Polished Perley

Angela Perley delivers new music at Trolley Stop

By Rusty Pate

Photo: Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons play Friday, Jan. 8 at Trolley Stop; photo: Kerry Henderson

Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons relish their role as a hard working band.

Since forming in 2009, they have released four EPs and one full-length LP. Their second long player, Homemade Visions, will hit shelves Jan. 22. Perley estimates they played more than 120 shows in 2014, and only slightly scaled that back in 2015 to spend the first part of the year recording.

The band is hoping that 2016 allows them more time where they feel most at home—on stage.

“We do a lot of weekend warrior gigs—pretty much anything within nine hours of Ohio, we try to regularly do,” Perley says. “Our favorite part is playing the live shows, so the more shows and festivals we can do, we love it.”

Perley’s musical journey began like many kids. She took piano and violin lessons in grade school and played in her school’s orchestra. During high school, Perley picked up a guitar, wrote some songs and started her first band, The Frankies. She described it as a pop/punk/rock and roll band with songs about mascara.

Perley’s approach to music has changed considerably since.

Her new band (Chris Connor on guitar, Billy Zehnal on bass) is a tight and tasteful unit that perfectly complements the simple arrangements and heartfelt themes that have become their trademark. Perley understands emotional resonance means more than flashy instrumental acrobatics.

That earnestness comes across in songs like “Athens” from their first LP Hey Kid. It was awarded first place in the Americana category of the 2014 International Songwriting Competition, an accolade that caught Perley off guard.

“I was like ‘man, here’s another 30 bucks down the drain,’” Perley says. “I completely forgot about it because it takes them like a year to go over all the submissions. It was a long shot. I submitted it into the Americana category. A year later, I got an email saying it was in the semi-finalist round. I was shocked at that. When it actually won, it was crazy.”

Perley typically brings songs that are pretty much finished to the band. From there, individual members add what Perley calls “ear candy” to the mix. Sometimes, she might bring in nothing but a melody that the band builds around, and she hopes to someday build songs from the ground up in the studio. Perley also said the songs often shift and morph the longer the band plays them.

Once the band finished Homemade Visions, the plan was to incorporate a few songs into the live set and hold a few back until the album was released. However, like any creative musician with a new piece, they were chomping at the bit to get the new music into the ears of fans.

One of those songs, “Green Eyes,” has been getting heavy airplay in their hometown of Columbus. It’s an upbeat and driving track with a swampy groove, drenched in Jimi Hendrix-inspired wah-wah.

“‘Green Eyes’ has been one of my favorite songs to play live,” Perley says. “When we recorded it, we were right in the sweet spot and it definitely has a little magic to it. It’s a really upbeat song. We have a mix of some dreamy songs and some rock and roll songs.”

Perley’s silky vocals glide over the tunes with a powerful sense of restraint. She came to singing fairly late in the game, only beginning in high school when she first picked up guitar and started writing songs.  It came more from a place of self-expression, unlike singers that were belting out songs as a toddler.

“That wasn’t me,” Perley says. “I was more writing, making little plays and scripts and stuff. Singing came later and it took me a while to find my voice, develop it, know what range and just be comfortable with it.”

Lyrically, she typically writes in fits of inspiration, forming songs virtually in full rather than piecing together lines from here and there. It’s a process that has served the band well after seven years of grinding on stage and developing a style after all those hours in a room together.

Homemade Visions certainly seems to have a real momentum behind it. The AU Review and Popdose.com have praised the effort, and the band is excited for fans to get their hands on a copy.

“It’s cool, because you never know,” Perley says. “I feel like everything is a slow build and momentum keeps going. I think it helps that we did the EPs that was us growing as a band, figuring out the sound and getting used to recording in the studio. There’s definitely some interest and we’re really proud of this record.”

Angela Perley & the Howlin’ Moons will perform at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 8 at Trolley Stop, 530 E. Fifth St. Their new album Homemade Visions will be released Jan. 22. For more information, please visit angelaperley.com. 

Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com


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Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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