Review: Howlin May Queen “Tapes from the White Ballroom”

Review: Howlin May Queen “Tapes from the White Ballroom”

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The debut album Tapes from the White Ballroom from British band Howlin May Queen has been released on 21st September of 2021 via mysterious music label Indian Summer. In 2019 they were periodically teasing their fans with some singles, so four out of nine songs from this album were already known to general audience. And yes, their music isn’t just a nostalgic swing to the 1970-80s; it belongs to those times in mind and body.

Full of drive and friskiness, hard/blues rock isn’t the top genre on the contemporary musical arena right now, fewer and fewer young bands are trying to shoot their way through thorny and old school paths of hard ’n’ heavy. Especially when your songs are diehard homage to good old days, as is the case with Howlin May Queen. But in their music the spirit of mischievous spirit of rock’n’roll, romantic freedom of folk rock and noisy craziness of heavy metal resurrects in those 33 minutes of pure joy and genuine creativity.

Altogether, the sound is quite southern in a good American way, but not inclined towards primitive country direction, focusing rather on more melancholic blues side. These southern rock vibes are especially emphasized on the first track “Heart to the Universe” and “Let It Bleed”. But the folk side is beautifully unleashed in acoustic songs (instrumental “White Feather”) with this strange sophisticated simplicity inherent in hippy era. The ballad “A New Day will come” isn’t too tearful or romantically engaged, but the melancholic side really transforms the overall mood of this playful little album, adding some dreaminess. The heaviest songs still lack this negative aggression, everything sounds so freaking optimistic. And since this album is based on blues rock foundation, the fastest r’n’ry tracks and heaviest HM hymns are barely danceable. The little bit grungy “Gypsy Hollow” closes the album, but still, with familiar bluesy background.

Sometimes they sound like Twisted Sister, sometimes like Guns n’ Roses, the wide range of hard rock genres of the past are intricately integrated in Tapes from the White Ballroom, making it restlessly diverse. So, there’s no such thing like boredom if you consider the music of Howlin May Queen. The guitar work is excellent; no wonder their guitar player Simon Hurts is also the songwriter and the producer (real jack of all trades). But considering the singing parts, there’s no way you can be indifferent to them as well. The voice of Daniel Ocean is perfect for aor/hard/classic rock music, so high, shrill and emotional, that you really don’t get it, is it a woman or a man? But hard rock trends of the past were unisex friendly, so that’s nothing wrong with it (actually, this is a compliment for Daniel’s singing abilities).

By the way, Tapes from the White Ballroom was recorded through the live sessions in one of the studios based in London, so this spontaneous mood is like an extra source of energy, so alive with emotions and vibrant senses. The artwork unpretentiously describes the roots of this music – from the hippy era to occult times of the 1970s. Painfully vigorous and comfortably heartwarming, soaked in sincere merriness and melancholic stains, Howlin May Queen are here for you to forget the time frame and to give you an opportunity to live right here right now to the fullest.

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