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Hear This: The Howls

Just formed in 2008, this Encinitas-based quartet — singer-guitarist John Cooper, guitarist Nik Ewing, Caleb Chial on bass and keys and Dave Gargula on drums — has already emerged among San Diego’s top bands. The Howls’ star started to rise when FM 94/9 and 91X played their first two EPs. Endorsements from buddies like Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek didn’t hurt either, and soon the band was opening for the likes of Fitz & the Tantrums, Tristan Prettyman and OK Go.

The Howls’ first full-length album features several standout cuts. “Revival,” “Crime” and “Rocky Ground” pair the fat pop hooks of ’90s SoCal punk with the bluesy rock of Ryan Adams or Wilco (think barroom piano and lazy slide guitar). They recorded and produced the entire thing themselves, and the sound is satisfyingly scuffed around the edges. They hope to release the record this spring. Check thehowls.com for tour dates and to hear tracks from the new CD.

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