Album Review: Houndmouth – From the Hills Below the City

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From the Hills Below the City is the debut album from southern alternative band Houndmouth.

Their debut album, like its artwork, seems to display the sorrows and celebrations of a town that’s faded in familiarity. Classic twangy rock sounds offer southern comfort from beginning to end on Houndmouth’s excellent debut.

The band has perfected the ability to move a listener with their range of rising vocals and modest, yet epic, instrumentation. Throughout the album, nearly every song finds a way to make the listener swoon along to one of the three singers in the Indiana outfit.

Personality is a key quality for the band, capitalizing on their southern charm and storytelling to paint vivid pictures of simple fun and troubles. The stories of these songs are varied and interesting, ranging from the careless attitude of “Casino (Bad Things)” to the heavier emotion of a lonesome girl running away from drug addiction on “Houston Train”. The interesting thing about Houndmouth is that they can keep a sing-a-long level of playfulness even in their darker moments. There’s a classic bluesy feel to most lyrics that are striking from the booming singers (“When I tried to fight the waitress, she showed me the asphalt.”

Despite identifying as a clear cut southern alternative band, From the Hills Below the City still manages to explore several corners of country music. There’s the fast-paced country square dancer in “Hey Rose” followed by the tambourine chant of “Krampus”. In the same album you get candid tenderness and soft spoken twang in “Penetentiary”, and the roaring chorus of songs like “Come On, Illinois”.

Houndmouth perfects the enjoyable, relaxing drinking song over and over without ever feeling rehashed. The album, full of images of old towns, trains and workmen manages to feel like a familiar friend. Overall, this is an excellent album from a young, impressive band that only stands to grow in time. Definitely check this album out.

Essential Tracks

“Come On, Illinois”, “Kramus”, “Comin’ Round Again”

Check out my live review of Houndmouth at The Kentucky Theater in Lexington, KY tomorrow.

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