Houndmouth - From The Hills Below The City
There’s a real popularity at the moment for bands that lead with a mix of boy/girl vocal harmonies; think Of Monsters and Men or The Lumineers and their ilk who have have come to the fore in the last twelve months. Well, if you imagine adding a massive dollop of rock and roll to that sound, throw in some trucker caps and check shirts, and you’ll get a feel for New Albany's Houndmouth. The foursome use the classic band format (guitar, drums, bass, keyboards) but all members take turns on the microphone, quite often with keyboardist Katie Toupin harmonising with one of the guys. In the US they’ve toured with some of the heavyweights of new Americana: Drive-by Truckers, Alabama Shakes and Grace Potter and this debut album shares territory with those acts but manages a character of its own. There’s a notable chirpiness that runs through the whole album, kicking off with the Take That riffing ‘On The Road’ - it’s better than that might sound - continuing through ‘Come On Illinois’ and old school country-rocker ‘Penitentiary’; the prominent use of Hammond organ gives the album a pleasing kind of gospel sheen. Around the halfway point in the LP the band start to expand their sound through the funk rock of ‘Ludlow’, the sheer joy of ‘Hey Rose’ and its thrilling guitar solos, and the rapid progression of ‘Krampus’ from acoustic refrain to full-on heartfelt rocker in less than two minutes. The solos get more extreme and bluesy on ‘Houston Train’, where Toupin gets to takes the lead.It shows the strength of this debut that possibly the best two tunes come towards the end of the album. ‘Comin’ Around Again’ seems to channel the confidence they’ve gathered across the previous nine tracks into their most complete song, whilst ‘Halfway To Hardinsburg’ is delivered with a truckload of feeling.Houndmouth's mix of blues-hued country and gospel-infused rock will almost certainly find an welcome among UK audiences. This is foot tapping music at its catchiest, with enough of its own character to stand out in an increasingly crowded marketplace.