When I get a CD from a band I’ve never heard of in the mail for review, a lot of times I trash the band bio that comes along with it. The reason I do this is I’ve found a lot of bands that make good music write bad bios. Or they at least have trouble describing their music. So, to give them the benefit of the doubt, I’ll listen to the music, then, if I want more info about them I’ll check out their website or dig the bio out of the trash. When I received the latest release from Hoots and Hellmouth I figured I’d read the bio because I already knew a good bit about them. The band is from Philadelphia, they play good roots music, I have their previous release and I had seen them perform a killer show about six months prior. Now, I wish I hadn’t of read the damn bio. And its all because of the opening statement which reads, “Hoots and Hellmouth make new music for old souls.” I hate that “old soul” saying. I’m not sure why, but it conjures up images of dirty hippies that smell like dusty old army blankets and petruli oil.
Anyway, if you overlook the whole “old soul” reference, what you have is a damn fine disc from a damn fine band that knows how to play and write a catchy tune. From the uptempo stomp of “What Good Are Plowshares If We Use Them Like Swords” to the funky falsetto (see Prince) of “Watch Your Mouth” these guys grab a melody and milk it until your foot is tapping whether you want it to or not. Listen closely and you’ll hear expert guitar and mandolin runs mixed throughout the disc along with tons of old spiritual references including, but not limited to, “Do Lord, Do Remember Me”, “Let My People Go” and “It Is Well With My Soul.”
The end product is a very well rounded album that’s a fun listen, but to get the real feel go see these guys live. If you do, and then buy the album, you (and all of us) will be converted to the church of Hoots and Hellmouth. Have a blessed day. (What’s up with that statement? It’s almost as bad as “old soul.”)
RIYL: Avett Brothers, Justin Townes Earle, rusty nails in your beer
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