Archive for Houndstooth

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

Posted in Music with tags , on March 31, 2015 by johnbuckley100

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.

Quilt’s “Held In Splendor” Is A Patchwork Of Sonic Gorgeousness

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Quilt would prefer it if, when writing about their beautiful second album, Held In Splendor, people wouldn’t immediately invoke the Summer o’ Love, the Mamas and Papas, all those harmonically ambitious bands that played into the wee hours as women in long skirts danced around the driftwood pyre while the menfolk nodded and communed with the shadow of the moon.  Fine then, let’s put ’em in a more contemporary context.

Their second album is produced by Woods’ polymath Jarvis Taveniere, which gives you a reference point to which you’ll  affix your navigation quadrant and map their current location.  Physically it’s Boston, and thank Yahweh for that because it’s so much more original than saying they come from Brooklyn, like other bands that sound just like them: you know, bands with jangly guitars, and four-part harmonies, and a bass player who manages to ground the weirdness in muscular urgency.  But let us also say that if the late Bill Doss of Olivia Tremor Control was in the room, he would nod in admiration.  And that another band Jarvis has produced, Widowspeak, would likely manage Quilt’s fan club if they didn’t have their own album to do.  No, we won’t invoke the Summer o’ Love, we’ll just say that when Quilt played Portland the other week, we bet all those kids who love Houndstooth came out in force.

Shane Butler and Anna Fox Rochinski were art-school students when they formed Quilt at the dawn of the Obama years, and we bet their teachers shook their heads in dismay when they veered into music. For the rest of us, art school’s loss is our earbuds’ gain as angels dance around guitar and keyboard weirdness that can call to mind both Magic Trick and the Magic Castles in the span of a single song.  Where Widowspeak lacks fiber, Quilt has just enough bulk to maintain a consistent weight.  Held In Splendor is wonderfully produced, weird in the way Prince Rupert’s Drops are weird, thrilling in the way Woods are thrilling.  Yeah, this is a good ‘un, and we’ll just state the obvious: if these guys really were from the late ’60s Bay Area, Altamont would never have happened, and by 2014 the land would be harmonious and we’d all be happy vegans.  ‘Course, they’re in the here and now, and so you have the chance to hear ’em now.

They open for Woods at the Rock & Roll Hotel on April 26th.  We know you’ll be there.

Tulip Frenzy 2013 Top Ten List ™ Shortlist Announced

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2013 by johnbuckley100

So we promised Magic Trick that we would wait for River Of Souls, out Tuesday, before locking the ballot box on the Tulip Frenzy 2013 Top Ten List ™.  We  will save them a spot on the shortlist, okay?  Below, in NO PARTICULAR ORDER are the bands in consideration.

At Tulip Frenzy World HQ, the horse trading, lobbying, and outright bribery are in full force.  We’ve cast a sideways glance at our competitors, and let us just say that this was one of the rare years in which we did not automatically scoff at the Uncut Top 50 list, and they did settle one thing for us:  yes, the Parquet Courts album is to be considered this year, even though it actually was released last November.  But no one listened to it until January 1, when we were all suddenly forced to grapple with a) 2013, and b) the Parquet Courts’ greatness.  But mbv as the Album of The Year?  Please, nice to have Kevin Shields back but it’s not really that good.  Still, could have been worse.

We should note that we are NOT considering the Bob Dylan 1969 Isle of Wight release, even though it finally came out this year, and even though it is simply amazing.  Why is it ruled out by the judges? Because we don’t think that’s right to knock a band in their prime out of consideration just because another incredible album fought its way out of the Dylan archives.  But here’s a pretty great set of bands/artists who will be considered:

Houndstooth

David Bowie

Kurt Vile

Phosphorescent

Crocodiles

Robyn Hitchcock

Parquet Courts

Thee Oh Sees

Kelley Stoltz

Magic Trick

Neko Case

Capsula

Deathfix

Secret Colours

Kevin Morby

Wire

First Communion Afterparty

Mikal Cronin

In consideration: 18 artists.  It’s going to be a long few days of wrangling in these here parts. Stay tuned.

 

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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