Houndmouth- “From The Hills Below The City” Review

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

Back a few months ago, I had the great luck to see Houndmouth live. They were opening for Alabama Shakes in New Orleans and because I am a dedicated early arrival sort when it comes to concerts I was in the very front. Which, in the small venue, means that the band was almost on top of me.

I loved Alabama Shakes, the other openers were okay, and Houndmouth- well I think I am even more interested in seeing them again than Alabama Shakes. I listened to the 4 song EP they had out before about a hundred times while waiting for the album.

And I bought “From The Hills Below The City” the day it came out from Amazon mp3s.

I love it. All of it.

Their is a beautiful fusion of blues, folk, and rock present in the music on the album that delights me.

The EP they had out before was very mellow – in fact almost too mellow when I compared it to the live performance in my head. With “From The Hills Below The City” the band turns the intensity level up with bolder sound and  both more intense instrumentals and vocals.

The tracks on the album work together very well as a whole. Listening to it from start to finish is an experience in itself and I find myself actively pursuing a record player so I can buy this on vinyl and have a more immersive experience.

If you forced me to pick favorites on the album, I would probably go with (in no particular order) “Casino,” “Penitentiary,”  and “Comin’ Round Again,” but looking at that list even now I am having trouble not adding to it until I simply list all the songs.

“Casino” features strong female vocals and an upbeat tempo with lyrics that explore gambling, substance abuse, and emotional guarding in a bold way.

“Penitentiary” takes a more mellow tempo as it tells a down on one’s luck story with intense harmonies in the chorus. The one line in the song that makes me sing along at the top of my voice every time is “got me a pardon son, gonna do it all again.” There is something about the deep crooning in this line that connects to me.

“Comin’ Round Again” was easily my favorite song when I saw them live. In fact, I watched a youtube video (with shoddy quality) of the song dozens of times while waiting for this album release. The song has more of a “rock” feel to it for me than a lot of the other tracks. This song builds intensity throughout and it has a very polished mature sound for such a young band.

In a strange note, one of the songs on the album makes me have the urge to sing an entirely unrelated song. In “Long As You’re At Home,” I find myself crooning out “momma I am coming home” in the pause in the vocals leading up to the “as long as you’re at home” line. There is something  I can’t put my finger on about the tune that reminds me of the iconic Ozzy song.

Really I am not sure I can use strong enough language to describe how much I love this album. I really believe Houndmouth has a huge career in front of them and this album is a great start to it.