Over the past few years, we’ve seen a wave of new artists take over alternative rock. Groups like MGMT and Passion Pit, with their accessible, dance-friendly songs, have brought us exciting newcomers from far and wide. An influx of hip, young artists like Grouplove, KONGOS, and Lorde, come from far-stretching realms of the music world, but their catchy–and sometimes dark–melodies are fit for clubs and vinyl records alike.
One of these up-and-comers is southern California’s Night Riots. Formally known as PK, the group is inspired by emo and punk bands like AFI and Thursday, but plays a brand of music that stretches so far beyond those roots. With their Sumerian Records debut Howl, Night Riots combines these dark sensibilities with something exciting and liberating. Howl takes Night Riots to the cusp of becoming the next big name in alternative rock.
Night Riots have a slew of talent behind them. Lead singer Travis Hawley possesses a vocal allure akin to The Killers‘ Brandon Flowers, which suits the band’s sound well. The band itself can work well with both full-band and electronic-heavy sounds. Guitar lines fly next to synth rhythms and eerie vocal samples, but can serve in equal measure to weave a song together. They call themselves “gloom pop”, but their sound isn’t gloomy as much as it is occasionally dark and brooding at times. It does have its sunny moments and dark rhythms, but these songs are all equally compelling, and balance each other rather well.
What makes Howl so interesting is that fact that these six songs are not recycled versions of one another. Each track has its own guiding sound behind it. From the computer-processed chants and pulsating dance energy of “Oh My Heart” to the ’80s waves behind “Follow You”, Night Riots fire on all cylinders, showing off a depth to their sound that will keep you invested from start to finish. The Magic Man-esque instrumental and new wave behind “Holsters” leads into the anthemic “Break” seamlessly, which gives this band an undeniable appeal, which is sure to draw fans of all likes to Night Riots.
When they first emerged on the scene, Imagine Dragons and Youngblood Hawke found their footing through EPs on major leagues, and Howl reminds me of those EPs. The EP’s lead single, “Contagious”, has radio hit written all over it, with its shout-along chorus and brooding intensity. Just like “It’s Time” and “We Come Running”, “Contagious” has the power to fill a room with energy, and the other five songs on this EP manage to do the same. In fact, the band has opened for Youngblood Hawke, as well as Driver Friendly and Angels and Airwaves, and Howl may open up doors for the band to play some big festivals and supporting spots in the upcoming year.
Howl is filled with earworms that will keep you glued listen after listen. Night Riots may be able to find a niche with the sheer variety and execution found here. Each of these songs will appeal to a different group of fans, as the group’s dynamic ability is here in full force. Night Riots have the promise to make it far, and Howl shows us that they are more than capable of doing so. Night Riots are well on their way to something special in 2015.