From the Hills Below the City

Written by: BV on 20/06/2013 19:33:28

Houndmouth, an easy-going country/roots rock quartet that follows in the super laid-back tradition of roots-rockers like Alabama Shakes, Billy Wallace & the Virginia Blues and at times border on the edge of something strangely Wilco-esque. On their debut album “From the Hills Below the City” the listener is treated to a wide selection of concise, chilled out and at times even thrilling songs that speak right to my laid back attitude and desire to have a relaxing soundtrack going on while working.

Album opener “On the Road” gives off an immediately relaxing vibe that reminds me quite a bit of relaxing road trips across the country in the bloom of spring – before the heat really kicks in and the all-consuming expectations of the coming summer are in the air. “On the Road” is an upbeat track that in many ways seem to have that unmistakable country-swagger going on that will make even the most depressed person tap his foot in a slight sense of, not bliss, but definitely something down that road.

The short, concise and upbeat soundscape continues unhindered throughout much of the album, culminating in the joyously embracing ballad “Comin’ Around Again”. Usually I’m not the guy who falls prey to the unmistakable hit quality of the good ol’ ballad tracks with smooth female backup vocals supporting the melancholic and somewhat haunted male vocals. – But on this particular track I am willing to put much of my prejudice aside and claim that this, a ballad, is probably the best track on this album – even now, something like a dozen listens in, it still maintains that possessive power that makes me feel like listening to it over and over again.

If I have to point out an obvious weakness to this album, it is, as it most often is, the runtime and variety of the tracks found on the album. While I enjoy all of the tracks on “From the Hills Below the City” there are still certain ones that leave you with the feeling of having heard it before – in a not so welcoming sense, a sense of redundancy if you will.

Whilst I most often find myself reviewing heavily psychedelic stuff, I must say that Houndmouth have been a welcome change of scenery for this particular ‘day at the office’ and it’s therefore with a sense of fulfilling joy that I can honestly state that my relationship with this album is not over – I will dig it out again soon. After all, the moods on it seem to fit this particular time of year perfectly. – Good first effort from Houndmouth, I might just have to keep an eye out for these guys.

Download: On the Road, Palmyra, Comin’ Around Again
For The Fans Of: Wilco, Billy Wallace & the Virginia Blues, Alabama Shakes
Listen: facebook.com

Release Date 04.06.2013
Rough Trade Records

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