Genre: Southern Indie-Rock
I was late to get to one of Kentucky’s better known bands – I saw several reviews of the debut self-titled LP, nearly all of them touted it with much acclaim, but I’ve still not heard it. So, maybe jumping into this second album without hearing the first was a bad idea. Or maybe not… because it is pretty good. The album is largely made up of songs that hit all the right points – they’re catchy, they’re light, and they move from one another with an energy that would make the album sound great, even if it wasn’t. And so, without knowing what their first album sounded like, this energy is what sticks out to me. It’s confidence, it sounds like summer, and it sounds like the members of Houndmouth are having a genuinely great time playing music together. Myers and Toupin’s voices blend together well – she does an excellent job of outlining the upper melody, while he takes the low – both with the unmistakable twang-and-bit-of-grit that you find in Kentucky and the rest of The South. The South, it so happens, is where they’ll be spending much of their summer: with their tour stopping at festivals like Forecastle and Bonnaroo, their energy ought to translate well to the large, open crowds. They remind me a lot of a band they’ve opened for in the past, Alabama Shakes, both of which have been heralded as revivalists of the southernrootsbluesrock movement in the last few years. Maybe it’s the southern boy coming out in me, but From the Hills Below the City is one of my favorite albums to come out of the area for quite a while – it’s fun.
Tracks I Liked – On the Road!, Come on, Illinois!!!, Penitentiary!!, Casino (Bad Things)!!, Krampus!, Long As You’re At Home!, Houston Train!, Halfway to Hardinsburg!!, Palmyra!
Ben Southworth – June 10th, 2013
Genre: Swampy Blues
Lance Whalen – a former Lexingtonian who now resides in Nashville – made a short-notice stop by WRFL-Live this week, bringing with him a few guitars and a banjo for an acoustic set. The recordings on Sweet Sugar Pie find these songs with a much more filled out sound than his live set, lending an even greater amount of intensity to his music. Lance said himself, that people have said his songs have a certain swampy sound, often bordering into the sinister – they remind me a lot of Howlin’ Wolf’s voice and Tom Waits’s atmosphere. The album’s first track, “What The Hell Was I Thinking?” gets things rolling along with a nice backbeat and grooving bassline. The double-tracked vocals on “Best I Am” go out of sync at times, but the result is a darker mood, and the ending lyrics, “I am not your Jesus, baby I am just your man, and I will do the very best I can,” sum the song up perfectly. The title track is the lightest of the album, and probably the most accessible too – accompanied at first only by guitar, the chorus hits with a beautiful weight and rich textures of slide guitar, flute, and bass that carry the gorgeous song for its remainder. The album’s final track puts Whalen’s voice on display, much like the rest of the EP, and serves as a great close. Sweet Sugar Pie is a solid EP, collecting songs that shows off his ragged voice, spooky songwriting, and knack for atmosphere – if you’re a fan of blues, Lance Whalen is one worth checking out.
Tracks I Liked: What The Hell Was I Thinking?!, Best I Am!!, Sweet Sugar Pie!!!, The Way You Love Me!
– Ben Southworth – June 9th, 2013