Howling Bells – The Loudest Engine (Cooking Vinyl/Shock)

Juanita Stein has been called “the sexiest woman in rock”, and it’s arguably a title that could be bestowed on her without even looking at her (though in case you’re interested, she looks like a cross between Mila Kunis and PJ Harvey). What’s really sexy about Stein is her intimate voice, which can glide from soft and husky to let-loose loud, all while retaining a quality makes her sound as though she’s whispering in your ear.

The Loudest Engine is the third album from the Australian-formed, London-based four-piece. Retaining the eerie rock of their self-titled debut album and eschewing the electronic emphasis of previous album Radio Wars, Howling Bells have really hit their stride. Though they have a distinctive sound of their own, shades of Uh Huh Her, Fur Patrol, The Velvet Underground, Kate Bush and Queens of The Stone Age emerge from the band’s dark, mysterious and layered palette.

The Loudest Engine is also notable for being the first album produced by The Killers’ bass player Mark Stoermer, and he deserves top marks for delivering an album that is polished yet emotionally raw… and still retaining that Juanita Stein sex appeal.

Kathryn van Beek

Click here to listen to Charlatan from The Loudest Engine