it never occurred to me to play it on an electric. I let it sit for almost 2 years thinking it wasn’t meant to be, or perhaps waiting for a new band to take the reins.
Howlie Week has begun! Each day, Sounds Good will premiere a song from the new Dead Dog EP from Howlie. This is a huge honour as I’ve become a fan of his work since we got in touch last year and we’ve also become pretty good buds too. Today we’re premiering ‘Dead Dog’, the title track on Dead Dog, and this is what Howlie had to say on it:
“I wrote this one in January of 2016 days after a break up. Guilt, regret, depression… it spilled out of me without delay into this song. Up until high school, I was a loner for most of my adolescent life. I had a few friends, but for 14 years my dog Duke was always there for me. There truly was no better remedy for sadness than the companionship of my dog. He passed away in the summer of 2008.
After this break up, I moved back in with my folks. I was just a total mess. For the majority of my life I associated my parents’ house with Duke. It was the first time that I was experiencing a hardship living at home without him, and the song reflects that both in name and in lyrical content.
The chorus of “Dead Dog” is noteworthy. When I started therapy shortly after this song was written, my therapist told me I had learned to “expertly emotionally compartmentalize.” This had allowed me to get through the bad times, but also make mistakes or hurt people without considering the repercussions. She described it as a box in my chest that I had crammed my emotions into over the years, almost like a survival mechanism. I couldn’t believe it. Not even a month prior, I had unknowingly written, “bury all emotions under dirt behind my filthy sternum.” We worked intensively on opening that box.”
As you can imagine, ‘Dead Dog’ is a song steeped in sadness. Scars become renewed wounds as Howlie opens up and recalls the emotions felt after experiencing all of these tragedies in a short space of time. Harking back to old times brings a return to Howlie’s traditional sound with sombre acoustic chords strummed into misery, bringing the company it so desperately desires. This dreamy instrumental is spurred on by Howlie’s pained vocals, and the result is a song that hits you right in the filthy sternum.
The title track paints a heavy picture which spills over throughout the rest of the Dead Dog EP, but tomorrow brings another song from it. Check out the review of ‘Coconut Oil’ if you haven’t seen it already. See you tomorrow!
Howlie Week has begun! Each day, Sounds Good will premiere a song from the new Dead Dog EP from Howlie. This is a huge honour as I’ve become a fan of his work since we got in touch last year and we’ve also become pretty good buds too. Today we’re premiering ‘Coconut Oil’, the opening track on Dead Dog, and this is what Howlie had to say on it:
“This song sets the tone of the EP perfectly, I feel. My life changed after I stumbled on Julee Cruise’s album “Floating into the Night” on a snowy morning this past March. The whole album sweeps you away if you let it. It’s so slow… it’s an actual dream. There’s this synth drone that is constantly in the background and it’s beautiful. When I closed my eyes, it was like I was in this black void and there wasn’t anything else. I felt inspired to try it myself. I researched the best guitar pedals that nailed that dream pop sound, and within a week I couldn’t rip myself off of them. “Coconut Oil” is the first song from that experience, and consequently changed the whole sound of the EP.
As with all of my songs, this one is very intimate. I wanted to take the listener on a tour, so to speak- this is a theme present on the third track as well. Snippets of items around the house and the feeling of remembering a clump of days or months… I tried to convey that fog. This song alludes to my anxiety and making regrettable decisions as a result (“Don’t leave me alone, because I don’t even trust myself / I panic when you’re not around”).
Howlie songs are no stranger to falsetto, but with this EP I wanted to nail a strong falsetto more than ever. I envy the strength of Brian Wilson’s falsetto, and tried to emulate that spirit throughout the EP.”
The first thing to note is the shift in sound. As mentioned above, there’s a noticeable retraction from bedroom acoustics and a new exploration into Dream Pop. ‘Coconut Oil’ features guitars steeped in heavy reverb, and embrace a tempo that’s much slower than the norm for Howlie’s music, immediately expanding things onto a much wider scale. Howlie’s vocals echo amongst the atmosphere, adding a real haunting element to the instrumental.
It’s a bold introduction into a new sound but it’s one that fondly remembers the accessible nature of Howlie’s music, kicking the EP off in solid fashion. Tomorrow another song from Dead Dog will be released but until then, please let me know what you thought of ‘Coconut Oil’. See you tomorrow!