Hearing Aide: Ten Cent Howl’s ‘Ain’t It Strange’

Ten Cent Howl does the Americana genre proud on their latest album Ain’t It Strange. Featuring the deep and distant voice of Bill Smith, who sounds like he is coming to us from a different era a half century ago, this band makes it nearly impossible for listeners to not be tapping their feet and singing along after just one listen. All the songs on the album seem to be characterized by the perfect mix of catchy lyrics in the choruses, interspersed with beautiful poetry that is definitely worth focusing on. Also, as an added bonus, if you are of the opinion that one can do no wrong as long as there’s a mandolin playing, then this album is for you.

Sounding like they come from a simpler time, unspoiled by the marvels of modern technology, Ten Cent Howl offers a refreshing glimpse into rural American living through their vacillatingly uplifting and melancholy songs, many of which are about love lost and found. While one can say this has been done already, Ten Cent Howl manages to put more on the table, with each band member seeming to be giving it their all on each and every tune. Featuring Jerry Hall on the bass, Harmony Griffin and Tim Pitcher on guitars, Peter Ramos on drums, and Bill Smith on guitar and lyrics, this band sounds like they have been playing together for decades, just like the music of the past, passed down through the generations. Listening to this album, one feels as if they have been transported to a country bar in the ‘50s, the way the harmonica licks come flying, the pedal steel strings are picked and the extraordinary harmonies that are belted out.

From the Johnny Cash-sounding “33 Days” to the Roy Orbison-esque “This Is Real,” there is something to please everyone on this album, appealing to those who appreciate an album for its instrumentals, with its ideal mix of electric guitar, pedal steel, mandolin, and harmonica, as well as to those who are more interested in the vocals, with Bill Smith’s perfectly polished yet old timey quality, and fellow band members Hall, Griffin, Pitcher, and Ramos, who all seem to be able to harmonize so flawlessly. With a growing fan base in the Buffalo area, the band’s hometown, having numerous gigs lined up at local hotspots Sportsmen’s Tavern, where the band celebrated its release of Ain’t It Strange on February 27, as well as other area favorites including 189 Public House and Tudor Lounge, one can only hope that these guys will venture further to bring their wonderful timeless take on Americana music to the rest of the world. In the meantime, give Ain’t It Strange a listen; I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Key Tracks: Never Ceases, This Is Real, In View of Her

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