Maybe frontman Peter Hayes was getting in touch with his dysfunctional Brian Jonestown Massacre roots, or maybe things were getting to be too much like the Black Straitjacket Motorcycle Club. Infighting led to drummer Nick Juno quitting the band, and when he asked to come back a few months later, BRMC was suddenly an Americana outfit! The band's fondness for dressing in black may have inadvertently led it to Johnny Cash, but BRMC doesn't walk the line as straight and narrow as U2 did when it suddenly discovered American roots music. You can still hear the Stone Roses swagger in the strumming, and enough reverb on numbers like "Gospel Song," "Restless Sinner," and "Devil's Waitin'" to make you think your salvation is paying homage to Jesus and Mary Chain. As Led Zeppelin III haters eventually came around with Zoso, the BRMC guys seem to have found, in the bravely acoustic Howl, the transition they needed to get them to the next level. Hopefully, the consumer boycott of RCA for its copy-protected CDs doesn't result in paltry sales and BRMC scuttling back to safer turf.
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