Release Date: Jun 4, 2013
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Country, Folk, Alt-Country, Americana, Alternative Pop/Rock, Contemporary Folk, Country-Folk, Heartland Rock, Alternative Folk, Folk-Pop
This debut album from Illinois four-piece Houndmouth already seems destined for album-of-the-year awards. It’s certainly the best down-to-earth storytelling item to emerge in ages. Matt Myers, whose guitar playing is spellbinding, Katie Toupin, who sings like a dirty angel, Zak Appleby and Shane Cody, who lock the rhythm box-tight, are steeped in the right stuff.
Simple pleasures abound on the debut album from Indiana quartet Houndmouth: pure, true harmonies, precise playing, familiar themes about being lost and losing in America. Even the recording is lovely: as the album opens, with On the Road, you can hear the faint echo from the room they're recording in. Simple pleasures, and old-fashioned ones, too – Houndmouth are so traditionalist that you could imagine Nigel Farage nodding along approvingly.
It only takes a couple of bars of the opening track of Houndmouth‘s debut album to understand why they’ve been touring with Rough Trade labelmates Alabama Shakes recently. Often erroneously compared to Mumford And Sons (there’s no twanging of banjo strings here), the four-piece from Indiana are more rootsy Americana than watered down bluegrass. Those who disapprove of impressive facial hair teamed with baseball caps may not be impressed, but this is a most assured debut album.
Straight from the Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros school of boy/girl vocals and college Americana they might be, but there’s something more ballsy than twee about Indiana’s Houndmouth. The four-piece’s debut is a forcefully soulful affair, from the bawling organ on ‘Long As You’re At Home’ to the indelible twang of Katie Toupin’s idiosyncratic voice. The Southern gospel groove of ‘On The Road’ and ‘Casino (Bad Things)’ even recall Kings Of Leon when they still had girly hair.
Hailing from New Albany, Indiana, a town neighboring Louisville, young band Houndmouth make their debut on the meticulously produced From the Hills Below the City. The album's 12 songs find Houndmouth, composed of just four musicians, putting out a passionate and explosively large sound, revisiting bygone themes through both the down-home holler of heartland Americana and some well-schooled rock musicianship. One of the first things that sticks out about the group is the urgent singing of all four members, often backing each other up as one member takes the lead.
Well, it’s jaunty. No matter what Houndmouth do, whether it be making songs less than a gram away from The Band’s ‘The Weight’ (‘Penitentiary’), dropping in drugs references with such random abandon it seems less like storytelling and more like they’re trying to get the censor’s rating up above ‘contains infrequent peril’, or just hanging around gently harmonising, they do it with a smile.‘From The Hills Below The City’ is quite a sunny album. But quite sunny won’t set your hair on fire.