The evolution of pop and music culture has become a hard-to-definable cycle of … well, recycling, rearraging and rediscovery. We all know it and it looks like that cycle spins faster and faster. Really new and exciting sounds are hard to find, instead we get the comeback of all the genres we love/ hated in the past. Well, at least if you are over 25. But sometimes this recycling of an old musical genre works out quite fine. Especially when a band takes care of a musical territory that almost got forgotten in the past years. Ladies and gentleman – Australia’s JAGWAR MA and their debut Howlin are here to bring classical Manchester acid house / rave pop back! With the words of HAPPY MONDAYS‘ Shaun Ryder: Call the cops!
Musically the psychedelic britpop anthems of JAGWAR MA don’t offer revolutionary new aspects. Their grooving hybrid of rock and rave clearly references the British sound of the late 80s. Not only Ryder’s band but also THE CHARLATANS, JAMES or THE STONE ROSES. And the fact that nobody really tried that out really good in the past year’s makes Howlin somehow special. When I first experienced the group as support of FOALS back in March 2013, I was blown away by the consequence of the sound and how the duo of Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield even recreated the typical dance moves of 1990. It was pure enjoyment seeing these guys floating through their own grooves. And that’s basically what their first album is – a flowing groove, dedicated to the endless beat.
Winterfield’s hypnotic voice combines with such disco monsters like the first single The Throw. It’s not heavy four-to-the-floor material in the tradition of, let’s say, SOULWAX, it’s more laidback with heavy psychedelic influences. But some of these songs are quite extended and totally designed to get you lost into the sound and vision. Some of them – like the sunny 60s reference The Loneliness or Let Her Go – are more sound-like while tracks like Four or Excercise are pure dancefloor material. It’s the constant balancing between pop music and dance culture that made that kind of sound special.
But, of course, to clear that up – JAGWAR MA are not breaking the cycle with their record, they are right in the middle of it, giving it the spin into a new direction. And, let’s face it, they actually don’t add something entirely new to that long lost sound. Howlin is a nice retro-album and probably a good chance to introduce this sort of music to a new generation. And this isn’t the worst thing.