Howl Griff
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Howl Griff

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"Howl Griff: Howl Griff"

Howl Griff is a bilingual beekeeper from Aberystwyth (“I’ve got enough bee venom in my bloodstream to kill a normal man,” he says. “I guess you get used to it”). His eponymous debut album was sung in Welsh and recorded on an isolated farm in Carmarthenshire. It was produced by Owen Powell (ex-Catatonia guitarist who recently worked with north Wales singer Duffy) and engineered by Tim Lewis (Julian Cope, Thighpaulsandra, Spiritualized, Coil; Tim also plays keyboards on the album).

Blending the psychedelia of The Byrds with the modern AOR of The Raconteurs and drenched in lush harmonies, Howl has created a unique West (Wales) Coast sound that ranks alongside the Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

The band consists of Howl Griff (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Gary Parkinson (guitars, vocals), Matt Barnes (bass) and Nick Moore (drums). Howl is the only Welshman (the other three hail from Bolton, Tasmania and Merseyside respectively), but the band have been learning the language in order to sing harmonies. “It’s the only record where you’ll hear Welsh sung in a broad Bolton accent,” says Howl.

Rattling single, Hedd Nôd, translates as ‘Peace Sign’ (“It’s about all the people of the world telephoning their leaders for peaceful solutions to conflicts via music”), while Brifo Mae Brâd, a re-working of Howl’s English song Pain Is Alright, is about betrayal. Grisial Clir is about keeping the crystal clear waters of Cardigan Bay pollution-free, while DNA casts a worried eye at our genetic futures. - The Joy Collective


"Howl Griff: Howl Griff"

Guitar-led, harmony-laden, anthemic… like the B-52s jousting with the Super Furries and the Beach Boys. Impressive. - Liverpool Daily Post


"Howl Griff: Howl Griff"

Crisp, chiming guitars and sweet harmonies make Howl Griff and his band impossible to resist. Hints of psychedelia drift through the songs. Whether Griff sings in English or Welsh, he strikes a universal chord. - Palo Alto Daily News


"Howl Griff"

Brilliantly blends a gentler side with upbeat blasts – Howl Griff are stepping up in the ranks of their predecessors, the Super Furry Animals.
- BBC Wales website


"Eclectic debut English-speaking album"

‘The Hum’ is the debut English-speaking album (following from their eponymous Welsh language debut two years ago) from Welsh/English/American four-piece Howl Griff.?It would be a gross understatement to merely call the album eclectic; it sounds like it is inspired by putting “The Whistle Test Years”, “Now That’s What I Call Eighties” and “The Best Britpop Album In The World … Ever!” on shuffle for a couple of hours.

The words are just as diverse; a song about prison, a song about the economy, a song about obsession and a song about radiation poisoning are all happy bedfellows on this album.

Even with such a wide range of musical styles crashing together most are linked with some truly gorgeous harmonies and underpinned by Hywel Griff's swaggering lead vocals.

This is an album that does not slavishly follow a track listing; it is possible to put it on random and whatever order the songs come out the album sounds just as good.

Reviewer's Rating 8/10
- Americana UK


"A Month in Music: November"

On a similar Welsh tip, Howl Griff have just released their second album The Hum (Catdog) – and first in English. Recorded in Cardiff, it’s a soothing set of pop/folk, rock-flavoured life-affirming songs that’s well worth a listen. Stand out tracks for me are “Crash and Burn” and “Unselfish”. It’s an album that’ll put a spring in your step despite the November rain. Enjoy. - The Independent


"Howl Griff: The Hum"

The emerging Welsh combo's second release brings another hooky-but-urgent stack of guitar-based jollies, this time in English. Whimsically brilliant, consistently clever and shot through with infectious licks. - What Hi-Fi Sound & Vision, Jan 2011


"Album Review - Howl Griff - The Hum"

Aberystwyth's very own Howl Griff has released an album of guitar pop goodness so engorged in 60's sunshine it'll make you feel like you've gone back in time. Reminiscent of Super Furry Animals, The Beatles and The Beach Boys, if this album doesn't get you feeling good then I don't know what will.

Opening tracks "Bluebirds" and "Crash and Burn" storm into the album before slowing down for "Devotion" with lyrics as gentle as "I feel your pain and laughter still, the cracks are falling deep, devotion" which shows this band have real heart and can slow things down as efficiently as they can speed things up.

Tracks such as "Giving it the Always", "Unselfish", "Hideaway" and "Dark Energy" also show that things are not all sunshine pop as they slow the pace of the faster and more upbeat tracks of "Back to Normality", "Uduhudu" and the amazingly dancey and almost surfer pop charms of "Jean's Therapy".

All in all from start to finish this album is a lesson in guitar pop by one this countries finest. If you like Super Furry Animals and 60s guitar pop then you'll like these guys. So check this album out. - Stand and Deliver


"Our Pick: New Music"

Anglo-Welsh psychedelicists Howl Griff may channel Super Furry Animals rather strongly on their second album, but that's no bad thing. Like the Furries, they deal in lush, gorgeous harmonies and warm '60s melodies, and the result is quite lovely.
FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE - Stuff magazine, Dec 2010


"A breezy collection of guitar-pop nuggets"

Howl Griff are that rarest of commodities: a Welsh-speaking band with only one Welsh member.
Thankfully it's the singer.
The eponymous Griff - real name Hywel - is quite a character. A beekeeper by day, he's been known to give honey away at gigs and has been stung so often his blood is now awash with enough venom to kill a small bison. Not that you come across many bison in Aberystwyth.
Here he's joined by a Boltonian guitarist, Tasmanian bass player and Scouse drummer, plus ex-members of Spiritualized (Tim Lewis) on keyboard/engineering and Catatonia (Owen Powell) in the production booth to crank out a breezy collection of guitar-pop nuggets. And very fine they are too.
It's hard to judge the quality of the lyrics, of course, but Griff belts them out with a growly lustiness that contrasts nicely with the angelic harmonies sung, presumably, by the rest of the band, who don't really know what they mean.
No matter, as it all adds to the agreeable ambience. Think Grand Prix-era Teenage Fanclub given a tantalising Taff twist, or even a jangly clash of the valleys: San Fernando versus Rhondda, California via Cymru.
As a Welsh Brian Wilson would have put it: Help Me Rhondda.
Reviewed by: Si Hawkins - Clash Magazine


"Lowdown on the new 22 – Dance ya bastard, dance"

Their debut, self-titled, album was recorded entirely in Welsh, something the likes of Super Furry animals have done. This one, though, is entirely in English, eliciting cries of ‘sell-out’ from Ynys Mon to Chepstow and in indie havens outwith the borders of Cymru. ?

Like the Super Furries, Howl Griff sound like they’ve listened to plenty of LSD-fuelled psychedelia from 1967, before catching an excerpt of the 1990s post-rave scene. It’s a curious mash-up when these interests collide, especially when fused with indie or rock.

A single, Crash and Burn, is a cosmic outpouring of twee, delirious pop, reminiscent of a lovely Canadian bunch called Cinderpop and shares a sense of the surreal with The Coral. And, like those scousers, Howl Griff tell stories of real characters, such as a lady who “can help you in the dark of night and improve your memory”, on Jean’s Therapy.

Meanwhile, on Uduhudu, spirits are raised from the dead in a spangly, manic and effervescent shanty. Glorious, bonkers stuff only the British can do, and the Welsh do best for some reason. - Porky Prime Cuts


"Howl Griff - The Hum"

IT’S ALWAYS a decent day when something this good tumbles off the reviews pile.

Indie stalkers may have noticed Howl Griff’s Welsh-language debut a couple of years ago, but they should be prepared to be joined by the wider world now this first English-speaking set has been delivered.

Harmonies soar as Rickenbackers chime and a Farfisa follows the beat in a
smiling dance of lush melodies, charming lyrics and sunshine pop chops.

Hywel Griff sings of hard times, death, disease and doing the right thing as the band chart the lyrics’ progress with a deft touch that traces its line back through The Smithereens to The Smiths, Big Star, Beach Boys, Turtles, Kinks and Beatles.

There, and I didn’t mention Super Furry Animals once. Oh, chyfrgolla!

FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE - Bournemouth Echo


"Review - Howl Griff... and the LP, Howl Griff."

I'm pretty sure that, as an outfit, Howl Griff are pretty sick of talking about beekeeping, Los Galacticos, Super Furry Animals and jus'whatisthatonthecover?

Well, to get it out of the way, Howl Griff is headed by a Welsh singing beekeeper, the band are from all over the place (both in geography and mental wellbeing) and... well... they don't know for sure what the beast on the cover is... but he comes in peace, so that'll do for now.

Of course, so many album review get caught up in pointless trivia, like, I could tell you that this LP has links to newest pop-topper Duffy and links to Spiritualized... but all this pointless trivia talk so far does (for once) go some way to explaining what Howl Griff is... are... going to be...

Y'know, sometimes, you can hear one record and convince yourself of all sorts of things. On first listen to Howl Griff's eponymous cut, I've pretty much convinced myself that Aberystwyth is the new San Fran. Why? Well, Howl Griff have a rich melodious sound, fulla 12 string, the jingle-jangle that'll have you followin' and gorgeous sunshine melodies all sat atop a gonzo need for sound effects and... gulp... fun. Come back! Don't fear fun! Hell, Dylan cracked a smile on record once in a while.

As this is an LP sung in Welsh, Super Furry Animals won't be far away in print and comment. However, that's just a lazy way of lookin' at this body of work for a lazy limey who can't take the plunge and see what the LP sounds like beyond the vowels and Celt rasps. To be honest, there is a sniff of SFA in there, but the real essence of this group lies somewhere between The Byrds at their dreamiest and Meic Stevens at his most rabble rousing. Howl Griff are a strange... yet beguiling... combo of really fuggin' pleasant sounds with a vocal sat on top which can't decide whether to playfully give you a dig or knock you clean out.

Now here comes the bit when I mention songs by name...

'Chwalu mur Berlin' in a masterful track. Kicks off all folky picks and soulful... before bringing out some Memphis stabs of guitar 'n' hammond... and rollicks along very nicely thankingyou, before dropping it's shoulder, feinting left and hammering out wall of sound guitars. Bang. Game over. 'Chwalu mur Berlin' is worth your entrance fee alone... but this is an LP far from a one-trick pony. 'AOR' is another cracking little West Coast rocker, which has some sublime dada lyrics... dig this, checks, AOR, SUV, MP3, SOS, CIA, MI5, DNA, UFO... which in those varying acronyms, is a pretty good review of the world post 2000. It's got a cowbell in it too.

If you've reached this far and you're thinkin' - should I buy this LP? - the answer is yes. Fans of sixties rock will dig the sounds, the song structures... fans of say, Britpop, will cherish the beer stained anthemic qualities of some of the tracks... and fans of bands like Super Furris and Gorky's will really find a lot to love here. In fact. I ain't tellin' you no-mo. G'wan... git. Mark your diary. April 28th sees one of the best debuts of 2008 hitting the shelves... and you should get on it as this is clearly a band who is gonna get better. - Electric Roulette


Discography

3 albums:

Hope Against Hope (2006)
Howl Griff (2008)
The Hum (2010)

Airplay on BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, KCRW Santa Monica (LA)

Photos

Bio

It's tough to pigeonhole Howl Griff. With members from Aberystwyth, Bolton, Merseyside and Texas, their record collections and influences are as diverse as their birthplaces. They're a little bit new wave, a little bit psychedelic, a little bit rock and a little bit pop. When they sing in multi-part harmony – in English or Welsh – you may detect The Byrds, Dr Feelgood, Neu!, Talking Heads or Teenage Fanclub.

Call it what you like: melody, harmony, belting lyrics and big smiles are always present at a Howl Griff gig. No wonder BBC 6music's Lauren Laverne calls them "lush... a new band we love", Clash mag says Griff is "a Welsh Brian Wilson," The Independent calls them "life-affirming" and BBC Wales votes that they're "stepping up into the ranks of the Super Furry Animals." This is no ordinary band.