From the Hills Be­low the City

Hound­mouth Rough Trade ★★★✩

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Peter Lalor

THE wheel’s in­vented and it goes with­out say­ing that at­tempts to rein­vent it are a tad fatu­ous. And so, with the patents of coun­try, blues, gospel and rock long since lodged with a higher au­thor­ity, the mem­bers of In­di­ana’s Hound­mouth seem con­tent to work within the pa­ram­e­ters set by the greats. They dab­ble where Em­my­lou and Gram once dab­bled, swag­ger a lit­tle like Keith, Mick and co did around Ex­ile time and some­times just kick back in that old rock­ing chair the Band found so com­fort­able. The mu­sic is easy, al­most ef­fort­less and, more of­ten than not, catchy. This is the de­but

al­bum, with all mem­bers con­tribut­ing songs and vo­cals. There’s a lit­tle lack of fo­cus in this ef­fort, but there’s a con­sis­tency of sound and phi­los­o­phy that holds the strings to­gether. Gui­tarist and singer Matt My­ers has a great voice, can scratch up a good tune and hold it too; more ex­cit­ingly his dis­tinc­tive rock-coun­try gui­tar style adds a layer of sparkle when­ever it ap­pears. It’s his tune, On the

Road (hey, there were no cliches spared here, kids) that kicks off the record with sim­ple but in­fec­tious aban­don. You get the first taste of Hound­mouth’s jewel in the crown and that’s the bar-room pure (oxy­moron ac­knowl­edged) vo­cals of key­boardist Katie Toupin. Hang in there be­cause you get more of her and they are the best bits of what oth­er­wise may have ended up sound­ing like the Jay­hawks’ lit­tle broth­ers. The girl can sing up a storm. Any­way, some cyn­ics have dubbed this mob Amer­ica’s Mum­ford and Sons, but it feels a lit­tle bet­ter than that.

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