Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, one of the definitive alternative rock bands in America was going through somewhat of a stylistic change by 2005. On their third album, Howl, the group stripped away their sound, taking inspiration from classic americana, and at least for the time being they got away from their trademark sound inspired by the likes of the Velvet Underground or Spacemen 3.
Punk-rock hero, Henry Rollins has a long list of movie and television work as part of his resume. At the time he was hosting his own television show, The Henry Rollins Show, that eventually had a run of two seasons. Music guests on the show varied from the likes of Placebo to Dinosaur Jr to the Mars Volta. One of the best musical moments of the show was the participation of BRMC.
This finds the band at their best musically. BRMC plays with an ease that was not as obvious on their first two releases. The grit of the music is present here as expected. And while the sound is not missing any components, the band seems to still be in search of themselves in the music. But where as their critically and commercially successful first album had an urgency and exuberance that echoed punk, Howl finds them making time for acoustic numbers, multi track vocals resembling gospel singing and lyrics that would not be out of place on Nashville recordings.
The passion is however unchanged and the live performance shows just how much BRMC had grown in terms of songwriting, together with the confidence in performing. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are continuing to make great music. And while there is a natural progression in terms of their sound, they seem to be going in the direction there were hinting towards on their early records.