2006 could be the year that females in rock make a comeback. We've already got Annie Hardy of **Giant Drag, **Kate Jackson from The Long Blondes and the whole of The Like representing the fairer sex, but now you can add another name to that list: Juanita Stein, beguiling frontwoman of **Howling Bells**.
The Australian quartet's debut release for Bella Union is something of a slow burner but Stein's sultry voice and brooding delivery are immediately striking. Comparisons with *PJ Harvey *are somewhat inevitable but the self-assurance of this vocal performance suggests she might yet make a name for herself in her own right.
To fully appreciate the splendour of 'Wishing Stone' takes a couple of listens but eventually the chorus will reel you in as Joel Stein's lead guitar mimics his sister's voice to produce an apocalyptic cocktail of aural delight. They've got that classic quiet/loud song structure down to a tee, and if the B sides are anything to go by there's an arsenal of these beauties waiting to inflict themselves upon your senses.
8Rob Webb's Score