“I heard a new voice calling from the ashes of my bed; where a fire burned the night before with poison in my head….” –Bill Smith
There isn’t a semi-grown human alive who can’t relate to this sentiment. Faced with choices that are rarely easy, we either find the answers or feel the sting of hindsight.
The Americana genre of music embodies the human experience, and Ten Cent Howl’s new studio recording, aptly titled, Aint It Strange? acutely explores some of the customary-yet-bizarre facets of life: leaving vs. staying; the perceived greenness of new grass; an immobile state of being; forlorn loves; lost youth; and ultimately, acceptance.
With clever metaphors, highly danceable melodies, and skilled musicianship, Bill Smith (vocals, acoustic guitar); Jerry Hall (bass, vocals, keys); Harmony Griffin (guitar, string things); Peter Ramos (drums, percussion); Tim Pitcher (banjo, mandolin, string things); and Teresa Weakley (fiddle, vocals) deliver a comfortable and compelling interpretation of home-style Americana.
The Buffalo-based band’s first track and single off the record, “Damned if I Do,” carries a familiar, rapid melody and a chorus that begs you to sing along, while “Grain” takes some of the edge off of the former’s slightly somber undertones with its cheery notes.
“Big Man” slows down to tell an optimistic tale of new beginnings, while “Dying Town,” with an ode to Buffalo, carries a good anthem feel.
“Ooooeee My Honey” is a lenient love song that ignores clichés. “Goin’ Back” relays the band’s facility toward keeping serious content cheerful, and the comical title track “Ain’t It Strange?” is a dance-floor and sing-along favorite.
“Nowhere Town” features Smith and his guitar, which complements the end-of-the-road imagery imparted by its genuine words. Rightly ending the album is “Rewind.” With an impervious composition and solid lyrics, it just may be the best song on the album.
While Smith’s honest voice and sharp writing tell the stories while he plays guitar, the solid rhythm section of Hall and Ramos keeps time. Griffin and Pitcher complement with an articulate playing of their various stringed instruments, and Weakley’s fiddle assists in carrying the simple-yet-impressive melodies. In concert, they make some fine music.
Join Ten Cent Howl for a killer live performance and a copy of Aint’ It Strange? at their CD release party on Saturday, February 27 at Sportsmen’s Tavern. The show starts at 9:30 with a $5 cover. More info at the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/923910574312826/
In the meantime, enjoy the single “Damned If I Do,” which can be found here:
They will also be playing Friday, February 5 at Nietzsche’s for the 5th Annual Johnny Cash Birthday Bash, alongside The CPX, Eric Van Houten, Uncle Ben’s Remedy, and DJ Drop D. More info at the Facebook event page:
A final lyric from “Rewind” for your contemplation: “Love and insanity fit tightly together; there’s one of them in everything we do.” Ain’t It Strange?