Houndstooth’s “No News From Home” Is A Lovely Follow Up To Their Beguiling Debut

So occasionally we get carried away, but when we called Houndstooth’s Ride Out The Dark the best first album ever, it should be noted that we qualified it with the proviso that this superlative was good for August 2013, maybe not all time.  Yet now comes the gorgeous No News From Home, and clearly our enthusiasm wasn’t misplaced.  Houndstooth is a pitch perfect, upbeat American band ready for export to all markets attuned to our nation’s organic sonic glories.

The Portland band is built around two lead instruments, John Gnorski’s fluid guitar and Katie Bernstein’s slightly off-kilter voice.  While Gnorski plays with the tasteful precision and lean muscle mass of Mike Campbell, this doesn’t place these provisioners of Americana firmly in the Petty camp — they’re hippies weaving on the stage, suffusing Humboldt County’s best through a bong filled from Barton Springs, not Florida transplants living the life in some canyon above LA.  Bernstein has this disarming trick of singing an eighth of a register above the melody, though when it counts, her aim is true.

Houndstooth is that band you want to see play live outdoors as the sun goes down, or to have on your home stereo as you cook a meal for favorite friends you haven’t seen since college.  There is nothing that truly commands the foreground in perfect focus while the rear splays out in lovely bokeh; they make no heavy claims.  This is pretty summer music, arriving just as spring begins, and we fully expect rockers like “Bliss Boat,” the title track, and “Witching Hour” to be the soundtrack for all our cookouts for months to come.

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