Archive for Alabama Shakes

Best New Band/Album Ever, August 2013 Edition: Houndstooth’s “Ride Out The Dark”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 3, 2013 by johnbuckley100

The Portland (OR) band Houndstooth have just released their first album, Ride Out The Dark, and through our jeweler’s loupe, we spy a gem.  It captures that magic moment in 1966 when folk bands all went electric and their ace guitarists began noodling at length, as the female vocalist swayed at the front of the stage.  Or maybe it captures that magic moment in 1976 when Richard Hell had left Television and some hipper-than-thou Downtown rock crits put ’em down as  a Southern boogie band, just because Verlaine and Lloyd liked stretching out the songs with gorgeous psyche fretboard wandering.

Actually, it’s to a Southern band that they compare themselves, which is odd, as they’re about as much a Southern band as Wilco is.  Sure, on “Wheel On Fire” we hear some harmony guitar, but really, they sound a lot more like a Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, or Brooklyn’s Widowspeak, than Wet Willie, or even the Alabama Shakes.  Yeah, there’s an affinity to Alabama Shakes in that there’s a glorious raw guitar sound, but Katie Bernstein has a pretty, not particularly dramatic voice, and no one would confuse her for Janis Joplin.  As readers of Tulip Frenzy know, we like Widowspeak, but find them wanting, a bit too slight and ethereal, and here’s where Houndstooth’s so delightful: talk of folky pysche notwithstanding, the band has grit, the backbeat kicks, and on a warm summer night we’d love to to be on the slope downward to the outdoor stage as the sun sets and guitarist John Gnorski settles into one of his extended riffs, eventually levitating everything, the band, the stage, the crowd.

Something tells us we’ll be listening to Houndstooth a lot for the rest of August, and in the months/years/eons to come.

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