By John Benson
Columbus-based Americana act Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons has quite the achievable New Year’s resolution.
“We’ve played a lot in Columbus, Tennessee and New York,” Perley said. “Now we’re thinking we’d like to go out and play Ohio towns, like Youngstown and Cleveland, that we haven’t been to yet.”
Not one to waste time, the band will make its Youngstown debut Friday at Cedars.
Small but calculated steps has been the modus operandi behind this Central Ohio band since it formed in 2010. Despite experiencing growing pains — going through a revolving door of drummers — the quartet has released four EPs over the past two years.
The latest of which is “Nowhere is Now Here,” which includes the extreme rocking tune “18 Feet Under” and old-timey “County Fair.” The latter track is a bluesy number that tells the story of Perley’s grandparents meeting each other at a county fair when they were 14 years old.
So what exactly does Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons sound like?
“Someone just said we sounded like Wilco when they were first starting out,” Perley said. “I get it’s alternative country, and I love Wilco, but we’re completely different.”
The idea of taking the EP route was concocted by a producer friend who suggested a new band still finding its footing easily could shift gears and sounds through shorter releases than spending time and energy on albums.
“I really like doing EPs because I think there’s a drastic difference between our first one and our last one,” Perley said. “We’re finally getting the sound we want with my vocals and tones out of guitars. The new songs definitely rock a lot more. Before, we were more singer-songwriter and we had organ parts and piano. Now, it’s definitely focused on guitars and bass and the whole package. It’s definitely a little more grit.”
When asked to explain the grit, the singer said Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons is inspired by The Black Keys’ unique approach, as well as Jack White’s work with country legend Wanda Jackson. It also doesn’t hurt that Perley’s vocal style has been compared to Jackson.
In fact, Perley said the foursome often covers Jackson’s “Hard Headed Woman,” as well as an unlikely version of AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top [If You Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll].”
Considering the Americana and roots genre that Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons calls home, the act couldn’t have picked a better time.
“There is kind of a craze going on,” Perley said. “We’ve been kind of weird about being put in a genre, but I think it’s good for us that there are more bands getting successful doing it. It definitely opens up the door to do that kind of stuff. It’s been really fun so far.”