Release Date: Mar 31, 2015
Record label: No Quarter
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop
The second studio long-player from the Portland, Oregon-based indie rock unit, No News from Home finds Houndstooth doubling down on the fuzzed-out, Americana-laced dream pop of their 2013 debut, offering up an evocative ten-track set that skillfully pairs the confectionary with the cerebral. Katie Bernstein's laconic delivery lends an air of rural, garage-rock cool to standout cuts like "Amelia," "Borderlands," and the wistful title track, but where contemporaries like Courtney Barnett and Alvvays go wry, Bernstein, perhaps in a nod to the overcast skies of her Pacific Northwest stomping grounds, opts for a sort of bucolic melancholia. More weary than jaded, her deadpan delivery is punctuated to great effect by guitarist and co-vocalist John Gnorski's tube-driven, vibrato-heavy leads, and when he croons along beside her, it often invokes the alternately chill and subtly coiled dynamic between John Doe and Exene Cervenka (X) and Rick Rizzo and Janet Beveridge Bean (Eleventh Dream Day), especially on the Gnorski-led rocker "Witching House.
"You can’t take it with you when you go" doesn’t sound very much like a #YOLO cliché when Katie Bernstein sings it on "Green Light", a folksily pensive break-up song on Houndstooth’s second album, No News from Home. She delivers the phrase in an eloquently flat voice that suggests an Americanized Nico, perhaps not as intimate but more agile in her phrasing, and she bends that last long "O" upwards toward a heaven that may or may not actually be there. She might be talking about death, but in the context of both the album and the song, it’s more likely she’s talking about something potentially worse: touring.
Houndstooth conjure multiple heydays: Sixties folk-rock psychedelia (Velvet Underground, Jefferson Airplane), Seventies CBGBs street pop (Blondie, Television), Eighties alt-rock shimmer (10,000 Maniacs, Cowboy Junkies). But the recipe's all theirs. Singer Katie Bernstein has that tasty Debbie Harry thing at the end of her phrases, a vocal arched eyebrow.