Howler–Don’t Wanna

Leading a new guarde of Midwestern bands, Howler found a way to mix the ramshackle energy of The Stooges with the slacker cool of The Replacements on their debut album America Give Up.  But by the time they rolled around to releasing their second album, World of Joy, they were clearly a band seeking to carve out a more personal identity for themselves.  Don’t Wanna is the sound of them doing that.  It may not be the most sonically representative of the band, but it does show their spirit.  Lead singer Jordan Gatesmith has often seemed like he was trying to prove something with his vocals, affecting a scratchy, serious rocker voice.  It’s always been a bit of a surprise given that he, and all the guys in the bad, are seemingly goofy, genial dorks to the core.  This also resulted in Howler’s early work having an interesting tension, with a raspy, aggressive vocal and a sun-soaked backing track that almost sound like two different songs.  Gatesmith dials it back a little here, instead retreating to a pseudo-Westerberg stylings he’s tested out on a few other key tracks.  Overall though, the song sounds a lost less like the band is trying to sound like someone else and more like they’re sounding like themselves.  It’s fitting for the laid back bit of inspirational indie, which declares all the things you don’t have to do (if you don’t want to): be a punk, date girls, date boys, be Kurt Cobain, read Ayn Rand, listen to The Germs, listen to The Smiths, be anyone, be fooled twice and listen to them.  It’s a show of growing confidence in their sound and themselves.  They’re able to hold onto some of their early staples, like their scruffy charm and reverence for early American rock guitar, while forging a new path.  Sure you don’t have to listen to them, but you should.

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