Houndmouth’s “Little Neon Limelight” a Fun Roots-Rock Romp

21 Jul

Listening to Houndmouth, one would never imagine that the band hails from New Albany, Indiana. Rather, you might guess Wagon Wheel, New Mexico; Last Chance, Colorado; Silver City, Nevada; or perhaps…Sedona, Arizona as their hometown.

That’s because when you listen to this four-piece, alternative roots-rock group, you can’t help but picture them playing on an open-air bandstand in an Old West locale — or at the very least along some dry, dusty, back-country Georgia road.

Little Neon Limelight is the second album for the band, following their critically acclaimed 2013 debut. And on this album, Houndmouth sounds a lot like the revered roots-rock group, the Band — with a capital “B.”

Their sound is earthy, energetic and typically easy on the ears. Not your typical Americana album, many of the songs are backed by almost gospel-like choruses, where all four vocalists raise their voices in harmony — with occasional shouting to add to the enthusiasm.

Album opener “Sedona” is a great sing-along single, with lyrics that recall the Arizona town which dubbed itself “Little Hollywood” — with its stunning red rock landscapes that were used as the backdrop for many classic John Ford Westerns.

“Otis” introduces us to keyboardist Katie Toupin and her exceptional vocal abilities, as the song alternates between her lovelorn solo and the band’s revivalist backing vocals. Toupin is even better in carrying the tune “Gasoline” later on Little Neon Limelight. She sings, “No, I am nobody’s girl/I just wasn’t made for no diamonds or pearls.” Again, the backing vocals are rich and evocative, and the cello accompaniment works well along with a fingerpicked guitar. This is one of my favorites on the album.

“Black Gold” is a catchy roots-rock song, with a timekeeper bass line and more rock guitar driving the harder-edged track, which could have been performed by the Black Keys or even Conor Oberst.

The album ends with a brilliant blues rock number, “Darlin’.” The Wurlitzer organ rises and falls with the verses, giving the song an authentic, old-timey feel — and the guitar work here is crisp and confident.

Without a doubt, on Little Neon Limelight Houndmouth has managed to escape its Indiana upbringing and create its own unique persona somewhere in the Wild, Wild West.


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