By: Jessica Nakamoto –
You may recognize them from their #1 hit radio single, “Sedona” or from their recent live performance on the CBS Morning Show, but the real question is, would you recognize them from one album to the next? The answer: maybe not. While it’s true that Indiana-based alt-rockers, Houndmouth, have enjoyed much success since their formation back in 2011, the band’s growth has included a few substantial changes that have not only re-imagined the immediate direction, but the entire genre that the trio calls their own. Indeed, with their new album, Golden Age(out Aug 3), the group has embarked on an almost complete overhaul of their original sound. Discarding their country-esque feel and emerging into the realm of experimental modern music, Houndmouth is taking their band to a place no Americana group has ever explored. Like a musically inclined phoenix of sorts, Houndmouth has discarded a past life of folk-rock tinged tracks and experienced what can only be described as an inspirational rebirth into the world of pop-synth meets indie-soul music.
With all of this transition, there was bound to be a strong team backbone. In other words, in terms of the new record, Houndmouth hasn’t gone at it alone. With support from acclaimed producers, Jonathan Rado [Foxygen] and Shawn Everett [The Killers, Kesha, John Legend] success was not an option, but a near guarantee.
Also accompanying the original trio of Matt Myers (guitar/vocals), Zac Appleby (bass/vocals), and Shane Cody (drums/vocals), is Caleb Hickman, Drew Miller, Graeme Gardiner, and Aaron Craker, who’ve been added to the Houndmouth ranks as touring members. This new horns and keys section perfectly complements the modern synth and electronic components found in the band’s current tracks. In fact, it’s through this blended sound that Houndmouth emphasizes themes such as the importance ofretaining nostalgia for simpler times, even in the midst of a technology obsessed world.
Continuing with this futuristic vision and fueled by an obsession with all things modern and experimental, many of Houndmouth’s new tracks utilize a variety of unique musical sources. From a rubber band encased bucket [This Party] to cut-up analog tapes dragging along the desert floor [World Leader], the band embraces a creative mimicry that allow simple non-tech related objects to give off strangely unrecognizable synth-like sounds to the untrained ear. This dichotomy is intriguing as the lines between what is modern and what is not, become blurred. However, there are a few problems that appear to come standard when venturing into the territory of rogue experimentation. With tinkering also enters the possibility of completely masking the original source of unique sounds. In songs such as “Jaguar”, some of the inherent playful nature and cleverness of incorporating Jaguar automobile and authentic feline segments into the song becomes almost completely hidden by electronic overtones.
However, these occurrences are limited and appear to be only a minor speed bump from which the band more than makes up for with enticing word mastery. Embodying the idea of change, the lyrical portion of the Golden Agealbum is filled with an abundance of both positive and pessimistic gems ranging from the disheartened verse, “we’ve been drowning, looking for something real” [Waiting for the Night], to the upbeat proclamation, “I got a feeling that there’s beauty in this madness” [Jaguar]. These verbal ups and downs further expand Houndmouth’s modern outlook and are the perfect indication that while the future of technology and its effects on human behavior aren’t set in stone, a tech-based takeover is nonetheless an inevitable destination as far as time and evolution are concerned. In simple terms, the future is coming and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it. This being said, as Houndmouth has successfully proved, if you can’t fight change you might as well embrace it. The future has arrived. Change is eminent. And so it begins…
Recommended Tracks: “This Party”, “Golden Age”, and “Waiting for the Night”