August 30, 2012

Houndmouth - "Penitentiary"

Folk rock is a format that's been beaten into the ground by an endless line of derivative and overwhelmingly homogenous acts (read: white dudes, often bearded). But when it's done right with that perfect mixture of sincerity, originality and flawed humanity—as with The Band and more modern incarnations like Dawes and Blake Mills—it remains one of the more affective and bewildering genres. Seated for a weeknight Bright Eyes show back in 2007, I remember being caught completely off guard when the opener took the stage: three perilously swaying, scraggly, hobo-looking gentleman that for about 30 minutes convinced the audience at Dar Constitution Hall that they were the only band in the world that mattered. The songs were full of soaring harmony and brutal poetry. Each of the three brothers looked like they might fall over or lose their lunch at any given moment—but they never missed a beat. It was one of the more inspired performances I've ever seen. In fact, my friend and I ended up skipping Bright Eyes' set, as we knew nothing else we'd hear that night could come close to the high we'd just experienced. Yesterday, when I heard Houndmouth's song "Penitentiary" for the first time, I was reminded of that show as my gut twisted and stirred with the build to that resounding chorus, further urging the listener to chime in with each trip back around. The name 'Houndmouth' may elicit slobbery imagery and the singular stank of dog breath, but let's stick to the music, where "Penitentiary" is all open windows, starlight, and moonshine.

Houndsmouth - "Penitentiary" (from Houndmouth EP)

Buy the EP from Rough Trade. After the jump, check out the video directed by Zach Hart.

Houndmouth - EP - Houndmouth