In recent weeks I’ve fallen in love with Houndmouth. I’ve played their 2015 CD “Little Neon Limelight,” back-to-back for days at a time. It’s been a while since a CD claimed that kind of hold on my playlist. The album covers a lot of sonic landscape in about forty minutes. The eleven songs are well-crafted pop songs with melodies that belie they lyrical edge floating over the generally happy sounds.
The song that has received the most radio attention and sits first on the CD, “Sedona,”is a prime example with its instantly catchy melody. The message of decline and decay rides through the verses like the ghost of Hollywood;
“We’re goin California but we’re all out of work
I guess that’s better than a grave and a hearse . . .
Hey there Sedona let me cut you a deal
I’m a little hung over and I may have to steal your soul”
At times the pace slows like on the dramatic Gasoline in which keyboardist and vocalist Katie Toupin sings plaintively. It was a highlight of the concert, if one of the few moments when the frenetic on-stage energy stopped. The haunting song continues the theme of rejection and solitude:
“Oh with my blood shot eyes
You’d rock me and you’d roll me through the night
Was only just then that I could see
I was alone in feeling so lonely.”
Sometimes, particularly when Matt Myers takes the lead, I can hear shades of the Felice Brothers. For No One could be covered by the Felice Brothers and pass for an original:
“Why don’t you wait a little bit
For the acid to kick in
Learn to love
That old comedown
That’ll spread you so thin
Go n’ take the million.”
The band utilizes swirling organ as much as any band in the sixties. The rhymes and near-rhymes are fun an often unexpected such as in the song “Black Gold,” when Matt rhymes “Preston” with “arrested.” It works beautifully. They also incorporated two saxophones into the live sound which gave the songs a great punch which, while not necessary, added just another layer to the music.
The band swapped lead vocals just as comfortably as they switched instruments. Katie played keyboards, guitars and drums and the others switched about, as well. Lead vocals were generally taken by Matt and Katie, but moth Shane and Zak took their turns. It’s simply a talented band throughout, whether singing solo, harmonies or their version of choral and call-and-response.
The encore included a cover of Gary Wright’s “Dreamweaver,” which was perfect. This is easily my favorite show of the year so far and I’ve seen quite a few good ones. Just like the CD, I could do this show on repeat for days at a time. I’m including the video for “Sedona,” below to give you a taste. I’d encourage you to buy this CD. It’s just too good. I have another couple dozen photographs which I’ll try to post to the Inside of Knoxville Facebook page later this weekend.