Unfortunately for many musicians, the world's timeframe differs from theirs. It can be extremely difficult when the "we want it now" mentality clashes with the real world.
Howling Bells was formed from the remains of a previous band (sister and brother Juanita and Joel Stein and Glenn Moule). The group added Brenden Picchio on bass and left their native Sydney, Australia for England.
Producer Ken Nelson was lined-up for the Howling Bells' debut. Too bad he couldn't get to it right away, since he was working with Coldplay. So the group marked time living in one room of a house and doing menial employment to make ends meet. Sometimes though, even that wasn't enough. "We stole to eat when we first moved to Britain," said Joel Stein.
Finally, the group's self-titled debut was recorded and released in '06. Both New Musical Express (NME) and Pitchfork gave it a high rating and Mojo magazine described the album as "Blues-noir desolation." Is that a compliment?
Howling Bells spent '06 and '07 touring Europe, U.S. and Australia as an opening act - including a stint with Coldplay - the '09 North American leg of the "Viva La Vida" Tour.
The group signed a deal with London's Independiente Records for their sophomore effort "Radio Wars." The album was viewed as a change of direction. "The first record was more me in my bedroom kind of wallowing over lost love and falling in love - it was a very, very romantic and brooding process," said Juanita Stein. "But with this one, it's pretty much been a unanimous process, like every member of the band has added their flavour. In general, the lyrics are a lot more immediate, whereas the last record was a lot more nostalgic."
The album earned mixed reviews. The music mavens at the BBC said, ""the second chance may well have been squandered." Gigwise.com was a bit harsher saying "Radio Wars" is "an album of mashed-up half ideas." But not all the notices were disapproving. The Independent On Sunday (guess they're lackeys the rest of the time) weighed in saying, "this might be the album that elevates Howling Bells from a band you wouldn't switch off to one you would actively seek out." And Music Week covered themselves by stating "this long-player could help cement their position as pioneers of eerie indie." Damning with faint praise?
It's long been said that musicians shouldn't read reviews but then, maybe nobody else should either (except for the one below - read it).
2006 Howling Bells
2009 Radio Wars
2011 The Loudest Engine
Howling Bells could use more howling and less reflection. "Radio Wars" is a low-key effort with few memorable moments. One of them is the uptempo "Digital Hearts." "Golden Web" and "Into The Chaos" leverage catchy melodies and Stein's engaging vocals.