Thursday, September 06, 2007
The Go - Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride
Has anyone told The Go that it's not 1967 anymore, and that their new LP, Howl On The Haunted Beat You Ride, is on CD as opposed to vinyl? The album comes in a gatefold cardboard case, just like the records of the The Beatles ("You Go Bangin' On" falls squarely into the pop magnificence of mid-career Beatles tracks) and The Rolling Stones (The Go are reinterpreting '60s R&B like the Stones did). The record even takes on a Pet Sounds vibe at times, with harmonizing vocals and slightly psychedelic instrumentation. Listen to "Mary Ann" and tell me Brian Wilson couldn't have rocked that tune.
While these guys keep getting called "Jack White's old band" (he was in the band for all of, what, 6 months?) they set aside the Led Zeppelin power chords and embrace guitar virtuosity with bangers like "Yer Stoned Italian Cowboy". It's still Detroit's unique domestic, factory made, assembly line rock 'n roll, but The Go are lucky to have had Jack White than to have him and still be constrained by his minimalist ideals. Taking post-punk and pop balladry back 40 years, The Go are unique exactly for remaining in the past: The Stones can't hang it up, but The Go can't deny the sound they love. The most riff-rocking track on the album, "Help You Out", builds lightly on the garage sound of The Go's hometown, but more often than not Howl rides a beat that Detroit would have all but forgotten (saved only by classic rock radio) if The Go weren't here to carry the torch.
And the production on this record is as meticulous as Howard Hughes in his later days. Bobby Harlow, lead singer, produced the album with an attention to detail reserved for curators of only the most precious of archival quality artifacts. The way a paleontologist finely cleans a discovered dinosaur bone, Harlow tweaks and tunes every centimeter of tape the band recorded during the Howl sessions. The obsession comes through in the details, all the way through to the tambourine shakes that sneak their way onto the downtempo "She's Prettiest When She Cries".