Houndmouth leads grassroots blues revival


Bearded, mustached, tattooed and walking that fine line between metrosexual hipster and bona fide Midwestern aesthetic, Matt Myers, Zak Appleby, and Shane Cody are taking rock ’n’ roll back to its barebone origin. With an emphasis on country and folk tradition, Houndmouth’s no-frills style harkens back to an era of rock growing out of the late 60s in response to the overly-distorted, florid excesses of psychedelia – though they maintained the shaggy, unshaven appearance.

The three (formerly four) members that comprise the band hail from the lowland plains and farmlands of Indiana and Kentucky. So, it is only natural to observe the Chicago-style blues influences in their sound. Following the very successful release of their first album “From the Hills Below the City” in 2012, critics immediately began comparing them to The Band and Albert King, a compliment if there ever was one.

In fact, it took almost no time at all for the group to see their hard work recognized by a wider audience. After forming during the summer of 2011, they were on stage at the South by Southwest Music Festival the next year, performing alongside huge industry names such as Lana Del Rey, Kanye West and the Counting Crows. The exposure they got at this venue proved to be pivotal in their success. It just so happened that Geoff Travis, CEO of the prominent indie label Rough Trade Records, was in the crowd during their set. Consequently, Houndmouth officially signed a deal with him. This was only the beginning.

Within the next year, they were featured in The Guardian as their “Band of the Week,” appeared on numerous late night shows including Conan and Letterman and were invited to play at other prominent music festivals. Seeing their performance at Lollapalooza, Garden & Gun later wrote, “You’d be hard-pressed to find a more effortless, well-crafted mix of roots and rock this year than the debut album from this Louisville quartet.”

At the time, it was in fact a quartet. But, in 2016, Katie Toupin decided to part ways with Houndmouth in favor of a solo career venture. She played a pivotal role in their music as a proficient keyboardist and backup singer, functioning as a crisp accent mark overscoring Meyer’s already powerful vocal performance. The tandem choruses were one of the most noteworthy and attractive features of their songs, so it will be interesting to see how they attempt to replace her on their next release. Since Toupin’s departure, the band has reportedly added two other male saxophonists/vocalists, however, they have yet to release any music since the addition.

That being said, I think it would be unwise of them to try and replace Toupin in a cookie-cutter manner. They need to find where their new talent can best be used and apply it accordingly. Houndmouth is a band with a style so deeply ingrained in their musical spirit that I am fully confident in the band’s future success.

Mitchell Clark is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at mitchell.clark@uconn.edu.

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