Release Date: Mar 17, 2015
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Country, Folk, Alt-Country, Americana, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Folk, Country-Folk, Heartland Rock, Alternative Folk
Legend has it that when Rough Trade’s Geoff Travis first saw Indiana quartet Houndmouth at the SXSW festival, he offered them a deal on the spot. It’s easy to hear why: their songs are instantly euphoric. Exuberant opener Sedona sets the tone for this second album, matching the giddy, ethereal atmosphere of early Fleet Foxes with a killer Strokes riff and an invitation to “hop on in, in a stagecoach, baby, gonna take you for a spin”.
Hailing from Albany, Indiana, Houndmouth make breezy, old-time country-folk that’s refiltered for the modern age. “You got the cash, but your credit’s no good,” the four-piece sing on opener Sedona, a song which starts as a quiet, lilting jangle and builds into a rousing, triumphant finale. Yet these songs work better, on the whole, when they’re quieter and more nuanced.
Houndmouth have embraced the concept of "loosely tight," delivering a rollicking fusion of boogie-fied retro-rock and folk-flavored Americana that's been carefully crafted to sound casual even though this band clearly worked out these songs with meticulous care. The "loosely tight" vibe served Houndmouth well on their first album, 2013's From the Hills Below the City, and they've swum even farther into the deep end with their sophomore effort, 2015's Little Neon Limelight. The performances on Little Neon Limelight sound and feel like they were captured live in the studio with a minimum of fuss, right down to the chatter that trails several tracks, and the group's four-part harmonies are easygoing but impressive.
“Too much houndmouth on that track. ” A throwaway statement made by drummer Shane Cody when over-zealous neighbouring canines were barking their way on to their recordings has to be one of the most unique origins of a band name, but that’s exactly how New Albany’s folk-rock four-piece Houndmouth arrived at theirs. The last time we heard from the Indiana quartet, they were still searching for a breakthrough single; it hadn’t arrived as part of their assured – if derivative – “rootsy Americana” debut From The Hills Below The City in 2013, but the first single from the Nashville recorded follow-up Little Neon Limelight could well change that.
Little Neon Limelight is a raucous joyride through deep swells of Americana, folk and country, driven by hootenanny stomp-and-holler gang vocals and old-fashioned honky-tonk vibrations filtered through Houndmouth's youthful exuberance. The Indiana band sounds best when every voice is working overtime, combining ramshackle belted-out harmonies with skewed down-home country on heavy southern soul tunes like Otis and By God. Black Gold combines the band's explosive dynamic, switching quick between funky verses and blowout choruses.
It’s just as well that Houndmouth have come up with the name Little Neon Limelight for their second record, otherwise metaphrically minded music hacks would have had to wring it out as a synaesthetic visualisation of their sound. And it’s just as well that Albany, IN’s very own roots-folk rock youngsters are back on Rough Trade with the follow-up to their 2013 debut. Matt Myers, Katie Toupin, Shane Cody and Zak Appleby caught the attention of critics with their ersatz Nashville-via-Exile on Main St.
Houndmouth Little Neon Limelight (Rough Trade) Hollering and stomping in full harmonies, Houndmouth's sophomore effort proves the New Albany, Ind., quartet has progressed well beyond most of the new Americana rock and pop pack. Synthesizing the best elements of Dawes' Laurel Canyon rock, Alabama Shakes' soulful swagger, and even the sing-along exuberance of bands like the Lumineers, Houndmouth ranges far stylistically between its four singers and songwriters. Katie Toupin's twang burns on "Gasoline," while "15 Years" howls rockabilly, and "Honey Slider" drips Southern soul, but the slow nasally weariness of "For No One" stands out as the album's best, pulling on the Felice Brothers' smart and imagistic balladry.