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the carnivorous lunar activities of
Lupine Howl
The Carnivorous Lunar Activities of...
Beggars Banquet

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Getting booted out of the perpetually stoned but universally adored Spiritualized might just have been the best thing that ever happened to Sean Cook, Mike Mooney and Damon Reece. Given their walking papers some time ago, the trio can now get down to the business of making a proper rock ‘n roll record, as opposed to sitting around listening to Jason Pierce (genius that he is) rant and rave about gospel choirs, 5,000 piece orchestras and how Phil Spector was, in truth, a hack.

Ironically, the group’s debut long-player boasts an affinity for the acid-fried guitar freak-outs of which their former employer’s seminal Spacemen 3 outfit was so fond. Production duties on The Carnivorous Lunar Activities of... were shared by Mooney and Cook, resulting in a record that’s steeped in psychedelic '60s grandeur, but utilizes every luxury a modern studio has to offer. Imagine, if you will, The Creation, 13th Floor Elevators and Bruce Haack allowed to run wild in Abbey Road studios for two weeks, and you’ll have an insight into the Howl’s sound.

The band soaks songs like the epic "Carnival" and the surging "Sniff the Glue" in barrels of pulsing, kaleidoscopic effects, then slide Funkadelic-like grooves underneath them for good measure. The somber "Lonely Roads" provides a brief respite, its delay- and tremolo-drenched guitars augmented by Cook’s breathy vocals and howling, sci-fi sound effects, creating a sullen, almost peaceful feel. Synths gurgle like a swarm of killer bees to open the gargantuan "Sometimes", while "Planet X" rides an extraterrestrial bossa nova groove into a hydroponic wasteland filled with gnarly guitars, a pared-down clatter and winsome cello flourishes. Having had enough of the soft stuff, the band closes the proceedings with the synth-bedecked "The Jam that Ate Itself", in which Cook insists, "I’m stranded here between fucked and insane killing time till I gotta go," while dirt-encrusted riffs and manic drumming (courtesy of all-but-forgotten percussionist Johnny Mattock) wail around him. As album closers go, this is one of the nastiest parting shots you're likely to hear this year.

Freed of Spacemen and symphonies, the boys of Lupine Howl now look set to wreak some real musical havoc -- not only on their former boss, but on the rest of us as well. Play this one loud, and aim your speakers at the moon.

-- Jason Jackowiak
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