Howlin Rain, Strange Vine

Howlin Rain

San Francisco Bay Area-based power quintet Howlin Rain's third album The Russian Wilds passionately protests the currently popular notion that heroically conceived and executed rock music is a thing of golden ages passed. Having been formed by bandleader-singer-guitarist Ethan Miller in 2004, as a melodic offshoot of blazing new-psych innovators Comets On Fire, Howlin Rain soon caught the attention of uber-producer Rick Rubin, who signed them to his American Recordings label and involved himself deeply in their subsequent musical evolution thereafter. Rubin worked closely with Ethan for over a year and a half as he shaped and perfected the material being written for The Russian Wilds. Finally, the band entered the studio with producer-engineer Tim Green (The Fucking Champs, Nation of Ulysses), tracking at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, as well as at Trilogy Studios and Hyde Street in San Francisco, recording most of the overdubs at Green's Louder Studios in SF, where Tim mixed the album with crucial input from Rick.

Arriving Valentine's Day 2012, The Russian Wilds is a sprawling, Pynchon-esque labyrinth and a colorful, feeling-filled catalyst for hungry minds. It's the masterwork earlier studio sets and Howlin Rain's barn-burning live shows have hinted at given blood and bone by a group in their fighting prime. "There was a point when we were really trying to blend Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland, Steely Dan's Gaucho and Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge of Town," says Miller. "I love the Boss' singing, where he's just blowing out his voice even when it's just a pop ballad moment. And we were inspired by some of the grooves and close mic stuff on Gaucho, and by how Electric Ladyland runs the gamut from super long jams to blues numbers to drifting psychedelic pieces. There's a sense of audacity to these records - a band chasing down strong, invisible connections - and there's moments like that on our record. We didn't always do the smartest or safest things [laughs]."

Besides Miller, Howlin Rain comprises Raj Ojha (drums, percussion), Cyrus Comiskey (bass), Joel Robinow (keyboards, guitar, vocals) and Isaiah Mitchell (guitar, vocals). These musicians have drawn upon the basic vocabulary of classic rock but then stretch and reshape it to more arcane and ambitious ends. The results present a unique aural vision that expresses the fantastical and the practical in equal measure, resonating quite nicely with the work of kindred spirits such as Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound, Wooden Shjips, Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Vetiver. This New Cosmic California movement shares an exploration of song-grounded, psych-touched, emotionally charged boogie and blues; they are, in short, the next generation to carry on the viscerally charged spirit of the musical pioneers that once rendered the Fillmore and Winterland stages magic in decades long passed. Where Howlin Rain differs from some of their compatriots is their penchant for conjuring simmering soul grooves in unexpected places, marrying blue-eyed soul influences to strutting highway-ready rock. In addition, their latest work reflects increased focus on sophisticated harmony vocal arrangements, adding exciting new dimensions to their ouevre.

Howlin Rain has performed at major festivals in the U.S. (Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Bumbershoot) and in Europe (Green Man, All Tomorrow's Parties, Azkena), and has toured with The Black Crowes, Queens of the Stone Age, and Black Mountain, as well as sharing bills with Mudhoney, Roky Erickson, Terry Reid, Okkervil River and The Meat Puppets. After their period of intense woodshedding over these past few years, Howlin Rain is looking forward to seeing this new music blossom on concert stages around the world!

Strange Vine

Strange Vine's earthy, energetic music is a fusion of blues, psychedelic, and traditional American rock. It's a sound born of California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, from two men who were raised there. Ian Blesse plays drums and Rhodes piano (simultaneously), while Toby Cordova fleshes out the songs with a rotating arsenal of guitars (including one made from a cigar box). Both contribute vocals toward a rich, layered sound that's greater than the sum of its parts. In just a year's time, Strange Vine has already shared the stage with acts like The Black Keys, Cage The Elephant, The Growlers, Matt And Kim, White Denim,The Greenhornes, and JEFF The Brotherhood.

-Conlan Spangler

“THE SOUND does not lend itself to any easy definition. Whenever experience slips out of conventional understanding, whenever the power of an event is such that words fail and points of comparison disappear, then we must resort to THE SOUND.”
--George Bernard Shaw


If placed in a high enough elevation and thus removed from all ambient noise generated from our metropolitan vim and vigor and under the right conditions of absolute quiet and motionlessness one could hear, ever so faintly, THE SOUND in its most basic element. What we do know is that THE SOUND communicates with humans through an internal process that creates what is called ‘the gestalt’, in short, a commingling of two spatially separate entities into one static element that cannot be derived from the summation of its parts. The manifestation of the gestalt is accomplished by a unique inaudible communiqué between the two discreet entities. It is not certain what this experience is like due to the reluctance of most Transubstantiators to speak of their encounters.

THE SOUND and the transubstantiation of it is the purest form of communication but what is produced by the transubstantiator is not THE SOUND in its true state. It is instead a representation of THE SOUND by a finite mind that cannot comprehend the gestalt that it has become with THE SOUND. When listening to a human representation of THE SOUND flaws and idiosyncratic hiccups become the norm. It is impossible for a human to translate their communiqué with THE SOUND into anything that truly resembles THE SOUND. Most attempt to sync their experience with THE SOUND into some kind of audible expression but the product has little characteristic of THE SOUND itself. The human lack of appropriately codifying the experience typically forces a transubstantiator to become disheartened by their failure at truly representing THE SOUND and establishes a mentality of continual attempts to find an audible parallel of THE SOUND for themselves and others.

To fully transubstantiate THE SOUND is to be conjoined with THE SOUND in a language that all should hear, a language that is exemplary and uncorrupted. Listen for it. Seek it out.
The corruption of language is followed by the corruption of man.

all praise and glory to THE SOUND

DJ Onegriggabyte

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