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Houndmouth - From the Hills Below the City

Houndmouth, a four-piece band from just outside Louisville, Kentucky, may just be the perfect musical equivalent to a good home-cooked meal. Forget the frills and studio wizardry, this young group just sets out to have fun making music as a reflection of what they know. Their love of roots, rock and blues melts together as a rollicking good time on their debut From the Hills Below the City (Rough Trade). And what started a couple years ago as simply a group of friends making some noise together has developed into a band on the verge of an exciting career.

The chemistry of this band is striking from the opening notes of "On the Road," the snappy opening track from Houndmouth's debut. The duel vocals of frontman Matt Myers and keyboardist Katie Toupin are an immediate draw, and the groove the four create is cause enough to hit the 'repeat' button. As you work your way through From the Hills Below the City it's hard to deny the influence of acts like The Band, just listen as the chorus swells on the outlawish "Penitentiary". And yes, in terms of songs, themes of bad decisions, jail, drugs and crime weave through the album. But Houndmouth are pretty clever turning these taboo topics into irresistible moments. For instance, don't pass up "Casino (Bad Things)" which Katie takes the lead on, offering up some classic southern charm.

Truth be told, a big part of Houndmouth's rise from bar-band to SXSW buzz band has a lot to do with their engaging stage show. Rumor is they were signed right their SXSW set earlier this year. And, just this month, XPN named them as an Artist To Watch. But their rawness and their energy are ever-present on From the Hills Below the City.

~Mike Vasilikos

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