Suzy Creamcheese was there with bells on and with bells ringing in her belly.
The rain was pouring like the snot from my nose as I entered The Waiting Room. I snuck downstairs to catch the soundcheck, spying the new members of Charles Howl on stage alongside Howl, Chris Hicks and Bobby Voltaire. We said our Hi’s and went to drink beer before Tokyo lovelies Yokan System hit the stage. The night began to blur halfway down the bottle, when I found myself camera in hand, pressed to the edge of the stage, Callum Duffy’s bass against my face. The room was full, blue light caught the smoke that hovered over a sea of heads. Howl's voice reverberated throughout the darkened room, filling us with energy and anticipation.
Charles Howl have been playing in your basements for years before this album, signing to Swedish label PNKSLM in 2013. Garage-punk-rock-flamenco-bossa-nova, Charles Howl have grown and developed, discovering and changing, along with members and haircuts, to produce this entheogenic anthology Sir Vices.
As the gig starts, we are coaxed in by a goodbye, ‘So Long’; instilled with an unabated riff and a mystic voice that trails toward a spontaneous synth break, holds us deep and longing. Upbeat rock n roll rhythms carry us through to a track that has been stuck in my head for months, ‘Lunacy’. Heavy spoken word echos over a measured cadence of drums to soften and raise up, ‘You make me feel…’ Oh you do make me feel.
I have had the privilege of working with Charles Howl over the last year, but I somehow didn't anticipate how strikingly beautiful the album would be; so completely. When the fifth track graced my ears I felt my heart fill up. ‘Sighed At Me’ was a song I had never heard before and the gentle vocals gripped me, holding me close to tell me something real. It sounds like love and sadness, melancholy and boyish defiance bathed in sunlight.
We walk through the peace and quiet, under the new shade of ‘Going Down With A Hi’ the first single and video from the album. High energy filled the room, with projected eyes and swirling colours that mirrored hazy vocals from beneath a dark blue rain coat. The album comes to an end and we are left in a field of joy.
All images are by Suzy Creamcheese.