Fox Theatre - February 26
Bluebird Theater - February 28
By Brian F. Johnson
It’s a fairly well-told story by now, but shortly after Houndmouth formed in 2011 in Indiana, the group trodded across the country to the 2012 SXSW festival, and there, based on the strength of their live show and their homemade self-titled EP they landed a record deal with Rough Trade Records.
Since then Houndmouth has had precious little downtime. Their debut full-length From The Hills Below The City (which NPR declared as “near perfect”) was released in early 2013 and they have toured relentlessly, chalking off major milestones along the way, like appearances on Letterman and Conan and spots at major festivals from ACL to Bonnaroo to Newport Folk Festival.
It’s been a tiring and educational whirlwind for Houndmouth, and guitarist Matt Myers said it’s certainly been an adjustment. “I think we’re all still trying to perceive the world as a whole and find our path, but I guess to some degree you have to put blinders on and do your own thing, while making sure you look at the way the world’s moving and adapt to that,” he said.
With that in mind, Myers and his bandmates Katie Toupin (keyboards), Shane Cody (drums), and Zak Appleby (bass) — all of whom sing and write songs — have been itching to release their follow-up album, and this spring the band will finally have that opportunity.
Myers said that while Houndmouth is proud of their first record, they’re excited about getting new material in front of people. “We still like all of the songs from our first record but there are definitely some aspects where I would have done things differently,” Myers said. “You know that first album was all the songs we had and it was our first push into the world of playing music, but for this new album we had a little bit more time to think about what we wanted to write about and we got a little more personal,” he said.
The new record Little Neon Limelight was recorded live to tape in Nashville with producer Dave Cobb, who recently produced Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell’s albums. Myers said that it was Houndmouth’s first time working with a producer and that Cobb was a great addition to the band. “I think we were missing that fifth member of the group who could kind of see things as a whole and put them together. Dave was very much hands on. He was always in the room with us, and we didn’t do scratch vocals and the main instrumentals were all live, so Dave was right there with us shaking maracas,” Myers said.
Little Neon Lights follows in the footsteps of Houndmouth’s debut with four-part harmonies out in front of a raucous indie barroom rock/alt-country blend. Two singles have already been teased from the album, including “Sedona,” which seems to pick up in the hungover haze of the morning after of a night of “doing bad things,” which the band explored in the song “Casino” on their debut album.
“For No One,” the other single from the record, takes a significant sharp turn to a haunting all-acoustic John Prine-inspired ballad that talks about learning to love the come down, rejecting offers of derby hats and millions, and proudly and sharply ends with the line “but I sing for no one.”
Myers said that while he doesn’t truly write songs on the road, he does jot down parts that he later puts together, and he said that a lot of the material on Little Neon Lights came from experiences they had or phrases they caught floating by while they were on the road for The Hills Below The City. “‘For No One’ is just a collage of statements to the world and what it means to be a man, and growing up and figuring things out. It’s pretty layered in metaphor so that we don’t put ourselves out there too much, but I wanted to put out stuff that we cared about on a more personal level. After a year and half of playing the same songs from the first album, it can get kind of tiring if there’s not something to make you more personally invested in the songs,” Myers said.
Fox Theatre – February 26
Bluebird Theater – February 28
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